Gelatinous Waxy Goop in Kettle After Mash and Burned Electric Coil

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micraftbeer

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I was brewing in my eBIAB kettle last night. Things seemed to be going well, but I did notice what seemed to be a faint burning smell during the mash, but I could see no obvious source. After pulling the bag of grains out, and giving the kettle a good stir to grab a sample for a refractometer reading, I felt a thick, sticky substance on the bottom of the kettle near my Blichmann Boil Coil (120V 2250W). Pulling my spoon up I saw this waxy tan/gray gelatinous goop.

At first I thought maybe I left something in there after washing the kettle and it melted. But there was no chemical smell and the wort didn't have any chemical flavors. So I just stirred it back in thinking it was some sort of grain dust build-up. It seemingly dissolved away as it heated up to a boil.

After I finished the boil and transferred the wort to my fermentor, I saw this horrible caked on brittle burn build-up over most of the electric coil. The one thing that I was thinking was maybe some of the crushed grain powder got through the nylon BIAB bag, then collected around the coil, which was locally very hot and burned there. There was a small amount of powder/dust after milling the grain, which I poured into the bag thinking it would be even easier to convert that to sugars.

But some grain dust doesn't seem like an uncommon thing, but burning a coil this badly can't be a common occurrence. Looking for suggestions from people? Below is my recipe and my mash schedule. I know, I'll have people wanting to tell me I don't need to do the multi-temp step mash with today's grains, but that's not what my question is about...

For a 5 gallon batch:
11 lbs 2-row
0.75 lbs Caramel 40L (which I didn't add to the bag until my 168F mashout step)
0.5 lbs Honey malt
0.5 lbs White wheat
1.5 qt/lb grist ratio

15 min @ 100F
20 min @ 122F
75 min @ 150F (was originally planned to just be 60, but I got sidetracked)
15 min @ 168F
 

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micraftbeer

micraftbeer

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After some more conversations with High Gravity Brew (I'm using their Wort Hog system), I'm starting to get a feeling on a theory of what went wrong here. It's an eBIAB system with a metal basket that sits inside to hold the bag up off the element. I've never actually measured the volume under the basket so that BeerSmith can adjust my mash water volume for the 1.5 qt/lb grist ratio, and last night I noticed the mash was really thick. So I plan to do some volume measurements before doing my next brew.

This low water situation also gave me some struggles on recirculation. Initially, I was recirculating too much, and I had some issues keeping the pump inlet fed. Throttling that back to prevent starving the pump left me with a very low flow/trickle. So the balance must've left me with either draining the bottom and literally exposing the coils, or having a very slow flow rate that the thick mash water laden with proteins was eager to cook on the coil.
 
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micraftbeer

micraftbeer

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I wasn't doing full volume mash because of volume. When recirculating, I was getting a build-up of foam on top of the mash, and I would have to keep shutting off the pump to avoid a foam over. I'm all about easy process, and it's easier for me to heat up sparge water in a separate kettle and pour a couple pitchers through the malt bag than to have to constantly keep an eye on recirculation things during the mash.

Plus, I tend to either hit my OG, or come up a bit low. If I'm doing a full volume mash, I get what I get. If my efficiency is low for some reason, I'm stuck with it. If I'm sparging a gallon or two, I keep track of the gravity and compare to my pre-boil gravity that BeerSmith so kindly tells me. In that way, I don't really worry about the pre-boil volume, and I can hit my OG reliably.
 

ancientmariner52

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I wasn't doing full volume mash because of volume. When recirculating, I was getting a build-up of foam on top of the mash, and I would have to keep shutting off the pump to avoid a foam over. I'm all about easy process, and it's easier for me to heat up sparge water in a separate kettle and pour a couple pitchers through the malt bag than to have to constantly keep an eye on recirculation things during the mash.

Plus, I tend to either hit my OG, or come up a bit low. If I'm doing a full volume mash, I get what I get. If my efficiency is low for some reason, I'm stuck with it. If I'm sparging a gallon or two, I keep track of the gravity and compare to my pre-boil gravity that BeerSmith so kindly tells me. In that way, I don't really worry about the pre-boil volume, and I can hit my OG reliably.
Could you use a spray bottle of water to knock the foam down? I know it works on hot foam, I suppose it might work at mash temps. You would still have to keep a close watch, I reckon.

Concerning the dead space under the basket, if you don't add that volume to your calculated strike water volume, then yes, your mash will be thicker than you planned for.
 
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micraftbeer

micraftbeer

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Concerning the dead space under the basket, if you don't add that volume to your calculated strike water volume, then yes, your mash will be thicker than you planned for.

Yes, I was lazy. I looked at it when I was setting it up and said, "Meh, looks like about a gallon", and typed that into BeerSmith. After measuring it today by pouring measured volume in by pitcher, it's actually 2.5 gallons down there. So being 1.5 gallons off, it was very chunky...
 
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micraftbeer

micraftbeer

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Yes. The Wort Hog system has this cool corkscrew shaped spray head in the middle of the lid. Makes a nice spray pattern, but only at higher flow rates, so you have to be careful not to starve the pump.
 
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