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Old 07-15-2012, 03:47 AM   #1
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Default stuck sparge today

today I had the mother of all stuck sparges.....first one ever. I use a 10 gallon round igloo with a cpvc octangon manifold. I preheated my cooler with 13.5 quarts of 185F water, let it cool to 165F doughed in 10.5 lbs grain, stirred and checked temp at 154F. 60 minute mash.
I vorlaufed but only got 1 quarts, that had me worried already. When I tried to drain the MLT it was slow as hell and only got about 2.5 quarts and I could see that I had plenty of liquid on top of the grain.
Not knowing what else to do, I added half my sparge water and tried to rinse the grains...not happening, I stirred, blew back through the drain hose, got maybe a gallon after 10 minutes, kept trying to dislodge the grain, added the rest of my sparge water, still not right. Then all of a sudden th whole volume ran out and I knew the manifold had come apart from too much stirring and such. I ended up dumping the grain out into a pot, removing the manifold, cleaning and reassembing. Added grain and water and sparged. I have my doubts on this one but brewed it anyway. I also added a lb of DME as I feel the wort is too thin.
Only good thing today is that my new BK worked right as far as beginning boil volumes and ending boil volume. My OG was 1.052 which is lower than I like but this was a recipe I made up with what I had on hand.
Question-what causes the stuck sparge? Was the grain crushed too fine? Should I switch to a false bottom or maybe a braided hose? My manifold has slots cut with a hacksaw and they do face the bottom. What a brew nitemare, on top of all that it tried to rain in the middle of all this :^(

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Old 07-15-2012, 02:22 PM   #2
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Do you have a recipe? If you use around 50% wheat then that can cause a stuck sparge. I had made a pumpkin ale yesterday which called for 60 oz of pumpkin. I put a bunch of rice hulls in the mash and it help alot. I could have seen how bad it would have gotten without them. Maybe next time trying using them.

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Old 07-15-2012, 03:11 PM   #3
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The recipe I actually used was :
9 lbs marris otter
1 lb munich
1/2 lb 60L crystal
1 lb amber DME
1 oz Simcoe 60 min
1/2 oz williamette 30 min
1/2 oz williamette 15 min

The grain just looked like it was crushed too fine to me.
I hate that the brew day turned into work because I really enjoy this. I had just finished my fermentation chamber and was looking forward to actually controlling the fermentation temps. I also had just downloaded Brewsmith but have not yet learned how to use it to my advantage. I will need help with that, but have a grown son that wants to help, so maybe we can do this together.
I have never used rice hulls but I guess they are used to help keep the grain from plugging the screen? Thanks for the reply, sorry for the long post.

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Old 07-15-2012, 04:35 PM   #4
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Default grain crush picture

untitled-1.jpg
This is a picture of two bags of grain I have, one on the right is part of the maris otter that I used yesterday and had a stuck sparge, the one on the left is american two row I purchased several weeks ago. It is hard to tell from the photo because of the light reflection but the one on the right has way too much flour and I think is too finly crushed. I have read on here about the crush leading to problems with efficiency loss and stuck sparges but never realized how critical the crush is. I'm learning....I'm learning
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Old 07-15-2012, 04:42 PM   #5
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Without seeing your grain I would hazard a guess that your grain was milled to fine. If your husks are too shredded/too much flour present it can cause a stuck sparge. It isn't as big of a threat while batch sparging, but is something to keep a close eye on if fly sparging. If your lbhs milled it then check what the gap setting was and try dialing it back until you see split, or separate husks.
Rice hulls are awesome for preventing stuck sparges, and dirt cheap to boot. I batch sparge, but I still toss a handful in any time a recipe has 30% or more wheat or rye.

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Old 07-15-2012, 04:47 PM   #6
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I think you have it. Looking at your grain bill you shouldn't have needed rice hulls. But if your grain was over crushed that can lead to a stuck sparge. The key to crushing grain is you want to break it up good without pulverising the hulls. The hulls need to remain in tact in order to have good drainage. I would suggess keeping some rice hulls on hand in case you get some grain that looks like that again.

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Old 07-15-2012, 05:00 PM   #7
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Default thanks for the input

I appreciate all the input from you folks. Here's to the next batch being better and easier

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