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Old 04-22-2013, 10:00 PM   #1
Christ8242
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Default Rice Hull Alternatives

I recently bought a new grain mill. Ever since my mashes have tended to clump together even when using 100% barley. I figure the new grain mill must be set too close together, but it only has one setting. I don't want to buy another grain mill so I thought about using rice hulls to help distribute the grain bed. This worked great but rice hulls are $2.50/lbs at my lhbs. I get unmilled grain in bulk much cheaper than this (~$0.75/lbs) so I am wondering if I can use it as a rice hull substitute. Has anybody tried using unmilled grain to distribute their mash? Any other alternatives I should consider?

Thanks!

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Old 04-22-2013, 10:14 PM   #2
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I recently bought a new grain mill. Ever since my mashes have tended to clump together even when using 100% barley. I figure the new grain mill must be set too close together, but it only has one setting. I don't want to buy another grain mill so I thought about using rice hulls to help distribute the grain bed. This worked great but rice hulls are $2.50/lbs at my lhbs. I get unmilled grain in bulk much cheaper than this (~$0.75/lbs) so I am wondering if I can use it as a rice hull substitute. Has anybody tried using unmilled grain to distribute their mash? Any other alternatives I should consider?

Thanks!
No, you really need rice hulls. But even at 2.50 a pound, it's a bargain. A pound of rice hulls is a LOT. I mean, you need like a handful in a 5 gallon batch- and that must be just about an ounce or two.

I bought three pounds of rice hulls in August, and it's not even half gone and I make 10 gallon batches!
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Old 04-22-2013, 10:29 PM   #3
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I just started using them a few months ago. It made a big difference. No stuck sparges - even with flaked corn and flaked rye in the mash. I think it's worth the money.

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Old 04-22-2013, 10:36 PM   #4
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No, you really need rice hulls. But even at 2.50 a pound, it's a bargain. A pound of rice hulls is a LOT. I mean, you need like a handful in a 5 gallon batch- and that must be just about an ounce or two.

I bought three pounds of rice hulls in August, and it's not even half gone and I make 10 gallon batches!
Like Yooper posted, don't need much to do the job. However you might consider wrapping scrubbies or scotch brite pads around your manifold to act as an added filter. Haven't personally tried that but if a shortage of rice hulls arise it's something to consider.
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Old 04-23-2013, 12:01 AM   #5
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Thanks for the replies. I was under the impression that I should be adding a whole pound to each 5 gal batch. Thanks for clearing that up. I've been trying to see how low I can bring down the cost of each batch without sacrificing quality. By starting a yeast bank and buying grain and hops in bulk I've been able to bring my costs down to ~$12 for an ale and ~$25 for a lager. That extra $2.50 was nagging at me, not because I can't afford it but because it seemed unnecessary. I was also considering switching out my looped manifold for a proper false bottom. Has anybody done this? Have you noticed a big difference?

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Old 04-23-2013, 12:03 AM   #6
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A pound per 5 gallon batch is way overkill. A pound of hulls will fill a HUGE bag!

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Old 04-23-2013, 12:22 AM   #7
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Wheat bran from the bulk foods store. Very cheap and works well.

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Old 04-23-2013, 12:31 AM   #8
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A pound of rice hulls is a LOT.
Agreed. To put it in perspective, a local micro friend of ours uses one 50# sack in a 2000#+ grainbill (their Hefe). At that rate, with a 10# grainbill you're looking at 1/4 of a pound...an absolute bargain to not deal w/ a stuck run-off!
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Old 04-23-2013, 12:35 AM   #9
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The regulars are going to complain about me pushing BIAB but this is the exact situation that it works best at, a grain milled very fine. The paint strainer bags are nylon, are reusable, clean up easily, and are pretty cheap considering that with some care you can probably get 10 to 15 batches of beer with each bag. I got mine at Home Depot for less than $4 and there were a pair of bags in the container. Ask for them, you probably won't find them otherwise. Make sure you get the 5 gallon size.

When the mash is through, open the valve on your mash tun. If the wort quits coming out before its done, lift the bag and let it drain some more. Sparge as normal but when you are through and the bag has drained, use a pot lid to press down and get the rest of the sugary wort out. Make sure you didn't use too much sparge water as you can get quite a bit more out of the grain by squeezing. If you squeeze hard don't be surprised if your efficiency goes up.

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Old 04-23-2013, 02:35 AM   #10
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The first AG wheat beer I did I used 1/2 pound of rice hulls. It was waaaayyyy too much. I could have got away with probably 1 cup of hulls.

Gary

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