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First stuck mash: batch sparge

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beer_crafter:
I've done dozens of partial mash and all grain brews using Denny's cheap'n'easy mash tun design, and it's always worked well for me.

This past week I brewed a Munich Dunkel with 94% Weyermann Munich I malt, 3% Carafa Special, and 3% CaraMunich.  I belive my crush was finer than I normally crush, since there was a lot of flour.  I did something different with this batch by adding water slowly to the grain in the tun, rather than vice-versa.  Ultimately, I mashed at 152.  When I went to vorlauf, as soon as the runoff cleared, it slowed to a trickle.  I tried to stir up the bed, and the same thing happened.  I attemped to move some of the mash to a different (smaller) tun with the same design, and it got stuck there too.

I ended up changing out the hose that passes through the wall of the cooler to one that had a large ID with the same OD... unfortunately, this is a regular, non hi-temp tube, so I prefer to use the original tube I had been using.  Nevertheless, it, along with a lot of patience, helped me to get through the brew day.

I noticed that there was a rather thick (.5 - 1.25") layer of trub/mud/protiens that sat atop the grains once my sparge was complete.  I have seen a thin layer of this substance before, but never has it been so thick.  I assume it was this substance that was causing the stuck sparge. 

It is likely that this was caused by my crush?   Or is it possible that at some point I unintentionally throughout this pricess did some sort of temperature rest that caused a thick, muddy like protien to form in the mash? 

Next batch, I will be using a coarser crush, but I thought I would ask the group here for opinions as well. 

hokerer:
I'd probably look more toward the other process that you said you changed.  That is, adding the water to the grain instead of the grain to the water.  Maybe that created some sort of nasty doughball mess that gummed up your braid.

edit:  hmm, on second glance, you say you transferred some of the mash to another cooler and it still stuck so, maybe never mind.

hamiltont:
Look into conditioning your grain.  Basically misting the grain with water & let it sit for ~15 minutes before milling it.  It made a huge difference for me. The husks (your filter) are whole and the endosperm is fully exposed.  I also tightened up the mill from .039 to .035.

bspisak:

One thing I don't like about the braided toilet supply lines it that they use a really fine mesh. The stainless screens (like the bazooka) are a lot courser as are most false bottoms. Perhaps this contributes to getting stuck (I've had one out of my last 6 get stuck, but I just dumped all my batch water in after draining the first runnings.)

Another thing to consider is that those braided lines are soft and may compress under a lot of grain. I use an inverted, stripped down vegetable steamer as a pseudo false bottom. It sits over top the braid to keep that from happening. I recently did a barley wine and sparged 14 gallons for two beers from 27# of grain without a problem.

denny:
FWIW, I've done 365 batches with the same braid and never had a stuck runoff, although I crush very fine.  The braid has also never collapsed, even with 75 lb. of grain.

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