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Question: What is the difference between an EZ-Masher and Phil's Phalse Bottom?
Answer: This is one of the first things a brewer needs to decide when he gets into all-grain brewing. These are two different types of strainer gizmo that goes into the bottom of a lauter tun so that the malty sugary solution from your mash can be separated from the grain husks.
Phil's Phalse Bottom is a disk-shaped plastic widget with a bazillion small holes drilled in it. A hose barb is mounted in the center where the outlet hose can be mounted. The hose can be connected to the outlet spigot if your lauter tun has one, or can be brought back up through the mash. An EZ-Masher is a piece of stainless steel screen formed into a tube shape. It is usually mounted with metal tubing going to the outlet spigot of the lauter tun. Over the years, I've used both for brewing, and have found some differences in use.
The EZ-Masher has less surface area and smaller openings. This leads to a more rapid formation of a fine filter cake around the screen. This cake traps small starch particles as well as grain husks, which results in clearer run-off. As a result, you'll spend less time recycling wort before you can start adding sparge water. The filter cake is also more stable, so if you move or bump the lauter tun during sparging, it is less likely to be disturbed. Phil's Phalse Bottom covers a much larger part of the bottom of the lauter tun, and also sits lower. As a result, it allows more uniform flow of sparge water though the grain bed. The end result is better extraction efficiency. With my brewing set-up, I get about 28.5 gravity points per gallon per pound of grain using Phil's Phalse Bottom, compared to about 25 gravity points per gallon per pound of grain using the EZ-Mash. This is a difference of about 12%. To put this in perspective, a recipe that produces a starting gravity of 1.056 with Phil's would yield only 1.050 with the EZ-Mash. The down side of Phil's is that the grain bed is rather unstable and any bumping results in a slug of grain debris going into your boiling kettle. Overall, both products are simple to use and allow for effective sparging. If wort clarity or brewing time is an issue, and your lauter tun has an outlet spigot, go with the EZ-Mash and add an extra pound of grain to your recipe. If efficiency is more your preference, or you are using a bucket with no outlet spigot, go with the Phil's. Both products can be purchased at the Culver City Home Brewing Supply Company.