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Old 07-24-2010, 05:06 AM   #1
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Default Rice Hulls & Efficiency?

Ok, I just brewed my first AG wheat beer, and it was recommended to me to throw a couple handfuls of rice hulls into the mash to prevent a stuck sparge, which has gotten me thinking.

Rice Hulls do not add any flavors to beer, correct?

The reason we don't mill grain too fine is because you would get more stuck sparges, but you would get higher efficiencies. Coarser milling will result in less chance of a stuck sparge but lower efficiency.

So why don't I just always mill my grain finer and throw in some rice hulls which would in theory increase efficiency and prevent stuck sparges? This is of course assuming that my assumption that rice hulls don't affect flavor is correct.

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Old 07-24-2010, 02:17 PM   #2
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I only use rice hulls for stouts and wheat beers. If your making an ale with no adjuncts you don't need them. They add nothing to your brew as far as flavor. If/when you use them remember to pre-soak them so they don't suck up your yummy wort..... Efficiency is like a D$%k contest with some folks. Consistency is the most important thing when your doing AG. If your efficiency is a constant 75%....great. If your efficiency is 65% that's great too. It's when your efficiency fluctuates that your beer suffers. Consistency will allow you to adjust any recipe to make great beer.

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Old 07-24-2010, 02:27 PM   #3
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Well, I always heard "crush 'till you're scared" about crushing your grain! But, I'm perfectly happy with a .035" gap on my mill. I don't need rice hulls unless I"m doing a "sticky" beer, like using oats or wheat. The wheat and oats don't have husks, so they can really gum up the works and not set up a filter bed like barley does. To help with draining, the hulls "fill in" for the husks.

Some brewers (I think Biermuncher, for one) always use rice hulls, just as a matter of course. That's fine, especially if you buy them in bulk and have tons to use up.
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Old 07-24-2010, 05:24 PM   #4
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A stuck sparge isn't the only downside to over milling your grains. For example, if you shred the barley husks too much it will result in excessive tannin extraction. If you want a super fine crush without turning the husks into powder too, do a search for malt conditioning.

As Hammy said, at a homebrew level consistency is way more important than efficiency. I know there are things I could do to improve my efficiency a few points, but my system is fast, easy to use, and very predictable, which is well worth buying an extra 1/2# of grain every batch.
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