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Stuck Sparge on Large Batch

My friend and I brewed Saturday, it was a 15gal batch of cream ale. I used a grist of 9lb Rahr Old World pils, 16lb Rahr 2row, and 5lb of yellow corn meal. The night before I boiled 3gal of water and added the corn meal to gelatinize it. It sat overnight and was still warm the next morning and had set up to the consistency of corn meal much. It sure looked gelatinized anyway. Actually I initially attempted to adde the meal to water and bring it to a boil and right away it scorched and I had to throw that out and start over. I thought I had the ticket with the second method I used.

In any case I added the corn meal to the crushed malt and mashed in for a single infusion. Unfortunately I missed my temp due to the uncertainty associated with the corn meal, but we went ahead and mashed at 144F for 90min. Things appeared to be converting so we attempted to run off and got stuck right off the bat. I don’t mean a little bit I mean you couldn’t even vorlauf before it quit running. So we pulled a 5gal decoction and boiled that and added back to bring the temp to 153F for another 30min. At that point we got a bed set enough to get maybe 5gal of clear wort off before it stuck again. We couldn’t get it to run after that and ended up using all three of my braid MLTs and some wire mesh colanders to get the wort out. What should have taken 6hrs took 12. We even ran out of propane and couldn’t get my friend’s tank to seal on my regulator so we had to rush out and exchange my tank.

So why did this happen? It wasn’t immediately obvious what was clogging the braids. I have experience with the Old World pils, the stuff drops a lot of protein. Also I used a new drill and crushed slower than normal using my fairly narrow gap, maybe this got things too fine. It didn’t loiok that much different but we didn’t see a whole lot of husks. I also used a lot of rice hulls and that didn’t seem to help. I’m thinking it is some ungelatinized starches from the corn that were clogging the works.

I’m sure this beer will turn out well and in time I’ll be able to look back and laugh, but its going to take months. One lesson learned, buy flaked maize next time.

You could have used flaked maize, but the extra expense is not worth it in my mind. The silver bullet that you’re looking for is powdered amylase enzyme. Unfortunately NB doesn’t sell any, but you can get some from several places. Here’s just one:

http://www.rebelbrewer.com/shoppingcart ... 5-oz..html

When you do your cereal mash with the corn meal, add in a tablespoon or so of the amylase with the solution at ~145F. You should notice that the solution will thin out immediately. You can then experiment with length of time/amount of enzyme/number of enzyme additions until you get something that works. Amylase (this is beta-amylase BTW) will be fully denatured (inactivated) in ~2 hours at 145-155F. Hope this helps.

Enjoy.

I have read up on cereal mashes and kind of figured in retrospect that I should have gone this route. What I found inconsistent is how a cereal mash prior to gelatinizing by boiling, would do any good.

Basically, the difference is adding a bunch of goo to your mash or a less vicous solution. Give the amylase treated cereal mash a try and see if it works for you. Otherwise the only other solution would be to use a different false bottom setup, but I’m not sure if that would improve things either.

Enjoy.

I don’t know, lot of aggravation and extra time to save a couple of bucks buy not using flaked corn.

Flaked corn or rice is more expensive, but it is less hassle, and the money is going to your LHBS. Is the additional cost for the flaked worth it? In my mind it is.

I don’t know, lot of aggravation and extra time to save a couple of bucks buy not using flaked corn.

Flaked corn or rice is more expensive, but it is less hassle, and the money is going to your LHBS. Is the additional cost for the flaked worth it? In my mind it is.[/quote]

Exactly. In April, I got in on a grain group buy and among other things, I bought 12.5 lbs of flaked corn for less than half of what the LHBS was charging. 30 gal of Cream Ale brewed so far and no stuck sparges. I still have enough flaked corn for another 15 gal to brew!

Yeah, we like Cream Ales during these hot summer days!

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