Attn Experienced Pumpkin Ale Brewers - Stuck Sparge Question

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ASantiago

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This past weekend I brewed my first pumpkin ale, an all-grain job based on the "Pumpkin Spice Ale" recipe in Jamil Zainasheff's and John Palmer's book "Brewing Classic Styles".

I used 5 15oz cans (4.69 lbs) of pumpkin pie pulp (Libby's), baked for 1 hr at 330F and mashed for 90 minutes. I also used 1/2 lb of rice hulls.

The mash was a disaster. The pumpkin pulp pretty much liquified, only to bond with the grain and create what I believe is the brewing equivalent of freaking concrete. I had an extremely hard time getting any of the liquid out, at one point almost giving up on the whole thing. Eventually I was able to get about 4.5 gallons of wort out and adjusted the procedure using Brewsmith to produce a beer similar to the original in OG.

I did a good bit of research before doing this brew and apparently I missed any warnings and war stories that may be out there about stuck sparges. Nowhere did I find anything about how chaotic it can be. I mean, the 10-gal round cooler mash tun's output tube was totally clogged. I had to take it apart to unclog it.

I have some thoughts about the possible issues.

  • 75 oz (5 15 oz cans) of pulp is waaaay too much.
  • 1/2 lb of rice hulls is not nearly enough for a 19 lb grist (~14 lbs of grain + ~5 lbs of pulp)
  • Instead of leaving the rice hulls undisturbed at the bottom of the mash tun, I mixed it in with the grain
  • Instead of leaving the pumpkin pulp on top of the grain undisturbed, I mixed it in with the grains

So, OK, how do *you* do it? Clearly there are people out there successfully brewing these recipes. What's the trick?
 

Mpavlik22

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I just brewed my pumpkin spiced ale this past weekend. I use approximately the same amount pumpkin in my mash. However I use 1-1.5 lb rice hulls. I just mix them in my mash as I do the pumpkin. ( how can u have rice hulls on bottom & pumpkin on top? Dont u stir your mash?) You are going to have a SLOW LONG sparge. It's normal when using pumpkin. Just don't rush it or you'll have problems. It took me over an hour to sparge my 5 gallon batch. I use a 10 gallon cooler with SS braided hose in bottom.
 

sagnew440

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My last pumpkin took 2 hours and 15 min to sparge. As long as somethings is still coming out it isn't stuck, no matter how slow. I would definetly use more rice hulls though.
 

badmajon

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LOL. sorry.

You guys mash the pumpkin? Wow... I just cut up some fresh pumpkin, baked it and then threw it in the boil for the last 15 minutes. Everyone loved the ale, it just the right amount of pumpkin flavor, a little bit at the end and beginning that almost subconsciously makes you think of fall and pumpkins and all of that- but not so much that it tasted like a piece of pumpkin pie... when you say its pumpkin ale, they say "ah hah"
 

scottland

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I do 60oz of Pumpkin, 1lb rice hulls, and a thin mash, like 1.5qt/lb or higher. It makes for a slow but manageable sparge.
 
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ASantiago

ASantiago

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I use 1-1.5 lb rice hulls. I just mix them in my mash as I do the pumpkin. ( how can u have rice hulls on bottom & pumpkin on top? Dont u stir your mash?) You are going to have a SLOW LONG sparge. It's normal when using pumpkin.
More rice hulls sounds like at least part of the answer. :eek:

I do stir the mash. I was just wondering if there was some kind of exception when dealing with pumpkin ales.
 
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ASantiago

ASantiago

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My last pumpkin took 2 hours and 15 min to sparge. As long as somethings is still coming out it isn't stuck, no matter how slow. I would definetly use more rice hulls though.
Maybe it's a matter of expectations. I definitely wasn't expecting a long sparge, particularly with rice hulls in the mix.
 
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ASantiago

ASantiago

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I just cut up some fresh pumpkin, baked it and then threw it in the boil for the last 15 minutes.
I thought about this as an alternative. But then thought that would be just moving the problem to post-boil, when it might be made worse by all the other stuff then in the liquid, such as hot and cold break and hops, and at a time the wort is most vulnerable.

Granted, the grain wouldn't be there.

So, not saying it doesn't work...
 
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ASantiago

ASantiago

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I do 60oz of Pumpkin, 1lb rice hulls, and a thin mash, like 1.5qt/lb or higher. It makes for a slow but manageable sparge.
I ended up thinning out the mash in the end and that's what ended up letting me get the 4.5 gals out of it.
 

badmajon

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I thought about this as an alternative. But then thought that would be just moving the problem to post-boil, when it might be made worse by all the other stuff then in the liquid, such as hot and cold break and hops, and at a time the wort is most vulnerable.

Granted, the grain wouldn't be there.

So, not saying it doesn't work...
No it wasn't an issue at all. But again, back then I was using an immersion chiller. I'm not sure if I could put that through my CF chiler, and certainly not through a plate chiller. In fact, I know I couldn't.

I'd say do what I did, and use an immersion chiller. Which kind of makes me think, there is a place for immersion chillers after all. Nothing pisses you off more than a stuck chiller on an otherwise flawless brew day.
 

suprchunk

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I thought about this as an alternative. But then thought that would be just moving the problem to post-boil, when it might be made worse by all the other stuff then in the liquid, such as hot and cold break and hops, and at a time the wort is most vulnerable.

Granted, the grain wouldn't be there.

So, not saying it doesn't work...
It is also a lot of starches going into your fermenter. Having said that, I have brewed only 3 pumpkin beers and have added the pumpkin to the boil. It has been my most requested beer. Sure it was only requested by a couple people, but they would request it ALL the time. I'm getting ready to brew up a Pumking clone and doing what you are doing. Hopefully I won't be out there all day sparging.
 

AnonyBrew

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Was the pumpkin roasted? What was water to grain ratio?

I had no issues with sparging mine last year, but I roasted the pumpkin, used a ton of rice hulls (probably more than you did), and I think my water to grain was higher than the standard 1.25qt/lb.
 
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ASantiago

ASantiago

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Was the pumpkin roasted? What was water to grain ratio?

I had no issues with sparging mine last year, but I roasted the pumpkin, used a ton of rice hulls (probably more than you did), and I think my water to grain was higher than the standard 1.25qt/lb.
The pumpkin was roasted for 1 hr at 330F. I believe, however, that I should have roasted it for longer. It didn't cook as much (read: caramelized) as I wanted it to.

I did do the 1.25 qt/lb w/g ratio at mash in, 2 qt/lb at mash out. Then, when I got frustrated, I added the sparge water in there too, trying to liquify things.

I now also believe I probably should have used *at least* 1 lb of rice hulls, more likely 1.5.
 

Soma

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I brewed a pumpkin ale last weekend. I baked the pumpkin in the oven then dissolved it into my strike water prior to the mash. It definitely took longer than normal to sparge but I wouldn't say it was particularly messy.
 

SeaBass512

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I know there are a ton of threads out there on stuck sparge etc with pumpkin beer, and I'm not trying to hijack the thread, but my question (and hopefully responses) will help with this one.

I made a very good squash beer last year for halloween (pumpkin shortage.) At the time I was doing extract brewing. I ended up baking the squash and letting that simmer in a muslin bag for about a half hour IIRC. To that I added the extract and went from there. I'd have to look at my notes, but I think thats what I did.

Anyway, has anybody tried simmering the pumpkin in 170* water and using that water as either mash or sparge water? I figure this way you get the taste/color from the pumpkin you're looking for, without all the thickness of it in the mash.

Any thoughts?
 
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ASantiago

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Just call me threadkiller.......
Heh heh... that's my title too.

I just did my very first batch, so I can't comment on your question. But a couple of posts ago (in this thread) someone mentioned doing the same thing you said.
 

SeaBass512

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So they did........

Serves me right for going through this stuff at work and not paying attention. My bad.
 

tonyolympia

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I just picked up the grains to make JZ's pumpkin spice ale recipe, and I have some connected questions.

I'm brewing a smaller batch: 4.8 gallon boil volume, with 3.75 gallons going into the fermenter. I will mash with 1.75 pounds of pure pumpkin pulp from a pumpkin that my wife grew last fall, and immediately cooked and froze after harvesting. So that's less pumpkin than the OP. I'm planning to mash at 1.5 quarts per pound. Finally, I'm a BIAB-er, so I'm not concerned about a stuck sparge.

Here's my question: I read in another thread (which I can't find now) that I'd get more pumpkin flavor in this beer if I added pectic enzymes. So I picked some up with the grains. Problem is that they didn't come with any instructions. With the mash and boil parameters mentioned above, when do you think I should add the pectic enzymes, and how much should I add?

Unrelated question: I also picked up some 5.2 pH Stabilizer, and after reading the recent posts about 5.2 on HBT, I immediately regretted my purchase. Is there *anybody* who still recommends using this stuff? If so, please tell me why.
 

DarkUncle

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I must say letting the pumpkin heat up and simmer in the strike water sounds like a pretty darn good strategy to me. Mix it up in there and then after letting it settle to the bottom, autosiphon that water into the MLT. Not bad.

Anyone else done this? I may have to conduct a side by side comparison one of these years when I've got nothing but time to kill and a desire to bring my blood pressure up a few points.
 

ToastedPenguin

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I did a 10G imperial pumpkin ale about 3 weeks ago, added 8lbs of pumpkin to the mash which I heated to the mash temp in the oven prior to adding to the mash:

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f12/my-2011-imperial-pumpkin-ale-258699/

Didn't have any issues with a stuck sparge, but I did sparge very very slowly. The manifold design can make a difference with a grist that will be very starchy and I use a cpvc manifold with a ton of small holes in it.
 
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ASantiago

ASantiago

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I must say letting the pumpkin heat up and simmer in the strike water sounds like a pretty darn good strategy to me. Mix it up in there and then after letting it settle to the bottom, autosiphon that water into the MLT. Not bad.
This is certainly a possibility. I wonder about conversion, though. I gather pumpkin doesn't contribute that much in terms of sugars, but nonetheless. So if the pulp isn't in the mash (the way I do it), then you get less from it?

But it seems this method would avoid the higher risk of a stuck sparge.
 
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ASantiago

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The manifold design can make a difference with a grist that will be very starchy and I use a cpvc manifold with a ton of small holes in it.
I've also wondered about this. I assume you are using a rectangular cooler rather than a circular one? I'm wondering if each (rectangular vs. circular) has it's own applicability. For example, maybe a rectangular is better for mashes that are really thick and pasty, like those that contain pumpkin.

I have a circular cooler.
 

ToastedPenguin

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I do use a rectangular MLT so you have a good point. Maybe the consistency of the mash (being starchy in this case) plus the weight of the mash in a cylindrical vessel creates more downward pressure that in turn compacts the grist more so than what occurs in a rectangular equivalent.
 

Mpavlik22

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ASantiago said:
I wonder about conversion, though. I gather pumpkin doesn't contribute that much in terms of sugars, but nonetheless.
I recently did a 5 gallon pumpkin ale. I used 4 lbs of roasted pumpkin in my mash.

My estimated OG was 1.051 as per beersmith. My actual OG was 1.061. I believe the extra 10 points are from the pumpkin as I consistently hit 75% efficiency.
 
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ASantiago

ASantiago

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I recently did a 5 gallon pumpkin ale. I used 4 lbs of roasted pumpkin in my mash.

My estimated OG was 1.051 as per beersmith. My actual OG was 1.061. I believe the extra 10 points are from the pumpkin as I consistently hit 75% efficiency.
I couldn't find any info about the gravity contribution of pumpkin when mashed. I wanted to add pumpkin to Brewsmith and needed the info for the profile.

I did read somewhere that it doesn't do much, but that could be wrong. Unfortunately, although I take obsessive notes during my brewing, the sparging disaster threw the entire process out the window and I don't have numbers to compare.

Does anyone have any info on the sugar, and other, contributions of pumpkin -when mashed-?
 

tonyolympia

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ASantiago said:
Does anyone have any info on the sugar, and other, contributions of pumpkin -when mashed-?

I read somewhere (dunno where now--I've been reading so many pumpkin beer threads lately) that pumpkin contributes 8 - 10 points per pound per gallon, which is just below what Mpavlik seems to have experienced.

I'm planning on getting 8 ppg from the pumpkin I'll be mashing for my 2.5 gallon batch. I'm using 1.75 pounds, so it will be a minor contribution in any case.
 

bendavanza

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I had a similar disaster with Sweet Potato. I used a ton of rice hulls, and struggled to get much wort from the tun , I ended up dumping the mash into a bucket and pouring the lighter stuff back into the tun after is partly settled. Never again will I use a starch in the mash like that, or in the quantity that I did. threadkiller's suggestion of making a pumpkin broth sounds much more appealing. If you do a search for sweet potato syrup, I think this would be the way to go with pumpkin as well.
 

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Gonna use my own pumpkins for this soon... Do I cut them open and gut them and then PEEL them? I was gonna cut them up into little chunks and then roast... then I like the idea of the strike water thing..., then maybe use SOME of them to mash in with...
 

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split them in half, gut them, place them flat side down on a cookie sheet, bake them till they are soft/mushy, and scoop the mush out of the skins.
 

NMG318

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This past weekend I brewed my first pumpkin ale, an all-grain job based on the "Pumpkin Spice Ale" recipe in Jamil Zainasheff's and John Palmer's book "Brewing Classic Styles".

I used 5 15oz cans (4.69 lbs) of pumpkin pie pulp (Libby's), baked for 1 hr at 330F and mashed for 90 minutes. I also used 1/2 lb of rice hulls.

The mash was a disaster. The pumpkin pulp pretty much liquified, only to bond with the grain and create what I believe is the brewing equivalent of freaking concrete. I had an extremely hard time getting any of the liquid out, at one point almost giving up on the whole thing. Eventually I was able to get about 4.5 gallons of wort out and adjusted the procedure using Brewsmith to produce a beer similar to the original in OG.

I did a good bit of research before doing this brew and apparently I missed any warnings and war stories that may be out there about stuck sparges. Nowhere did I find anything about how chaotic it can be. I mean, the 10-gal round cooler mash tun's output tube was totally clogged. I had to take it apart to unclog it.

I have some thoughts about the possible issues.

  • 75 oz (5 15 oz cans) of pulp is waaaay too much.
  • 1/2 lb of rice hulls is not nearly enough for a 19 lb grist (~14 lbs of grain + ~5 lbs of pulp)
  • Instead of leaving the rice hulls undisturbed at the bottom of the mash tun, I mixed it in with the grain
  • Instead of leaving the pumpkin pulp on top of the grain undisturbed, I mixed it in with the grains

So, OK, how do *you* do it? Clearly there are people out there successfully brewing these recipes. What's the trick?
I am brewing this recipe in the next couple of weeks (just waiting for pumpkin pie pumpkins at the store) and was actually thinking of using some of the suggestions you have listed. I was planning on using a little more rice hulls that is recommended, mix them in with the grain and then stir the pumpkin pulp in the top third of the mash and try not to disturb the layers near the false bottom. What do you think?

I have a Blichmann boil pot with their false bottom that usually works great. I use a pump to recirculate for my mash out at 170 (using a HERMS). Do you think I should skip the mash out?
 

upperNY01brewer

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I did mine last week with 1 lb rice hulls to 11 lbs of grain and 2 cans of Libby's Pumpkin roasted for an hr. Held it at 154 degrees for a hour and had a slow but efficient sparge with a little stuck but nothing a bit or stirring didnt clear up.
 
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ASantiago

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I am brewing this recipe in the next couple of weeks (just waiting for pumpkin pie pumpkins at the store) and was actually thinking of using some of the suggestions you have listed. I was planning on using a little more rice hulls that is recommended, mix them in with the grain and then stir the pumpkin pulp in the top third of the mash and try not to disturb the layers near the false bottom. What do you think?

I have a Blichmann boil pot with their false bottom that usually works great. I use a pump to recirculate for my mash out at 170 (using a HERMS). Do you think I should skip the mash out?
I haven't read this thread recently (and can't right now), but I do remember some good suggestions being posted. So check those out. Water/grain ratio may be an important one. Definitely use a lot more rice hulls. You may want to consider a mash out. And allocate plenty of time for the whole process.
 

BainbridgeBrewer

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I do 60oz of Pumpkin, 1lb rice hulls, and a thin mash, like 1.5qt/lb or higher. It makes for a slow but manageable sparge.
I made Yuri Rage's Thunderstruck Pumpkin Ale this weekend. After dumbing down the 21 gallon batch to a 5 gallon batch I used 60 oz of Libby's canned pumpkin baked on a cookie sheet at 375* for 30 minutes or so, 1 lbs of rice hulls mixed into my grains, and mashed thin using 1.5 quarts per lbs. I batch sparged and saw only a slight slow down in flow when compared to the ESB I brewed earlier in the morning.

Sorry you had rough time with it. Hopefully it turns out awesome.:mug:
 

Code3Brewing

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Brewing an Imperial pumpkin as I type:

15lbs 2-row
1lbs carapils
10oz. cara-amber
8oz. 40L
90oz. pumpkin puree

started with .5lbs of rice hulls, and figured out very quickly I needed another 1lb at least. I'm guessing I will be sparging for at least 3 hours, wish I would have found this thread before I started, the only good thing is I can boil off some wort on stove top to increase that ABV and par take in a little home-brew :mug:
 
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ASantiago

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As Christopher Walken said in SNL: "I need more rice hulls!"

Or was it cow bell? :-D
 

mjcooper42

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toady not only did i do my first all gain, but my first brew day ever! .. and it was a Pumpking clone.. with LOTS of pumpkin ... stuck sparge :( ...
i ended up having to "stroke" my SS braid with my spoon, to get any liquid out, there were a the wort at when it was cooled down looked like Misso soup.. hope all will work out ???

i'll be making a Manifold for my next brew i'm using a Coleman eXtreme 38qt rectangular cooler.. and i did use #1 rice hulls
 
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