Mash keeps compacting with Grainfather

Discussion in 'General Home Brew Equipment Discussion' started by jceg316, Apr 22, 2017.

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  1. Apr 22, 2017 #1

    jceg316

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    I was wondering if anyone else is experiencing this? I will turn the pump on and after a few minutes I can hear it struggle to pull wort out the grain bed. I pause the mash and give it a stir and the grain bed is very compact. This seems to happen regardless of how far down I push the top plate.
     
  2. Apr 22, 2017 #2

    Manxnorton

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    Aye I've had some mashed like that!
    Thinking too much Grain bill-to mash volume..and the type of grain used.
    I've used Grain husks...less Grain bill..more mash water...and changing the whole brew from say 20l to 23l overall..obvoulsly losing the gravity reading and losing overall ABV etc..
    But more n more I use it (with beersmith, GF recipe maker) making the mash and sparge water volume calculator better.
    I'm not a guru but I think the answe could be...too much Grain bill/mash water volume...or too little mash water to the Grain bill...but like I said I'm no judge lol
    Be somebody soon to stop my woffling and get a simple solution lol
    Bri
     
  3. Apr 22, 2017 #3

    jceg316

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    I think a thick mash might be an issue. Using GF's own water calculations my mashes are looking thicker than when I was using my last system. I will try adding an extra litre in the next brew.

    I'm mashing at the moment, got the glugging sound twice. Second time I left the top plate higher than normal and turned the ball valve on the pump so it flows slowly and over time I've been opening it gradually. This seems to have worked.

    I will also check to make sure the pump itself isn't blocked as I've not looked at it since I bought it. I've done around 5 brews or so, probably some grain and hop debris sitting in there.
     
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  4. Apr 22, 2017 #4

    chewie

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    Best cure i have found is to not push the top plate down at all, let it get no farther than the first drop of wort that starts to bubble up thru it and then get it level, then do not put the pump on full bore but throttle it down using the 1/4 turn valve to a trickle until you are pumping enough wort up thru to keep it circulating but not spilling down the overflow tube, as you progress thru the mash you can start to increase the pump flow gradually but never let it overflow, this seems to encourage the wort to trickle down thru the grain better rather than it taking the easy route by overflowing. Finer grains is the most likely cause for stuck sparge/mash, try to put them in last and don't stir them in right to the bottom, using the above trickle technique with that I've not had any issues since.

    One other thing to do if you are using a larger grain bill (7 kg+) is to keep the mash arm down into the grain bed and have it pumping wort up as you are still adding grain, this lets you get it stirred in easier and ensures there is adequate water mixed in thru out.
     
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  5. Apr 22, 2017 #5

    chewie

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    If you need to clean it out connect a hose to the sparge arm and blow water back down the pipe into the pump and out into the GF.
     
  6. Apr 22, 2017 #6

    jceg316

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    Thanks for the advice, I'll do that tonight during the clean up.
     
  7. Apr 22, 2017 #7

    BeerCat

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    My recirculating system keeps doing the same. The other day i used Rye and it compacted like concrete. I had to break it up using my paddle with 2 hands. I have not noticed adding extra water to help as i think my problem is down to the pump blocking. Have you tried adding a tea strainer? Check out David Heaths videos for how to do it.
     
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  8. Apr 22, 2017 #8

    Manxnorton

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    just what i wasnt to say :doh:
    :thumb:
    need a interpreter when i write....:lol::lol:
    bri
     
  9. Apr 22, 2017 #9

    Norfolk79

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    The grain mash on the gf is definitely thicker than if using a mash turn. One of the grainfather how to use videos does say it's meant to have a porridge like consistency though.

    Have only used my gf twice though (next brew day tomorrow [emoji3]) both times with a 5 ish kg grain bill.
     
  10. Apr 22, 2017 #10

    jceg316

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    Yes I've seen his videos and have been meaning to get a tea strainer. That will help prevent grains getting into the pump and also stop them getting into the boil. One negative about the GF is that the boil is filled with grains.
     
  11. Apr 22, 2017 #11

    BeerCat

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    I was thinking about that the other day. I guess that's why he says scrape the bottom a lot. I boil in a separate pot but have now started to strain the wort as had a few burned patches. I wonder what sort of pump the GF uses. I could do with a better one as cleaning mine involves removing the screws and fiddling around with a cocktail stick to clean it out.
     
  12. Apr 22, 2017 #12

    Norfolk79

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    Last brew I used a sink strainer over the overflow. Clogged up half way through the mash and I had to remove it. Think I might have to get a bigger one!
     
  13. Apr 23, 2017 #13

    jceg316

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    I thought they used this http://www.geterbrewed.com/brewferm-pump-in-20-magnetic-drive-pump/ or something like that for the pump. I did buy that for my old kit but it broke before I got a chance to use it, the outlet snapped off as I was screwing on a ball valve tap.

    I'm also finding I have a lot of wastage when I make hoppy beers. The filter isn't quite big enough to handle a moderatey hopped pale/IPA. I have a hop spider I might use, or put the hops in a mulsin bag.
     
  14. Apr 23, 2017 #14

    DoctorMick

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    Do you crush your own grains or buy them crushed? There is a recommended crush for the GF and I think it is less fine than a lot of systems. I can't remember what it is but it's on their FAQ section I think.

    I've used a spider for ages because the original pump filter was crap although the newer one is meant to be very good (I have it but still use the spider) and not get clogged. You do need to leave the pump running for a while to get everything out tho.
     
  15. Apr 23, 2017 #15

    Pawlo7671

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    I get a bit of grain in the boil, i'm usin the hookhead irish malt from THBC and its a thin crush, never had a problem with re-circ tho and i do throttle it back with the quarter turn valve. Apart from that my love affair with the GF is strong, right now its :

    Kids
    Dog
    Grainfather
    Wife
    Beer
    Porn
     
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  16. Apr 24, 2017 #16

    jceg316

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    @doctormick, I'm gonna be getting a grain mill soon. Did you always mill your own grain? I currently get mine pre crushed but it would be interesting to know if there will be a difference in efficiency.

    @Pawlo7671 I think I have a similar hierarchy minus the kids as I don't have any yet. Beer might be higher than wife sometimes.
     
  17. Apr 24, 2017 #17

    Zephyr259

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    Glad I saw this thread as I've been having similar issues but not consistently. My stout and brown ale were fine, good drainage when the basket was lifted and fine sparge.

    The braggot I made was wonky but I think it was my own fault trying to use a tea strainer instead of a sink strainer, it instantly blocked and the pump ran dry which probably compacted the bed, but I still managed 85% efficiency somehow.

    The last brew was a simple pale ale, 3.5kg of maris otter and 500g of munich, circ'd without any strainer and when I lifted it the run through was pretty slow, so I stirred the mash and it was very solid, had to stir a 2nd time mid sparge as well. Also as I used the regular pipework for a 4kg grain bill I had to add an extra 2L water so the to plate would seal so it wasn't the thickest of mashes. I also seem to get pretty murky wort so I'm thinking that I'm not getting the flow through the grain I should.

    Going to try bringing the flow up gradually as recommended here, also a mid-mash stir might be in order to check and see how the grain bed is, also has the benefit of helping keep efficiency high.
     
  18. Apr 24, 2017 #18

    Fil

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    I have not had this issue at all?? and am struggling to envisage it tbh.. just throwing this out there as a wild guess but if the malt tube is sitting on the base and forming a loose seal of sorts perhaps this is contributing to the suck down of the grain mass and if so might be solved by simply breaking the malt tube/base seal with sitting a short length of copper tube or similar under one lip/side of the malt tube to ensure free flow of liquor under it to avoid any future suck, a few mm of elevation should be sufficient??
     
  19. Apr 24, 2017 #19

    Zephyr259

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    Sorry for being dense, but which bit are you referring to as the malt tube? The silicone recirc pipe could in theory sit on the top plate and seal but i move mine to check the flow, guess the damage would be done as soon as the pump starts though which i could be missing. Is this what you mean Fil?
     
  20. Apr 25, 2017 #20

    Fil

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    No your not Dense at all. I am.. totally scrub the above, I have no idea whats going on - And i totally ignored that the pump draws from without the grain tube not from under and within its perimeter Double DOH!! I was looking at pics of a diy build earlier and must have gotten my wires crossed I shall get my coat...
     
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