Semi-fail at first AG attempt

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bigred

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So I just finished brewing my first AG and it was fairly frustrating. I have a 48 qt. coleman cooler as my MLT. I did the ball valve conversion with stainless steel braid, and rubber hose inside it with notches. I added my water, and then added grain...hit the temp right on so I was happy. I opened it up half way through to stir and the temp had only gone down 1 degree. I thought I was right on track until I went to do my first run and the wort flowed for about 3 seconds and then continued to just "dribble". I thought, ok stuck sparge, so I stir around the SS braided hose, but there was no grain stuck in it. So I jam a long wooden toothpick threw the ball valve and it flows a small, small amount and then back to a dribble. I'm getting really pissed now. After doing everything I could think of it just would not flow. So I proceed to scooping the wort out with a pitcher and straining the grains out with cheesecloth. I also did this for the sparge. In the end the beer is in the carboy and I think it should turn out ok, I overshot my OG of 1.070 at 1.075.

So after I'm all done and cleaning up, I keep jaming the tooth pick through the ball valve and eventually it starts to let water flow threw(which it didn't let the wort flow threw). So I decide to go get some of the spent grains and try a practice mash with spent grains. It worked better, but the whole time I wanted any wort to come out I had to be stirring the mash ALOT, or moving around the SS braided hose.

My question is, has anyone else had this problem, and how can I get my system to flow better, and not get so much grain threw my filter?

Thanks a lot for any help
 

Palefire

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Why put the rubber hose in the braid? You don't really need it, IMO. Also, when you put the MLT together, did you check with water to make sure that it drained normally?

Sounds like there's a clog somewhere - you might have to take it apart to find it.

Good luck!
 

Revvy

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How compressed is you SS braid that it let grain actually get through?

That stuff is like a chinese finger torture toy, if you push the ends towards each other the tube gets thicker and the gaps in the criss-cross strains of wire get larger also, meaning stuff can get in.

If you pull the ends away from each other, the tube gets thinner/longer and the gaps between the wires gets smaller, meaning less grain can get through.



Play with that and see. I get very little grain flowing through with mine, and have very little vorluffing. And I don't think I've ever seen large enough grain pieces come through or get stuck in the ball valve.

Hope this helps. :mug:
 

jescholler

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I don't use the rubber hose inside of the braid. I heard of some people needing it because the braid collapses, but that hasn't been my experience.
 

Revvy

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Why put the rubber hose in the braid? You don't really need it, IMO. Also, when you put the MLT together, did you check with water to make sure that it drained normally?

Sounds like there's a clog somewhere - you might have to take it apart to find it.

Good luck!
I have a rubber hose with holes in my braid as well. Looks like a machine gun barrel. Many of us do.

There was a discussion a couple years back where folks had expereinced collapsed braids under the weight of a lot of grain. So many of us after reading about it, have gone with the added support of a hose inside.

There were several threads about it awhile ago. It was one of those "topics of the week" around here. (I think it may also even be discussed in the Cheap and easy rubbermade" thread as well.

I just took the original hose and drilled a bunch of holes in it. Then boiled it to release any threads and drill shards, and slipped it back in.

My braid's in a circle with a t and it practically sits on the bottom of the tun at a slight downward angle. It works great and I have had no issues with it in two years.

bigred, that may be the issue in a nutshell, when you put the hose inside you had to compress and release the braid a few times I bet, to get that hose back inside, so you probably have a few large gaps in the braid which allows grain to get in.

So you may just need to take each end of the braid in hand and pull them apart a bit, to cause the braid to tighten.
 
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bigred

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Thanks for the help, I will take a look at it tonight and see if I can't get it fixed.

And just to let you know, when I put it together I did test it with water and it flowed fine, it's just when you put grain in it.

Edit: Should I be able to see holes in the braid?
 

Revvy

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Thanks for the help, I will take a look at it tonight and see if I can't get it fixed.

And just to let you know, when I put it together I did test it with water and it flowed fine, it's just when you put grain in it.

Edit: Should I be able to see holes in the braid?
Not really, it should pretty much look like it did when you got it. Not too much distortion from putting it back together. If you can see holes then the grain can get through.

What you could do is crush a handful or two of grain, so you get different sized pieces, and put a gallon of water in the bottom, toss in the grain and watch the water flow through and see if you can see any of the grain getting in.
 

Bru

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Did you try blowing into the ball valve ?
I sometimes get a stuck sparge as I start sparging - when I open the ball valve to begin - after blowing it flows nicely from then on.
 
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bigred

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Did you try blowing into the ball valve ?
I sometimes get a stuck sparge as I start sparging - when I open the ball valve to begin - after blowing it flows nicely from then on.
I'm am guessing you blow from the outside of the MLT? And thanks for the tip, I think that could have solved my problem. I plan on taking some pictures of my SS braid and posting it to see what you guys think.

Thanks again for all the help, without your help I would have never moved on to AG.:mug:
 

s3n8

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I use a braid from the flex-hot water heater connectors from Lowes. They are larger diameter and more stout than the toilet supply line braids. Never had it crush, and never had a stuck sparge*.

*33% rye, 33% wheat, 33% pale malt ran slow.
 
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bigred

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One more thought about the blowing in the valve idea. I have an air compressor in my garage, I am thinking I could use the blow gun to lightly blow the ball valve out if it does get stuck next time.

Thoughts:confused:
 
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