Just in case you’re coming here to learn only about continuous or fly sparging and not after my post on batch sparging, I’ll recap a little and then dive in.
What is Sparging?
This occurs at the end of your mash. Using hot water (typically 170 degrees) you add around 1.5 times more water to your tun than you had in the mash. For example if you mashed with 8 quarts of water, you’ll sparge with 12.
Sparging rinses the grain bed, extracting more sugars and without bring the tannins along for the ride. It also determine you boil volume and initial pre-boil gravity.
Continuous (Fly) Sparging
With this sparge method, you’re going to sprinkle your sparge water into your mash tun over the period of 60-90 minutes. During that time you’ll want to keep the sparge water up around 170 – which can be a little tricky. But the pay off is higher efficiency and in a lot of brewers opinions – better beer.
You’ll need some extra equipment as well. You’ll need a hot water bucket and a fly arm. I use my bottling bucket and attach a small length of hose to my fly arm (hence why some people refer to it as fly sparging) that sits on the top of my mash tun.
I don’t make it the full hour either, usually 20-30 mins. The goal is to have a single run of wort (unlike batch sparging where you essentially have two).
Continuous is much “cleaner” in the fact that you’ll aiming to have a steady, constant sparge happening. This will firm up the grain bed and you’ll have less tannins and husks in your boil – plus there’s less of a change of getting a stuck sparge.
Overall, this method is more efficient that batch sparging, but if you over sparge, you run the risk of getting an overall thinner wort.
Secondly, this method requires a lot more time and attention to be spent on brew day– which isn’t always a bad thing to the perfectionist brewer.