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General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: monk on May 03, 2010, 04:13:20 PM

Title: Leaving Break Material/Hops Behind
Post by: monk on May 03, 2010, 04:13:20 PM
I'm posting this separately, though it is a related question.

My kettle doesn't have a valve or anything, so I've noticed that I usually get about 1-2" of break material and a little bit of hop particles in the primary (after compacting).  Is this bad?  What does too much trub in the primary do to the flavor of the beer?  Any ideas of how I could leave more break material behind?

Thanks,

Monk
Title: Re: Leaving Break Material/Hops Behind
Post by: denny on May 03, 2010, 04:34:58 PM
I don't worry about it.  Whole hops stay in the kettle, pellets go into the fermenter.  Break goes wherever it wants to go!  A year or 2 back, there was a guy on Brews and Views who did a test.  One batch of pils with trub, one without.  He ended up preferring the one with trub for both flavor and clarity.  Here are his results...

http://hbd.org/discus/messages/40327/41534.html
Title: Re: Leaving Break Material/Hops Behind
Post by: richardt on May 03, 2010, 04:55:55 PM
Whirlpool with a sanitized stirring spoon (bucket of Starsan nearby is handy for this) while using the Immersion Chiller (IC) to quickly cool your wort.
This will get your hot and cold break to settle in the center of your boil kettle.
Since you have no spigot, the wort somehow has to get over the top of your kettle and into another container (unless you do the ferment in the kettle technique).  Dont' worry too much about the break material getting into the fermenter--it's ok.  
If the kettle is higher than your primary fermenter, then do a gravity transfer via siphon.  It also helps if your tubing has a clamp—very helpful if boiling 10 gallon batches but having to transfer to 5 gallon fermenters.
Option #1:  Use a sanitized racking cane with a long fine nylon mesh bag (pantyhose?) placed over the output end of it.  It also needs to be secured to the cane and the whole thing sanitized before usage.  I used one of those fine nylon mesh wine gift bags from the dollar store that had a built in drawstring attached to it.  It works far better on the output end of the siphon rather than the input end due to the larger surface area--if you use it on the input end, then it gets sucked towards the siphon tube and you're limited to the area of the siphon tube inlet port.  Just make sure the opening of your primary fermenter is large enough (e.g. plastic bucket) to allow you to withdraw a nylon bag full of wet hops if you do happen to suck up a bunch of break/hops.
Option #2:  Slowly pour into a large no-splash funnel that has a fine mesh screen.  My only concern with this is that the pouring process mixes everything up in the boil kettle (defeats the whole point of the whirlpool) and the small nylon mesh screen does not have much surface area.   It clogs up quickly and pouring must stop immediately.  It also requires constant, yet gentle, “scraping” with a sanitized stirring spoon to move the hops off the screen.   I may improve this process by putting a fine nylon mesh bag over the funnel in order to increase the surface area of the mesh and prevent clogging.  I don’t like pouring anything over 5 gallons—the kettle is just too heavy to do alone—and your assistant may not respect sanitation as much as you do and start touching the wrong parts of the kettle or fermenter.
Option #3:  Use a very fine stainless steel china cap bouillon strainer (about $25 from Instawares.com) in between the kettle and the plastic no-splash funnel and fine nylon screen.  Given the massively increased surface area, the SS China Cap bouillon strainer is just perfect for hop pellet particles.  It does seem to let the protein break material go on through, though.  A few shakes of the china cap and nearly all the wort gets released and the hop particles begin to coalesce into a big dense green ball.  It’s a great option, especially if you’re trying to reduce your wort loss due to hops (e.g., if making an IIPA).
Option #4: Use a pump.  No personal experience with this.  It’s an expensive toy.
Option #5:  Buy a weld-less stainless steel spigot and a titanium step drill bit capable of making a 7/8 inch opening online (look on ebay or amazon).  You’ll eventually do this to reduce the work in your brew day.
Title: Re: Leaving Break Material/Hops Behind
Post by: euge on May 03, 2010, 04:58:36 PM
I transitioned to whole-hops. One reason was the filtering quality they possess. However, I'm with Denny and don't mind trub making it's way into the fermenter.

I'm thinking removing the trub matters more when making lagers?
Title: Re: Leaving Break Material/Hops Behind
Post by: monk on May 03, 2010, 05:38:59 PM
I don't worry about it.  Whole hops stay in the kettle, pellets go into the fermenter.  Break goes wherever it wants to go!  A year or 2 back, there was a guy on Brews and Views who did a test.  One batch of pils with trub, one without.  He ended up preferring the one with trub for both flavor and clarity.  Here are his results...

http://hbd.org/discus/messages/40327/41534.html

I've gotta be honest...this is what I wanted to hear.  :)  For the hops, I just want to make sure they don't get into the keg and clog up my lines.  Thanks, and thanks for the link. 
Title: Re: Leaving Break Material/Hops Behind
Post by: monk on May 03, 2010, 05:44:44 PM
Richard-Thanks for all the ideas.  Some I have tried.  I don't really want to go the valve-installation route right now because I'm trying to save money.  Maybe down the road, though.  The pump is out for the same reason.

I have used a method for hop straining that worked pretty well.  I would place a paint straining bag in a bucket and pour the contents of the kettle in, then remove the bag and pour the contents of the bucket into the fermenter.  This is great for hop straining, but does nothing to remove the break material, as far as I can tell.  Maybe this will become my regular technique.

Thanks again for the breakdown.
Title: Re: Leaving Break Material/Hops Behind
Post by: redzim on May 03, 2010, 05:49:49 PM
Now how does excessive trub affect yeast re-use?  I usually use a big hop bag for my hop pellets, and I re-use yeast cake within a couple weeks, without washing or rinsing the yeast and without making a starter.  I've pretty much got my process down and it works for me.   

However I just made a big highly hopped BoPils and did not use a hop bag because I have been thinking that it is reducing my hop utilization, especially for late additions when the hop bag is already quite full of the bittering and flavor hops. A BoPils I did last fall suffered in this regard so this time I threw hop pellets right into the kettle.  All worked out OK except when pulling my trub/yeast cake from the primary, I definitely notice a lot more hop matter, in fact it looks positively green. 

Is my yeast going to be OK?  I guess I can play around with the Mr Malty calculator's settings for non-yeast percentage; up til now I've just left it at the defaults and gotten good results.

-red
Title: Re: Leaving Break Material/Hops Behind
Post by: richardt on May 03, 2010, 05:53:34 PM
What you're doing should work fine as long as everything post-boil/post-chill that touches your wort is sanitized.

Paint strainer bag (nylon mesh bag) is excellent.

If the bottling bucket is used as the intermediate vessel before the primary fermenter, then whirlpool in the bottling bucket, wait 20-30 minutes with the lid on and then transfer via the bottling spigot and hose to your fermenter.  That will leave most of your break in the bottling bucket.  You could even put the bottling bucket on a slight tilt away from the spigot during whirlpool and settling so the break settles far away from the spigot.  What little does end up coming through is OK.

You method is simple, practical, and cheap.  I like it.  It should also work well, as long as sanitation is maintained.
Title: Re: Leaving Break Material/Hops Behind
Post by: 4swan on May 03, 2010, 06:15:31 PM
when pulling my trub/yeast cake from the primary, I definitely notice a lot more hop matter, in fact it looks positively green. 

Is my yeast going to be OK?  I guess I can play around with the Mr Malty calculator's settings for non-yeast percentage; up til now I've just left it at the defaults and gotten good results.

-red
The yeast should be fine, but if there is a lot of hop material mixed in, you can get some of that hop flavor in the next batch.

I usually use a fine strainer between kettle and fermenter, so there's often some/lots of green hop matter in the bottom of the carboy.  I have no problems with that beer.  But, if I reuse yeast from a highly hopped to a low hopped beer some hop flavor does transfer.
Title: Re: Leaving Break Material/Hops Behind
Post by: denny on May 03, 2010, 06:30:33 PM
I'm thinking removing the trub matters more when making lagers?

Did you read that link I posted?  That was a pils.
Title: Re: Leaving Break Material/Hops Behind
Post by: brewbeard on May 03, 2010, 11:16:46 PM
On the Brew Strong episode about fermenters, Jamil talks about how he knows a homebrewer who would just ferment right in his kettle, with cold break and all. This homebrewer placed in NHC for light lager using this technique.

I just made an IPA where I dumped everything into the fermenter. I thought I would have issues with clarity, since I often have problems with chill haze. To my surprise, this beer is one of the clearest I've ever produced, even at refrigerator temperatures.
Title: Re: Leaving Break Material/Hops Behind
Post by: dhacker on May 04, 2010, 02:59:08 AM
I believe there is some anecdotal thought that break material may in fact be good for the yeast.
Title: Re: Leaving Break Material/Hops Behind
Post by: euge on May 04, 2010, 04:28:42 AM
I'm thinking removing the trub matters more when making lagers?

Did you read that link I posted?  That was a pils.

I just read it. Wasn't it Ales in the taste test? Mr Ruud said he wanted to try it with Lagers based on his findings with the Ales.

Title: Re: Leaving Break Material/Hops Behind
Post by: denny on May 04, 2010, 03:31:00 PM
I just read it. Wasn't it Ales in the taste test? Mr Ruud said he wanted to try it with Lagers based on his findings with the Ales.



DOH!  You're correct, of course!  Guess I should have it more closely!  I was recalling the discussion about lagers following his post.
Title: Re: Leaving Break Material/Hops Behind
Post by: monk on May 04, 2010, 03:54:20 PM
I just read that thread and it sounds like he did a very objective test, as far as a home experiment setup is concerned.  I wonder about the hop pellets, though.  I don't really use a secondary vessel, so my wort ferments about 2 weeks in primary.  Does this "leave all the hop/break material in the primary" plan depend on getting the beer off the trub after a few days of fermentation?  Did that guy use a secondary?  I've made a couple pale ales that had hop junk in the primary and tasted kinda grassy, but admittedly, they were sitting in primary for over a month.

Denny, I've read that you don't normally use a secondary either.  Do you leave the hop pellet debris in for 2 weeks or so?
Title: Re: Leaving Break Material/Hops Behind
Post by: denny on May 04, 2010, 04:46:03 PM
Denny, I've read that you don't normally use a secondary either.  Do you leave the hop pellet debris in for 2 weeks or so?

Yep, I do.
Title: Re: Leaving Break Material/Hops Behind
Post by: monk on May 04, 2010, 04:59:37 PM
Denny, I've read that you don't normally use a secondary either.  Do you leave the hop pellet debris in for 2 weeks or so?

Yep, I do.

Niiiice.  Thank you.
Title: Re: Leaving Break Material/Hops Behind
Post by: sienabrewer on May 05, 2010, 03:21:37 PM
I'm always so concerned about leaving the break material in the kettle.  This post topic has driven me to just see what happens when it all goes into the fermenting bucket.  After all, trying it on your own is really the only way to know.  I spend so much time siphoning the beer from the fermenter, making sure the break stays behind, that I think all the open air exposure is what has been leading to the last few off flavors in my brews,  It would sure be nice to know that I can just dump it after chilling and know none of the material will adversely affect my beer. 
Title: Re: Leaving Break Material/Hops Behind
Post by: bluesman on May 05, 2010, 07:06:01 PM
Denny, I've read that you don't normally use a secondary either.  Do you leave the hop pellet debris in for 2 weeks or so?

Yep, I do.

I've done it both ways and haven't been able to determine any advantage to leaving the break/hops behind in the kettle. It all settles out in the fermentation bucket just as happy as can be. I'm not concerned at all with it either way.

I typically run off all of the wort just until I see the break/hop material coming out and then I stop the transfer.
Title: Re: Leaving Break Material/Hops Behind
Post by: monk on May 05, 2010, 08:31:36 PM
I'm always so concerned about leaving the break material in the kettle.  This post topic has driven me to just see what happens when it all goes into the fermenting bucket.  After all, trying it on your own is really the only way to know.  I spend so much time siphoning the beer from the fermenter, making sure the break stays behind, that I think all the open air exposure is what has been leading to the last few off flavors in my brews,  It would sure be nice to know that I can just dump it after chilling and know none of the material will adversely affect my beer. 

Amen, brother.  That's why I started this thread, and why my next batch is going completely into the fermenter.  If I don't notice any off flavors, then my process will have gotten much easier.
Title: Re: Leaving Break Material/Hops Behind
Post by: 1vertical on May 06, 2010, 05:10:46 AM
I gotta chime in. I use a Hop Bag and pull that out after boiling the wert. What is left
in the BK goes into the fermenter pretty much....after the primary I move the beer
into the Kegs and try to leave the stuff mostly in the bottom of the primary.  Seems
to make nice tastey and clear beer....just my $.02