12 hour brew day from hell!!

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Elmo Peach

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I have heard about stuck mash, read about it, even watched a Youtube video about it. Now I have lived it. OMG!

I bought a grain mill (Cereal Killer 2 rollers) I set it up with a chargecard and ground 12 pound of grain. I got my Brewzilla out, heated the water snd mashed in. Ah, all was right with the world. A few minutes after the pump started I heard a beep. I turned to look at my Robobrew and saw E3 error code. Now I thought my unit had malfuntioned so I borrowed one from my buddy. Same thing happened. AGGG now what? Both units had burnt wort stuck tot he bottom. I cleaned my buddies first and started to calm down.

Finally when the panic subsided I realized I had a stuck mash. I had ground the grain to fine. I was so distraught I thought about just throwing it all away but I could not bring my self to waste 12 pounds of grist. I emptied out the Robobrew Brewzilla 3.1.1 into a brew bag put it and the wort into a 10 gallon kettle then I hooked up an INKbird controler to a hot plate and finished the wort.

It is now in the allrounder under pressure it seems to be very cloudy. I am thinking it is from the fine grind on the grain. Or cooking it in a kettle for a long time maybe 2 hrs. time slpped away on me, whatever, it will be some kind of beer.

I would like to hear how to get the grind right and what can be done to this beer to clear it. The OG was 1.064 Sunday at 7:30 pm today (Tue. 815:an the gravity is 1.018) still very cloudy.

!0 lbs. Weyerman Pilsner
1 lb. Swean Munich Dark
1/2 Lb. carpils
1/2 lb. Acidulated malt.

1/2 oz Saaz 3.4aa first wort
1 1/2 oz Saaz 3.4 @ 30 min
1 Oz Saaz 3.4 @ 10 min.

1 whirlfloc tab @ 15

Lallemand Voss kviek yeast pitched at 82 degrees f.
 

sicktght311

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Every new grain mill requires some trial and error before you find your proper crush. Brew another beer and back the crush off a bit and see what your efficiency looks like. Also start recirculation slow, and keep it medium speed through the mash. Dont run the recirculation full speed.

And finally, dont worry too much about the clarity. Once you hit final gravity, cold crash, and keep it there for a few days. Everything should drop clear no problem
 

Sam_92

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Before I brewed BiaB I adjusted my mill gap using the raised numbers on a credit card. Maybe not the most accurate way but it worked in my mash tun.

On the beers I used Lallemand Voss they never, ever cleared up but I didn't use any fining agents either. Voss is a diastaticus yeast so it may need some extra time in the fermenter as it will be breaking down left over starches into sugars and then fermenting them.

Also, don't try to save Voss yeast in the fridge in a mason jar or beer bottle for six months because even at that cold temperature it will keep breaking down starches and sugars until it finally explodes. Very messy lesson learned.
 

Henbrew

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I use around a 0.037-0.040" mill gap with my Brewzilla. I recently started grain conditioning before milling and was surprised at how much it helps. I typically get around 80% efficiency.

I wouldn't worry about the clarity at this time, it should clear just fine over time.
 

day_trippr

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fwiw, I run a Cereal Killer at .032" for barley, set using an automotive feeler gauge set.
I run my old Barley Crusher in reverse with an .025" gap for wheat, oats and the occasional rye.

Just for grins I just used my micrometer on handful of credit cards and found the stock material tends to be right around .028", but the embossing depth varies greatly and can bring the effective thickness pretty darn close to .050"!

So I would not trust "credit card" as a standard unit ;)

Cheers!
 

sibelman

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Sorry you had such a bummer of a brew day, @Elmo Peach.

To adjust mill gap does not require an entire batch. Mill a bit, check the result, adjust, repeat until you achieve the desired crush. (This assumes you know what that is, of course.) Maybe aim for a little coarser for the next batch, then fine tune to boost efficiency?
 

Sam_92

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Thanks @day_trippr for the correction! I have been thinking about getting some feeler gauges for that exact reason but currently my mill is "eye-balled" and I get decent efficiency and mostly biab so I haven't spent the dough.
 

Golddiggie

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I've always used feeler gauges to set the gap on my malt mills. It's really the only way to KNOW what the gap is. Since every manufacturer system has an optimal crush size (many share, but you need to get it set correctly for your setup) that's what you need to use. Often the crush size is a range. Some are a shorter range than others. Even if you caliper the CC you used to set the gap, I wouldn't trust/use it.
 

madscientist451

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I would like to hear how to get the grind right and what can be done to this beer to clear it. The OG was 1.064 Sunday at 7:30 pm today (Tue. 815:an the gravity is 1.018) still very cloudy.

The beer will clear out if you give it a chance, you can also use clearing agents like gelatin if you like.
But if you want really clear beer, Hamm's is like $16.50 a 30 pack or you could get other industrial beer.
Relax and have a cloudy or semi-clear homebrew and see if you like the taste, then start figuring how to clear it.
:mug:
 

Dancy

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I have the same mill, use a credit card and get a fine crush that works well with my Wilser bag in the malt pipe of my Mash & Boil. I use rice hulls for moderate to heavier grain bills. No stuck mash yet.
 

Golddiggie

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Maybe credit cards aren't all the same thickness?
Not exactly made to tight tolerances. Hell, with the process they use I'm sure there's more than enough variation in the same base cards being used by different companies/banks/etc.

IME/IMO, if you want to set the gap to a KNOWN value, then either caliper the card, along all the edges you will be using (mark them as such) to see what they come out to. I just checked mine. They range form about .029" to .033". None of those are the right gap for my false bottom (.034-.036"). IF you're not doing BIAB, then getting the gap CORRECT for the false bottom/filtering item is very important. You don't want to go too tight a crush. Well, unless you LIKE to get a stuck mash/sparge. Or want to toss rice hulls into every batch.
 

youngdh

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Before I brewed BiaB I adjusted my mill gap using the raised numbers on a credit card. Maybe not the most accurate way but it worked in my mash tun.

On the beers I used Lallemand Voss they never, ever cleared up but I didn't use any fining agents either. Voss is a diastaticus yeast so it may need some extra time in the fermenter as it will be breaking down left over starches into sugars and then fermenting them.

Also, don't try to save Voss yeast in the fridge in a mason jar or beer bottle for six months because even at that cold temperature it will keep breaking down starches and sugars until it finally explodes. Very messy lesson learned.
To the last paragraph, if banking yeast in your fridge in jars or vials you can’t screw the lids on tight or pressure will build up and something will eventually give causing a mess. I’ve banked both Voss and Hornindal just fine for a year but leave the caps on loose.
 

Cloud Surfer

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Sorry to hear about your frustrating brew day. It does seem to be an American thing to run these really tight mill gaps, because I keep reading these same stories over and over again.

In my BrewZilla 65 I use a 1.1mm mill gap. I get mid/high 80% efficiency for my small ABV beers, easy mashing and sparging, no rice hulls or such needed. My brew days are effortless and I’ve never remotely seen a blocked pump or stuck sparge. It perplexes me, what is the advantage of crushing at credit card thickness?
 

Henbrew

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Sorry to hear about your frustrating brew day. It does seem to be an American thing to run these really tight mill gaps, because I keep reading these same stories over and over again.

In my BrewZilla 65 I use a 1.1mm mill gap. I get mid/high 80% efficiency for my small ABV beers, easy mashing and sparging, no rice hulls or such needed. My brew days are effortless and I’ve never remotely seen a blocked pump or stuck sparge. It perplexes me, what is the advantage of crushing at credit card thickness?
I agree that a course crush is plenty fine and headache free. I haven't seen any improvement in my efficiency from going below 0.040" (1.016mm) with my Brewzilla. Only time a finer crush worked okay for me was when I did BIAB and could get >80% efficiency.
 

Sam_92

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To the last paragraph, if banking yeast in your fridge in jars or vials you can’t screw the lids on tight or pressure will build up and something will eventually give causing a mess. I’ve banked both Voss and Hornindal just fine for a year but leave the caps on loose.
I actually put my yeast slurry in beer bottles and cap them. Usually they build up a little bit of pressure from the priming sugar but I just open them over the sink. The Voss outsmarted me though and kept breaking down starches for the past six months. :rolleyes:

Really my goal is to bottle and brew the same day so I'm not storing yeast in the fridge at all.
 

GoodTruble

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Tons of good Robobrew/Brewzilla advice in this thread.......


It may not necessarily be the crush size. In the Brewzilla, you can use the valve on the recirculation pipe to slow down the flow so the wort does not gather on top faster than it can circulate down. And the center drain pipe (which many don't use/block off) should allow overflow back down to the bottom in case the recirculation is flowing to the top too fast.

Also, mixing in a few small handfuls of rice hulls as you dough in your grains goes a long way toward preventing stuck mashes.

Also, the manual says to not use both heating elements while the malt pipe is inserted. Almost everyone misses that.

Good luck with the Brewzilla next time. It's a pretty good electric brewing option, but it takes awhile to get the/your process worked out.
 
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Bill Tong

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Blazinlow86

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I have heard about stuck mash, read about it, even watched a Youtube video about it. Now I have lived it. OMG!

I bought a grain mill (Cereal Killer 2 rollers) I set it up with a chargecard and ground 12 pound of grain. I got my Brewzilla out, heated the water snd mashed in. Ah, all was right with the world. A few minutes after the pump started I heard a beep. I turned to look at my Robobrew and saw E3 error code. Now I thought my unit had malfuntioned so I borrowed one from my buddy. Same thing happened. AGGG now what? Both units had burnt wort stuck tot he bottom. I cleaned my buddies first and started to calm down.

Finally when the panic subsided I realized I had a stuck mash. I had ground the grain to fine. I was so distraught I thought about just throwing it all away but I could not bring my self to waste 12 pounds of grist. I emptied out the Robobrew Brewzilla 3.1.1 into a brew bag put it and the wort into a 10 gallon kettle then I hooked up an INKbird controler to a hot plate and finished the wort.

It is now in the allrounder under pressure it seems to be very cloudy. I am thinking it is from the fine grind on the grain. Or cooking it in a kettle for a long time maybe 2 hrs. time slpped away on me, whatever, it will be some kind of beer.

I would like to hear how to get the grind right and what can be done to this beer to clear it. The OG was 1.064 Sunday at 7:30 pm today (Tue. 815:an the gravity is 1.018) still very cloudy.

!0 lbs. Weyerman Pilsner
1 lb. Swean Munich Dark
1/2 Lb. carpils
1/2 lb. Acidulated malt.

1/2 oz Saaz 3.4aa first wort
1 1/2 oz Saaz 3.4 @ 30 min
1 Oz Saaz 3.4 @ 10 min.

1 whirlfloc tab @ 15

Lallemand Voss kviek yeast pitched at 82 degrees f.

You were circulating your mash to quickly for your grist, you can't mill real tight on a recirculating setup or you will get poor, non consistent efficiency and stuck/compacted mashes
 

Dancy

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I have topped out my Mash&Boil malt pipe @ 15lbs with a Wilser bag ( I have the built-in recirc pump) but I find 8oz of rice hulls help and I also raise the malt pipe 2x to add to efficiency. I also plan on 1lb of DME. I have a Cereal Killer and use a credit card width. Frankly, these AIO units don’t have the best efficiency with high grain bills. Now 12 lbs certainly isn’t that high — I now raise the malt pipe regardless of the grain bill weight and I always use rice hulls regardless. They’re cheap. To be fair, I don’t brew real often so I'm still fining tuning things.
 
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Blazinlow86

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I have topped out my Mash&Boil malt pipe @ 15lbs with a Wilser bag ( I have the built-in recirc pump) but I find 8oz of rice hulls help and I also raise the malt pipe 2x to add to efficiency. I also plan on 1lb of DME. I have a Cereal Killer and use a credit card width. Frankly, these AIO units don’t have the best efficiency with high grain bills. Now 12 lbs certainly isn’t that high — I now raise the malt pipe regardless of the grain bill weight and I always use rice hulls regardless. They’re cheap. To be fair, I don’t brew real often so it’s I'm still figuring fining tuning things.


Mill looser or slow down your recirculation rate, don't overthink it 👍
 

Blazinlow86

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Sorry to hear about your frustrating brew day. It does seem to be an American thing to run these really tight mill gaps, because I keep reading these same stories over and over again.

In my BrewZilla 65 I use a 1.1mm mill gap. I get mid/high 80% efficiency for my small ABV beers, easy mashing and sparging, no rice hulls or such needed. My brew days are effortless and I’ve never remotely seen a blocked pump or stuck sparge. It perplexes me, what is the advantage of crushing at credit card thickness?


Nothing, it's a cheat used by people that don't want to spend 5 dollars on a feeler gauge that gets you in the ballpark
 

Dancy

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In my BrewZilla 65 I use a 1.1mm mill gap. I get mid/high 80% efficiency for my small ABV beers, easy mashing and sparging, no rice hulls or such needed. My brew days are effortless and I’ve never remotely seen a blocked pump or stuck sparge. It perplexes me, what is the advantage of crushing at credit card thickness?
I started the credit card thing because I heard efficiency improves when using a BIAB. Mine improved but perhaps there are other factors as well I’m not aware I’m doing to improve it. If there’s a different argument which makes sense, then I’m all ears. I do not have issues with a stuck sparge or a blocked pump.
 
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SFC Rudy

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Crush a cup of grain and look at it. Open or close the gap accordingly. Crush another cup and same thing. When it looks like the pictures in books and the internet, brew a batch and check your numbers and adjust accordingly. Just make sure to mark your setting if you need to change it to crush wheat or other grains.
 

Murph4231

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@SFC Rudy I agree with your explanation. I don't even consider using a gauge although it is a good starting point for newbies. I learned by experience and suggestions from friends to simply run a small amount of grain through the mill and catch it in my hand. Look at the crushed grain. The shell should be cracked exposing the white floury starch inside. You don't want the bulk of your grain to be super crushed and powdery. It's that floury powder that causes a stuck mash. While Rice hulls help to prevent the mash from compacting and sticking, a proper crush shouldn't compact to the point of sticking. Of course this is expecting the brewer is stirring the mash initially from the point of mash in.
 
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