Help! So much sludge with pellet hops

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mrboxpiff
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Help! So much sludge with pellet hops

Post by mrboxpiff » Sat Feb 23, 2019 11:43 pm

I usually use whole hops for my brews, but this time decided to use 100% pellets. There was so much sludge at the bottom of the boiler I couldn't get the liquor out through the bazooka filter. Am I missing something fundamental with the use of pellets?

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mrboxpiff
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Re: Help! So much sludge with letter hops

Post by mrboxpiff » Sat Feb 23, 2019 11:46 pm

Sorry, my word got changed, it should read "pellet"

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Re: Help! So much sludge with pellet hops

Post by Kingfisher4 » Sun Feb 24, 2019 6:55 am

I have used pellets twice ( I use a Grainfather ) and experienced lots of sludge both times too, some of which passed through into the FV. I know lots of people use nothing else and fully appreciate they are so much more compact and easy to store, but I am happier with whole hops and really like the added benefit that they act as a great filter bed for most of the protein trub after whirpooling.

Personal preference I guess, but having tried both I am likely to stick with whole hops.

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Re: Help! So much sludge with pellet hops

Post by HTH1975 » Sun Feb 24, 2019 7:54 am

How fast do you cast to FV? I’ve gradually moved over to pellet hops as I get less losses. I start with the ball valve barely open till the wort starts to flow, then open the valve a bit more till it’s about halfway open. If you open it fully, there will be too much suction and the bazooka will clog. It’s all about being patient. I used all pellets yesterday and lost only about a litre tat was too murky to use.

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Re: Help! So much sludge with pellet hops

Post by Kingfisher4 » Sun Feb 24, 2019 1:45 pm

HTH1975 wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 7:54 am
How fast do you cast to FV? I’ve gradually moved over to pellet hops as I get less losses. I start with the ball valve barely open till the wort starts to flow, then open the valve a bit more till it’s about halfway open. If you open it fully, there will be too much suction and the bazooka will clog. It’s all about being patient. I used all pellets yesterday and lost only about a litre tat was too murky to use.
I've read various tips including this sort of idea, but overall have come to prefer whole hops. I also love to see them pitched into the rolling boil, retro tradition adds to the brewday pleasure for me. Very personal choices I guess.

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Re: Help! So much sludge with pellet hops

Post by nigelnorris » Sun Feb 24, 2019 2:05 pm

With pellets you either need a filter before the bazooka, so bag them up or use a spider, or you just get rid of the bazooka altogether and dump the lot into your FV. Precious little difference in the end product so no problem with going with whatever feels easiest.

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Re: Help! So much sludge with pellet hops

Post by PeeBee » Sun Feb 24, 2019 2:09 pm

Once upon a time (another of those oldie homebrew stories) we were told not to use hop pellets unless you had the means (whirlpool) to deal with them.

The other day I used a higher proportion of pellets (66%) than I normally would and … yeap, loads of crud. Ironically unlike "HTH1975" the crud increased my losses, probably because the crud fouled the pump? Using a Grainfather I expect "losses to trub and cooler" in the boiler to be about 1.3L (100% whole hops) but the other day it was 2L.

mrboxpiff
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Re: Help! So much sludge with pellet hops

Post by mrboxpiff » Sun Feb 24, 2019 3:27 pm

Thank you guys, all very interesting. I'll need careful consideration before using a large proportion of pellets in the future. However I now have an interesting dilemma. Because the filter was completely blocked we poured the whole lot into the 2 fermenters. Is there any issues with fermenting with the sludge present,bit should I syphon the liquor off the sludge and ferment?


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Re: Help! So much sludge with pellet hops

Post by PeeBee » Sun Feb 24, 2019 7:27 pm

"...we poured...". I see you are already trying to deflect any blame! :D

I know when I clamped the lid on my fermenter the other day there was islands of debris clumps floating about. Was I bothered? Was I heck. I'll have pumped far less debris than you've probably poured, but these hops have been boiled for some time and anything "bad" will already be in your beer. Of course, you will have to take extra care when racking the finished beer off, the trub will disturb easily. It is not the same as soaking dry hops for too long and extracting things you'd rather not. Keeping crud out of your fermenter is all about making your life easier later on.

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Re: Help! So much sludge with pellet hops

Post by guypettigrew » Sun Feb 24, 2019 7:51 pm

mrboxpiff wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 3:27 pm
Thank you guys, all very interesting. I'll need careful consideration before using a large proportion of pellets in the future. However I now have an interesting dilemma. Because the filter was completely blocked we poured the whole lot into the 2 fermenters. Is there any issues with fermenting with the sludge present,bit should I syphon the liquor off the sludge and ferment?


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What kind of fermenter are you using? If it's a conical it might be worth trying to run some of the trub off.

Mind you, if it's been fermenting for a day or so the trub is probably whizzing up and down inside the fermenter!

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Re: Help! So much sludge with pellet hops

Post by Rhodesy » Sun Feb 24, 2019 9:56 pm

I would move to a secondary at some point once fermentation has slowed down, not a practice that I usually follow but as you have more than just a bit of trub in there thats the approach I would take in this instance.

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Re: Help! So much sludge with pellet hops

Post by mrboxpiff » Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:59 pm

They are not conicals, but standard fermenters which have now been going for 24 hours, so fermentation has well and truly started now. I usually ferment at 20° for a week then let it rest for a second week at ambient before priming and bottling or kegging.
Still can't decide what to do for best

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Re: Help! So much sludge with pellet hops

Post by guypettigrew » Mon Feb 25, 2019 9:08 am

My guess is that most of the sludge will settle out during the second week. Especially if you're able to keep the fermenter somewhere nice and cool. But it is only a guess.

I've used pellets to dry hop in a King Keg and they settled out nicely and didn't come through into the glass after three days at about 12°C.

Guy

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Re: Help! So much sludge with pellet hops

Post by Kev888 » Mon Feb 25, 2019 2:28 pm

mrboxpiff wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:59 pm
They are not conicals, but standard fermenters which have now been going for 24 hours, so fermentation has well and truly started now. I usually ferment at 20° for a week then let it rest for a second week at ambient before priming and bottling or kegging.
Still can't decide what to do for bestImage

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Firstly I would say don't be panicked into doing anything rash; it isn't ideal but nor is it usually terrible, the beer will probably be largely unscathed. If you have one though, then for best practice you could run the fermenting wort off into a second fermenter - taking care to disinfect things of course.

Before conicals became common in breweries, there were a few variations of purposely doing exactly this - to let things settle for a while then run off the wort or fermenting beer into a second vessel. In the early stages, the aeration gained is also beneficial.

It sounds like time may have gone on in your case though, so it depends on what stage the yeast are at. If unsure then it may be safest to avoid purposely splashing/aerating if you come to try this, and treat it more like a traditional transfer to secondary FV.

As you found, pellets are much more difficult to filter out than whole hops. If this were to become a normal thing for you then I would either look at whirlpooling or much bigger mesh envelope hop filters. Even large nylon hop bags can cheaply and simply save a huge amount of messing about. I've tried all these and got them to work adequately, but I can't claim to be as satisfied with the results as with whole hops in the kettle, where they're available. And that is even when using a conical, since dumping the rubbish afterwards also loses significant wort.
Kev

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