The Meaning of Sparge

The Layger Brewhaus brewing philosophy can be summed up in one word… Sparge!

  • “‘Tis very important to sparge.”—Benjamin Franklin
  • “One must sparge oneself thoroughly from time to time.”—Plato
  • “Yarrrrrr, prepare to be sparged!”—Barbarosa
  • “Let’s get sparged!”—Van Wilder

None of those people said those things. However, they are all correct: sparging is critical, refreshing, scary, and fun.

Here’s how sparging fits into the brewing process:

  1. Boil a bunch of water.
  2. Crush up some tasty grains.
  3. Stick ’em in a big sock.
  4. Drop the sock in the boiling water for awhile.
  5. Sparge.

As you can see, sparging is fifth on the list – it must be pretty important! Unfortunately, none of the homebrew recipes will tell you what “sparging” is. Instead, the recipes assume some prior knowledge (probably “reading” the entire book that preceded the recipe section – like any brewer is sober enough to read!). The recipes literally say “Sparge.” If you’re lucky, you’ll get a “Sparge the grains.”

Layger Brewhaus will now tell you what “sparging” is: Sparging is a metaphor for life.

As we here at Layger Brewhaus have sparged, we have come to know the many facets of sparge and its many true meanings. A few of those:

  • To sparge is to make major, brew-altering decisions without full prior knowledge of the possible consequences.
  • To sparge is to rely on intuition rather than the explicit, written knowledge of the vastly more experienced.
  • To sparge is to use one’s discretion, exercising restraint with repugnant, traditional beer ingredients like “beer finings”.
  • To sparge is to dare, to dream…to pretend that 100°F is “cool enough” to add the yeast after 2 hours of waiting.
Layger self sparge March 2016

Jon enjoys a self-sparge. No, really. That’s a thing.

In short, to sparge is to be foolhardy, relying on sheer dumb luck, millions of years of evolution, the bombproof recipes of America’s homebrew industry, and the gumption of our forefathers.

More technically, to sparge is to rinse the spent grains with hot water then discard them. Much like we at Layger Brewhaus discard our worries, cleansing our souls with beer and our bodies in the hot tub!

Join us, then, in taking up the call of “Sparge!” as more than just a brewing technique, but as a metaphor for life.

The Layger Brewhaus Sparge Charge:

I, [your name here], hereby pledge to be foolhardy, to rinse my worries away with beer, and to remember always that the first guy who brewed beer had no idea what he was doing… and look how that turned out. Doo doo doo doo doo doooooo—SPARGE!

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