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Old 10-06-2009, 02:58 PM   #1
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Default Stuck Sparges 101?

I finally had a stuck sparge Saturday, a BAD one.

What I think happened was a combination of things:

- More than half the grist bill was wheat

- There was just over three pounds of flaked grains

- I got in a hurry and did not add the grain slow enough

- Thirteen pounds of grain is really pushing it in a 5 gallon MLT

Had to use a paint strainer bag for sparging, I'm not sure how well the conversion worked (VERY white, cloudy wort for the most part). It was a frakking mess.

My 10 gallon MLT is in the works, which will fix the capacity issue. I will correct the errors to my process (after over 25 AG batches, I guess this was bound to happen sooner or later).

What advice do the experts have for me and others to avoid this sticky mess?

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Old 10-06-2009, 03:04 PM   #2
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Rice Hauls (hulls?) work wonders for stuck sparges. Anytime I have more than 3lbs of wheat or flaked anything, I add a pound of these.

I actually had a stuck sparge doing a Bass clone last weekend. It had flaked corn in it, so that may be what caused it, but I think I just got in too much of a hurry and didn't let my grain bed settle long enough after adding my sparge water. I blew into my spigot to get the grains off of my manifold and it started up again.

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Old 10-06-2009, 03:04 PM   #3
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The simplest insurance against a stuck sparge is rice hulls, especially when a high percentage of the grist are 'gummy' grains like wheat or rye. You need the husk material to prevent the mash from glueing down.

An adjustment to your mash schedule can help as well - especially a combination beta glucan/protein rest at 122° for 15-20 minutes, then infuse with hot water up to your saccharification rest temp. You'll probably have to start with a thick mash of 1qt/lb for the 122° step so as to not have an overly thin mash when you infuse up to your sacch rest.

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Old 10-06-2009, 03:09 PM   #4
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+ 1 on Southern's and Angler's suggestion re rice hulls. I brew with wheat often and add 1/2 lb. of rice hulls - they don't weigh much, so that's more than it sounds like!

Also, I am careful when draining the mash run to start slowly - after the flow is established, then I open it up. I read that somewhere (probably here) and have used the technique here. No stuck sparges so far (damn, now I've jinxed myself!)

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Old 10-06-2009, 03:27 PM   #5
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I forgot to put in the original post, but I had about three cups of rice hulls in the mash.

Frankly, I screwed up by dumping too much grain in too fast. The bottom of the MLT was a solid packed dough ball.

Both Better Bottles of that batch are steadily thumping away, but it was a mess.

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Old 10-06-2009, 03:31 PM   #6
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With a grain bill like that, a BG/protein rest and a mash out also help tremendously.

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Old 10-06-2009, 03:40 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FlyGuy View Post
With a grain bill like that, a BG/protein rest and a mash out also help tremendously.
Indeed!

Why rely on additional ingredients when manipulating mash conditions is equally, if not more, effective?
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Old 10-06-2009, 03:42 PM   #8
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Until the 10 gallon MLT comes on line, I'm going to just use more DME in my 9 gallon batches. For 6 gallon batches, I don't have to shove in so much grain.

You know, I wonder if my SS braid got over loaded? Will a copper manifold work better in my 10 gallon MLT build?

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Old 10-06-2009, 03:45 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cpt_Kirks View Post
You know, I wonder if my SS braid got over loaded? Will a copper manifold work better in my 10 gallon MLT build?
It's pretty hard to overload a braid. But if you are worried about it crushing, stick in a section of slotted copper pipe or CPVC. Much cheaper than a manifold, and you get all the filtering/screening benefits of the braid.
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Old 10-06-2009, 04:01 PM   #10
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I'll second the do a protein rest suggestion and add that you might try conditioning the malt prior to milling. I simply drizzle about 100 ml of water into my grain bucket while stirring with my other hand. This really helps to keep the husks in large pieces which make a better filter bed.

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