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Jun 08, 2022 View:

Question for those who ferment on grain

I finally got to run my first mash last night. All seemed well until I tried to transfer to my fermenter, via a 2" diaphragm pump, and the grain compacted pretty badly. What started out as a 200 gallon mash (3:1 grain to water ratio) ended up at only 140 gallons in the fermenter with much of the saturated grain left behind in the mash tun. I didn't reach my target temp on the first pass through my 2" grain-in chiller so I ran it back into the mash tun (after having cleaned out the compacted grains) and again found that much of the grain solids remained in the fermenter. Same thing happened for a third time when I re-transferred the mash back into the fermenter. All in all I was left with about 120 of the original 200 gallons in the fermenter by the time I pitched the yeast. I'm curious what others who ferment on the grain do to avoid this loss?


Reply:

Stones, we have an agitator which stirs up the mash in our mash tun and another which attaches to our fermenters to stir that up prior to pumping into the still. No problems with clumping so far. But 3:1 grain to water seems high, we use about 2:1, and that seems about right. Maybe you should try a little thinner mash?


Reply:

We do all grain and use a 1.5" diaphragm pump. We just mill our grain very fine and it has never been an issue.


Reply:

Thanks for the responses, Towerguy and Hedgebird. I appreciate the suggestions.

I'm going to more thoroughly agitate while transferring and see what happens, then if the issue persists I'll look at decreasing grain ratio and/ or milling size.


Reply:

If you are doing grain in fermentation and distillation, I don't see why you wouldn't hammer mill your grist into a fine flour. You will most likely see better yields, and should have an easier time transferring the wort.


Reply:

Thanks MaltMonster. I'll give that a go.


Reply:

We "agitate" in the mash tun by constantly circulating the mash with a centrifugal pump at about 30 gal/min. Pump out the bottom into the top. Pump over to fermenters when done, out of the bottom. Fermentation adequate to keep solids suspended until end. Use conical fermenters to pull solids out with beer into still for stripping.


Reply:

We end up having to add a bit of water and agitating to thin things out after conversion, but we account for the added water. Do you use any enzymes? Before we transfer from chiller to fermenter we add Viscoferm to thin the mash, seems to work pretty good and doesn't stress out our pump too much.


Reply:

Masampson and Bluestar, thanks for the suggestions!

Masamson, are you having to add water AND use Viscoferm? I did a little research on the Viscoferm and it seems like an interesting possibility. I'm using 100% malt so there should be more than enough enzyme activity already - I did try adding more enzyme on a suggestion from a yeast supplier but it didn't make any noticeable difference.


Reply:

We add a very minimal amount once the Viscoferm is added. We use a recirculation method during cooling (the Viscoferm is best below 120F), and once the enzyme is added the mash become very noticeably thinner.


Reply:

Thanks masampson!