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General Category => All Grain Brewing => Topic started by: tomsawyer on January 14, 2011, 02:42:15 AM

Title: Rice Hulls?
Post by: tomsawyer on January 14, 2011, 02:42:15 AM
Do these work for you?  I've used them and never thought they did anything but soak up more wort.  I don't get many stuck mashes, and if I do I'll just stir and vorlauf again.  I also have good luck raking the top of the grain bed.
Title: Re: Rice Hulls?
Post by: CASK1 on January 14, 2011, 03:14:05 AM
If my grain bill is more than 50% wheat, I use rice hulls and have been very happy with the results. No stuck mashes, and I haven't noticed any reduced wort volume.
Title: Re: Rice Hulls?
Post by: tygo on January 14, 2011, 03:32:30 AM
I bought a big bag of them before I brewed my first CAP with about 25% flaked corn because I thought it would help with the lautering.  So I've used them for this beer twice now but never for any other beer.  I soak in the mash tun with hot water to :  1) Rinse them off, 2) rehydrate them so I don't absorb a bunch of wort, and 3) preheat the mash tun.  Then I run that water off.  So I don't include them in my grain bill for the purposes of determining absorption.

The last time I considered not bothering but since I had them I used them.  It worked well and I had a nice easy runoff.  But I'm thinking I could probably have gotten away with not bothering.  The next time I brew this beer I'll probably just see how it works without them.
Title: Re: Rice Hulls?
Post by: realbeerguy on January 14, 2011, 03:50:41 AM
Rice Hulls = sparge insurance

I use 2-3 handfulls for every mash, 4-5 when using wheat or rye.
Title: Re: Rice Hulls?
Post by: denny on January 14, 2011, 05:17:22 PM
I've never had a stuck runoff, so I've never had a reason to use them.
Title: Re: Rice Hulls?
Post by: beerstache on January 14, 2011, 10:32:41 PM
Depends on your crush, too.  I get good results when buying from MLHBS, but bought a bag of Canadien malt pre-crushed and it was too fine!  A pound of rice hulls did the trick!
Title: Re: Rice Hulls?
Post by: jeffy on January 15, 2011, 12:45:01 PM
I made a mistake once with rice hulls.  I thought it would be a good idea to put all the hulls into the strike water first and then add the malts.  What happened was all the rice hulls sank right to the bottom under the pressure of the malt and immediately clogged up my stainless false bottom, resulting in a seriously stuck mash.  I ended up scooping all the mash out into a separate sparge vessel to finish the mash.  Next time I think I'll mix the hulls in with all the grains.
Title: Re: Rice Hulls?
Post by: Pawtucket Patriot on January 15, 2011, 05:13:45 PM
I used them once when I made my first weissbier (about 60% wheat). I wanted to see if they actually made a difference, so I didn't use them when I next brewed the weissbier. No sparge issues whatsoever.  Never used rice hulls since.
Title: Re: Rice Hulls?
Post by: skyler on January 15, 2011, 08:36:19 PM
If I brew with more than 5% unmalted grains or more than 20% wheat or rye, I consider rice hulls insurance.
Title: Re: Rice Hulls?
Post by: lonnie mac on January 15, 2011, 08:49:29 PM
I have never used them. A lot of folks will but I haven't tried. I even brewed a 100% all-wheat-stout and didn't need them. Probably wouldn't have hurt during that brew, but all went pretty well.
Title: Re: Rice Hulls?
Post by: mabrungard on January 15, 2011, 11:30:51 PM
I made a mistake once with rice hulls.  I thought it would be a good idea to put all the hulls into the strike water first and then add the malts.  What happened was all the rice hulls sank right to the bottom under the pressure of the malt and immediately clogged up my stainless false bottom, resulting in a seriously stuck mash.  I ended up scooping all the mash out into a separate sparge vessel to finish the mash.  Next time I think I'll mix the hulls in with all the grains.

Jeff, that is the way that I've always done it. Add the hulls first and then mix in the grain.  I have a RIMS and always turn off the pump when doughing in.  Sorry for the problem.
Title: Re: Rice Hulls?
Post by: jeffy on January 16, 2011, 12:39:31 AM
I made a mistake once with rice hulls.  I thought it would be a good idea to put all the hulls into the strike water first and then add the malts.  What happened was all the rice hulls sank right to the bottom under the pressure of the malt and immediately clogged up my stainless false bottom, resulting in a seriously stuck mash.  I ended up scooping all the mash out into a separate sparge vessel to finish the mash.  Next time I think I'll mix the hulls in with all the grains.

Jeff, that is the way that I've always done it. Add the hulls first and then mix in the grain.  I have a RIMS and always turn off the pump when doughing in.  Sorry for the problem.

Hmmm.  Pump wasn't on yet when that happened.  I usually dump all the grain in at once before commencing the stirring.  Is that what you do?
Title: Re: Rice Hulls?
Post by: tomsawyer on January 16, 2011, 12:49:26 AM
If you stir then why would it matter?

After posing this question, I decided to brew a rye APA this morning (20% rye malt).  I used a handful of hulls just for insurance and of course everything ran off just fine.
Title: Re: Rice Hulls?
Post by: jeffy on January 16, 2011, 12:59:41 AM
If you stir then why would it matter?

'Just trying to figure out why it stuck so bad when I did it that way.  I certainly won't do it exactly the same the next time.
Title: Re: Rice Hulls?
Post by: mabrungard on January 16, 2011, 04:25:29 PM
I do dough in slowly and mix all the while.  I'm pretty sure the hulls are interspersed.
Title: Re: Rice Hulls?
Post by: tomsawyer on January 16, 2011, 05:57:25 PM
In thinking about it, its probably better to add them in such a way that they get well mixed into the grist.  They're basically replacing the husks on grain that have none.  Having them at the bottom means you have a cake of stuff above that won't let wort through.  When interspersed they allow the mash cake to be porous.
Title: Re: Rice Hulls?
Post by: Podo on January 21, 2011, 02:53:32 AM
i used them occasionally when brewing with wheat or rye, but ever since I learned about malt conditioning on this site, IMO they are no longer necessary.
Title: Re: Rice Hulls?
Post by: majorvices on January 21, 2011, 03:10:12 AM
I've never had a stuck runoff, so I've never had a reason to use them.

+1. I brew a beer with 50% wheat very regularly (weekly in fact) and never use them and never have a problem. That said, YMMV. ;)
Title: Re: Rice Hulls?
Post by: bearcat on January 21, 2011, 03:19:27 PM
i used them occasionally when brewing with wheat or rye, but ever since I learned about malt conditioning on this site, IMO they are no longer necessary.

+.5  -should clarify I use a sabco keg with their false bottom..  I went from Denny's cooler method so I could direct fire my MT.   Didn't need them with Denny's setup as well.   I have a big bag just sitting there #5pounds is huge... maybe if I forget to malt condition someday I will need them again in a panic. 
Title: Re: Rice Hulls?
Post by: boganbrewer on February 02, 2011, 02:15:06 PM
I use rice hulls in almost all my brews because they greatly improve the circulation in my mash tun.
Title: Re: Rice Hulls?
Post by: lazydog79 on February 02, 2011, 03:21:30 PM
Rice Hulls = sparge insurance

I use 2-3 handfulls for every mash, 4-5 when using wheat or rye.

+1 I'm efficiency obsessed so I push my crush to the edge.  A friend of mine once said, "Crush 'til you are scared."  For what rice hulls cost, a couple handfulls are better than spending an extra hour lautering.
Title: Re: Rice Hulls?
Post by: denny on February 02, 2011, 05:13:34 PM
+1 I'm efficiency obsessed so I push my crush to the edge.  A friend of mine once said, "Crush 'til you are scared." 

Hey, that's my saying!

Title: Re: Rice Hulls?
Post by: dbeechum on February 02, 2011, 05:33:43 PM
Hey, that's my saying!

Were you his friend once?
Title: Re: Rice Hulls?
Post by: bluedog on February 02, 2011, 05:38:35 PM
I split 50 lbs of rice hulls with 2 other guys about 2 years ago. I brewed about 50 gallons of german wheat beers that summer. I threw in a couple of pint glasses worth into every batch and never had a stuck sparge. I also made a wheat wine with over 10 lbs of wheat in a 5 gallon batch - that one got sticky but I got it going after adding a pound of rice hulls and re-mixing. By the way rice hulls come packed compressed - it's like opening a bag of peat moss...
Title: Re: Rice Hulls?
Post by: Tim McManus on February 02, 2011, 05:56:44 PM
Will rice hulls help prevent a stuck sparge on large mashes?

We have an issue when we use over 35# of grain in our mash tun.  It's a converted keg, and occasionally we'll get stuck on +40% wheat beers.

We're brewing a 41# mash for a doppelbock next weekend and decided to get 2# of rice hulls to see if it prevents a stuck sparge.  We assume that the weight of the mash is compressing the bottom of the grain bed too much and that's preventing sparge water from flowing.  Our assumption is that the rice hulls will make the mash more porous (probably the wrong word, but you get the idea) and minimize a stuck sparge.

The alternative is doing multiple batch sparges (the grain and sparge volumes can't be completely contained in the 15-gallon keg) and whirlpooling.  We're a bit OCD over efficiency and may just have to suck up getting a 60% efficiency on a 41# grain bill.  Of course with a smaller mash we could get an 83% efficiency.  I should probably gather better metrics and graph this but there's probably a point in our system where adding more grain is actually costing us more money and we're not going to reach an optimal efficiency/cost ratio (see, OCD...).

Title: Re: Rice Hulls?
Post by: euge on February 02, 2011, 07:48:45 PM
Tried them and it took forever to go through 2 pounds. Even brewed a 70% wheat without rice hulls and no stuck mash. I think mash-bed thickness can affect one's lauter but that can be compensated for by throttling back the run (my opinion).

Straight up- I think they are superfluous and they looked pretty dirty even after washing.
Title: Re: Rice Hulls?
Post by: denny on February 02, 2011, 07:55:21 PM
I've had a 2 lb. bag in my supplies for over 10 years.  Never needed them.
Title: Re: Rice Hulls?
Post by: lazydog79 on February 02, 2011, 07:59:43 PM
+1 I'm efficiency obsessed so I push my crush to the edge.  A friend of mine once said, "Crush 'til you are scared." 

Hey, that's my saying!


Denny Conn: Often imitated but never duplicated  ;)
Title: Re: Rice Hulls?
Post by: denny on February 02, 2011, 08:06:26 PM
And I think you should all thank your lucky stars for that!
Title: Re: Rice Hulls?
Post by: mabrungard on February 04, 2011, 04:24:10 PM
The depth of the grain bed and the flow rate have a big effect on the lautering performance.  My compliments to the brewers who can brew high wheat grists without hulls. 

I run a RIMS and its pretty important to have a fairly permeable grist so that my flowrate is good.  Many RIMS and HERMS brewers probably know that the permeability of the grist actually changes during the mash.  It starts out at a lower permeability and you cannot try and push too much wort through the grist for the first 15 minutes or so.  As the conversion and soluablization progresses, the permeability of the grist increases and you can start increasing the flowrate.   Pushing too much flow through the grist can contribute to compacting the mash and possibly producing a stuck mash.

Therefore, I use hulls with high wheat grists or grists with rye.
Title: Re: Rice Hulls?
Post by: Tim McManus on February 04, 2011, 04:52:49 PM
Thanks, Martin.  I had a hunch that we were being hampered by vertical depth as our smaller mashes run without issue.

However, the permeability of our large mashes decreases over time for some reason.  Our water/grain is 1.25 for all of our mashes.  Next weekend we re brewing a doppelbock using a 41# mash bill (not including rice hulls).  Through our research it's recommended that a doppelbock mash water/grain should be around 1.4, so we've made that change to our calculations.

For us it's a tug-of-war between sacrificing mash efficiency to make bigger beers or retiring our mash tun and investing in one that will allow us to brew bigger beers with a shallower mash depth.  We're hoping that the integration of rice hulls into the deeper mash will allow us to improve the mash permeability.