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General Category => Equipment and Software => Topic started by: roguejim on September 14, 2010, 10:11:09 AM

Title: Blichmann Hop Blocker
Post by: roguejim on September 14, 2010, 10:11:09 AM
I just came across this new gizmo, and was wondering if anyone here has put it to the test with pellet hops.  Unlike some, I don't have an obsession with preventing every speck of hop particulate from entering my fermenter.  Frankly, most trub enters my fermenter with no ill effects that I can tell.  I believe Denny is on the same page here...But, there are certain situations when I would just as soon not have excess trub mixed in with my yeast.

So, does this gizmo work?  It's certainly spendy.
Title: Re: Blichmann Hop Blocker
Post by: majorvices on September 14, 2010, 02:19:08 PM
I've heard mixed results, with them leaning negative.
Title: Re: Blichmann Hop Blocker
Post by: blatz on September 14, 2010, 02:21:45 PM
I've heard mixed results, with them leaning negative.

some friends of mine used it last weekend - they said the only thing it blocks is the pickup tube. YMMV.
Title: Re: Blichmann Hop Blocker
Post by: Thirsty_Monk on September 14, 2010, 03:15:04 PM
I have seen it at NHC this year.
It has a large holes that pallets can flow thru easily.
Correct me if I am wrong but it is supposed to work for whole hops only.
Title: Re: Blichmann Hop Blocker
Post by: tumarkin on September 14, 2010, 03:25:14 PM
According to the Blichmann website, it is designed to work with pellets.
http://www.blichmannengineering.com/hopblocker/hopblocker.html

Of course, it could also work with whole hops. I've never seen one in operation so don't know how well it works.
Title: Re: Blichmann Hop Blocker
Post by: schristian619 on September 14, 2010, 04:01:36 PM
From what I've heard, the new hopblocker is designed for use with pellet hops, but doesn't work with whole leaf hops.  The previous version works with whole leaf, but not pellets.  In my experience, a 5 gallon paint strainer bag works great with either.  And the cost savings is a couple batches of beer.
Title: Re: Blichmann Hop Blocker
Post by: majorvices on September 14, 2010, 05:47:34 PM
IME you don't need a bag or a strainer if you use pellets.
Title: Re: Blichmann Hop Blocker
Post by: roguejim on September 14, 2010, 06:30:49 PM
From what I've heard, the new hopblocker is designed for use with pellet hops, but doesn't work with whole leaf hops.  The previous version works with whole leaf, but not pellets.  In my experience, a 5 gallon paint strainer bag works great with either.  And the cost savings is a couple batches of beer.

How is the 5 gallon paint strainer used?
Title: Re: Blichmann Hop Blocker
Post by: euge on September 14, 2010, 06:40:49 PM
Like a tea-bag.

I've been doing this lately with great success.
Title: Re: Blichmann Hop Blocker
Post by: bluesman on September 14, 2010, 08:15:09 PM
I think it is designed for whole hops.  Pellet hops will flow throught the holes.  I add pellet hops directly into the boiling wort with no issues. YMMV.
Title: Re: Blichmann Hop Blocker
Post by: tschmidlin on September 14, 2010, 08:24:41 PM
I think it is designed for whole hops.  Pellet hops will flow throught the holes.  I add pellet hops directly into the boiling wort with no issues. YMMV.
It's designed specifically for pellets.

The large holes are too high for the pellets to flow through if you allow the wort to settle before racking.  The small holes are there to block the particles when you're draining the bottom of the kettle.  The theory is you drain it all of the way to the top of the gate, raise the gate, then run off the rest of the wort.  That way the smaller holes are less likely to get clogged because you are filtering less beer.

<edit to add an explanation>
Title: Re: Blichmann Hop Blocker
Post by: bluesman on September 14, 2010, 08:44:27 PM
I think it is designed for whole hops.  Pellet hops will flow throught the holes.  I add pellet hops directly into the boiling wort with no issues. YMMV.
It's designed specifically for pellets.

My bad Tom.  I was just on the Blichmann website and looked at the specs and photos and it is indeed designed specifically for pellet hops.  I would like to see it in acton.
Title: Re: Blichmann Hop Blocker
Post by: tschmidlin on September 14, 2010, 08:52:47 PM
I would like to see it in acton.
Me too.

With Blichmann's reputation it's hard to imagine them releasing a flawed product, so I wonder what the deal is.  Maybe the expectations are just too high, or maybe it's all user error (ie not using the product exactly as it's supposed to be used).  The instructions are pretty specific:

Quote from: http://www.blichmannengineering.com/hopblocker/hopblocker.html
Blichmann Engineering Hopblocker]
   2.  Ensure that the shield is pushed all the way to the bottom of the screen and the HopBlocker is resting resting flat on the bottom of the pot. Proceed with your boil as you normally do. THe HopBlocker may move a bit during the boil but this is not a problem as it will automatically right itself.
   3.  At flame-out stir the wort vigorously with the stir paddle to create a whirlpool which encourages the hops and trub particulates to settle to the bottom center of the pot away from the HopBlocker.
   4.  Allow 15-20 min for the thermal convection currents to slow and allow the break material and hop particulates to settle.
   5.  Drain your pot as fast as you'd like until you see the top of the kettle drain fitting (about 3" of wort)
   6.  Reduce the drain flow rate to about 1/3 the initial flow rate. This allows the wort to permeate through the hops and trub and enter the filter screen to be drained
   7.  Use your stir paddle to hold the filter down and quickly pull the shield up with a gloved finger or a racking cane (or similar) so that it is out of the wort completely. It is important to move quickly through steps 6 and 7 so you do not lose the siphon which will stop the flow.

In my case it will never work.  I use a keggle, so it will not sit flat on the bottom.  I also don't whirlpool and let it sit for 20 minutes to settle, I just run it off into the chiller.

<edit to add source of quote>
Title: Re: Blichmann Hop Blocker
Post by: bluesman on September 14, 2010, 08:58:20 PM
I would like to see it in acton.
Me too.

With Blichmann's reputation it's hard to imagine them releasing a flawed product, so I wonder what the deal is.  Maybe the expectations are just too high, or maybe it's all user error (ie not using the product exactly as it's supposed to be used).  The instructions are pretty specific:


I am a  big Blichmann fan.   I have Blichmann 15 gallon kettles on my Brutus stand.  If this gadget works as it is designed, which I have no reason to believe it doesn't and being the gadget guy that I am I will give this thing a try.
Title: Re: Blichmann Hop Blocker
Post by: tschmidlin on September 14, 2010, 09:43:37 PM
I will give this thing a try.
Let us know how it goes, I'm curious.  It's nowhere on my wishlist since I'm happy with my kettle, but it will be good to know.
Title: Re: Blichmann Hop Blocker
Post by: dshepard on September 15, 2010, 11:03:39 AM
I bought a 20 gallon Boiler Maker as well as the Hop Blocker. To be totally honest it seems to work as advertised. I am also using a Jamil whirlpool chiller as well. After the chill down, I let the wort sit for about 15-20 minutes and then drain pretty darn clear wort. The trick is remembering to raise the gate near the end of the rack before you lose the siphon. And no, that operation does not require you to touch the chilled and sanitized wort.

Previously I had been using a 15 gallon pot with a false bottom and a counter flow chiller. I used to bag my pellet hops and let the whole hops free. Now I just use pellets (side benefit is they are more plentiful and cost less) and just dump them in. I am getting better hop flavor and aroma now, and with the Hop Blocker and the chilled wort I am getting clearer wort to the fermenter. I never used to have problems before, but I am now starting to brew more lagers, so I wanted to try and keep more hop and trub out of the fermenter.

Bottom line, I am happy with the performance of the Hop Blocker.
Title: Re: Blichmann Hop Blocker
Post by: schristian619 on September 15, 2010, 05:32:24 PM
I use the paint strainer just like a a tea bag as stated.  I took a piece of PVC pipe, drilled holes in it for some rubar, and use a worm clamp to hold the bag in place.  I just let it sit on top of the kettle, the rubar holds it up, and the bag drops into the wort.  But, by all means, if the hopblocker works for you, you should get it.  I'm a big Blichmann fan, its just that this doesn;t work for me since I prefer whole leaf hops.
Title: Re: Blichmann Hop Blocker
Post by: denny on September 15, 2010, 05:56:37 PM
I took a piece of PVC pipe, drilled holes in it for some rubar, and use a worm clamp to hold the bag in place.  I just let it sit on top of the kettle, the rubar holds it up, and the bag drops into the wort.


I was _this close_ to building one of those, but I couldn't figure out how it would work with an immersion chiller.  To be perfectly honest, like Jim said, I don't have an issue with pellet hops just going in to the fermenter.  I use a hop bag for whole hops.
Title: Re: Blichmann Hop Blocker
Post by: blatz on September 15, 2010, 05:56:52 PM
you said you are using Jamil's whirlpool chilling method - does the hop blocker get in the way of the IC coil?
Title: Re: Blichmann Hop Blocker
Post by: roguejim on September 15, 2010, 06:30:45 PM
I bought a 20 gallon Boiler Maker as well as the Hop Blocker. To be totally honest it seems to work as advertised. I am also using a Jamil whirlpool chiller as well. After the chill down, I let the wort sit for about 15-20 minutes and then drain pretty darn clear wort. The trick is remembering to raise the gate near the end of the rack before you lose the siphon. And no, that operation does not require you to touch the chilled and sanitized wort.

Previously I had been using a 15 gallon pot with a false bottom and a counter flow chiller. I used to bag my pellet hops and let the whole hops free. Now I just use pellets (side benefit is they are more plentiful and cost less) and just dump them in. I am getting better hop flavor and aroma now, and with the Hop Blocker and the chilled wort I am getting clearer wort to the fermenter. I never used to have problems before, but I am now starting to brew more lagers, so I wanted to try and keep more hop and trub out of the fermenter.

Bottom line, I am happy with the performance of the Hop Blocker.

For what my opinion is worth, excess trub in the fermenter does not translate into hazy lagers.  My pils are as clear as a commercial version in spite of what most would consider to be too much trub in the fermenter.
Title: Re: Blichmann Hop Blocker
Post by: roguejim on September 15, 2010, 06:33:53 PM
I took a piece of PVC pipe, drilled holes in it for some rubar, and use a worm clamp to hold the bag in place.  I just let it sit on top of the kettle, the rubar holds it up, and the bag drops into the wort.


I was _this close_ to building one of those, but I couldn't figure out how it would work with an immersion chiller.  To be perfectly honest, like Jim said, I don't have an issue with pellet hops just going in to the fermenter.  I use a hop bag for whole hops.

It's been a long time since I saw your brew setup, but weren't using a hop sack before.  You must have replaced that "custom" dip tube with the perforations to be needing hop sacks now?  Doesn't sound quite as "cheap and easy" of a setup these days!
Title: Re: Blichmann Hop Blocker
Post by: jeffy on September 15, 2010, 06:36:53 PM
roguejim says, "For what my opinion is worth, excess trub in the fermenter does not translate into hazy lagers.  My pils are as clear as a commercial version in spite of what most would consider to be too much trub in the fermenter."
I don't think the issue is about trub causing clarity issues.  It's more about the perception of flavor issues.  I think my lagers have improved since I'v been able to leave the cold break in the kettle and out of the fermenter.
I whirlpool my wort, use a counterflow back to the ketttle, and built a little diverter gate at the bottom in front of the wort-out drain to keep the hops from clogging the pump.  It works real well with any kind of hops.
Title: Re: Blichmann Hop Blocker
Post by: denny on September 15, 2010, 06:43:57 PM
It's been a long time since I saw your brew setup, but weren't using a hop sack before.  You must have replaced that "custom" dip tube with the perforations to be needing hop sacks now?  Doesn't sound quite as "cheap and easy" of a setup these days!

I stater having problems with my center pickup with the holes drilled in it and went to side pickup.  That's when I started using bags.  I kinda prefer them...I think it makes cleanup easier.
Title: Re: Blichmann Hop Blocker
Post by: denny on September 15, 2010, 06:46:52 PM
roguejim says, "For what my opinion is worth, excess trub in the fermenter does not translate into hazy lagers.  My pils are as clear as a commercial version in spite of what most would consider to be too much trub in the fermenter."
I don't think the issue is about trub causing clarity issues.  It's more about the perception of flavor issues.  I think my lagers have improved since I'v been able to leave the cold break in the kettle and out of the fermenter.
I whirlpool my wort, use a counterflow back to the ketttle, and built a little diverter gate at the bottom in front of the wort-out drain to keep the hops from clogging the pump.  It works real well with any kind of hops.

A guy on the B&V board tested this theory a few years back by splitting a batch and removing trub from only half of it.  He found the half with the trub was clearer and tasted better.  Here are his results...

http://hbd.org/discus/messages/40327/41534.html
Title: Re: Blichmann Hop Blocker
Post by: jeffy on September 15, 2010, 07:19:58 PM
I remember reading that.  I wonder if it makes any difference if it's an ale or a lager?  He didn't mention what sort of beer was in his experiment.  I like my trub-free lagers, but I could probably run the same experiment one day and see for myself.
Title: Re: Blichmann Hop Blocker
Post by: blatz on September 15, 2010, 07:36:33 PM
has anyone had any degree of success using the hop blocker in a converted keg brew kettle?

A friend has a hop blocker, so I could try it out, but if its futile, why bother?
Title: Re: Blichmann Hop Blocker
Post by: blatz on September 15, 2010, 08:06:55 PM
I was _this close_ to building one of those, but I couldn't figure out how it would work with an immersion chiller. 

maybe put the IC in at the beginning of the boil and put the paint strainer bag down the center of the IC?

Title: Re: Blichmann Hop Blocker
Post by: denny on September 15, 2010, 08:24:28 PM
I remember reading that.  I wonder if it makes any difference if it's an ale or a lager?  He didn't mention what sort of beer was in his experiment.  I like my trub-free lagers, but I could probably run the same experiment one day and see for myself.

IIRC from his previous posts, it was a pils.
Title: Re: Blichmann Hop Blocker
Post by: denny on September 15, 2010, 08:25:40 PM
I was _this close_ to building one of those, but I couldn't figure out how it would work with an immersion chiller. 

maybe put the IC in at the beginning of the boil and put the paint strainer bag down the center of the IC?



That would work, but for me it's too involved.  Then I have to worry about working around the chiller and the hoses from it.  Sounds like more hassle than what I do now.
Title: Re: Blichmann Hop Blocker
Post by: majorvices on September 15, 2010, 09:14:01 PM
Yeah, it also sounds like an extra piece of equipment that you don't really need. I just don;t have any problems with hops getting into the fermenter. Sure, some do. But just not enough to worry about. That said, I have a simple, home made diverter plate that keeps about 95% of the hops out of the fermenter (if not more). Way cheaper than another piece of equipment and probably just about as effective.
Title: Re: Blichmann Hop Blocker
Post by: dshepard on September 16, 2010, 07:48:12 AM
you said you are using Jamil's whirlpool chilling method - does the hop blocker get in the way of the IC coil?

No,  with the 20 gallon pot there is plenty of room. I leave the chiller in the boiler after it settles and after all the wort drains there is a nice pile of hops and trub in the middle of the coil even though it is slightly offset from center (due to the Hop Blocker).
Title: Re: Blichmann Hop Blocker
Post by: roguejim on September 16, 2010, 08:31:57 AM
Yeah, it also sounds like an extra piece of equipment that you don't really need. I just don;t have any problems with hops getting into the fermenter. Sure, some do. But just not enough to worry about. That said, I have a simple, home made diverter plate that keeps about 95% of the hops out of the fermenter (if not more). Way cheaper than another piece of equipment and probably just about as effective.

What exactly is a diverter plate?  Is it for leaf hops?
Title: Re: Blichmann Hop Blocker
Post by: majorvices on September 16, 2010, 11:59:10 AM
The diverter plate will work with leaf or pellet hops. But leaf hops would clog my pump. You'd have to find a way around that depending on your set up. I specifically use pellets and put leaf hops in a large hop bag when I brew with leaf.

Here's a picture of the diverter plate I have on my big system. I need to get some pix of the hops trapped behind the plate. A couple quick WPs collects most of them behind the plate. Works awesome and is easy to make.

(http://i111.photobucket.com/albums/n137/majorvices/diverter3.jpg)

(http://i111.photobucket.com/albums/n137/majorvices/diverter2.jpg)

Title: Re: Blichmann Hop Blocker
Post by: narvin on September 16, 2010, 02:40:42 PM
I've posted this before, but it works so damn well that I feel like I need to keep pimping it : )  I made a hop stopper for my new 20 gallon kettle as described in the first post of this thread:

http://www.homebrewchatter.com/board/showthread.php?2550-DIY-Hop-Stopper-%28Kettle-Screen-amp-Pickup%29

He only stitched up one side with stainless thread before he gave up... I didn't bother at all.  If you fold the edges where two sides meet, flatten the crease with a hammer, and then do it again, it stays together just fine.

I did Vinnie's pliny clone last month (17 ounces of hops in the kettle, and only 2 of them were whole leaf) and was able to pump through my plate chiller at normal speed with no issues at all.
Title: Re: Blichmann Hop Blocker
Post by: roguejim on September 24, 2010, 09:02:53 AM
The diverter plate will work with leaf or pellet hops. But leaf hops would clog my pump. You'd have to find a way around that depending on your set up. I specifically use pellets and put leaf hops in a large hop bag when I brew with leaf.

Here's a picture of the diverter plate I have on my big system. I need to get some pix of the hops trapped behind the plate. A couple quick WPs collects most of them behind the plate. Works awesome and is easy to make.

(http://i111.photobucket.com/albums/n137/majorvices/diverter3.jpg)

(http://i111.photobucket.com/albums/n137/majorvices/diverter2.jpg)



Is there any way you can show a pic of the plate out in the open?  I can't tell what the hell it is from the angle of the photos.
Title: Re: Blichmann Hop Blocker
Post by: roguejim on September 24, 2010, 09:09:37 AM
I've posted this before, but it works so damn well that I feel like I need to keep pimping it : )  I made a hop stopper for my new 20 gallon kettle as described in the first post of this thread:

http://www.homebrewchatter.com/board/showthread.php?2550-DIY-Hop-Stopper-%28Kettle-Screen-amp-Pickup%29

He only stitched up one side with stainless thread before he gave up... I didn't bother at all.  If you fold the edges where two sides meet, flatten the crease with a hammer, and then do it again, it stays together just fine.

I did Vinnie's pliny clone last month (17 ounces of hops in the kettle, and only 2 of them were whole leaf) and was able to pump through my plate chiller at normal speed with no issues at all.

The one I made was a dud.  It's my experience that they don't perform well with pellet hops and immersion chillers.  Cooler wort and pellet hops plug up the HopStopper, at least in my experience.
Title: Re: Blichmann Hop Blocker
Post by: jeffy on September 24, 2010, 11:37:02 AM
I had an 8-inch piece of stainless welded at an angle in front of the out port so that when I whirlpool, everything ends up not only in the center of the kettle, but stays away from the drain.  Works well with pellets or whole hops.
Title: Re: Blichmann Hop Blocker
Post by: narvin on September 24, 2010, 01:23:12 PM
I've posted this before, but it works so damn well that I feel like I need to keep pimping it : )  I made a hop stopper for my new 20 gallon kettle as described in the first post of this thread:

http://www.homebrewchatter.com/board/showthread.php?2550-DIY-Hop-Stopper-%28Kettle-Screen-amp-Pickup%29

He only stitched up one side with stainless thread before he gave up... I didn't bother at all.  If you fold the edges where two sides meet, flatten the crease with a hammer, and then do it again, it stays together just fine.

I did Vinnie's pliny clone last month (17 ounces of hops in the kettle, and only 2 of them were whole leaf) and was able to pump through my plate chiller at normal speed with no issues at all.

The one I made was a dud.  It's my experience that they don't perform well with pellet hops and immersion chillers.  Cooler wort and pellet hops plug up the HopStopper, at least in my experience.

Pellet hops work fine, but I've heard that the cold break can clog it.  If you're using a counterflow/plate chiller, don't recirculate (you shouldn't need to, really) and you'll be fine.  Immersion may not work, as you noted.
Title: Re: Blichmann Hop Blocker
Post by: roguejim on September 27, 2010, 09:54:18 AM
Check out this gadget:

http://www.thebrewingnetwork.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=14455
Title: Re: Blichmann Hop Blocker
Post by: redbeerman on October 02, 2010, 12:13:38 PM
I took a piece of PVC pipe, drilled holes in it for some rubar, and use a worm clamp to hold the bag in place.  I just let it sit on top of the kettle, the rubar holds it up, and the bag drops into the wort.


I was _this close_ to building one of those, but I couldn't figure out how it would work with an immersion chiller.  To be perfectly honest, like Jim said, I don't have an issue with pellet hops just going in to the fermenter.  I use a hop bag for whole hops.

This is what I do as well.  Most of the pellet hops stay in my kettle anyway, so it's not much of an issue with my setup.