Wheat Beer Brew Kettle "Floaters"

What went wrong? Was this supposed to happen? Should I throw it out? What do I do now?

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Wheat Beer Brew Kettle "Floaters"

Postby nocluebruer » Sun May 10, 2009 10:40 pm

Loaned out my Palmer book so I thought I'd post a question. I all grain brew a nice wheat with 50/50 2 row brewers and white wheat malt using a mash tun cooler and manifold in a single at 152F. I control the wort out flow and usually recirc at least a gallon of wort and the wort is fairly clear when it hits the pot. I usually have a first running pot and a second running pot for roughly 17 gallons to ferment.

My last 2 batches have had significant "floaters" of something resembling tan seaweed pieces in the wort. The floaters are very fine, and when I try to fish net them out, they just clog up the net. When cooled, the floaters sink with the hop pieces. My second running or rinse batch has absolutely no floaters at all. I used a Corona mill for the first floater fest and a roller mill for the second.

Here are the dumb questions? What are the floaters, solidified proteins? Any thing bad as a result of the floating debris? Will more initial recirculation eliminate this floating sludge? Thanks for the help!
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floaters

Postby Suthrncomfrt1884 » Mon May 11, 2009 12:26 pm

It sounds like proteins to me. Did you have a good hot break?

I don't see this too often, but a few brews ago when I did a belgian wit, I saw lots of the same thing you describe. The beer came out fine, so I just assumed it was proteins from the hot break.
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Postby nocluebruer » Mon May 11, 2009 9:05 pm

So here comes the not so smart part, what's a good hot break?

After I recirc, the wort hits the cold pot and after a gallon or so of wort hits the kettle I fire it up to get a jump on the boil. I'm heating as the wort is flowing into the pot. Good or not so good?

As my user name indicates, I have a lot to learn. Thanks for the help.
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Postby Suthrncomfrt1884 » Mon May 11, 2009 9:22 pm

Your technique is fine. I actually do the same thing. As far as a good hot break...you'd know it if you saw it. Usually when I have a good break it's accompanies by a close call for boiling over. That's really all you'll see though thats a dead giveaway. I wouldn't worry too much about it. It's pretty standard with wheat beers. As long as it settled out you should be fine.
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Postby nocluebruer » Mon May 11, 2009 9:37 pm

I usually have a slight boil over on the first run kettle with a lot of blowing on the foam to calm it down.

I haven't changed a lot from batch to batch so I was a little worried. I haven't tasted the first floater fest batch yet so it will be interesting to see what if anything happened to the taste. Glad to know some others have seen this, makes me feel somewhat comfortable with my process.

Thanks and bottoms up!!
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hot break

Postby slothrob » Tue May 12, 2009 2:24 pm

Hot break is the coagulated proteins that drop out when the wort is heated (the cold break occurs when it's chilled, later). The foam is related, but it's really the clumps of protein that drop out that are the actual break, I believe.

These coagulated proteins often look like small flakes, which sounds kind of like what you are describing.

Does this show up as you are heating the first runnings? I ask because you usually start to see the larger clumps start to form as you are heating the wort, especially as you approach the boil.
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Postby nocluebruer » Tue May 12, 2009 10:29 pm

Yes, so far the floaters have appeared on the way to the boil and very heavily after the foam dies down. I like an very vigoruous boil and once formed they seem to remain consistent, neither growing or diminishing unless I fishnet them out.

Will additional recirculation of the wort eliminate or reduce the floater fest or will the first running protein always be present?
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hot break

Postby slothrob » Wed May 13, 2009 6:30 am

That's hot break, all right. There's nothing to worry about, as a lot of hot break is a good thing. The only thing I can think of that reduces the hot break is a step mash with a protein rest, but that wouldn't necessarily make better beer.

I don't think recirculating will reduce hot break significantly, because those proteins are in solution at mash temperature and don't flocculate until the temperature is raised. There are proteins that come out of solution in the mash that can be removed by vorlaufing, and you can probably see them as a grey powdery stuff that accumulates on the top of the grain. You can recirculate until the beer is clear, and these proteins will be removed, but you'll still get hot break forming once you heat to the boil.
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Postby nocluebruer » Wed May 13, 2009 12:21 pm

Great, thank you for the information.
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