Liquid separation after ferment on grain?

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Liquid separation after ferment on grain?

Postby MtRainier » Sat Jul 07, 2018 2:59 pm

How does a sparge go after fermenting on grain? I have been doing sugar wash to learn the still, but am ready to try a barley malt wash. I’m used to doing all grain homebrew in an igloo cooler mash tun, and was considering just tossing in the yeast into the cooler and shutting the lid (mostly) to let it ferment on grain rather than sparging into a Brute to ferment.

Is it easy or hard or possible to do a batch sparge into the boil kettle after on-grain fermentation? I can’t do a run on-grain because of the electric heating element. Would the on grain fermentation help deal with some of the other grains like corn or rye that cause stuck sparges?

I feel like surely it is done all the time, but searching didn’t turn up advice about it.
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Re: Liquid separation after ferment on grain?

Postby DuckofDeath » Sat Jul 07, 2018 4:18 pm

I don't vorlauf, I just strain into a 5 gallon paint strainer, then press out as much liquid as I can, wash the grain with fresh water and press again.
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Re: Liquid separation after ferment on grain?

Postby Twisted Brick » Sat Jul 07, 2018 5:06 pm

Since barley malt sparges well, most stillers ferment off grain, like the large distilleries do. Just follow the same process you do as with brewing, but don't boil your wort prior to pitching yeast. This allows the enzymes to continue to work during the ferment. As always, practice thorough sanitation.

You can certainly ferment on-grain, and some stillers claim an increase in flavor, but most don't because of the hassle.
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Re: Liquid separation after ferment on grain?

Postby shadylane » Sat Jul 07, 2018 5:57 pm

MtRainier wrote:How does a sparge go after fermenting on grain?

Don't sparge, squeeze the fermented liquid from the spent grain
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Re: Liquid separation after ferment on grain?

Postby Twisted Brick » Sun Jul 08, 2018 7:54 am

shadylane wrote:
MtRainier wrote:How does a sparge go after fermenting on grain?

Don't sparge, squeeze the fermented liquid from the spent grain


Shady, if talking about malted barley (in their husks), I'm only familiar with sparging from my AG brewing days. What is the yield like if you squeeze instead? Any off-flavors? Usually, after sparging the sweet wort from my grain, there's nothing left to squeeze out.

MtRainier, here is a fairly recent thread on differing approaches to your original question. Unfortunately, when mashing corn and the gummier grains, there's no getting around squeezing.
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Re: Liquid separation after ferment on grain?

Postby shadylane » Sun Jul 08, 2018 8:24 am

It seems to me, if the mash has already been fermented on the grain. Then squeezing might be the best option.
With 100% malted barley, I prefer to sparge and ferment off the grain.
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Re: Liquid separation after ferment on grain?

Postby Jimy Dee » Sun Jul 08, 2018 9:10 am

For me part of the learning curve was driven by the aim to mash/ferment/strain/run with more efficiency, including saving on the time and energy involved. I then discovered STEAM Stripping, so now I ferment on the grain, dont squeeze, and strip on the grain. Cuts out a whole lot of work. It is a place most will land, and guess what - there is a whole section on HD designated to it.
One simple way is to strip with a pot and thumper, put the slop grains in the thumper and either water or clear wort in the pot. U will not look back if u invest in a steam stripping pot and thumper basic rig. Nothing fancy required - 2 beer kegs (as pot and thumper) and some 1 inch copper pipe. Have a 4 inch port hole in the thumper for loading and ease of cleaning. Hope this helps. JD
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Re: Liquid separation after ferment on grain?

Postby Skipper1953 » Sun Jul 08, 2018 9:25 am

After fermenting on the grain, you will have hard time getting the wash to drain through the grain bed without bit of squeezing/pressing. Very coarsely milled grains may drain more freely but will give a less efficient conversion. When all the muck settles to the bottom of the fermentor/mash tun it does not create a very permeable filter bed. It will drain eventually but do you really want to wait that long?

Your best approach will be to let the mash rest after fermentation and then carefully remove the relatively clear liquid from the top. Run the slop at the bottom through a paint strainer or similar and then squeeze. You will still have a significant amount of really murky liquid that will separate after a while. Refrigeration (cold crashing) can hasten this process. I've never tried it myself but using some sort of fining agent like Bentonite may be helpful. Do a search to see what others have to say about adding finings.

I have some Bentonite on hand. I think I'll try it out on a gallon or two of my leftover slop next time and see what it does. I'll use my small boiler to distill the resulting wash to see if it carries over any odd flavors, etc. I recall someone commenting on the absurdity of using a drilling lube in a distillers beer.
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Re: Liquid separation after ferment on grain?

Postby still_stirrin » Sun Jul 08, 2018 10:02 am

shadylane wrote:It seems to me, if the mash has already been fermented on the grain. Then squeezing might be the best option.
With 100% malted barley, I prefer to sparge and ferment off the grain.

I agree with Shadylane.

My experience with malts is to sparge before the kettle and vorlauf after....that is, if adding hops for a beer. If brewing for distillation, you don’t need hops so you can forego the vorlauf. But I still sparge from the mash tun to the kettle...and I do typically boil for a very short period, or at least until the “hot break” so the proteins precipitate. This will make the beer cleaner into and out of the fermenter, ie - less carryover of solids into your boiler.

But, if you’re fermenting on the grain, then you’ll either have to rack the beer off of the trub, or you’ll have to squeeze the beer from the grains. This is particularly necessary if fermenting on the grain when using corn. I would doubt that a lauter tun would allow the grains and trub to filter the beer without excessive stirring, thereby negating the intent of filteration.
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Re: Liquid separation after ferment on grain?

Postby MtRainier » Tue Jul 10, 2018 11:40 am

Thanks for all the suggestions and information.

I recently found some threads about using geotextile fabric to separate liquid from grain even with flour-filled mashes. Also found some threads after Jimy Dee's post about stripping that talk about using the boiler full of water to basically drive a thumper full of your grain to distill on grain in a keg.

Imaginative solutions to problems. I've been lurking here for years after first registering and reading things and thinking about starting, but until actually starting I didn't scratch the surface.
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