Hop Spider Performance

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Laurentic
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Hop Spider Performance

Post by Laurentic » Sat Feb 09, 2019 4:24 pm

Up to now I have used muslin bags to contain the hops in my Bulldog Brewer during the boil.

I have just bought a hop spider with a 300 micron mesh and used it for the first time. I wondered about how well it works. During the boil I noticed that the boil didn't seem to be happening inside the spider and checking with a thermometer sure enough, it was a few degrees below 100 deg.C - anywhere between 1 and 9 degrees below in fact. Also, I noticed that the outside of the mesh quickly got covered in gunge and to me that showed the flow through the mesh was retarded. I added 15 mins to the boil in an attempt to compensate.

So, the questions are, is 300 micron too fine - the Grainfather spider I believe uses 800 micron mesh, and how crucial is temperature of the liquor in extracting the essence out the hops? I didn't buy the Grainfather spider as I thought 800 micron might be too wide, perhaps I should have.

I didn't recirc although the pump is supposed to be OK for 100 deg.C, didn't like to chance it on the pumps upper limit.

How do other folk get along?
Chris

Top Cat
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Re: Hop Spider Performance

Post by Top Cat » Sat Feb 09, 2019 9:57 pm

Laurentic wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 4:24 pm
Up to now I have used muslin bags to contain the hops in my Bulldog Brewer during the boil.

I have just bought a hop spider with a 300 micron mesh and used it for the first time. I wondered about how well it works. During the boil I noticed that the boil didn't seem to be happening inside the spider and checking with a thermometer sure enough, it was a few degrees below 100 deg.C - anywhere between 1 and 9 degrees below in fact. Also, I noticed that the outside of the mesh quickly got covered in gunge and to me that showed the flow through the mesh was retarded. I added 15 mins to the boil in an attempt to compensate.

So, the questions are, is 300 micron too fine - the Grainfather spider I believe uses 800 micron mesh, and how crucial is temperature of the liquor in extracting the essence out the hops? I didn't buy the Grainfather spider as I thought 800 micron might be too wide, perhaps I should have.

I didn't recirc although the pump is supposed to be OK for 100 deg.C, didn't like to chance it on the pumps upper limit.

How do other folk get along?
Chris
About a year ago I was in the same position as you, trying to better the muslin bag with a hop spider, or go to free circulating hops.
From help on this forum, and trial and error I found that:-
If you are using pellets you will probably need 300 micron, as the 800 micron spider that I purchased ( Mangrove Jack’s) will not filter the pellet hops very well. I purchased the 800 micron due to exclusive use of leaf hops. I would imagine using a 300 micron spider with leaf hops you would struggle to get flavour out.
Although I got satisfactory results I found that the spider was restricting a good rolling boil and I felt the bittering utilisation and aroma from late hopping was not as good as free circulation, also the hops aren’t used to filter the hot/cold break matter when transferring to the fermentation bin.
Due to all of the above I purchased and modified a tee shaped 800 micron bazooka to fit my Burco boiler outlet (I don’t have a grain father) which has given good results since, the only down side is the hops are a little messy to clean up!
So, if you want to go down the spider route, you may just have to adjust your hop rates a little to compensate.

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john luc
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Re: Hop Spider Performance

Post by john luc » Sun Feb 10, 2019 9:20 pm

I bought a hop spider for the Grainfather and never used it because I did a brew which had a total of 225 grams of pellet hops and 340 grams of coconut all dump in bareback style, (no undies \:D/ ). It drained fine so I decided that going commando is best to get the best out of what you've got. :pink:
Deos miscendarum discipule
http://www.nationalhomebrewclub.ie

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Brewedout
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Re: Hop Spider Performance

Post by Brewedout » Mon Feb 11, 2019 10:59 pm

I bought a hop spider but found it reduced the hop flavour in my beer. I just leave them loose and whirlpool at the end. It drops clear quickly, and isn't too bad to clear away. I tip into a large sieve if leaf hops used or just down the sink if pellets. The hop spider is just used for dry hopping now.

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a-slayer
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Re: Hop Spider Performance

Post by a-slayer » Mon Feb 11, 2019 11:19 pm

I too tried a spider as more hops seem to be available as pellets, used a few times and wasn't happy as hop flavour was reduced. I now still use pellets but also use 40 to 50% leaf to act as a filter which works fine. Perhaps increasing hop rate might have been the answer but I think I was hoping the spider was going to be a magic answer to filtering but sadly not.

Laurentic
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Re: Hop Spider Performance

Post by Laurentic » Wed Feb 13, 2019 12:00 am

I've heard of the 'whirlpool' technique but not tried it. I assume that after the wort is cooled it's then given a mighty 'stir' and all the rubbish collects around the outside of the internal circumference and settles there out the way - am I right, or how does it work? Do you use a special paddle to whirlpool, or will any paddle do?

Chris

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Brewedout
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Re: Hop Spider Performance

Post by Brewedout » Wed Feb 13, 2019 1:10 am

You can use a paddle, I use my cooling coils and move in a circular motion. After this I leave the lot for an hour whilst I clean up a bit the hops and trub settle to the middle of the boiler.

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Kev888
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Re: Hop Spider Performance

Post by Kev888 » Wed Feb 13, 2019 11:22 am

Laurentic wrote:
Wed Feb 13, 2019 12:00 am
I've heard of the 'whirlpool' technique but not tried it. I assume that after the wort is cooled it's then given a mighty 'stir' and all the rubbish collects around the outside of the internal circumference and settles there out the way - am I right, or how does it work? Do you use a special paddle to whirlpool, or will any paddle do?
It is a little counter-intuitive but the whirlpool forms a cone of debris in its middle, which will then settle out predominantly in the middle of the kettle (rather than the edge) if you give them time afterwards. It can be made quite effectively by stirring enthusiastically with a ladle/paddle, or pumps can be used. Occasionally there might be a separate whirlpool vessel, and just running the wort into it in the right way will whirlpool it, though thats less common in homebrewing. It can be reasonably effective but has limitations. For instance it works better in pots with fair diameters and not so well in narrow-based (tall thin) ones, especially with lots of hops. Some stuff can and will often still make it through to the outlet, which may or may not bother you but it isn't ideal in some scenarios, such as as the only measure before plate chillers.

Mesh containers can be convenient at times. Yes, people do tend to feel the hop utilisation is reduced a little, so more hops may be needed; but if that is done then they work well enough IMO. I actually find cheap floppy nylon bags work a bit better than rigid stainless mesh for utilisation and not getting caked up, but there isn't a huge difference. Choosing one which lets some small dust particles through but retains the vast majority of pellet is perhaps the optimum for performance. But of course they don't filter out hot break or other kettle debris, unless you recirculate through them before running off, or something like that. (Trying to combine kettle filters with such hop bags/containers often doesn't work, because many such filters actually need hops over them to prevent being gunked up with sticky break).

Over the years I've tried many things and reached the conclusion that I personally prefer whole/flower hops in the kettle; not only are they dead easy to filter out with hop stoppers/filters but in fact they themselves form an excellent filter bed for free, filtering out all the other kettle gunk into the bargain and offering very clear run-off indeed. You 'can' in theory do this with pellets but huge fine mesh filters are needed to cope with them and even then can block frustratingly (and/or challenge pumps which need to be fed more freely), so if being forced to use pellets then bags (with a few extra hops) or whirlpooling are my own preference.
Kev

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Re: Hop Spider Performance

Post by Paddington » Thu Feb 14, 2019 10:43 am

Kev888 wrote:
Wed Feb 13, 2019 11:22 am
Laurentic wrote:
Wed Feb 13, 2019 12:00 am
I've heard of the 'whirlpool' technique but not tried it. I assume that after the wort is cooled it's then given a mighty 'stir' and all the rubbish collects around the outside of the internal circumference and settles there out the way - am I right, or how does it work? Do you use a special paddle to whirlpool, or will any paddle do?
It is a little counter-intuitive but the whirlpool forms a cone of debris in its middle, which will then settle out predominantly in the middle of the kettle (rather than the edge) if you give them time afterwards. It can be made quite effectively by stirring enthusiastically with a ladle/paddle, or pumps can be used. Occasionally there might be a separate whirlpool vessel, and just running the wort into it in the right way will whirlpool it, though thats less common in homebrewing. It can be reasonably effective but has limitations. For instance it works better in pots with fair diameters and not so well in narrow-based (tall thin) ones, especially with lots of hops. Some stuff can and will often still make it through to the outlet, which may or may not bother you but it isn't ideal in some scenarios, such as as the only measure before plate chillers.

Mesh containers can be convenient at times. Yes, people do tend to feel the hop utilisation is reduced a little, so more hops may be needed; but if that is done then they work well enough IMO. I actually find cheap floppy nylon bags work a bit better than rigid stainless mesh for utilisation and not getting caked up, but there isn't a huge difference. Choosing one which lets some small dust particles through but retains the vast majority of pellet is perhaps the optimum for performance. But of course they don't filter out hot break or other kettle debris, unless you recirculate through them before running off, or something like that. (Trying to combine kettle filters with such hop bags/containers often doesn't work, because many such filters actually need hops over them to prevent being gunked up with sticky break).

Over the years I've tried many things and reached the conclusion that I personally prefer whole/flower hops in the kettle; not only are they dead easy to filter out with hop stoppers/filters but in fact they themselves form an excellent filter bed for free, filtering out all the other kettle gunk into the bargain and offering very clear run-off indeed. You 'can' in theory do this with pellets but huge fine mesh filters are needed to cope with them and even then can block frustratingly (and/or challenge pumps which need to be fed more freely), so if being forced to use pellets then bags (with a few extra hops) or whirlpooling are my own preference.
I accidentally bought pellets for the first time yesterday. As you say, they totally bunged up my bazooka filter and made a horrible mess. Never again!

Laurentic
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Re: Hop Spider Performance

Post by Laurentic » Sat Feb 16, 2019 2:54 pm

Kev - thanks for your considered discourse, gave more food for thought.

Yes of course the hops will settle out in the middle, how silly of me, not thinking straight. The whirlpool will produce a centrifugal force effect, so all the heavy stuff will go to the outside and the lighter stuff (the hops) progressively towards the middle. Doh!

It has been suggested to me that I try the nylon bags and I might well do, but first I think I will try just throwing the hops in the boiler as you do and see what happens at drain-off time first. That would seem to me to provide the best hop utilisation effect which is after all what one is aiming to achieve. I have always steered clear of pellets precisely because what has been described, the fear, for me, of them making a "horrible mess" and bungling up the bazooka filter completely.

Chris

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