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Author Topic: Just say “no” to letting pellets swim free  (Read 3794 times)

Offline Saccharomyces

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Just say “no” to letting pellets swim free
« on: November 20, 2021, 07:05:26 am »
It had been so long since I last used loose pellets in my kettle that I forgot how much of a pain in the backside it can be to cast-out clear wort. I do not care how long one whirlpools one’s wort. It is still not as clear as wort produced using whole cones and a false bottom or pellets and a spider. Luckily, I pitched 1469, so I the batch could be top-cropped; otherwise, I would have had drop the wort to separate the trub from the fermenting wort to get a high cell count crop. The cast-wort looked like incompletely stirred Swiss mix.

Offline BrewBama

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Just say “no” to letting pellets swim free
« Reply #1 on: November 20, 2021, 08:12:48 am »
I’ve noticed when I whirlpool I get a great hop cone but the pump also chews up the hops it does intake into micro-bits which does make the recirculating wort cloudy. I use my HERMS coil to cool my wort so whirlpool is integral to my process.

However, simply letting the wort sit a few minutes prior to transfer gives me great clarity. This is easily demonstrated by taking a hydro sample and allowing the trüb to settle.

Even after settling, when I open the valve to drain the kettle I get an initial slog of cloudy wort then it quickly transitions to crystal clear wort. I just count that as the cost of doing business and figure that’s what the collection cone in the fermenter is for.

Cleaning a spider was relegated to the PITA category and is now on the unused HomeBrew equipment heap.

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« Last Edit: November 20, 2021, 08:28:08 am by BrewBama »

Offline neuse

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Re: Just say “no” to letting pellets swim free
« Reply #2 on: November 20, 2021, 08:18:11 am »
I don't worry about cloudy wort. It settles very well in the fermenter, and the beer ends up perfectly clear. (Until I chill it, but that's another subject.)

Offline Kevin

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Re: Just say “no” to letting pellets swim free
« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2021, 08:26:54 am »
There is no need to fear cloudy wort going into the fermenter. It in no way effects the clarity of the beer in the end. A brewer in my local club simply dumps the entire contents of the boil kettle into the fermenter and his beer turns out just fine. I refuse to go that far and do take steps to keep the trub out of the fermenter but occasionally things just don't settle out and I have noticed no clarity issues between those cloudy batches vs clear transferred batches.
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Re: Just say “no” to letting pellets swim free
« Reply #4 on: November 20, 2021, 08:33:00 am »
Don't tell me what to do  ;)

Offline Bel Air Brewing

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Re: Just say “no” to letting pellets swim free
« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2021, 08:52:48 am »
Just say "no" to pellets. That is our approach, works every time.

And chill haze was mentioned above. With our technique of wort chilling, until the full cold break is developed, we alleviate this problem. The proteins and break material are filtered out while the chilled wort passes through the whole cone hop filter bed.

We have a final catch all filter at the fermenter, to get anything that makes it through the hop bed filter. This results in brilliant, crystal clear wort.

Good beer, clear beer, that tastes great.

Yes...I know, it does not make any difference. But this is how we chose to brew.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2021, 10:16:02 am by TXFlyGuy »

Offline denny

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Re: Just say “no” to letting pellets swim free
« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2021, 09:17:20 am »
I use nothing but pellets added loose and have no problems.  It may come down to differences in equipment and process.  Most commercial breweries use pellets, so there's nothing inherently wrong with them.
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Offline Lazy Ant Brewing

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Re: Just say “no” to letting pellets swim free
« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2021, 09:54:35 am »
Maybe the process has something to do with it.

I do BIAB, dump the loose hop pellets in and stir.  After the hour boil and cooling, I drain the pot into the fermenter through the spigot under the influence of gravity.

To me worrying about residue from freely swimming hop pellets, seems like trying to "invent" a problem so one can find a solution to it.  I've sometimes put every ounce of liquid and hop debris from the boil pot into the fermenter and still fermented  good, clear beer that tasted great.
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Offline denny

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Re: Just say “no” to letting pellets swim free
« Reply #8 on: November 20, 2021, 09:56:57 am »
Maybe the process has something to do with it.

I do BIAB, dump the loose hop pellets in and stir.  After the hour boil and cooling, I drain the pot into the fermenter through the spigot under the influence of gravity.

To me worrying about residue from freely swimming hop pellets, seems like trying to "invent" a problem so one can find a solution to it.  I've sometimes put every ounce of liquid and hop debris from the boil pot into the fermenter and still fermented  good, clear beer that tasted great.

Well said
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Offline Saccharomyces

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Re: Just say “no” to letting pellets swim free
« Reply #9 on: November 20, 2021, 11:27:51 am »
I’ve noticed when I whirlpool I get a great hop cone but the pump also chews up the hops it does intake into micro-bits which does make the recirculating wort cloudy.

That is what happened to me.  However, I waited 45 minutes after whirlpooling with my chiller and then spinning the wort for a few minutes after I removed the chiller and the wort never cleared. It remained murky during the entire cast-out.  The was a bit of a hop cone in the middle after the kettle drained, but I am never going to use pellets loose without some way to filter the wort afterwards.  I know that a lot of brewer prefer pellets, but I only use pellets out of necessity.  I switched to a cloth bag spider after having a stainless steel mesh spider clog with pellets. The bag swims in the wort, so it is does not get clogged with break as badly as a stationary tight-mesh stainless spider. 

I use the 1520 micron spider shown below that I special ordered from Arbor Fab for whole cones. A 1520 micro mesh spider has 1.52mm (0.060") holes.  That is perfect size mesh for a whole cone spider.  Wort boils right through it.  Cleanup is trivial compared to a tight-mesh pellet spider.  It only requires a garden hose with a spray nozzle.  It is not as nice as false bottom, but most of the Chinese-manufactured kettles being sold today are far enough out of round from top to bottom that it is difficult to get a false bottom that has less than a 1/16th of an gap between the false bottom and the kettle.  Additionally a kettle false bottom needs more space between bottom of the kettle and the false bottom than in a mash tun setup to prevent super heating of the wort below the false bottom.

« Last Edit: November 21, 2021, 09:25:27 am by Saccharomyces »

Offline Saccharomyces

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Re: Just say “no” to letting pellets swim free
« Reply #10 on: November 20, 2021, 11:37:34 am »
I don't worry about cloudy wort. It settles very well in the fermenter, and the beer ends up perfectly clear. (Until I chill it, but that's another subject.)

If one repitches, one does not want a half inch or more of trub in the bottom of one's fermentation vessel, that is, unless one is using a true top-cropping culture.  A little break is okay, but a half inch of trub is too much to deal with in an expedient way when bottom cropping.  It is better to find a way to hold back the hops and most of break than to attempt to separate yeast from the trub post-fermentation.

What that said, a good thing about Wyeast 1469 is that it brings a lot of break and hops to the top with brown head, so skimming the brown head before taking a creamy yeast head allows one to remove a lot of that extraneous material from the ferment.  Another way to do it is to use the double-drop system used by Breakspear.  The wort is allowed to ferment for around 16 hours before being dropped into another fermentation vessel, leaving the break and particulate matter behind while adding oxygen to the ferment.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2021, 09:26:49 am by Saccharomyces »

Offline neuse

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Re: Just say “no” to letting pellets swim free
« Reply #11 on: November 20, 2021, 03:16:36 pm »
Quoting Saccharomyces: "If one repitches, one does not want a half inch or more of trub in the bottom of one's fermentation vessel, that is, unless one is using true top-cropping culture." Yes, very often the various parts of the process are inter-related. It seems to me there are very few firm answers to brewing questions - it's always "It depends..."

Offline majorvices

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Re: Just say “no” to letting pellets swim free
« Reply #12 on: November 21, 2021, 05:20:38 am »
I use nothing but pellets added loose and have no problems.  It may come down to differences in equipment and process.  Most commercial breweries use pellets, so there's nothing inherently wrong with them.

+1 -- I have no problems at all using pellets either in a 6 gallon system a 620 gallon system. Clear wort/no problems. Expect at least a 10% loss in utilization if bagging. You will also most likely lose more wort due to absorption.

Offline scrap iron

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Re: Just say “no” to letting pellets swim free
« Reply #13 on: November 21, 2021, 06:36:32 am »
I use a large false bottom that is the full diameter of my keggle. I had always used whole hops and sometimes a few pellets. My thought was can't use pellets alone in my system. I recently brewed a Bo Pils and could only get Saaz hops in pellet so I said I'll try it. I had won a SS mesh basket in a comp and tried it first. I don't know the micron size but it was probably 300. I didn't like it and took it out and let the hops go free in the BK. So I ended up using the basket in the fermenter pumping the wort from the inside through the basket. This worked great, I got no hop material into the fermenter and a well aeriated wort as a bonus.
    To the OP, you might try this method with a smaller micron basket. I'm not sure what your BK is like but Jaybird has some nice FB options, that's where I got mine. I now have more options with hops.
  Prost, Mike. 
« Last Edit: November 21, 2021, 06:58:52 am by scrap iron »
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Offline majorvices

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Re: Just say “no” to letting pellets swim free
« Reply #14 on: November 21, 2021, 08:26:06 am »
Hop pellets settle out to the bottom with the trub. A quick WP and a 5-10 minute rest is all you need. Just no reason to filter out pellets-- UNLESS -- (and it's a big unless!)you use one of those small homebrew plate chillers. Those will clog. On professional HEX clogging is much less of a problem but does happen, especially with excessive hops.