Author Topic: Opinions on SS Mesh Hop "Spiders"  (Read 2783 times)

Offline Whiskers

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Opinions on SS Mesh Hop "Spiders"
« on: December 20, 2015, 08:35:58 PM »
I've switched my technique and equipment around recently.  I used to gravity drain my hot, manually whirlpooled wort through a plate chiller right to the fermenter.  Overall, the technique worked really well, and I was able to dump large amounts of cones and pellets into the boil without any containment.  A side pickup tube with a small screen kept the chiller from ever clogging.  The only problem is that I'd have to have the kettle way up high on a platform and you'd have to use a stepladder to see the top.  This is a bit precarious with 20gal of wort up there. 

Now I have a pump that I've put to use.  I can't whirlpool with the pump as I'm guessing it would clog up the chiller in short order, using un-contained hops that is.  I read a bunch about the utah biodiesel hang-on-the rim deals and bought an 8'' one with 400um mesh.  Seemed like people liked them.  Seemed like a good idea as I could add hops throughout the boil and I'd be able to recirculate through the chiller to chill in the kettle before pumping to the fermenter.  I haven't had good luck.  Hop utilization is WAY less than I'm used to.  Several times throughout the boil, I pour a gallon or two through the basket.  I also lift it up to drain a few times as well.  By the end of the boil it's pretty clogged.  Seems like mostly break, not hops.  There's no way the thing will drain as fast as the pump will transfer to the fermenter.  The last time I had to lift it out and tilt/pour to drain the trapped wort through upper parts of the cylinder which had yet to be clogged.  These parts would clog almost immediately.  I did manage to get most of the wort out however.

I'm ok with having to perform this last step, other than the fact that flameout hops aren't going to be doing much.  The biggest issue is that the hops are certainly not getting utilized properly.  First trial was an esb with 35ibu.  It basically had no bitterness or hop character.  The second was a 1.066 roasty holiday ale.  The hops calculated to 120ibu in beersmith.  snpa is more bitter than this beer.  The most recent is a bock but I've yet to sample it - still in the fermenter.  Does anybody have any inputs or comments?  I'm sure I didn't read about the average user of these things having the issues I'm dealing with.  Am I missing something? 

Cheers!

Offline Jeffinn

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Re: Opinions on SS Mesh Hop "Spiders"
« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2015, 08:54:32 PM »
I use the same thing that you do with pellet hops. I havent noticed a drop in hop utilization in any of the beers I've brewed.
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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Opinions on SS Mesh Hop "Spiders"
« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2015, 09:14:24 PM »
My SS spider is slightly bigger - it's a 10".  Hop utilization is slightly less (I'd ballpark 10%), so nothing like you describe. And I use pellets only, for the record. I account and bump up the bittering additon to compensate, which I don't mind doing in exchange for the spider containing the vast majority of hop matter. FWIW I thoroughly stir the hops/wort inside the spider every few minutes of the boil and whirlpool steep (on beers that get it). I don't know if the larger spider giving the hops more room to circulate or purposely stirring the hop/wort inside the spider is the factor in keeping utilization loss to a minimum - I suspect both help.
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Offline Whiskers

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Re: Opinions on SS Mesh Hop "Spiders"
« Reply #3 on: December 20, 2015, 09:42:14 PM »
For the first brew I actually used cones, and at least in that case it's not surprising that I didn't get good extraction as the whole cylinder was a big plug.  The others were all pellets.  It's not impossible that the pellets were lower AA than specified.  2015 Bravo from Yakima 14-17%AA bittering - 2015 Azacca in last five min.   I'll wait and see how the bock turns out - 2015 Mt Hood on that one.  I'll try the Bravo again with some stirring like you suggest. 

No issues with draining at the end of the boil? 

Offline narcout

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Re: Opinions on SS Mesh Hop "Spiders"
« Reply #4 on: December 20, 2015, 09:46:32 PM »
I read a bunch about the utah biodiesel hang-on-the rim deals and bought an 8'' one with 400um mesh.

I have something similar, though it is only 6 inches in diameter (and I can't remember if I went with the 300 or 400 mesh). 

It did not work well as a hop filter.  I now use it to filter wort as it drains from the mash tun into the boil kettle, where it catches any grain particulate that made it through the vorlauf process.
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Re: Opinions on SS Mesh Hop "Spiders"
« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2015, 10:02:57 PM »

No issues with draining at the end of the boil? 


Yeah, it's a slow drain especially on hoppy beers. It's really the only negative for me and not a huge one at that. I use my SS spoon to press on the hop matter to speed up the drain.
Jon H.

Offline Whiskers

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Re: Opinions on SS Mesh Hop "Spiders"
« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2015, 10:33:26 PM »
Thanks for the replies...  I've got some things to try now.  Cheers!

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Re: Opinions on SS Mesh Hop "Spiders"
« Reply #7 on: December 21, 2015, 03:32:34 AM »
I recently switched from using whole hops with a false bottom to using pellet hops with an Arbor Fab 6"x12" stainless mesh filter.  I have not noticed a drop in bitterness.

Offline blatz

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Re: Opinions on SS Mesh Hop "Spiders"
« Reply #8 on: December 21, 2015, 04:14:56 PM »
not a fan of the spiders for the reasons you mention -  break clogging up the screen.

I bought both a 300 and 400 micron screen before calling it quits on them - they do serve a good purpose collecting dust on a shelf in the garage now though.
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Offline troybinso

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Re: Opinions on SS Mesh Hop "Spiders"
« Reply #9 on: December 21, 2015, 04:35:03 PM »


Now I have a pump that I've put to use.  I can't whirlpool with the pump as I'm guessing it would clog up the chiller in short order, using un-contained hops that is.
Cheers!

Just run the pump without the chiller connected for about 5 minutes. That is more than enough active whirlpooling. Turn off the pump, close valves and connected the chiller. Let it sit for about 10 minutes and you will have a decent pile in the center of your kettle. Draw your wort from the side of the kettle and you will leave most of the hop pile behind, and you won't clog the chiller.

Offline Whiskers

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Re: Opinions on SS Mesh Hop "Spiders"
« Reply #10 on: December 21, 2015, 07:12:08 PM »


Now I have a pump that I've put to use.  I can't whirlpool with the pump as I'm guessing it would clog up the chiller in short order, using un-contained hops that is.
Cheers!

Just run the pump without the chiller connected for about 5 minutes. That is more than enough active whirlpooling. Turn off the pump, close valves and connected the chiller. Let it sit for about 10 minutes and you will have a decent pile in the center of your kettle. Draw your wort from the side of the kettle and you will leave most of the hop pile behind, and you won't clog the chiller.

That's certainly a possibility, and is how I used to manage with un-contained hops/break.  I still used a small screen on an angled pickup, though it wasn't nearly as fine as the mesh in the 'spider.'  I'd have to revert to my previous tek of boiling the chiller, but no huge deal there - did it for years and gives peace of mind in regards to the nooks and crannies harboring crud. 

Seems that some people have no issues and some have the same ones I have (other than maybe the under-utilization I thought I might have had).  I might be able to test the utilization by:

1.) Using another bittering hop in case my Bravo is under spec.

2.) Using the bravo un-contained in the boil

I still suspect some under-utilization however.

Offline Whiskers

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Re: Opinions on SS Mesh Hop "Spiders"
« Reply #11 on: December 22, 2015, 07:13:49 PM »
I was flipping through Noonan yesterday and coincidentally came across some possibly relevant information.  It was in regards to waiting for the boil to progress for several (10?) minutes before adding hops.  Supposedly, if you add the hops too early, bittering compounds will bind to proteins as they coagulate and precipitate out later.  I've likely only immersed the spider after 30s to a minute after the boil commences.  Furthermore, the wort in the spider doesn't boil at all during the next 60-90 minutes.  I have to guess that the phenomenon that Noonan describes is responsible for the physical/chemical effects during FWH, and related to the perceived changes people observe when FWHing vs. not.  I wonder if I've inadvertently experienced something related to Noonan's comments. 

Offline tesgüino

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Re: Opinions on SS Mesh Hop "Spiders"
« Reply #12 on: December 23, 2015, 12:16:42 PM »
Supposedly, if you add the hops too early, bittering compounds will bind to proteins as they coagulate and precipitate out later. . . .   I have to guess that the phenomenon that Noonan describes is responsible for the physical/chemical effects during FWH, and related to the perceived changes people observe when FWHing vs. not.
Percieved bitterness is lower for FWH, but measured IBU's are higher, so I'd think the binding and dropping out thing would not apply.

Offline WortNerve

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Re: Opinions on SS Mesh Hop "Spiders"
« Reply #13 on: December 26, 2015, 09:40:31 PM »
I also use an 8 inch hop spider, but only when I am brewing a highly hopped recipe. I always put my first wort hops directly in the kettle (not in the spider). I also hang the spider in the center of the kettle so my whirlpool can circulate uninterrupted around the spider. Once the boil is over I run my pump to create a whirlpool as I recirculate the wort back into the kettle while bypassing my plate chiller for about 10 minutes. Then I shut the pump off and let the hot break and hop materials cone up in the bottom of the kettle for about 10 minutes. When I restart the pump I run the wort through the chiller and recirculate back into the kettle via the whirlpool port without water running through the chiller for about 10 more minutes. Then I turn the chilling water on until the wort chills to near my pitching temperature then I shut the pump off and let the cold break material settle and cone up again. Then I turn the pump back on and divert the flow into the fermenter. In this way the cold break is also left behind in the kettle.

This is the process I have developed trying to overcome chiller clogging issues. It has worked fairly well for me.


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Offline denny

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Re: Opinions on SS Mesh Hop "Spiders"
« Reply #14 on: December 26, 2015, 09:54:51 PM »
Supposedly, if you add the hops too early, bittering compounds will bind to proteins as they coagulate and precipitate out later. . . .   I have to guess that the phenomenon that Noonan describes is responsible for the physical/chemical effects during FWH, and related to the perceived changes people observe when FWHing vs. not.
Percieved bitterness is lower for FWH, but measured IBU's are higher, so I'd think the binding and dropping out thing would not apply.

My understanding is that the perception is related to pH, not protein binding.  But it could be the proteins...
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