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Old 11-04-2009, 08:05 PM   #1
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Default Talk to me about manual vorlaufing.

So I've been doing all grain for a while but can't seem to get one particular element ironed out: the vorlauf. I mash in a 10 gallon rubbermaid cooler with a stainless false bottom. No matter how much I manually recirculate, it won't seem to run clear. The method I use is to run off wort into a pitcher, then carefully pour the wort on top of the mash, trying not to disturb the grain bed. I've attempted this by pouring into a collander, into a bowl inside a collander, on a plate in the mash, on an upside-down plate in the mash, on a pie tin with holes punched in it, and several more I'm probably forgetting. Nothing seems to work. How is everyone else adding the wort back to the mash? After I recirculate the full pitcher (2 qt) about 8-10 times I give up and begin running off into the kettle. I've taken to putting a nylon mesh bag on the hose to catch all the big stuff, but all the little particles make it through. I didn't think it was affecting the beer, but I recieved a couple mentions of astringeny in the HBT contest so maybe the particles making it into the boil are causing problems. How do I get it to run clear??!



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Old 11-04-2009, 08:07 PM   #2
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Are you milling pretty aggressively?

Fly-sparging, I gather, because you mention not disrupting the grain bed?



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Old 11-04-2009, 08:10 PM   #3
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standard gap on a barley crusher. conditioning the malt beforehand makes the situation worse.

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Old 11-04-2009, 08:15 PM   #4
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Are you opening the valve multiple times while collecting? This will cause the initial rush each time you open the valve. I had your problem till I learned that, Now, once opened I collect till clear, move pitcher out of way and it drains into bucket. Then gently add runnings back.

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Old 11-04-2009, 08:15 PM   #5
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If you're getting astringency, I wouldn't be so quick to assume the relatively minute amount of husk material getting into the boil is to blame, though.

When mentioning astringency on your scoresheets, did the judges identify a possible root cause? Were the beers in question heavily hopped? When I judge, I try to differentiate between hop-derived astringency that you might get in an IPA, for example, vs. tannins as a result of wonky mash conditions.

I suspect that a wort that won't clear may either have unconverted starches, but the particles slipping through might mean the false bottom may not be fitted properly?

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Old 11-04-2009, 08:16 PM   #6
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A big ole hole in your false bottom? Even then, I'm not sure how conditioning could make it worse.

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Old 11-04-2009, 08:17 PM   #7
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Could be your water profile as I believe flyangler was mentioning.

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Old 11-04-2009, 09:32 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IrregularPulse View Post
Are you opening the valve multiple times while collecting? This will cause the initial rush each time you open the valve. I had your problem till I learned that, Now, once opened I collect till clear, move pitcher out of way and it drains into bucket. Then gently add runnings back.
Yes, I open and close it probably 8-10 times though doing it all at once wouldn't help as even when I drain into the kettle particles come through the whole time with a big rush of junk right as the siphon is lost at the end.

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Originally Posted by flyangler18 View Post
If you're getting astringency, I wouldn't be so quick to assume the relatively minute amount of husk material getting into the boil is to blame, though.

When mentioning astringency on your scoresheets, did the judges identify a possible root cause? Were the beers in question heavily hopped? When I judge, I try to differentiate between hop-derived astringency that you might get in an IPA, for example, vs. tannins as a result of wonky mash conditions.

I suspect that a wort that won't clear may either have unconverted starches, but the particles slipping through might mean the false bottom may not be fitted properly?
It sounded like more of a tannin issue than a hoppy astringency. I don't think it's unconverted starches, I average 85-90% efficiency on most batches (which might be causing problems too, I'm going to start doing one big batch sparge instead of two smaller ones). The small particles are most probably the flour from the grind. They come through constantly except for some wheat beers or decoction mashes I've done where that thick layer of muck forms on top which seems to filter them out. Larger particles come through frequently too though. The false bottom fits fine, but I do think it lifts slightly sometimes allowing grain to go around it. There is always some grain compacted under it after I empty the tun. It must happen during stirring.

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A big ole hole in your false bottom? Even then, I'm not sure how conditioning could make it worse.
I get more particles coming through since the whole hulls from a crushed conditioned malt don't allow the grain bed to compact and the little bits slip right through.

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Could be your water profile as I believe flyangler was mentioning.
I've been adjusting my water profile for a long time now (mineral additions and/or 5.2 pH stabilizer). I'm pretty sure it's not that.

Thanks for the help everyone! I really hope to get this thing figured out.
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Old 11-04-2009, 09:37 PM   #9
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How are other's pouring the wort back into the mash without disturbing the grain bed? I feel like if I could recirculate a few times without disturbing the grain bed I could get the wort to clear. But no matter how gently I try to pour it back in, and what I pour it on to disperse the stream, it seems that the grains get kicked up.

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Old 11-04-2009, 09:44 PM   #10
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Perhaps you should try switching to a braid or a manifold? Sorry I'm not much help, but I've had a lot of success with my manifold...



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