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Do you really need a sprinkler of some sort to sparge? Does it really improve the lautering process? How fancy does a sparge arm need to be, does it really have to rotate or can it just sprinkle all over?

What are the cons of just having a piece of tubing adding sparge water to a 1-2 inch bed of water above the grains?

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3 Answers 3

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I manually fly sparge. It consumes my attention, but shows that you do not need a sparge arm. My second-next equipment project will be a sparge arm (after a whirlpool chiller).

Does a sparge arm improve lautering?

Yes. If there were a quicker method that offered similar results the pro brewing community would have found it.

How fancy?

Not very. My plan is to make a simple manifold out of PVC or copper that covers the top of my mash tun. I'll drill small holes in the material so sparge water flows out evenly.

Keep in mind:

Your primary concern in sparge arm design should be channeling. Ensure that the grainbed is evenly rinsed to gain the best efficiency. Keep it simple.

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I'd point out that just because the pro brewing community does or doesn't do something isn't necessarily a reason for homebrewers to do it or not. we have very different goals and brew on a very different scale with different equipment. You can effectively fly sparge by simply laying a piece of tubing for your sparge water on top of your grain bed. It wouldn't work for commercial brewers, but it works great for homebrewers. –  Denny Conn Jan 22 '11 at 2:56
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No, sparge arms are not necessary.

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It's not necessary, no. But for me it's easier. I ordered the rotation sparge arm (got it for an incredible price...), and since the ammount of sparge water, etc, is dialed in perfectly after so many brews, I start the siphon when I know it's time, and walk away, and come back to a kettle with exactly what I should have, and so far I have had very little, if at all, problems with my OG, preboil and post.

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