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Old 07-06-2009, 01:31 AM   #1
Berlbrew
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Default What is wrong with my MLT?

So I did my third AG batch this week and encountered a problem I have been having each time. I'm using a FluyGuy round cooler MLT with a steel braid. When it comes time to collect the first runnings and I open the ball valve, vorlauf, then I have a solid flow for about 30 seconds. Then the wort slows down to the point where it stops flowing altogether. I can only get about half a gallon (at best) from the first runnings. I've tried stirring and jostling the steel braid and I just can't get it to flow well.

So basically I'll try to get what I can then before adding the sparge. Once I'm sparging I can keep a good flow, but I think that has to do with the increased pressure coming from the sparge water sitting on top of the grain. In the end I do get 6.5 gallons of wort but have been missing my post-boil OG by about .015. This week it was an amber with an expected OG of 1.061 and an actual OG of 1.044. I did mash 3-4 degrees too high but yesterday I measured 1.011 so I must have extacted enough fermentable sugars during the mash.

Is my low efficiency related to the fact that I can't collect my full first runnings? What should I do to try to improve the suction and flow of my MLT?

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Old 07-06-2009, 01:34 AM   #2
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get a bazooka screen, OR add .25 pounds of rice hulls to your mash to increase the flow. it may also be your SS braid is collapsing, so you can cut a million holes in a rubber food grade tube and slide it in.

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Old 07-06-2009, 01:37 AM   #3
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Sounds frustrating. When you first start your flow, are you doing it very slowly, so that it runs slowly for the first minute or two? This will help keep the flow going if the problem is that your grain bed is becoming too compacted, perhaps.

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Old 07-06-2009, 01:40 AM   #4
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Rice hulls are a good idea. The braid isn't collapsing because I actually did the whole cut holes and re-insert the tubing thing when I built it.

When I first start the flow I just throw the ball valve open, kind of like a tap. You're saying I should start it slowly- I think that's a good idea, I'll have to try it next time around.

Also, what's a bazooka screen?

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Old 07-06-2009, 01:46 AM   #5
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especially the first runnings should be slow. it should take at least5-10 minutes to drain the first runnings. even the vourlaf should be p-a-i-n-f-u-l-l-y slow. this will let the grain bed naturally settle and give you a good filter so the braid doesn't have to do all the work. it also lets all of the heavier, sugar laden wort drain out into the kettle.

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Old 07-06-2009, 03:08 AM   #6
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Take the tube out from the inside of the braid. If it is a real genuine SS steel braid, IMHO you don't need the tube and it won't collapse.

IMHO the tubeinside the braid is an example of over tinkering and an attempted improvement that is only a hindrance!

If you really think you need something inside the braid, coil up a piece of copper wire on a pencil.

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Old 07-06-2009, 05:02 AM   #7
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bazooka screen fits inside the cooler. i have one on my 10 gallon cooler and it works great! and i have the ss braid on my 5 gallon cooler tun aswell. check out northern brewer.com and look at the mash screen.

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Old 07-06-2009, 06:00 AM   #8
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I used FlyGuy's instructions to put a ball valve on my 3G cooler to do partial mashes. I used it for the first time today and got my first stuck sparge too.

I started the tap slowly and got about 3,4 quarts before it stopped. I tried blowing into the tube, stirring up the grains and scraping the braid with my mash spoon. Nothing worked.

In the end I scooped out my grains and took the braid off the barb. At first I was going to cut more holes into the vinyl tube inside the braid but instead I just took it out and attached the braid using ss clamps. Then everything was just great. No flow problems.

Maybe i didn't cut enough holes into the tube, or maybe they weren't big enough but i think that the tube was restricting flow and causing the stuck sparge.

I agree with WilserBrewer, the tubing isn't necessary. FlyGuy only used it becasue his clamps weren't all stainless steel and they rusted after a few brews. As long as you can find all ss clamps the braid sufficient.

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Old 07-06-2009, 06:08 AM   #9
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You have tubing on the end of your ball valve to maintain a siphon, right?

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Old 07-06-2009, 06:44 AM   #10
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yeah i've got about a foot of it on there.

if you mean me that is.

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