I had another stuck mash today, I am starting to get a little discouraged. I milled the grain to a confirmed 0.038", so I know it can't be the crush. I am thinking my false bottom may be effed up.
I did 15.5 # of grain for a 5 gallon brew (german pils and cara 8 grains only), 6 gallons of strike water. I also added about 6 ounces of rice hulls, pre-soaked in hot water to make sure they didn't mess up my water calculations. When I went to vorlauf, absolutely NOTHING came out. I vorlauf with a pump, but in the past I did not throttle the pump down (I now do, but maybe it did some damage... even though it never resulted in any trouble in the past). this is also a pretty heavy grain bill + water, so not sure if the mash tun weight was too much for it to handle right now.
I took an air compressor, blew air through the MT output valve back into the mash. I was able to get air bubbles to rise up through the wort without much issue. Then, I quickly removed the compressor, and next to no liquid came out of the MT valve. It was almost like any gunk that I freed up with the air came right back to clog up the valve. I then donned some long rubber gloves to try to dig around at the bottom of the MT, possibly clearing any debris and such from the top of the false bottom, but to no avail. During a moment of desperation, I even tried sucking out of the hose as if it were a big straw, and I got light headed before I got any wort in my mouth.
So, I poured the entire mash into another vessel, took apart the entire MT, false bottom and all. I can say that the false bottom doesn't look destroyed, but it definitely isn't sitting flat on my granite counter top. One side of the false bottom is lifted off the counter by about 1/8", maybe a little more. It doesn't feel like it is lifted enough to give me this sort of issue. Since I blew air through the lines, I can't imagine there was any sort of vacuum/bubble issue, I am almost certain the line was somewhat clogged (or somehow the tubing between my false bottom and the MT output was crushed?). I then cleaned out the false bottom and the entire MT, re-assembled, poured all the grain and wort back into the vessel... and still no movement. After trying to figure it out for 2.5-3 hours, I gave up and called it a day.
Anyone have any ideas? I just purchased a SS mesh tube (like the bazooka screen tube), but in theory that could just get flattened under the mash weight. I am at a loss, this is the second time in 3 weeks that I tried to make this particular beer, and got a "stuck" mash both times... which are my first and only stuck mashes ever. The only thing that has changed between these 2 brews and all of my past brews is that I am milling my grains now, but even scooping the grist out of the mash tun, it looks plenty coarse to not be creating any sort of paste.