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General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: gogreen437 on July 15, 2011, 06:26:04 PM

Title: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: gogreen437 on July 15, 2011, 06:26:04 PM
I've always just thrown my hops right into the boil, but I'm getting tired of cleaning my little funnel/filter out 4 or 5 times when transferring from my brew kettle to my carboy.  How many use hop bags out there and do you notice any loss in utilization? 
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: tankdeer on July 15, 2011, 06:28:33 PM
I used to back in the day, but found it was more trouble than it was worth. I throw them in loose, and I don't bother to filter them out of the carboy either. Even on light beers (drinking a fantastic helles right now), I don't notice a difference.
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: denny on July 15, 2011, 06:29:23 PM
I use them for whole hops but not for pellets.
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: mabrungard on July 15, 2011, 06:31:41 PM
It sounds like you're pouring the wort into the fermenter. That would be one reason you're fighting with the trub.  A proper whirlpool and cooling will allow you to siphon off the wort from the kettle into the fermenter while leaving more trub behind. 
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: gogreen437 on July 15, 2011, 06:34:17 PM
It sounds like you're pouring the wort into the fermenter. That would be one reason you're fighting with the trub.  A proper whirlpool and cooling will allow you to siphon off the wort from the kettle into the fermenter while leaving more trub behind. 


Yes, I do pour.  My bootleg manner of adding oxygen is pouring between my bucket and brew kettle a few times before pouring through a mesh screen.  If I want to whirlpool I stir and let settle, then siphon? Or is it more complex a process than this?
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: blatz on July 15, 2011, 06:35:31 PM
+1 to martin - you'd be amazed when you see the 'cone' form.

even better - hook up a weldless ball valve setup with a pickup tube against the side...

get a mix stir for oxygenating.
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: euge on July 15, 2011, 06:44:09 PM
I use them for all hops these days. Primarily because the whole-hop seeds jack with my march pump and I can't seem to filter them without the trub then causing a problem by clogging up the filter.

I use all manner of bags for dry-hopping and boiling. Last night I used a large coarse mesh bag and just added the hops to the bag per the schedule. For the keg I use little bouquet garni bags that hold about a 1/4" of whole hops each.
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: Slowbrew on July 15, 2011, 07:02:34 PM
I used to use them all the time.  Anymore I just toss in pellets and I used a paint straining bag suspended in the kettle for whole hops.

I've tried straining but the trub just clogs the screen and takes forever to drain.

Paul
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: jaybeerman on July 15, 2011, 07:15:03 PM
i use a false bottom and almost always use all whole hops. 
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: morticaixavier on July 15, 2011, 07:18:02 PM
I use a hop bag cause otherwise my spigot gets all clogged up, I have not been able to get the whirlpool to work for me. Perhaps I am doing it wrong but I do notice a little loss of utilization. I just bump up the hops a bit to account.
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: Pawtucket Patriot on July 15, 2011, 08:52:52 PM
I use a 5 gallon nylon paint strainer for everything but a FWH addition.  Works great -- minimal mess.
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: richardt on July 15, 2011, 11:16:40 PM
For what it is worth, I have bought nylon strainer bags (but have yet to use them).

I use pellet hops in the BK.  Even add pellet hops for aroma when the temp drops below flash point (<180F) and let it steep for 30-45 minutes during chilling with the IC.

No whole hops are used.

I do 10 gallon batches and note that it drops quite clear during that time. 
The first 5 gallons that go into the fermentation bucket is crystal clear (no trub, no hops).

The second 5 gallons that go into the second fermentation bucket is clear for the first 4 gallons and then it comes time to decide whether I want to stop there or try to strain out the last gallon of wort.  Being the ever-so-frugal kind-of-guy, I can't seem to help myself from straining the rest of the wort out from the break material and hops.  I use an 8-inch SS china cap buillion strainer (extra fine SS mesh)--almost the same result as a fine nylon mesh bag (though I think the nylon mesh is even more fine than the SS strainer).  I would recommend the bag versus the 4 inch diameter disc that sits in the large funnels you can buy at the LHBS.  Simply for the reason that there is more surface area to prevent clogging.
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: Malticulous on July 15, 2011, 11:17:49 PM
I've used bags on less than 1% of my brews. 98% of the time I've dumped the whole boil. As late I've been whirlpooling and siphoning. I've lost some of my hop balance I'd had before so my recipes need some adjustment. I think I lost some astringency from the hops so it's worth the extra effort.  I've also noticed lower attenuation. The break is good for the yeast.
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on July 15, 2011, 11:19:40 PM
False bottom in the brew kettle, so no bag.

Nylon bag goes around the racking cane to filter out the hops when dry hops are in a carboy.

Hops go in a nylon bag if keg hops are used.
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: Will's Swill on July 15, 2011, 11:30:50 PM
I nearly always use hop bags for the boil, but never for dry hopping.  I did side-by-side brews with and without hop bags and I couldn't tell the difference, but enough other people could that I concluded that there must be a small decrease in hop utilization.
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: maxieboy on July 15, 2011, 11:31:36 PM
False bottom in the brew kettle, so no bag.

Nylon bag goes around the racking cane to filter out the hops when dry hops are in a carboy.

Hops go in a nylon bag if keg hops are used.

This is my SOP as well(large self fabbed hop strainer in BK).
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: rightasrain on July 15, 2011, 11:56:27 PM
I use a 5 gallon nylon paint strainer for everything but a FWH addition.  Works great -- minimal mess.

I really want to try a paint strainer. I used to always use hops bags and I just tried a brew without a bag to see if I noticed the difference. There was a lot more mess that made it into the primary. I'll try and remember to get back to this post in about a month when its done and give my opinion then.
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: narcout on July 16, 2011, 12:09:22 AM
If I'm using more than 3 oz. of hops in the boil, I'll bag the early hop additions.  I ferment in a 10 gallon corny keg and transfer under CO2 pressure through the liquid out dip tube to the serving keg - having less hop material in the fermentor makes that transfer a much smoother process.
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: tankdeer on July 16, 2011, 05:39:50 PM
I use a 5 gallon nylon paint strainer for everything but a FWH addition.  Works great -- minimal mess.

I like this idea, but it seems like it would be somewhat difficult to use with an immersion chiller.
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: bluesman on July 17, 2011, 02:56:46 AM
I just brewed a beer today that had 4.5 oz of pellets. I didn't use any containment (bags, etc...) for the hops. I did use a Blichmann hop blocker and it works great. I was able to keep about 90% of the hop pellets in the kettle after racking into the fermenter. This was the first time I had actually tried using the hop blocker as a strainer. There was also a considerable amount of trub left behind as well. I am impressed!
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: tygo on July 17, 2011, 03:01:15 AM
I use them for pellets but not for whole hops.  The whole hops provide a nice filtering function when I'm running my wort off into the fermenter.  The pellet sludge just gums up the works.
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: Jimmy K on July 18, 2011, 02:45:46 PM
No hop bag. I have a weldless ball valve with a stainless braid the goes around the edge of the kettle.
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: gymrat on July 18, 2011, 03:14:10 PM
I use a hop sack because if I don't I keep finding all my hops on the side of my kettle just above the boil.
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: blatz on July 18, 2011, 03:26:43 PM
I use a 5 gallon nylon paint strainer for everything but a FWH addition.  Works great -- minimal mess.

I like this idea, but it seems like it would be somewhat difficult to use with an immersion chiller.

use this: http://www.bayareamashers.org/gadgets/Hop%20bag%20holder.pdf

and then with an oven mitt, you can lift the hops out and sneak the IC underneath - takes a little technique, but its doable.
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: gimmeales on July 18, 2011, 04:05:41 PM
I use a 5 gallon nylon paint strainer for everything but a FWH addition.  Works great -- minimal mess.

+1 to this - works great - and a fraction of the cost LHBS will charge for an indentical bag with a drawstring at the top.  It's just elastic on the top, so I either tie it off on the handle of my smaller kettle, or now in my bigger keggle, I use a binder clip to hold the bag fast against the side.  Super easy to just open the single bag, dump in the charge, and close it up again.  The large size gives plenty of room for pellets or flowers to swirl around in the wort, and removing one bag of hop mass at the end of boil is super-convenient.
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: glastctbrew on July 18, 2011, 04:07:49 PM
I use a 5 gallon nylon paint strainer for everything but a FWH addition.  Works great -- minimal mess.

I like this idea, but it seems like it would be somewhat difficult to use with an immersion chiller.

use this: http://www.bayareamashers.org/gadgets/Hop%20bag%20holder.pdf

and then with an oven mitt, you can lift the hops out and sneak the IC underneath - takes a little technique, but its doable.

+1   I made a holder similar to this and do just what Blatz recommends.
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: tankdeer on July 18, 2011, 04:33:34 PM
I use a 5 gallon nylon paint strainer for everything but a FWH addition.  Works great -- minimal mess.

I like this idea, but it seems like it would be somewhat difficult to use with an immersion chiller.

use this: http://www.bayareamashers.org/gadgets/Hop%20bag%20holder.pdf

and then with an oven mitt, you can lift the hops out and sneak the IC underneath - takes a little technique, but its doable.

+1   I made a holder similar to this and do just what Blatz recommends.
I've seen those before, and like that idea. Perhaps I'll give it a try sometime.
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: euge on July 18, 2011, 05:35:31 PM
I didn't go that far though that design is not new to me. To keep my inventory of equipment down I just clip the bag shut with a small SS clip, which also holds the piece of string that keeps the bag somewhat suspended.

When adding hops I just use tongs to lift the bag to the edge, where the clip holds one side of the bag's opening to the lip of the kettle. I'm then free to stretch the bag wide open with one hand while I dump the hops in. Then it's clipped shut again and released into the wort.

Takes less than 10 seconds to accomplish and my schedule of 60-45-30-15-10-5-1 goes off without a hitch.

I don't insert the IC until flameout. It's already cleaned and sanitized and just plunging it into the wort will drop the temp about 10 degrees. Thusly, no problems with the IC interfering with my hop's exposure to the wort and no contamination either.
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: gymrat on July 18, 2011, 06:04:34 PM
I use a 5 gallon nylon paint strainer for everything but a FWH addition.  Works great -- minimal mess.

I like this idea, but it seems like it would be somewhat difficult to use with an immersion chiller.

use this: http://www.bayareamashers.org/gadgets/Hop%20bag%20holder.pdf

and then with an oven mitt, you can lift the hops out and sneak the IC underneath - takes a little technique, but its doable.

I wish I had seen this before I started brewing today...this looks like a really good idea.
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: Pawtucket Patriot on July 18, 2011, 06:24:10 PM
I use a 5 gallon nylon paint strainer for everything but a FWH addition.  Works great -- minimal mess.

I like this idea, but it seems like it would be somewhat difficult to use with an immersion chiller.

It's actually not difficult at all. I secure the bag to the side of my kettle with a SS clip.  When I'm ready to add the chiller, I put the chiller in and gently lift the bag into the center of the chiller coils. Looks like other bag users have some pretty handy methods too.
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: aod on July 18, 2011, 09:17:57 PM
I use a fine mesh nylon bag for all hops during the boil.  The bag is labeled as "small fine mesh bag" but it is 9X20 inches or so and can easily hold 5 ounces of pellet hops during a boil.  I've recommended it to as many homebrewer friends as possible because I see the benefit when transfering from kettle to fermenter after cooling.

I'm a clean-freak once the boil has stopped, so I don't like to mess with the beer after I drop a chiller in and cover it with the lid.  This makes a whirlpool out of the question.  I run the wort through a plastic funnel with screen and a second fine-mesh strainer that sits on top of it as it goes to the fermenter.  Without a hop bag in the boil the strainer / filter screen will clog within seconds.  WITH a hop bag it will very rarely clog, needing only a swirl here or there with a sanitized spoon.

I haven't had the IBU's analyzed yet, but I do not detect any lack of bitterness or flavor by using a bag.  Since the hop bag has become part of my regular brewing practice, my recipes are based on this experience.

Cheers and beers,
~Adam
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: bluesman on July 19, 2011, 01:01:02 AM
I use a 5 gallon nylon paint strainer for everything but a FWH addition.  Works great -- minimal mess.

I like this idea, but it seems like it would be somewhat difficult to use with an immersion chiller.

use this: http://www.bayareamashers.org/gadgets/Hop%20bag%20holder.pdf

and then with an oven mitt, you can lift the hops out and sneak the IC underneath - takes a little technique, but its doable.

I made one of these gadgets about a year ago and haven't used it more than a few times. No real reason other than it was kinda in the way during the brew. It actually keeps virtually 99+% of the hop matter in the bag and out of the wort. Works really well for a hop strainer and allows for the hops to float freely within the wort.
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: rightasrain on July 19, 2011, 01:42:16 AM
I use a 5 gallon nylon paint strainer for everything but a FWH addition.  Works great -- minimal mess.

I like this idea, but it seems like it would be somewhat difficult to use with an immersion chiller.

use this: http://www.bayareamashers.org/gadgets/Hop%20bag%20holder.pdf

and then with an oven mitt, you can lift the hops out and sneak the IC underneath - takes a little technique, but its doable.

I like this idea I will have to remember it when I can get an all grain setup.
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: timo on July 19, 2011, 04:45:37 PM
Its almost a requirement for those of us who pump / circulate / recirculate and chill with plate chillers. Even though I back-flush the plates after each use, I still don't like running any debris thru the pump and plates.

One thing I've tried recently is when I drain the mash, after vorlauf, to drain right thru the bag to catch grain debris. I guess I'm anal about debris in my pump and chiller.

Tim O
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: dee on July 19, 2011, 08:00:04 PM
If you use buckets, these are the best way to filter trub, hops and other break material from your fermenter.  They are cheap, easy to clean and sanitize and at 200 microns they really work.  They also help aerate especially when using a March pump to pump wort in a fermenter.  I've used the same two filters for years without fail.  Carboys are dangerous, expensive and more difficult to handle and clean.  I wouldn't go back to a carboy for anything.   

http://www.usplastic.com/catalog/item.aspx?itemid=37443&catid=685&clickid=searchresults (http://www.usplastic.com/catalog/item.aspx?itemid=37443&catid=685&clickid=searchresults)
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: richardt on July 19, 2011, 08:27:19 PM
If you use buckets, these are the best way to filter trub, hops and other break material from your fermenter.  They are cheap, easy to clean and sanitize and at 200 microns they really work.  They also help aerate especially when using a March pump to pump wort in a fermenter.  I've used the same two filters for years without fail.  Carboys are dangerous, expensive and more difficult to handle and clean.  I wouldn't go back to a carboy for anything.   

http://www.usplastic.com/catalog/item.aspx?itemid=37443&catid=685&clickid=searchresults (http://www.usplastic.com/catalog/item.aspx?itemid=37443&catid=685&clickid=searchresults)

This looks perfect.  I like the surface area of the screen in a 5 gallon bucket.   And the price is awesome (<$5).  How did you choose the 200 micron pore size?  Is it the one you'd recommend (or would the 100 micron pore size be even better)?
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: dee on July 19, 2011, 11:26:06 PM
The 100 micron screens clogged more often so I went to 200.  You may have to clean them with the hose (spray water from the backside)while draining if you have lots of pellet hop material floating in the wort.  That's why it's best to have two screens sanitized and ready should one screen clog.  Almost no trub get through the screen.  In fact, I never secondary a beer and go straight to the keg.  I also harvest yeast with zero hop material and negligible trub.  Regardless, this is a must in my opinion if you ferment in buckets.  They fit perfectly inside your bucket and are easy to use.  The price is great too.
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: richardt on July 20, 2011, 12:14:56 AM
I bought SS china cap strainers (stackable) of varying pore sizes, e.g., coarse/medium, fine, and buillion/extra fine, with the plan of progressive straining.  Turned out that the pore sizes for SS coarse and fine were still too large.  Buillion/extra fine works well for hop pellets--only the finest hop pellet material continues through, but is caught by the plastic mesh screen on my large plastic funnel. Break material seems to continue through regardless.

Have you ever tried stacking the plastic strainers in series with progressively smaller pore sizes, i.e, 400, 200, 100 microns?
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: dee on July 20, 2011, 12:46:01 AM
Next to nothing gets through 200 microns so I don't think it's necessary to devise a progressive system.  When you harvest your yeast there will be no visible hop or break material.  Try them.  You will not be disappointed.
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: mfarringer on July 20, 2011, 01:54:53 AM
When I started using a counter-flow chiller it kept getting clogged with the pellet hops in the boil.  So I started using a hop bag and no more clogs.  From talking with some other brewers I did learn that as a general rule of thumb using a hop bag decreases the hops efficiency by about 10%
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: Pawtucket Patriot on July 20, 2011, 08:51:35 PM
From talking with some other brewers I did learn that as a general rule of thumb using a hop bag decreases the hops efficiency by about 10%

I've heard this before. Does anyone know the basis for the 10% figure?  Is it the result of a lab test?  Or just perception?
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: Joe Sr. on July 20, 2011, 08:59:07 PM
I believe it has to be perception, and not a lab test.

My own perception, having recently brewed a couple batches without hop bags, is that bitterness is noticeably greater from previous batches of the same recipe.
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: blatz on July 20, 2011, 09:10:15 PM
From talking with some other brewers I did learn that as a general rule of thumb using a hop bag decreases the hops efficiency by about 10%

I've heard this before. Does anyone know the basis for the 10% figure?  Is it the result of a lab test?  Or just perception?

does it matter? Denny has had his FWH beers test out to 10% more IBUs than the same beer brewed with a 60 minute addition of the same amount, yet I see posts all over saying "to me FWH is like a 20 minute addition" in terms of bitterness.  (emphasis mine)

point is - you'll need to use a bag and see if it really is any different in your perception - size of bag, apparatus used if any, all come into play. 

I did not notice much difference, but these were lighter hopped beers (helles, vienna, czech pils) so its understandable.
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: Pawtucket Patriot on July 20, 2011, 10:07:01 PM
Paul,

No, it doesn't matter. And I'm not challenging the notion that there's a utilization difference attributable to using a bag.  It's just that 10% is a rather precise figure that's been repeated many times over. I was curious if this was the result of a lab test.
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: blatz on July 20, 2011, 10:55:48 PM
Paul,

No, it doesn't matter. And I'm not challenging the notion that there's a utilization difference attributable to using a bag.  It's just that 10% is a rather precise figure that's been repeated many times over. I was curious if this was the result of a lab test.

 I hear ya! I just meant that you'll have to try it yourself to make the ultimate determination.  That "FWH ~20min addition" stuff has been repeated over and over ad nauseum too, yet lab results suggest otherwise.  That's all I was trying to say.
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: euge on July 20, 2011, 11:02:26 PM
I thought it was a 30% decrease in utilization when using bags.
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: Pawtucket Patriot on July 21, 2011, 12:15:12 AM
Paul,

No, it doesn't matter. And I'm not challenging the notion that there's a utilization difference attributable to using a bag.  It's just that 10% is a rather precise figure that's been repeated many times over. I was curious if this was the result of a lab test.

 I hear ya! I just meant that you'll have to try it yourself to make the ultimate determination.  That "FWH ~20min addition" stuff has been repeated over and over ad nauseum too, yet lab results suggest otherwise.  That's all I was trying to say.

Exactly.  Of course, a FWH addition is only the equivalent of a 20 min. addition if you're mashing in a blue cooler.  If you're using a red one, you can count on it being more like 65 min. addition.  :P
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: egminer on July 21, 2011, 01:09:00 AM
I use a 5 gallon nylon paint strainer for everything but a FWH addition.  Works great -- minimal mess.

I like this idea, but it seems like it would be somewhat difficult to use with an immersion chiller.

use this: http://www.bayareamashers.org/gadgets/Hop%20bag%20holder.pdf

and then with an oven mitt, you can lift the hops out and sneak the IC underneath - takes a little technique, but its doable.

I wish I had seen this before I started brewing today...this looks like a really good idea.

I also utilize this method. I started with hop bags and found that they are rarely large enough nor do they seem to allow adequate ciruclation of the hops when in a boil. I built the bag holder easily enough and have been more than happy with the added ciruclation of wort around the hops during the boil.  I also have a false bottom on by brew kettle, but will not risk clogging the siphon tube from the kettle to the chiller. Clean up is easier  wiht this method also.
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: rightasrain on August 14, 2011, 08:41:01 PM
use this: http://www.bayareamashers.org/gadgets/Hop%20bag%20holder.pdf
and then with an oven mitt, you can lift the hops out and sneak the IC underneath - takes a little technique, but its doable.

I quit using those little hops bags and built a hops strainer based on the strainer that blatz posted. I have noticed much more prominent hops taste ever since I quit using hops bags. And it is so much easier then trying to get the hops into the little bag thats at boiling temperature. Now its been 4 batches since I quite.

My last batch was the first batch to use the the new strainer. What I do is use nothing during the boil. Then at the end of the boil I put the hops catcher in my old primary fermenter and pour it to the fermenter. Let it drain and transfer it to my better bottle. Its working out pretty good and only adds about 5 minutes or so if you sanatize your hands and then squeeze the strainer to speed the straining up a bit.
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: Lager on August 16, 2011, 05:30:14 PM
I know there are large strain bags sold at HB shops, how they compare to a paint strainer in terms of material would be intresting to know since my concern with a paint strainer and using PVC in boiling temperatures could be both a health and - to a lesser degree - off flavor issues. PVC is not recommended for use in foods when using high temps, and I would guess that the material for a paint strainer is not deisgned to be safe for foods or to be used at boiling temps.
I think it would be safer to assume the big straining bags sold in HB shops would be safe for the high temps since that is the intent. And PVCP is approved for high temps and food use.
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: blatz on August 16, 2011, 08:58:22 PM
you aren't actually using the PVC in the liquid - it sits atop your kettle not in the boiling wort..

IIRC, the bags are 100% nylon (with the exception of the elastic band some have of course) - same as the hop bags in a HB store...
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: pricepeeler on August 22, 2011, 03:41:57 PM
I use hop sacks due to convenience and my limited equipment.  As my brewing progresses, I can see myself moving away from them.

Price
Title: Re: How many people use hop bags?
Post by: woadwarrior on August 22, 2011, 04:42:31 PM
To the best of my knowledge, paint strainer bags are made of nylon. The ones I have used had a smaller mesh than the 1 sparge bag I had paid way too much for (somewhere around $8-9 at my LHBS), whereas the strainer bags were around $.75 each at the local hardware store. Plus if you use the larger bags, they may not affect your utilization as much. YMMV.