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Stuck $%#%ing Sparge

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lmccrone

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So I just finished (well sort of) my second brew in a row with a stuck sparge and I'm buggered if I can figure out why it’s happening. I have done about 10 brews with my current set up and no issues until wham two in a row.
My first attempt at a Brown Ale ended in disaster, stuck like glue, so I got on this forum and did by research, took the oats out (had about 800 grams or 8% first time around) and chucked in some rice hulls and had another go, slight improvement but still only got about 10 litres of wort out of my mash and that took about 30 min, then nothing (i was expecting 20ish). I added my sparge water (I batch sparge) and fought to get another 10, i resorted to scoping the mash out with a saucepan and pouring it through a sieve, i then added more sparge water and got another 10 litres. Boiled it for about two hours and i now have about 20 litres of wort when I should have 40 litres.
My grain bill was 7.85 kg of Amber Malt, .870 kg dark crystal malt, .440 kg of victory malt and .210 kg of chocolate malt, all of it milled at my local home brew shop. My set up is a keggle with a false bottom.

Help; if this happens again I will cry!

Cheers

Luke
 

raven19

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I use a keggle also - I tend to get stuck sparges when I:
1. Have a large grain bill - extra height tends to compact grain bed too much
2. Open the tap too quickly - resulting in compacting grain bed
3. Large amounts of wheat without using rice gulls.

Item 2 above would be my guess, I have to open my MT outlet quite slowly when draining it.
 

Screwtop

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Mash L/Grist ratio?
Steps, temps?
Stirring the crap out of it/just a few turns?
Recircing?
Batch/Fly?
Runoff rate?

More questions than Tony Barber!!

Screwy
 

lmccrone

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Nice to see the quick responses

@ Bradsbrew: My false bottom looks like this and its got a 10 inch circumference

@ Raven: You may have the answer here, I did have a reasonably large grain bill at 10 kg thats about as big a grain bill as i have done in my keggle. However probably my last 5 batches have been of a similar size, is it possible that I was just lucky the other times? I will give opening the tap slowly a go, I noticed that when i first opened the tap the wort ran out quite freely for about 4 litres or so and then slowed to nothing over the next three or four litres so sounds like what I could expect with a a compacting grain bed? When you say you open the tap slowly do you mean not to open it up all the way till near the end or just open it up over a min or so?


@ Tony Barber


Mash L/Grist ratio: 10 kg of grist to 40 L of water
Steps, temps: No steps just mashed it at 67 for one hour
Stirring the crap out of it/just a few turns: Gave it a few slow stirs at about 15 min intervals during the mash. Once my sparge got stuck however I began stiring the crap out of it.
Recircing: Nope
Batch/Fly: Batch
Runoff rate: Not sure but it started out strong, got about 4 litres out at about a normal speed then slowed down over the next 4 L or so (took about 20 min to get 8 L all up) then i began to stir and scape the grain off the false bottom to get a bout another 5 litres.

Thanks again every one for their help
 

raven19

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When I meant open the MT outlet slowly, I meant slowly open it from fully shut to 'say' 50% open - but do this process gradually over say a 10 second period.

(Hard to explain typing!)

Also give your Mash a good stir and then let it settle for a few minutes or so, prior to draining the mash tun.
 

tiprya

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Did you really use Amber malt as your base?

It is pretty intense - I used 10% in a brown ale, and I found it a bit overpowering.

The amber malt we get now is apparently quite different to what was around at the turn of the century when this malt was used more liberally in brown ales and porters.
 

lmccrone

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tiprya said:
Did you really use Amber malt as your base?

It is pretty intense - I used 10% in a brown ale, and I found it a bit overpowering.

The amber malt we get now is apparently quite different to what was around at the turn of the century when this malt was used more liberally in brown ales and porters.
Great, one more reason this brown will be a disaster!
 

brettprevans

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also look at your temps. rye wheat etc are damn sticky at mash temp, if you dont raise above 70C (ideally to 80C or so which is mash ot temp) then they tend to stick.

also the amount of rice gulls to grain is actually more than you think.

10KG in a keggle is getting pretty full when your using large amounts of wheat/rye in my experiance.
 

malt_shovel

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lmccrone said:
Great, one more reason this brown will be a disaster!
Yeah Amber malt has NO diastatic power (ie ability to convert it's starches to sugar), and requires a base malt with high diastatic power to mash with. Without any true base malt with conversion power (Pale ale / pilsner etc) you will have a whole lot of unconverted starch sitting in your beer.

I think this would be a fair explanation for the stuck mash aswell (though the word mash is not appropriate here), as when conversion occurs, the viscocity of the wort drops allowing the lautering to proceed without problems. I would consider this one a bit of a lost cause. Try again with a base malt of say Maris Otter or Golden Promise and drop the Amber to less than 10% and adjust colour with chocolate and roasted barley. I think this will be the solution.

Cheers

Edit: Oh yeah, and find another homebrew store. They shouldn't have let you walk out of there knowing that was the entire grist for your brew.
 

lmccrone

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malt_shovel said:
Yeah Amber malt has NO diastatic power (ie ability to convert it's starches to sugar), and requires a base malt with high diastatic power to mash with. Without any true base malt with conversion power (Pale ale / pilsner etc) you will have a whole lot of unconverted starch sitting in your beer.

I think this would be a fair explanation for the stuck mash aswell (though the word mash is not appropriate here), as when conversion occurs, the viscocity of the wort drops allowing the lautering to proceed without problems. I would consider this one a bit of a lost cause. Try again with a base malt of say Maris Otter or Golden Promise and drop the Amber to less than 10% and adjust colour with chocolate and roasted barley. I think this will be the solution.

Cheers

Edit: Oh yeah, and find another homebrew store. They shouldn't have let you walk out of there knowing that was the entire grist for your brew.
Right, there is a shit load of pale sludge in the bottom of my cubes, could this be the unconverted starch your talking about? Also despite only getting about 25 L of wort out of 10 kg of grain my wort only has a specific gravity of 1.030 also I cant seem to get my starter going its been sitting on the kitchen table for about two days now with very little action to speak of. This is exactly the amber malt i used, I'd be surprised that my local home-brew shop wouldn't tell me though they are normally very good, maybe they are looking to recoup some of the savings i made on a recent 20% off every thing in the store sale?









Joe White Amber Malt
Amber malt is the lightest of the roasted malts, with a biscuity flavour and a subtle ochre colour.

Moisture % Max 5.0
Extract %-Fine Grind-Dry Basis Min 74.0
Colour of Wort °EBC 40 - 45
 

malt_shovel

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If the starter was made using your "wort", this would also make sense as there is next to no fermentable sugars available to the yeast. Seriously, forget about this beer, and try again with a base malt. Amber, Brown Malt have no enzymes, so they need a base malt with excess DP to convert the starches within the malts. Once you have enzymes in the mash, the extract % quoted above has some more meaning.
 

brettprevans

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I'd u could keep the 'wort' without it being infected get another brew going ASAP and then use the wort as your mash water and you'd get a huge gravity beer. The usage of first rubbings from a brew as mash water is an old school way of high gravity brewing. At leat that way you wouldn't loose 10kg worth of grain and you'd get a super strong experimental beer
 

bradsbrew

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Sorry missed the Amber as the base malt. Who is your LHBS and did they now you were using it as the base malt?
 

brettprevans

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Yeah I missed it also. I be demanding my money back if it was their advice or recipe
 

lmccrone

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Hard to put too much blame on the home brew shop, I made the order after all. Still it would have been nice if they had pointed out my mistake before I brought the second 10 kg of grain and wasted a second brew day.

Having said that they did take pity on my and gave me a fresh wort kit at half price (I had used up my girlfriends brewing patience).

Thanks again for your sage advice
 

Goon Boy

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Anyone know where to get cheap rice hulls in small quantities, say 10 to 15kg, in Melbourne? I can get a 130Kg bale cheap but no where to store. Other option is to pay $4 a kilo (rip off). Thanks
 

HBHB

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Usual addition for amber malt would be in the range of 2-5% for colour and flavour (light roast coffee).

Worthwhile for you to do a bit of research on step mashes using rolled/flaked oats.
 

manticle

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Goon Boy said:
Anyone know where to get cheap rice hulls in small quantities, say 10 to 15kg, in Melbourne? I can get a 130Kg bale cheap but no where to store. Other option is to pay $4 a kilo (rip off). Thanks
You can buy it in 25 kg bags. Check bulk buys (one in its infant stage of being organised) and anywhere you buy grain. Ask for 25kg price from whoever is offering $4 per kilo and compare.
 

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