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Old 08-12-2007, 02:04 PM   #1
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Default New Definition of the term Stuck Mash

Yesterday I had a horrible problem with a stuck mash and stuck sparge. I talked to one of my local brew club members and he asked if there was a lot of "powder" in the grains from a super fine crush. The grains came from morebeer.com and there was a significant amount of powder.

Fast Forward to today when I'm getting ready to brew my pumpkin Ale. I decided to sift every bit of grain through a grain bag to get rid of all this excess powder. I sifted about 5 pounds of grain over my kitchen sink and WOW there was tons of really fine powder by the time I was done. It was like it snowed finely crushed grain husk! Anyway, I thought nothing of it and used my sprayer to wash it down the sink. Low and behold it clogged my kitchen sink! I can't imagine what it would have done to my mash tun! I had to break out a plunger to get rid of the clog, it was pretty ridiculously.

So, that brings me to another question. What do you guys do to avoid this super clogging force in your batches?



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Old 08-12-2007, 02:21 PM   #2
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You've stumbled upon one of the quintessential AG brewer quality controls, the crush. The grains were crushed too fine by whoever filled your order at MoreBeer.com. Need to tell them to grind em up more coarse next time, or build/buy a grain mill and grind them yourself. There shouldn't be flour in your grain bag. Now that you washed some of it down the kitchen sink, there's grain starches there that won't get a chance to convert to sugars. You're probably going to get lower efficiency with this batch, but probably not a stuck sparge.



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Old 08-12-2007, 02:23 PM   #3
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You just "sifted" a bunch of beer down the drain. Some folks will soak 1/2 lb. of rice hulls in water, then rinse (cause they are dirty) and then toss them in the mash. They will help prevent stuck sparges.

Don't be surprised if you don't hit your target O.G.

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Old 08-12-2007, 02:40 PM   #4
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Yeah, I figured that was the case. But I didn't want the headache of dealing with a stuck sparge again. On the bright side, I won't order from morebeer.com again because they not only had this problem, but forgot to send me stuff on two occasions. I did not have a problem with AHS's grain, so they will be my go to in the future.

I'm also going to invest in some rice hulls. I've heard grand things about these, but my LHBS doesn't open till later today and I wanted to get started on my brew early.

Thanks for the replies guys!

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Old 08-12-2007, 07:52 PM   #5
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Just finished my Pumpkin Ale. No sticking and my gravity was 1.050. I was shooting for 1.051. Glad to see that the powder didn't affect my beer that much. =D I can't deal with missing by .001

Cheers!

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Old 08-13-2007, 09:27 AM   #6
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Should have sifted into a sauce pan then added heat and water to dissolve it. Might have hit 1.060!! Anything worth doing is worth doing big, right?

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Old 08-13-2007, 10:57 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grimsawyer
Should have sifted into a sauce pan then added heat and water to dissolve it. Might have hit 1.060!! Anything worth doing is worth doing big, right?
Hehe, I like your style!

In all honesty, I thought it would affect the overall gravity but wasn't really sure how much. It ended up being about a point which I can deal with. I'm sure that gunk would have been heck to get outta my tun given that it clogged my freaking sink! Although the hot water would have helped I'm sure.

Either way, I'm going to start requesting a coarser crush on my grains and I did some alterations to my tun that should help me keep from getting stuck mashes in the future!

Yay for tweaking your system!
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Old 08-13-2007, 01:00 PM   #8
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Yeah...I wonder how accommodating Morebeer will be to your crush requests. They probably have some big crushers, and unless you're a "high-roller" who spends a ton of money there, I'm not so sure they'll adjust their settings just for you. But then again, maybe they're really cool and will do just that.

Before I got my Barley Crusher, I used to get alot of pre-crushed grain from AHS, and I've never gotten a stuck mash/sparge. The factory settings on the Barley Crusher have proven excellent as well...on Saturday, with the massive 1.147 OG Meph Stout, I had no stuck sparge, and 83% mash efficiency. If you plan on mashing long-term, I would recommend the Barley Crusher as soon as possible. Best thing I ever did...the freshness and cheapness is paramount.

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Old 08-13-2007, 01:36 PM   #9
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Some sort of mill is on my list. Edwort - question for you, you mention rinsing the rice hulls because they are dirty? That is the first I've heard of it. Without rinsing does that impart off flavors into the mash? I realize they may be dirty but aren't they just as dirty as the malted grain?

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Old 08-14-2007, 03:45 AM   #10
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Malted grain is at least rinsed during the germination process.


As for the crush, well, let me just say you will never be satisfied doing All Grain until you start crushing your own grain.



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