Stuck Sparge

HomeBrewTalk.com - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Community.

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

Trodd

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 1, 2006
Messages
52
Reaction score
1
Location
Windsor Locks, Ct
I am in the middle of brewing right now...(boiling, about to add the malt extract in like 10 minutes) and i just tried my new lauder tun / sparger. I have a 5 gal rubbermaide cooler out fitted with a plastic false bottom. I got a little out of the tin, and then it stuck. I had to pour out the tun over cheese cloth and a colinder into the kettle. I beleive that this was caused by the flase bottle floating on me. How do you keep the false bottom on the bottom of the lauder tun? Do you add weights? I added my steeping water then the grains, then mixed and waited 45 minutes. I thought this was the normal practice. I need insite. Thank you.
 

Baron von BeeGee

Beer Bully
Joined
Jul 20, 2005
Messages
5,374
Reaction score
30
Location
Barony of Fuquay-Varina, NC
I think most people use a metal false bottom which doesn't float. Perhaps you could seal it down with some food grade silicon, but this would make it practically impossible to clean underneath since removal would be a problem.

Incidentally, how would the false bottom floating create a stuck mash? If it floated it you would have even more deadspace underneath the mash (which in and of itself isn't a great thing), but I don't see how it would stick the mash. If it floats and sticks the mash, it would probably stick it if it didn't float, too.
 
OP
T

Trodd

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 1, 2006
Messages
52
Reaction score
1
Location
Windsor Locks, Ct
I did find some grains in the elbow attached to the false bottom. But there was no run off into the kettle during sparge. I dont know why else it would have stuck. When i was cleaning the flase bottom, only like 20% of the holes were clogged with grain, so i I dont think that was the issue. any hints? This was teh first time i used this set up.
 

Baron von BeeGee

Beer Bully
Joined
Jul 20, 2005
Messages
5,374
Reaction score
30
Location
Barony of Fuquay-Varina, NC
If grains plugged up your runoff than your lauter design is probably inadequate or needs reworking at a minimum. What is the design of your false bottom? I've only used stainless braid and a copper manifold, so I can't really speak to a plastic false bottom (though I hope it is rated for mash temps).

One thing I do to try avoid a stuck mash is to open the valve very slowly before going full on (I batch sparge). This usually prevents the mash from setting too quickly and compacting.
 
OP
T

Trodd

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 1, 2006
Messages
52
Reaction score
1
Location
Windsor Locks, Ct
It is a store bought Phils Plastic False Bottom, its a thick sheet of plastic that is domed and has holes in it with an elbow in the center.

It stuck almost instantly from when i opened up the hose clip.

Should i just suck it up and buy a Stainless Steel one?
 

david_42

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 8, 2005
Messages
25,582
Reaction score
182
Location
Oak Grove
What grains were you using? Functionally there isn't much difference between plastic & SS, except the floating part.
 

EdWort

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 14, 2006
Messages
11,894
Reaction score
444
Location
Bee Cave, Texas
Trodd said:
Should i just suck it up and buy a Stainless Steel one?
If you batch sparge, then go for a stainless braid. It works great! Here's one from RichBrewer.

 

Desert_Sky

Since 1998
Joined
Mar 8, 2006
Messages
4,249
Reaction score
201
Location
Boulder
Baron von BeeGee said:
I think most people use a metal false bottom which doesn't float. Perhaps you could seal it down with some food grade silicon, but this would make it practically impossible to clean underneath since removal would be a problem.
i found i had to play with the length of tubing that connects the false bottom to the valve to get it to stay down
 

ajf

Senior Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Oct 29, 2005
Messages
4,648
Reaction score
119
Location
Long Island
I have the Phil's False Bottom in a 5g cooler, and have never had a problem like yours.
I have had problems stirring the mash, and dislodging the rubber bung that holds the outlet tube in place, but that's not a problem with the false bottom.
I've also had some stuck sparges, but only if I allow the grain bed to get too compacted, and when using a large amount of flaked barley. Again not a fault of the false bottom.

These are the rules that I follow.
1. Always add foundation water before adding grain. (I make sure there is at least 4 inches of water above the bottom before adding any grain.
2. Having added the foundation water, and before adding the grain, bleed a little water out of the outlet to eliminate any air in the outlet. (The air can cause an air lock which could be what happened to you.)
3. If using a large amount of flaked cereal, don't let the sparge water drop too low when sparging, as this can compact the grain bed.
4. Don't screw the elbow all the way in. If you do, it can rest on the bottom of the cooler and not allow wort to drain. (This is another possible cause of your problem.)
5. If you do get a stuck sparge, you can usually start it off again by backfilling with water through the outlet hose to force out any grains or air that are stuck in the elbow.

I've had mine for over 10 years, and am very happy with it.

-a.
 

perry

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 29, 2006
Messages
218
Reaction score
0
Just curious- does anyone (besides me) use the grain-bag/ double-bucket set-up anymore?

p
 

RichBrewer

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Feb 2, 2006
Messages
5,900
Reaction score
210
Location
Denver
I've always used the Phils Phalse bottom in my set up and never had a problem with stuck sparges.
I know what you mean about it floating though. When the strike water is added it always lifts up and grain can get under it. I set my big stainless spoon against it to hold it down before I add the grain. I also noticed that a lot of bubbles form beneath the false bottom increasing it's buoyancy. Tapping it will dislodge the bubbles.
Once in awhile some of the grains get under the false bottom and they lodge in the elbow. At this point the wort won't flow out of the tun. I've always been able to clear the stuck grains by CAREFULLY sucking on the end of the drain hose until I see wort flowing. I say carefully because I don't want 170 degree wort in my mouth! I hold the drain hose above the tun which prevents wort from flowing while I have the tubing in my mouth.
 

Beer Snob

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 22, 2005
Messages
2,044
Reaction score
6
Location
Farmington
david_42 said:
What grains were you using? Functionally there isn't much difference between plastic & SS, except the floating part.
I inicially had this one, but because of fittings had to buy the SS one. Little confused on why it would float...I mean the grains are pretty heavy there and the fitting placement on a 5 gal water cooler tends to keep the assembly down on the bottom of mine at least.
 

RichBrewer

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Feb 2, 2006
Messages
5,900
Reaction score
210
Location
Denver
Beer Snob said:
I inicially had this one, but because of fittings had to buy the SS one. Little confused on why it would float...I mean the grains are pretty heavy there and the fitting placement on a 5 gal water cooler tends to keep the assembly down on the bottom of mine at least.
It depends on the fittings. I use vinyl tubing and a hose barb which allows it to float.

Hey you may have just solved my problem with it floating! I bet I can rig up some copper tubing or something to replace the vinyl tubing/ :mug:
 

ajf

Senior Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Oct 29, 2005
Messages
4,648
Reaction score
119
Location
Long Island
Mine never floats, but I do use a copper tube.

You can trap a considerable amount of air in the tubing (whether copper or vinyl) when filling, and simply opening the spigot for a few seconds purges the air and replaces it with water. This may be enough to stop it floating.

-a.
 

kidcork

New Member
Joined
Aug 20, 2006
Messages
4
Reaction score
0
When I use my Phils I add the strike water and always hold it down with my spoon while adding my grains. The grain seems to hold it down. Never had a problem.
 

Latest posts

Top