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Lautering and Sparging

Here’s the lowdown on lautering and the skinny on sparging.

Dave Carpenter Feb 9, 2016 - 4 min read

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Brewers love to describe the mundane with esoteric terms. We say we pitch yeast, when pouring is more descriptive. Milled grain is hydrated with hot strike water, but there’s nothing terribly striking about mashing in, unless the preparation of oatmeal arrests your attention, in which case, prepare to have your mind blown. And then there is brewing liquor, which is not what you nip from your flask on a cold brew day, but rather treated water used throughout the brew process. If you don’t treat your water, then brewing liquor is just water, plain and simple.

But the terms lautering and sparging live up to their mystery and can cause confusion, especially for new all-grain brewers. Here’s the lowdown on lautering and the skinny on sparging.


Lauter comes from the German word abläutern, meaning roughly “to rinse off” or purify. Lautering refers to the process of separating sweet wort from the grain bed. In commercial breweries, the mash is frequently pumped from the mash tun to a dedicated lauter tun, freeing the mash tun for a new brew. Homebrewers typically mash and lauter in the same vessel, called a mash-lauter tun, or MLT. The key piece of equipment that enables a mash tun to do double duty as a lauter tun is the false bottom, screen, manifold, or braid.

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