Sunday, June 8, 2014

Brewing a Wheat Beer using Rice Hulls

The rice hulls in the 5 gallon bucket can keep
the mash from becoming stuck.
Brewing a wheat beer can be tricky. The grains of wheat are small, and become very thick when wet. This can cause the mash to become stuck, and slow the transfer of wort from the mash tun to the brew kettle. I recommend alternating types of grain with the wheat. In the case of Randy's Warhawk Wheat, I alternate a bag of Pilsen malt with a bag of wheat rather than dumping all the wheat in together. Another thing you can do is use rice hulls to narrow channels in the grain bed for the sparge to flow through en route to the brew kettle. I use one 5 gallon bucket for every 50lbs of wheat.
At Randy's, we use a grant to vorlauf the wort.

After the "mash in" there is a process called vorlauf which takes the smaller particulates from the bottom of the grain bed, and deposits them on top. This creates a natural filter keeping a large portion of smaller particulates out of the brew kettle. 

I'd be inclined to think that the use of rice hulls in the mashing of a wheat beer, would decrease the effectiveness of the vorlauf. But after using some very technical equipment, my eyes and a glass, I see that the vorlauf is just as effective and there are very few particulates swimming around in the glass after only 10 minutes of circulation. 

I've found that alternating grain types with the wheat beer, seems to be as effective as using rice hulls. Although the rices hulls do not alter the mouth feel of the beer, or give it an unusual taste, sometimes getting the hulls out of their transport bag is more work than dealing with a stuck mash. So I'd rather not use them myself.