Author Topic: Gravity fed hopback and immersion chiller?  (Read 2766 times)

Offline enso

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Gravity fed hopback and immersion chiller?
« on: July 09, 2010, 09:44:11 AM »
I have been curious about playing around with a hopback.  I understand that generally the wort is fed into it hot and then pumped into a cooling tank or through a cfc in a hombrew situation.

What I am wondering is can this be done without a pump and simply be gravity fed?  Does the wort have to be hot for it to work or can it be cooled first then drained through?  Yes I realize cool wort will extract less (maybe hardly anything) from the hops.  Is the heat merely for the extraction or does it help the flow?

Or, could the wort be drained into the hopback via gravity while hot and then flow by gravity into a third vessel (extra kettle) with an immersion chiller for cooling in that?
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Offline denny

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Re: Gravity fed hopback and immersion chiller?
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2010, 09:46:44 AM »
The wort needs to be hot for it to work.  Based on my limited experience with a hopback, gravity feed does not work well.
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Offline blatz

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Re: Gravity fed hopback and immersion chiller?
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2010, 10:44:39 AM »
yeah, it has to be hot.

seems to me you're really overcomplicating things for little or no benefit.

I have a hopback and used it several times b/c I was chilling with a Therminator/CFC chain and locking in aroma from flameout hops was tricky.  Now that I have switched back to IC, I don't use the hopback anymore, and I frankly cannot tell the difference between the two - not that I did sidexside comparisons, but I don't notice anything missing, if you see what I mean.

Just my $.02
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Offline hopaddicted

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Re: Gravity fed hopback and immersion chiller?
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2010, 09:45:07 AM »
I have seen hopbacks that were gravity fed right from the kettle, you could go right into your fermenting vessel and use an immersion chiller too easy. Just make sure you are sanitizing the chiller in the last 15 min of the boil..
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Offline richardt

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Re: Gravity fed hopback and immersion chiller?
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2010, 10:41:22 AM »
If your goal is to increase hop aroma (via extraction of hop oils), then you have a few options:
  • 1.)  first wort hopping (use only low AA hops; prolonged steep before boil gives oils time to be extracted and oxidize into more soluble/stable compounds that will survive the boil)
  • 2.)  add hops at flameout/knockout (finishing hops)
  • 3.)  use a hopback (warm wort) prior to plate or CF chiller
  • 4.)  dry hopping (ideally in secondary to minimize aroma loss during vigorous fermentation and absorption of oils by yeast/trub; use of a hop sack is suggested)
  • 5.)  use a Randall during serving (quite a hit during parties and beer fests)

I have not seen a hopback used without a pump.  The commercial systems are the only ones I've seen that work well, and they're usually not used as hopbacks.

Offline bigdan

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Re: Gravity fed hopback and immersion chiller?
« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2010, 01:18:44 PM »
This got me thinking. I have been planing on making a hop back as well.  I have a pump though but I was thinking of gravity feeding from the kettle through my whirlpool back to the kettle until I cool to the appropriate temp.  One thing I think might cause a problem is balancing the out of the kettle and the out of the hop back and the out of the pump so as not to clog the hop back or over flow.  Anybody have any experience with this?

Offline hopaddicted

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Re: Gravity fed hopback and immersion chiller?
« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2010, 06:01:18 PM »
If your goal is to increase hop aroma (via extraction of hop oils), then you have a few options:
  • 1.)  first wort hopping (use only low AA hops; prolonged steep before boil gives oils time to be extracted and oxidize into more soluble/stable compounds that will survive the boil)
  • 2.)  add hops at flameout/knockout (finishing hops)
  • 3.)  use a hopback (warm wort) prior to plate or CF chiller
  • 4.)  dry hopping (ideally in secondary to minimize aroma loss during vigorous fermentation and absorption of oils by yeast/trub; use of a hop sack is suggested)
  • 5.)  use a Randall during serving (quite a hit during parties and beer fests)

I have not seen a hopback used without a pump.  The commercial systems are the only ones I've seen that work well, and they're usually not used as hopbacks.

Why do you say use only low AA hops for first wort hopping? I've never seen that recommendation before. I just did it for the first time with Amarillo, haven't tasted yet, but am really looking forward to trying it.
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Offline richardt

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Re: Gravity fed hopback and immersion chiller?
« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2010, 08:28:09 PM »
Why do you say use only low AA hops for first wort hopping? I've never seen that recommendation before. I just did it for the first time with Amarillo, haven't tasted yet, but am really looking forward to trying it.

The goal with FHW is to steep the low AA hops (aka finishing hops) in the hot wort while the boil tun fillls with wort during the long lautering period.  During this time the finishing hops release their volatile (and aromatic) oils and resins.  Given the longer time steeping prior to the boil, the oils have more time to oxidize to more soluble compounds that survive the boil.  If FWH is performed, at least 30% of the finishing hops addition should be added.

Because the low AA hops are used, the IBU's (total bitterness) of the beer do not substantially increase.

IBU-wise, FWH = a 20-minute addition.

Offline hopaddicted

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Re: Gravity fed hopback and immersion chiller?
« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2010, 06:02:27 AM »
Roger, understand the process. I love the flavor of Amarillo (middle of the road AA), I'm expecting a little bitterness from it, but just adjusting my bittering hop (Simcoe) quantity.

I love the idea of a hopback, maybe just psychological?!? I can't wait to have one up and running.
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Kegged: IPA, Saison, Hoppy Brown Ale

Offline denny

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Re: Gravity fed hopback and immersion chiller?
« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2010, 08:43:45 AM »
The goal with FHW is to steep the low AA hops (aka finishing hops) in the hot wort while the boil tun fillls with wort during the long lautering period.  During this time the finishing hops release their volatile (and aromatic) oils and resins.  Given the longer time steeping prior to the boil, the oils have more time to oxidize to more soluble compounds that survive the boil.  If FWH is performed, at least 30% of the finishing hops addition should be added.

Because the low AA hops are used, the IBU's (total bitterness) of the beer do not substantially increase.

IBU-wise, FWH = a 20-minute addition.

May I politely say  "BOOSWAH!"  ;)  I often use high alpha hops for FWH.  You can freely use any hop you like the flavor of.  I start recipes by deciding how much FWH I want to use and how many IBU it will contribute.  Then I add in 60 min. hops to get to the bittering level I want to have.
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Offline richardt

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Re: Gravity fed hopback and immersion chiller?
« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2010, 09:24:45 AM »
Denny, I love the neologisms.  Booswah...  Dickchimp...  Makes me laugh. :D

I should have done a better job of crediting my source for that advice:  John Palmer's book, "How to Brew," 3rd edition.

Hopaddicted, many high AA hops are dual-purpose, so Denny's point is well-taken:  If you like the flavor, use it. 
Just be aware that FWH does add IBU's (bittering) and the recipe will need to be adjusted accordingly.