Lautering is the next step in brewing beer. Lautering consists of 3 steps: mash out, recirculation and sparging. I break it down into slightly different steps than the consensus as I just 3 pots and 2 strainers to do the lautering. This is my items for lautering and sparging pictured above. I checked with a beer group on the Facebook site to determine whether anyone knew about possible plastic chemicals leaching from coolers used as mash tuns. Instructions are on the web for turning a camping cooler into a mash tun. I was concerned about contamination because I had worked in a plastics lab where talc was being used in a majority of plastics. Talc has MSDS warning about it causing nerve damage. After the debate in the beer homebrewing group, I decided to stick with strainers and pots shown above. I do this lautering and sparging over our tile floor as it's easier than trying to get pots of liquid in and out of the sink.
1. MASH OUT: After an hour of cooking the mash in the 150 temperature range, some books talk about a mash out at above 170 degrees Fahrenheit. So many books vary on this that I'm unsure if it is absolutely necessary. My own brew shop said it isn't needed with the modified grains these days. Some books talk about mash out at just under 170 degrees. I don't see it as totally necessary and can't seem to tell if it makes a difference. Some of the specialty grains don't require it that just need a steeping mentioned earlier. A check of Wikipedia shows that if you are doing a thick mash of low water then you should do a mash out. After you've reached 170 degrees for 5 minutes pull it off the stove.
2. HEAT SPARGE WATER: In a separate stainless steel pot, I start heating 1/2 pot of water to 170 degrees.
3. START LAUTERING AND RECIRCULATION: : While that pot is heating, you can be draining the pot that held the grains into one of the other steel pots using the strainer. Give it 10-15 minutes then reverse the action by moving the strainer containing the grains back over to the original pot that held the grains. Pour the liquid back through the grains - try to pour it evenly over the entire clump of wet grains. Let it drain for about 10-15 minutes more.
4. START SPARGING: About this time, that pot cooking the water should be done. Pull that pot off the stove with some oven mitts as it should be hot. Pour only enough water to get the liquid to the top of that original pot holding the grains. Remember, we started straining the grains back into that original pot and now we need to get that water as close to the top without going over. When we pull the strainer out with the grains, the water level should be about 1 inch from the top of that pot. Right now, some of the grains are submerged in the liquid. Pull that strainer out and place it over one of the other steel pots and drain again. I keep sparging back and forth for about an hour to get all I can get out of the grains.
If you are working with over 2 1/4 lbs of grain you may want to utilize another pot or stainer from the kitchen. All that grain won't fit in the strainers I have. I might use another strainer over a cooking pot from the kitchen to hold the excess grains. I'm probably not lautering and sparging as well as I could have, but I think if I keep straining with both my strainers over an hour I think I'm still getting good efficiency for my beer.