Improving Brewhouse Efficiency by Adjusting Mash Thickness and Lauter and Sparge Volumes

Eddie Gutierrez and Drew Russey. Saint Arnold Brewing Company, Houston, TX, U.S.A.
The nuances of every brewhouse are unique, and thus every brewery faces unique challenges in optimizing their brewhouse processes. However, improving brewhouse efficiency is a worthwhile and profitable goal because it can lower raw material usage, save time, and ultimately save money without decreasing quality. Brewhouse efficiency improvement work often focuses on the malt milling process to create an ideal grist composition and mill setting. This study acknowledges the results of this practice and investigates the benefits of varying mash thickness and managing liquor and lauter running volumes to further improve brewhouse efficiency without increasing lauter time in both single and double-mash brewing. The study focuses on two cases in particular. The first is a single-mash beer with original gravity of 15.4°P, and the second is a double-mash beer with original gravity of 23.8°P. Double-mash beers traditionally have no sparge and require two mashes and lauters to get to boil kettle full volume with gravity close to 23°P. All experiments were conducted on a 140 bbl BrauKon refurbished brewhouse with BrauControl automation and used the records from unaltered batches from the previous year as the control. Brewhouse efficiency was increased by adjusting mash thickness, liquor volume, and lauter running volume during the brewing process, resulting in reduced malt usage and accelerated lauter times. The successful process improvements were combined and adopted as the new standard practices for the brewing methods of the two beers.