Homebrewers Association | AHA Forum

General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: fmader on January 02, 2013, 01:15:17 AM

Title: Hop Pellets
Post by: fmader on January 02, 2013, 01:15:17 AM
Since I've started brewing about a year ago, I've suspended my hop pellets in a fine mesh hop bag for the boil. Recently I've become more observant that these bags can hold a lot of water in them. If they hold water within them, are they also restraining a lot of the hop flavor and aroma from reaching the wort? I've done this method because I was told to do this. I've watched videos of brewers just pitching the pellets directly into the wort. I have been afraid of doing this, because the pellets leave a messy sludge in the bags, and I don't really want this in my beer. Will there be a mess of a sludge left behind in the bottom of my brew pot or even in my carboy or do the pellets dissolve more when pitched directly into the wort? What do you do?
Title: Re: Hop Pellets
Post by: andrew000141 on January 02, 2013, 01:20:16 AM
i just throw them in, a lot of people are scared of it getting out of the brewpot into the fermentor but ive let it go through with no issues. Itll become part of the "trub" at the bottom of the fermenter just dont leave the beer on the hop pelets for too long if its a really hoppy beer
Title: Re: Hop Pellets
Post by: erockrph on January 02, 2013, 02:09:52 AM
I just chuck them in loose, both in the boil and when I use them for dry hops. If some makes it into the fermenter, no big deal. They will just settle out with the trub on the bottom.
Title: Re: Hop Pellets
Post by: theDarkSide on January 02, 2013, 02:35:30 PM
I use a hop spider (cheap 'n' easy to build ):
(http://i304.photobucket.com/albums/nn176/stevo155/6123CD6E-B2EE-4A66-9B87-06C6AD6E633C-15411-000033D20813FC3F.jpg)

The bag is loose enough for water to exchange during the boil.  It seems to work well for a several ounces hop recipe, but something like Pliny would be pushing it (1 gallon paint strainer bag).
Title: Hop Pellets
Post by: majorvices on January 02, 2013, 02:50:25 PM
For hop pellets there is no reason not to put the directly in the kettle. No bag or gadgets needed!!!
Title: Re: Hop Pellets
Post by: dean_palmer on January 02, 2013, 03:31:42 PM
For hop pellets there is no reason not to put the directly in the kettle. No bag or gadgets needed!!!

The issue some of us have experienced with pellets is that when enough of them are used they will clog up just about any filter used in the kettle, including a false bottom. If you are using a filter device in your kettle the paint strainer bags are the way to go for larger quantities, and every system is different. For my false bottom setup I can just throw smaller pellet loads in, but for larger quantities I need to mix in some whole hops so a filter bed is set up. My new kettle will have a side pickup and I'll be whirlpooling to settle the debris in the center before draining rather than using a filter or false bottom. That said I'll continue to use the debris filter outside of the kettle so the gunk into the pump and chillers is reduced.
Title: Hop Pellets
Post by: majorvices on January 02, 2013, 04:01:58 PM
but ... why would you need a filter in a BK?
Title: Re: Hop Pellets
Post by: davidgzach on January 02, 2013, 05:04:30 PM
+1 to just tossing them in the boil or fermenter.  However, if you are dry hopping and going to reuse the yeast, I would use whole hops.

Dave
Title: Re: Hop Pellets
Post by: seajellie on January 02, 2013, 06:01:12 PM
I can't whirlpool worth a damn, and I don't like sludge in my fermenter, either.

Lately, I've been throwing pellets into 1-gallon paint strainer bags directly into the boil, and for flowers, relying on a mash screen filter screwed into the port w/ a 90 degree stainless steel elbow joint to tilt it appropriately for the batch, so that the intake is just above the sludge/break level at the bottom. I'll use a spider with a 3-gallon strainer bag for brews with lots of additions (by weight or by time), because the other methods become a mess as the additions go up. For winter lagers, I'll also let the kettle sit a good long time outside, covered, to let all the junk drop out.

I repitch yeast from four of five of my ferments on average, and so want the wort as clean as possible before it goes into the fermenter. Also, this fall I did four batches where I take the first clear gallons of runoff into one fermenter for a very clean pitch. Then the later runoff, I've either dumped it all into a second fermenter, or just let more trub and sludge into that fermenter. I have noticed a flavor difference in each of these tests. Not always a huge difference, and it might decrease over time (TBD), but it seems to be there and I really think it's due to how much pellet and break material got into the fermenter (vs. different fermenter geometries, slightly diff pitching rates, etc). I say this because the flavors aren't what I'd call yeast characters like esters, phenols, etc. I'm no judging expert that's for sure, but for whatever reason, there is a difference.

You can also just super-size your batches, using settling time, and plan on leaving more behind. But for small batches, it's super annoying to make a 3 gallon batch and leave 25% of your wort behind.

I guess others have a superior solution or think this is a lot of work for a problem that doesn't exist. But I think this is a great subject.
Title: Hop Pellets
Post by: In The Sand on January 02, 2013, 06:16:43 PM
For hop pellets there is no reason not to put the directly in the kettle. No bag or gadgets needed!!!

+1  like others have said, the spent pellets will become part of the trub. I've always just dumped mine right in the BK and/or fermenter.  This IPA had about 25 ounces of hops in it that'll settle eventually.

(http://img.tapatalk.com/d/13/01/03/a2abaru7.jpg)
Title: Hop Pellets
Post by: In The Sand on January 02, 2013, 06:17:18 PM
For hop pellets there is no reason not to put the directly in the kettle. No bag or gadgets needed!!!

+1  like others have said, the spent pellets will become part of the trub. I've always just dumped mine right in the BK and/or fermenter.  This IPA had about 25 ounces of hops in it that'll settle eventually.

(http://img.tapatalk.com/d/13/01/03/a2abaru7.jpg)
Title: Re: Hop Pellets
Post by: seajellie on January 02, 2013, 06:44:41 PM
Even if you don't believe that there are flavor diffs, and even if you don't repitch yeast, sooner or later, you still have to separate your wort or beer from the junk. So if that's the only question, then it becomes a matter of your process and convenience.

Title: Re: Hop Pellets
Post by: blatz on January 02, 2013, 06:53:14 PM
Even if you don't believe that there are flavor diffs, and even if you don't repitch yeast, sooner or later, you still have to separate your wort or beer from the junk. So if that's the only question, then it becomes a matter of your process and convenience.

do you want to lose wort in the kettle or beer in the fermenter, that is the question  ;)
Title: Re: Hop Pellets
Post by: kylekohlmorgen on January 02, 2013, 07:16:53 PM

...This IPA had about 25 ounces of hops in it that'll settle eventually...


Did you dry-malt for a bit of balance?  :o
Title: Hop Pellets
Post by: majorvices on January 02, 2013, 07:18:26 PM
Hey, to each his own. But there is really no need to use a bag for pellets, unless you use a plate chiller. Then maybe.

There's no trick to Whirlpooling, either. Ya stir. It's pretty simple! ;) I use pellets, WP and leave most of the hops and trub behind in the kettle when I brew. I do have a diverter plate installed in my B3 14 gallon kettle though.AA
Title: Re: Hop Pellets
Post by: fmader on January 02, 2013, 07:19:52 PM
Ok, great info. I have a hop spider, but I quit using it, because the bags don't reach the wort when the chiller is in place. I made a more flexible "hop bird" that will actually fit down inside the center of the chiller. I do have a homemade filter in my kettle, which has been named the fly swatter. I am concerned about it possibly getting clogged. Once I figure out how to post pictures on here, I will show both.
Title: Re: Hop Pellets
Post by: blatz on January 02, 2013, 07:20:29 PM
Hey, to each his own. But there is really no need to use a bag for pellets, unless you use a plate chiller. Then maybe.

There's no trick to Whirlpooling, either. Ya stir. It's pretty simple! ;) I use pellets, WP and leave most of the hops and trub behind in the kettle when I brew. I do have a diverter plate installed in my B3 14 gallon kettle though.AA

Keith - are you still able to get a good cone with the heat element in there?  Since I moved to electric, I tried to get a good WP going last time and couldn't - I was wondering if the element was causing the problem.
Title: Re: Hop Pellets
Post by: bluesman on January 02, 2013, 07:40:41 PM
I use pellets quite a bit, and just toss them directly into the boil. I also use a Blichmann hop blocker and a plate chiller. I runoff about a half-pint to a pint of wort, which allows any residual hop particulate that snuck under the hop blocker to come out, then connect to the plate chiller and runoff into the fermenter. Never a problem with this method.
Title: Re: Hop Pellets
Post by: reverseapachemaster on January 02, 2013, 08:24:00 PM
I pitch pellets free in the kettle but I use a screen filter when pouring wort into the fermentor. I am catching 95% or so of the hop particles. I also yeast wash and have zero problem with hop material getting into the washed yeast.

If you are concerned about hop material getting into the fermentor but also wanting them to boil freely my thought is to pitch them in loose in the kettle but attach a paint strainer bag to the top of the fermentor (or build a cheap support for it to sit on the mouth of the fermentor) and pour wort through the bag. Best of both worlds.
Title: Re: Hop Pellets
Post by: fmader on January 02, 2013, 09:47:16 PM
Here is the Hop Bird that I currently use. It is flexible to fit down into the middle of my chiller. I have used strainer bags, but I picked up a few of these finer meshed bags.

(http://i1306.photobucket.com/albums/s564/Frank_Mader/Brewing/11_zps4d8c1b02.jpg)

This is the Fly Swatter filter. It's basically just stainless mesh sewn together. It has an inner virtical mesh that I originally thought it would be a good secondary filter. But after looking at the design, it doesn't really do much of filtering, but it does keep the rest of the fly swatter from collapsing on itself. I guess the question is, would this screen get clogged up from hop debris?

(http://i1306.photobucket.com/albums/s564/Frank_Mader/Brewing/3_zps6b2ca906.jpg)
Title: Hop Pellets
Post by: majorvices on January 02, 2013, 11:28:33 PM
Hey, to each his own. But there is really no need to use a bag for pellets, unless you use a plate chiller. Then maybe.

There's no trick to Whirlpooling, either. Ya stir. It's pretty simple! ;) I use pellets, WP and leave most of the hops and trub behind in the kettle when I brew. I do have a diverter plate installed in my B3 14 gallon kettle though.AA

Keith - are you still able to get a good cone with the heat element in there?  Since I moved to electric, I tried to get a good WP going last time and couldn't - I was wondering if the element was causing the problem.

I don't use any electric kettles now. On my 14 gallon system it is direct fire. I did use elements in the old 55 gallon brew rig and it did cause a problem with forming a cone. But I had a diverter plate so I still was able to keep most of the junk out. Same on the 15 bbl rig - it has a heat element fired by gas and the cone is kinda sketchy but I stiill leave most of the gunk behind due to diverter plate.

I personally think there is way more fretting about keeping hops out of the run off than is necessary. I wouldn't want to dump it all in but some wont hurt a bit. I run perfectly  clean for about 98% of the run off and stop when it starts to get murky.
Title: Re: Hop Pellets
Post by: sparkleberry on January 03, 2013, 12:09:38 AM
i brewed a porter today and didn't use any muslin bags with the pellets for the first time in a long time. mainly because i started reading this thread. everything turned out so well i found myself trying to remember why and when i started using muslin bags in the first place.

anyway, brewing again on sunday and will just be tossing hops.

cheers. 
Title: Re: Hop Pellets
Post by: Mark G on January 03, 2013, 01:50:10 AM
The way I see it, the more equipment you have to filter, block, etc. the hop matter, the more stuff you have to clean up. I do a whirlpool, and have my pickup near the edge of the kettle. This leaves probably 90% of the hop/break sludge behind. Thats's plenty good enough for me.
Title: Re: Hop Pellets
Post by: seajellie on January 03, 2013, 05:08:00 PM
OK, yes I have done the "run off until it gets cloudy" thing for years, with a kettle screen just to catch the leaf hops. It works, and if you're anal like me you can funnel-filter the leftover wort and use it for OG, FFT, speise, starters, or even add back to your ferment if you feel brave, or save it for a mixed garbage surprise beer when you have enough built up in the freezer. I do all those things.

I've never been totally happy with it though, because I often brew smaller batches and don't like the "waste", and I do more lagers than ales and have long suspected that keeping junk out of the fermenter was more than just a good idea. My recent comparisons proved to me that at least on my system, the malt and hop aromas and flavors can get muddled otherwise.

But what broke me was getting into IPAs recently. So how do you deal with a pound of leaf and pellet hops? Dumping that into the primary is not going to happen for me for a lot of reasons (yeah, I'm a whimp compared to that dude upstream ;-)

It created a stew that defeated my regular processes, so I had to change; hence the spider and bags. And once I did that, I was surprised to see how much of the trub in the bottom of the kettle was due to hop residue, not break material. That means to me, cool, that is that much more wort that I can get into the fermenter if I refine this process. I don't care to throw paint strainer bags into the boil, that's for sure.

Hop blocker looks great, but I've seen enough so-so reviews that I hesitate. And whirlpooling... well it took me a long time to ride a bike as a kid so maybe rotation just throws me for a loop.

Paul's right - you gotta lose beer or wort somewhere in most systems, and I like the kettle myself due to the built-in sanitization. So I like my current deal better than any other systems I've tried. For me, it means more harvested wort and less work, not less and more, respectively.

To the OP, I do think that fly swatter would clog, so I'd have a backup plan in place. Also, can you move it to the side, in case you are normal and can whirlpool. It would last longer, if so. Also it would be out of the way of your IC if you use one.
Title: Re: Hop Pellets
Post by: fmader on January 05, 2013, 03:18:50 AM
Ok, I'm brewing a honey ale tomorrow. And with all of your advice, I've decided to ditch the hop bird and just pitch the hops directly into the kettle. I also took the fly swatter off and ran a piece of copper pipe out and 90ed down to the bottom of the kettle right past the bevel. I'm thinking this will work...and as mentioned above, I will have less to clean up. I will let you know how this works. Thanks!
Title: Re: Hop Pellets
Post by: bboy9000 on January 05, 2013, 04:23:36 AM
Basic Brewing Radio had a "trub experiment" episode.  I won't spoil it so you can come to your own conclusion.  Definitely worth checking out.
Title: Re: Hop Pellets
Post by: seajellie on January 08, 2013, 12:40:32 AM
No harm in broadcasting the results. Denny occasionally posts a link to an experiment where the tasters could tell a difference, and preferred the fermentation *with* the trub, iirc - pellets and break. That isn't my experience, but I'm sure one of the many variables here is beer style. Munich Helles vs. DIPA I wouldn't expect to be the same.
Title: Re: Hop Pellets
Post by: fmader on January 08, 2013, 01:16:03 AM
Sorry about the delay. It was a frustrating and long brew day. But the brew itself went smoothly. I forgot to take a picture of how I rigged my drain in my brew pot. I'll take one next time I get to my uncle's place (the brewery). I brewed a white house honey ale clone, which only used 2 ounces of hops. I felt that I whirlpooled pretty well since I didn't use a chiller (will return to this detail), but I pulled what seemed like a lot of trub through to the carboy. Since I have spigots on my better bottles, I feel that the trub/yeast cake might end up higher than the spigot when ferementing is complete. I suppose that I can syphon it, but I put spigots on the carboys so I didn't have too lol. I will let you know how the rack to the secondary goes....and ultimately the final product...That's what matters. I will also post a pic of the drain attatchment that I rigged to see if any suggestions would be made to make it better.

As far as the frustrating part goes...I didn't use a chiller, because when I bought the chiller, it claimed that the only thing that could chill faster than it was a snowbank. We had 8" of snow on the ground and it was 29 degrees on Saturday here in Ohio. Instead of dragging the hoses out, we put this to the test. We'll just say that chilling in a snowbank sucks! I guess you live and learn...
Title: Re: Hop Pellets
Post by: seajellie on January 09, 2013, 03:19:12 PM
yeah, think "igloos". Snow and ice make great insulation actually; I've ridden out major snow storms in ice caves, and I don't think I ever dropped down to "pitching temps". Quite cozy actually. Very strange claim they made about snow banks chilling wort faster than in IC. I suppose if you just dumped your wort onto the snow bank, that would be true.

Maybe if you tilt your primary a bit you can get a clear drain and not lose too much beer. You could use the dregs for FG, once it resettled.  I too like the convenience of not dealing with that stuff after the boil....
Title: Re: Hop Pellets
Post by: fmader on January 27, 2013, 05:58:36 PM
Ok, just a follow up on this thread....Last week I brewed a Two-Hearted clone. I purchased an auto-siphon and tried using that instead of just using a gravity flow. It worked well, but I still seemed to pull a good bit of trub through. It has since settled in the carboy, but I'm trying to leave as much behind as possible. I brewed a Pliny the Elder clone yesterday. So, as you all know, there's a pile of hops in it. I pitched the hops directly into the brew kettle. I used the auto-siphon again, but this time, I went directly into a bucket instead of a carboy. I zip-tied a knee high hose stocking onto the tube and filtered much of the trub. I caught a softball size lump of garbage in the hose. I then poured my bucket-o-wort into the carboy. It's looking good!
Title: Re: Hop Pellets
Post by: AmandaK on January 28, 2013, 02:23:45 PM
I use the Hop Stopper: http://www.theelectricbrewery.com/hop-stopper (http://www.theelectricbrewery.com/hop-stopper)

It's really quite a nice product. I tried just throwing pellets in & whirlpooling, then bagging them, then bazooka screens. This thing works EXCELLENT and will drain all but maybe 1/4 gallon from my kettle. I've used probably 10oz of pellets in the kettle once and it didn't even bat an eye. I have a feeling that it'll handle twice that. Best upgrade I've made in a long time.
Title: Re: Hop Pellets
Post by: DrewG on January 28, 2013, 06:38:53 PM
Quote
I use the Hop Stopper: http://www.theelectricbrewery.com/hop-stopper

It's really quite a nice product. I tried just throwing pellets in & whirlpooling, then bagging them, then bazooka screens. This thing works EXCELLENT and will drain all but maybe 1/4 gallon from my kettle. I've used probably 10oz of pellets in the kettle once and it didn't even bat an eye. I have a feeling that it'll handle twice that. Best upgrade I've made in a long time.

I like the looks of that. Is it good at filtering break material as well as hops?
Title: Re: Hop Pellets
Post by: alcaponejunior on January 28, 2013, 11:53:31 PM
For hop pellets there is no reason not to put the directly in the kettle. No bag or gadgets needed!!!

The issue some of us have experienced with pellets is that when enough of them are used they will clog up just about any filter used in the kettle, including a false bottom. If you are using a filter device in your kettle the paint strainer bags are the way to go for larger quantities, and every system is different. For my false bottom setup I can just throw smaller pellet loads in, but for larger quantities I need to mix in some whole hops so a filter bed is set up. My new kettle will have a side pickup and I'll be whirlpooling to settle the debris in the center before draining rather than using a filter or false bottom. That said I'll continue to use the debris filter outside of the kettle so the gunk into the pump and chillers is reduced.

I have found that whole hops are easier to filter out at the end.  I use a big double strainer setup I got from a LHBS.  Works great with either, but pellets might fill it up once, thus you have to dump, re-sanitize, then finish the pour.  I've gone with and without hop bags.  Honestly, pellets or whole hops, it's easier to just dump 'em in the boil.  Even unfiltered, the hops debris settles with the trub.  If you rack carefully, you can still get pretty clear beer.  Maybe not perfect, but who brews homebrew to be perfect anyway?
Title: Re: Hop Pellets
Post by: AmandaK on January 30, 2013, 03:14:42 AM
Quote
I use the Hop Stopper: http://www.theelectricbrewery.com/hop-stopper

It's really quite a nice product. I tried just throwing pellets in & whirlpooling, then bagging them, then bazooka screens. This thing works EXCELLENT and will drain all but maybe 1/4 gallon from my kettle. I've used probably 10oz of pellets in the kettle once and it didn't even bat an eye. I have a feeling that it'll handle twice that. Best upgrade I've made in a long time.

I like the looks of that. Is it good at filtering break material as well as hops?

The break material is filtered out by the green mass that the hops form on the screen, so my wort coming out of the chiller is quite clear. I don't have to loose wort/beer in my fermenter either. After using that thing for about 7 months, the only downside I could find was that it was slightly pricey, but it is all stainless. Probably the best hot-side improvement I've found for me.
Title: Re: Hop Pellets
Post by: ynotbrusum on January 30, 2013, 07:15:54 PM
I harvest yeast for direct pitching, so I employ 3 lines of filtration - I use a coarse nylon mesh bag inside another coarse nylon mesh bag for the hops in the boil (I suspend the bags with a clamp and they freely float in the boil; this filters probably 40-50% with no noticeable effect on IBU's utilized - though I cannot say that I have my beer tested).  Then I have a standard SS screen in the bottom of my keg with a dip tube running through the center of it (I'd guess that filters another 20-25%).  Finally, I use a double SS meshed colander sitting inside another SS colander to catch any break material and hops that might get through.  I rarely have any noticeable vegetal materials in my fermenter and my yeast harvest is nice and clean for the next batch.  I typically brew 10 gallon lager batches and it seems to make a difference with minimal extra cleaning.  I remove the hop bags as the wort cools, so the bags are done being cleaned before the wort is transferred.  The rest cleans up easily, as everything is removable. 

The Hop Stopper looks pretty effective, though, so I may give it a try and dispense with the bags and boil screen in the kettle, as it would serve that function rather nicely, or so it seems.
Title: Re: Hop Pellets
Post by: blatz on January 30, 2013, 09:56:26 PM

The Hop Stopper looks pretty effective, though, so I may give it a try and dispense with the bags and boil screen in the kettle, as it would serve that function rather nicely, or so it seems.

looks can be deceiving.  I have not had much luck with it, nor have several others on the electricbrewery.com forum.  YMMV
Title: Re: Hop Pellets
Post by: bierview on January 31, 2013, 02:54:19 AM
Wow those are some hop filled photos.  I have always used pellets and like everyone said they do settle out in primary.  25 ounces of hops?  What does that taste like?
Title: Re: Hop Pellets
Post by: AmandaK on February 01, 2013, 05:43:46 PM

The Hop Stopper looks pretty effective, though, so I may give it a try and dispense with the bags and boil screen in the kettle, as it would serve that function rather nicely, or so it seems.

looks can be deceiving.  I have not had much luck with it, nor have several others on the electricbrewery.com forum.  YMMV

What was your issue, out of curiosity?
Title: Re: Hop Pellets
Post by: blatz on February 01, 2013, 06:55:20 PM

The Hop Stopper looks pretty effective, though, so I may give it a try and dispense with the bags and boil screen in the kettle, as it would serve that function rather nicely, or so it seems.

looks can be deceiving.  I have not had much luck with it, nor have several others on the electricbrewery.com forum.  YMMV

What was your issue, out of curiosity?

protein break and hop sludge clogging the screen severely slowing down or impeding the suction.  I tried having the ball valve barely open, but after 3 fails with 1-2gal of wort left in the kettle, I'm done with it.
Title: Re: Hop Pellets
Post by: bluesman on February 01, 2013, 07:10:52 PM

The Hop Stopper looks pretty effective, though, so I may give it a try and dispense with the bags and boil screen in the kettle, as it would serve that function rather nicely, or so it seems.

looks can be deceiving.  I have not had much luck with it, nor have several others on the electricbrewery.com forum.  YMMV

What was your issue, out of curiosity?

protein break and hop sludge clogging the screen severely slowing down or impeding the suction.  I tried having the ball valve barely open, but after 3 fails with 1-2gal of wort left in the kettle, I'm done with it.

Were you doing a whirlpool along with the hop stopper (installed)? Do you use a bazooka screen regularly?
Title: Re: Hop Pellets
Post by: Jimmy K on February 01, 2013, 07:14:50 PM
I have a stainless braid around the bottom of my kettle. It works well in conjuction with whirlpooling.
 
(https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-N8IklCCwhlY/TsR0D-5w0dI/AAAAAAAAAyM/lGFN1yYJgFI/s400/DSC_0164.JPG)
Title: Re: Hop Pellets
Post by: blatz on February 01, 2013, 07:36:05 PM
Were you doing a whirlpool along with the hop stopper (installed)? Do you use a bazooka screen regularly?

recirculating to sanitize chiller etc.  which you are not supposed to do.

I've not been using a bazooka screen.