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Old 08-08-2011, 03:24 PM   #1
ASantiago
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Default Attn Experienced Pumpkin Ale Brewers - Stuck Sparge Question

This past weekend I brewed my first pumpkin ale, an all-grain job based on the "Pumpkin Spice Ale" recipe in Jamil Zainasheff's and John Palmer's book "Brewing Classic Styles".

I used 5 15oz cans (4.69 lbs) of pumpkin pie pulp (Libby's), baked for 1 hr at 330F and mashed for 90 minutes. I also used 1/2 lb of rice hulls.

The mash was a disaster. The pumpkin pulp pretty much liquified, only to bond with the grain and create what I believe is the brewing equivalent of freaking concrete. I had an extremely hard time getting any of the liquid out, at one point almost giving up on the whole thing. Eventually I was able to get about 4.5 gallons of wort out and adjusted the procedure using Brewsmith to produce a beer similar to the original in OG.

I did a good bit of research before doing this brew and apparently I missed any warnings and war stories that may be out there about stuck sparges. Nowhere did I find anything about how chaotic it can be. I mean, the 10-gal round cooler mash tun's output tube was totally clogged. I had to take it apart to unclog it.

I have some thoughts about the possible issues.

  • 75 oz (5 15 oz cans) of pulp is waaaay too much.
  • 1/2 lb of rice hulls is not nearly enough for a 19 lb grist (~14 lbs of grain + ~5 lbs of pulp)
  • Instead of leaving the rice hulls undisturbed at the bottom of the mash tun, I mixed it in with the grain
  • Instead of leaving the pumpkin pulp on top of the grain undisturbed, I mixed it in with the grains

So, OK, how do *you* do it? Clearly there are people out there successfully brewing these recipes. What's the trick?
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Old 08-08-2011, 03:43 PM   #2
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I just brewed my pumpkin spiced ale this past weekend. I use approximately the same amount pumpkin in my mash. However I use 1-1.5 lb rice hulls. I just mix them in my mash as I do the pumpkin. ( how can u have rice hulls on bottom & pumpkin on top? Dont u stir your mash?) You are going to have a SLOW LONG sparge. It's normal when using pumpkin. Just don't rush it or you'll have problems. It took me over an hour to sparge my 5 gallon batch. I use a 10 gallon cooler with SS braided hose in bottom.

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Old 08-08-2011, 03:53 PM   #3
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My last pumpkin took 2 hours and 15 min to sparge. As long as somethings is still coming out it isn't stuck, no matter how slow. I would definetly use more rice hulls though.

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Old 08-08-2011, 03:56 PM   #4
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LOL. sorry.

You guys mash the pumpkin? Wow... I just cut up some fresh pumpkin, baked it and then threw it in the boil for the last 15 minutes. Everyone loved the ale, it just the right amount of pumpkin flavor, a little bit at the end and beginning that almost subconsciously makes you think of fall and pumpkins and all of that- but not so much that it tasted like a piece of pumpkin pie... when you say its pumpkin ale, they say "ah hah"

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Old 08-08-2011, 04:03 PM   #5
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I do 60oz of Pumpkin, 1lb rice hulls, and a thin mash, like 1.5qt/lb or higher. It makes for a slow but manageable sparge.

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Old 08-08-2011, 04:05 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mpavlik22 View Post
I use 1-1.5 lb rice hulls. I just mix them in my mash as I do the pumpkin. ( how can u have rice hulls on bottom & pumpkin on top? Dont u stir your mash?) You are going to have a SLOW LONG sparge. It's normal when using pumpkin.
More rice hulls sounds like at least part of the answer.

I do stir the mash. I was just wondering if there was some kind of exception when dealing with pumpkin ales.
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Old 08-08-2011, 04:06 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sagnew440 View Post
My last pumpkin took 2 hours and 15 min to sparge. As long as somethings is still coming out it isn't stuck, no matter how slow. I would definetly use more rice hulls though.
Maybe it's a matter of expectations. I definitely wasn't expecting a long sparge, particularly with rice hulls in the mix.
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Old 08-08-2011, 04:09 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by badmajon View Post
I just cut up some fresh pumpkin, baked it and then threw it in the boil for the last 15 minutes.
I thought about this as an alternative. But then thought that would be just moving the problem to post-boil, when it might be made worse by all the other stuff then in the liquid, such as hot and cold break and hops, and at a time the wort is most vulnerable.

Granted, the grain wouldn't be there.

So, not saying it doesn't work...
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Old 08-08-2011, 04:12 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scottland View Post
I do 60oz of Pumpkin, 1lb rice hulls, and a thin mash, like 1.5qt/lb or higher. It makes for a slow but manageable sparge.
I ended up thinning out the mash in the end and that's what ended up letting me get the 4.5 gals out of it.
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Old 08-08-2011, 04:32 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ASantiago View Post
I thought about this as an alternative. But then thought that would be just moving the problem to post-boil, when it might be made worse by all the other stuff then in the liquid, such as hot and cold break and hops, and at a time the wort is most vulnerable.

Granted, the grain wouldn't be there.

So, not saying it doesn't work...
No it wasn't an issue at all. But again, back then I was using an immersion chiller. I'm not sure if I could put that through my CF chiler, and certainly not through a plate chiller. In fact, I know I couldn't.

I'd say do what I did, and use an immersion chiller. Which kind of makes me think, there is a place for immersion chillers after all. Nothing pisses you off more than a stuck chiller on an otherwise flawless brew day.
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