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New to AG--what happened?

So I just finished my second AG batch–NB’s Saison. The first one was NB’s Hefe, which I’m about to bottle. The hefe went very well. No problems. A little less wort than I expected, but I’m learning.

Now, the second, the Saison, was a mini-disaster. Mashed for an hour, hit the temp, and was ready to sparge. Opened the valve and vorlaufed. Then everything stalled. “Oh, ok,” I thought. “Stuck mash, I"ve read about this.” So I closed the valve, gave it all a real good stir, vorlaufed again, and it got it flowing… for about eight seconds. Repeated the whole thing. Same result. No matter what I did, I just couldn’t get the wort flowing. I would stir and would get a good flow, but then watch it slowly get choked out.

I wound up having to try to pour it through a strainer to get the wort out and had a fair amount of grain in the BK. Strangely enough, when I added the sparge water, the wort came through without any problems.

So, two questions: one, what the heck happened? I did not use rice hulls. I figured if I got through a hefe wo a stuck mash, they weren’t a necessity. The only thing i did differently was, when I pre-heated my tun, I ran a little water through the braid to get the air out. I read that this would keep the braid from floating, which it did during the hefe. The only thing I can think is that the crush was too thin. There did seem to be more “dust” in there than in the hefe grain bill, but the grain (for both) was crushed by NB, so I figure they know what they’re doing.

And two, is my saison totally ruined? I only wound up with about three gallons post boil. Will that bit of grain that went into the BK ruin it?

FYI: I use a 10 gal round tun with a SS braid in a circle.

Many thanks.

Are you sure it’s actually a SS braid? Many of them today are plastic and would probably disintegrate after 1 mash. If you didn’t cut your hands up when you cut and folded over the braid, it’s probably not SS.

I have a SS braid that I’ve used for many years with large proportions of wheat and rye and never had anything short of a gusher.

Definitely not plastic. Very sharp edges so I’m pretty sure it’s SS.

Did you drain fast or slow? My first AG I drained fast, and it did stop at one point. I was told after that to keep it slow so that the grain bed settles better, giving a better filtering.

This make no sense. Why would the 1st running not flow but the 2nd would?

Strange indeed.

Thanks for the replies. I did open the valve fully and wondered if it would have been better to open partially, at least at first. But, I figured if I opened it all the way with the hefe, it wouldn’t be a problem. Next time, I’ll try to crack it open first to let the bed set, then open it up.

Nighthawk—no kidding. When the second running flowed, and kept flowing, my jaw hit the floor. Otherwise, I would have just figured it was the crush, but the second running went smoothly. Go figure.

The sparge water must have just been had happier and more cooperative molecules…

I’m at a loss.

Did you have enough liquid when you were doing the first runnings? Just thinking that maybe the mash was very thick and was not draining well?? That, with a quick runoff could have been compacting the grain and stalling it???

Unless I mis-measured, I used 18 qts. That’s pretty reasonable for a first running with batch sparging, no?

Are you sure that you are not using a metal false bottom with tubing that connects it to your valve?

I’m going to assume the answer is YES and say these stuck mashes are what made me switch to:

http://hbd.org/cascade/dennybrew/

I spent way to much time being frustrated with the false bottom.

Nope, definitely don’t use a false bottom. I use a 3/4" SS water heater connector, circled with a t-fitting. I guess it’s just a stumper. We’ll just forge ahead with the next one and see what happens… Thanks all.

One modification you might want to do to your braid, is to put a piece of spring or copper tubing inside it to hold it open. This keeps it from collapsing or getting mashed by your spoon, and helps things run off more consistently.

Did you rake your mash? Protein “gunk” that has precipitated out during the mash accumulates on top of the grain bed and slows the runoff to a trickle. You can take your spoon and gently score the top inch or so of the grain bed, this breaks up the protein and lets liquid flow into and through the bed. Sometimes I have to do this several times during a runoff. It depends on the type of malt, pils always has a ton of protein. Its actually good that the protein is dropping out in the mash, means you’ve got the right pH.

Thanks, that’s really helpful. There was a silty layer on top. I thought that was a sign of too small of a crush (even though I figured NB has milled grain a few times). But maybe that was keeping the water from flowing downward then.

So the braid being crushed might have been part of it too, huh? I was thinking of adding something heavier inside to keep it down, too. Use copper or SS. I have some SS wire. Nowhere on the pkg does it say that it is galvanized so am I right to assume that this will do the job without leaching some nasties into my beer then?

After futzing with a braid forever, I can’t recommend them anymore. I know Denny prefers them and apparently has no problems, but he seems to be the exception to the rule.

If the braid doesn’t actually act as any kind of filter mechanism, and it is the grain that does all the filtering work (also something Denny’s said), then I recommend using a medium diameter (1/2" to 3/4") copper pipe/manifold with slits/holes drilled into the underside. No worries about kinking, collapsing, or damaging it with your paddle.

[quote=“Silentknyght”] No worries about kinking, collapsing, or damaging it with your paddle.[/quote]Buy a quality braid from the gas water heater section (rather than the plumbing aisle), cut it off at six inches or less, and run it along the sidewall of the cooler rather than down the middle, and you won’t have any problems with the braid collapsing of getting tangled with the paddle. Could do the same thing with a copper pipe, too - the length doesn’t matter since the grain does the work.

[quote=“Nighthawk”]

This make no sense. Why would the 1st running not flow but the 2nd would?

Strange indeed.[/quote]

The same exact thing happened to me.
For years I used a 7 gallon round Igloo cooler with a circular braid and it worked flawlessly. I recently changed to a 70 quart Coleman cooler and installed a new one foot long braid and sure enough the first mash stuck. I had to blow back on the tube coming off the valve a few times to finally get flowing but it was a major struggle to get the first runnings out of the tun, but to my surprise the sparge ran like a champ. The next day I pulled out the braid and checked it. It was secured to a piece of copper rod to keep it from floating but when I held it up to the light the braid was about 40% open. So after determining how long it had to be stretched for the braid weave to be at its maximum opening I took a piece of copper pipe put numerous slits in it then installed it inside the braid in order to keep it extended to the right length. The next mash drained fine but the sparge stuck. Just kidding, everything drained fine.

[quote=“Silentknyght”]After futzing with a braid forever, I can’t recommend them anymore. I know Denny prefers them and apparently has no problems, but he seems to be the exception to the rule.

If the braid doesn’t actually act as any kind of filter mechanism, and it is the grain that does all the filtering work (also something Denny’s said), then I recommend using a medium diameter (1/2" to 3/4") copper pipe/manifold with slits/holes drilled into the underside. No worries about kinking, collapsing, or damaging it with your paddle.[/quote]

I think it’s more likely that you’re the exception to the rule! :slight_smile: . Most people I know of have no trouble with braids.

To the OP…just barely crack the valve during vorlauf. Afteqr the grain bed is set you can open it up full. See dennybrew.com for more ideas about technique.

[quote=“Denny”]

I think it’s more likely that you’re the exception to the rule! :slight_smile: . Most people I know of have no trouble with braids.

To the OP…just barely crack the valve during vorlauf. Afteqr the grain bed is set you can open it up full. See dennybrew.com for more ideas about technique.[/quote]

Perhaps I am the exception, but you have to admit that there do seem to be alot of discussions, on a regular basis, on how best get the braid to work (e.g., the various quality of different stainless braids, the plastic vs stainless braids, floating, collapsing, reinforcing, etc.).

[quote=“Denny”][quote=“Silentknyght”]After futzing with a braid forever, I can’t recommend them anymore. I know Denny prefers them and apparently has no problems, but he seems to be the exception to the rule.

If the braid doesn’t actually act as any kind of filter mechanism, and it is the grain that does all the filtering work (also something Denny’s said), then I recommend using a medium diameter (1/2" to 3/4") copper pipe/manifold with slits/holes drilled into the underside. No worries about kinking, collapsing, or damaging it with your paddle.[/quote]

I think it’s more likely that you’re the exception to the rule! :slight_smile: . Most people I know of have no trouble with braids.

To the OP…just barely crack the valve during vorlauf. Afteqr the grain bed is set you can open it up full. See dennybrew.com for more ideas about technique.[/quote]

+1. I can open it fully at any time and get a gusher. I don’t know how it could possibly work any better. Almost 100 batches on this braid alone. Maybe people are buying bad quality braids.

[quote=“Silentknyght”][quote=“Denny”]

I think it’s more likely that you’re the exception to the rule! :slight_smile: . Most people I know of have no trouble with braids.

To the OP…just barely crack the valve during vorlauf. Afteqr the grain bed is set you can open it up full. See dennybrew.com for more ideas about technique.[/quote]

Perhaps I am the exception, but you have to admit that there do seem to be alot of discussions, on a regular basis, on how best get the braid to work (e.g., the various quality of different stainless braids, the plastic vs stainless braids, floating, collapsing, reinforcing, etc.).[/quote]

A lot of those discussions are from people who haven’t actually tried it but are worried because of what they’ve read. Based on the feed back I get, it seems there are far fewer people who have problems than there are those who don’t. For instance, people seem so concerned about the braid floating…it almost never happens to me and when it does it causes no problems at all.

I’ve had a very few problems with the braid over the last several years, but thats out of well over 100 brews and was generally due to something I did wrong like inadvertantly mashing the braid with my spoon. I don’t think a false bottom would be nearly as easy to use, plus with the braid I have basically no dead volume.

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