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...).