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Author Topic: Just say “no” to letting pellets swim free  (Read 3735 times)

Offline goose

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Re: Just say “no” to letting pellets swim free
« Reply #15 on: November 21, 2021, 08:36:52 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.

I too switched almost entirely to pellets some years back because of availability and storage issues.  I simply put then in a large muslin bag and suspend them in the boil kettle.  The only time I use cones is for my IPA for FWH and late additions (won't screw with the recipe under threats of death from my wife). I use pellets for the bittering addition and don't use a bag when brewing this beer as the whole hops will filter out almost all of the pellet debris.  Full disclosure, I do not whirlpool since I have a false bottom in my kettle and draw out the wort from the center of the keggle kettle when chilling.  I am considering changing that.
I also have an inline screen ahead of my pump and plate chiller that captures any wayward pellet pieces that make it out of the kettle.  The beer always comes out fine.  https://www.brewershardware.com/1_5-Tri-Clover-Compatible-Strainer-with-3-OD-Body.html?category_id=295

Ironically we had a discussion yesterday after our judging session at a local competition.  One of the guys swears that whole cones hops make a better beer because the lupulin glands are not crushed like they are when the hops are pelletized and cited the fact that Sierra Nevada uses whole cone hops in their beers.  I didn't argue against his reasoning but have never really noticed any difference between using cones or pellets.
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Offline jeffy

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Re: Just say “no” to letting pellets swim free
« Reply #16 on: November 21, 2021, 08:45:33 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.
I totally agree with the blichman chiller clogging easily.  I add the pellets loose, but I also whirlpool, then chill to almost ground water temps with a Hearts counterflow chiller also whirl-pooling as it re enters the kettle.  This settles everything enough that I can run it through the plate chiller using ice water to get the wort to pitching temps. Where I live in Florida the ground water rarely gets below 72F.
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Offline Saccharomyces

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Re: Just say “no” to letting pellets swim free
« Reply #17 on: November 21, 2021, 09:35:59 am »
+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.

There are trade-offs associated with every brewing process. A 10% hop utilization loss is no big deal, especially when it makes yeast cropping much simpler. Brewers with conicals can drop the true before cropping. I do not own a conical.

As far as to wort loss, you lost me on that one. Bagged hops can be drained, not so with loose hops.

Offline Saccharomyces

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Re: Just say “no” to letting pellets swim free
« Reply #18 on: November 21, 2021, 09:57:21 am »
    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.

I have a 300 micron mash hop spider. That is just too fine for brewing, period. I clogs up with break.

It used to be easy to find a false bottom that fit a kettle well when brewing kettles were made  Vollrath and Polarware stock pots. Those stock pots were more universally round than Chinese manufacture stock pots. Every kettle I have purchased that was made from a Chinese stock pot is out of round enough that making a small gap false bottom is a pot-to-pot ordeal. To make matters worse, the kettles with riveted handles tend to be wider from handle to handle and narrower at 90 degrees from the handle by as much as an eigth of an inch.  Kegs are more uniformly round.

Offline Saccharomyces

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Re: Just say “no” to letting pellets swim free
« Reply #19 on: November 21, 2021, 10:09:33 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.

We are just going to have to agree to disagree. I have yet to see a batch of wort where pellets were used loose that is clear as one where whole cones and a false bottom or pellets and hop spider was used. I have never had to turn the valve in my Brew Bucket or DBS 4-gallon fermentation vessel to lift the pickup tube out of a mass of trub. In fact, I thought that was a gimmick until this batch.

If you are whirlpooling, you are not using a RipTide pump because my experience with the pump impeller shredding the hops parallels   Using a pump and whirlpool attachment just made matters worse.

Offline KellerBrauer

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Re: Just say “no” to letting pellets swim free
« Reply #20 on: November 21, 2021, 10:12:37 am »
I also use pellets in a bag suspended in the boil kettle.  I’m sure doing so causes my utilization factor is less than 100%, so I have compensated for that in my software.  And, since I started using whirlfloc tablets, by beers finish vary clear.  I’ve never tried using whole cones.
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Offline Saccharomyces

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Re: Just say “no” to letting pellets swim free
« Reply #21 on: November 21, 2021, 10:28:02 am »
I also use pellets in a bag suspended in the boil kettle.  I’m sure doing so causes my utilization factor is less than 100%, so I have compensated for that in my software.  And, since I started using whirlfloc tablets, by beers finish vary clear.  I’ve never tried using whole cones.

I am basically do the same thing with pellets. The 300 and 400 stainless mesh hop spider clog too quickly with break, especially with Burtonized water. I purchase on of those commercialized cloth spiders from Adventures in Homebrewing and a bunch of bags. It works a thousand times better than a stainless spider with pellets. The large mash spider I use with whole cones is a thing of beauty. Unlike a fine mesh spider, wort boils right through it and the holes are large enough that break does clog them before breaking loose from the spider.  The only draws with whole cones for me are not as many varieties and shipping because of the size of the box, not its weight. Ted’s shipping helps there and his whole cones are money!

Offline scrap iron

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Re: Just say “no” to letting pellets swim free
« Reply #22 on: November 21, 2021, 02:25:09 pm »
    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.

I have a 300 micron mash hop spider. That is just too fine for brewing, period. I clogs up with break.

I don't use the basket in the BK, my hops roam free. I use it in my fermenter bucket to filter the wort going in when using pellets.
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: Just say “no” to letting pellets swim free
« Reply #23 on: November 21, 2021, 03:01:22 pm »
I use free-swimming pellets and I use a plate chiller.  I never have a problem with clogging...and that's probably because of the measures I've implemented.  The most important feature is having my wort outlet at the perimeter of the kettle.  I'm impressed with how many brewing kettles have their outlet at the center of their kettle...where all the trub settles after whirlpooling. 

Another thing that helps is having a nice large-diameter kettle.  I usually brew 7 gal batches in my 15 gal, large-diameter stock pot.  I estimate that the wort depth is about half the kettle diameter.  The typical converted beer keg has that ratio turned on its head and that affects how much trub your system can handle.

Another thing that I've implemented is a peripheral outlet pipe that is sheathed with stainless steel braiding that helps serve as an intake filter.  All of those measures certainly help me to enjoy using hop pellets without having to constrain them in a bag or screen.
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Offline tommymorris

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Re: Just say “no” to letting pellets swim free
« Reply #24 on: November 21, 2021, 03:27:18 pm »
I toss pellet hops directly in the wort.  After chilling I pour through a 400 micron brew bag. I hang the bag above the fermenter by a pulley I use when draining the mash bag. I squeeze the bag and move it side to side to help it drain.

My wort is not clear in the fermenter because there is break in the fermenter. I don’t bother trying to get rid of that. I just pour everything from kettle to fermenter. I remove the hops because I don’t like them in yeast slurry.

Offline fredthecat

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Re: Just say “no” to letting pellets swim free
« Reply #25 on: November 21, 2021, 05:14:37 pm »
Just say "no" to pellets.


Why?




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.

why is hop trub bad? i have never had an issue repitching. it doesnt bother me.

Offline majorvices

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Re: Just say “no” to letting pellets swim free
« Reply #26 on: November 21, 2021, 05:36:56 pm »
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.

We are just going to have to agree to disagree. I have yet to see a batch of wort where pellets were used loose that is clear as one where whole cones and a false bottom or pellets and hop spider was used. I have never had to turn the valve in my Brew Bucket or DBS 4-gallon fermentation vessel to lift the pickup tube out of a mass of trub. In fact, I thought that was a gimmick until this batch.

If you are whirlpooling, you are not using a RipTide pump because my experience with the pump impeller shredding the hops parallels   Using a pump and whirlpool attachment just made matters worse.

They make these high tech spoons that I use for whirpooling ... very low shearing.  ;)

Offline majorvices

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Re: Just say “no” to letting pellets swim free
« Reply #27 on: November 21, 2021, 05:40:15 pm »
Just say "no" to pellets.


Why?



Because its the hill he has chosen to die on!  ;)

Offline fredthecat

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Re: Just say “no” to letting pellets swim free
« Reply #28 on: November 21, 2021, 06:35:21 pm »
also my experiences are that if i really want a lot of hop flavour i will add a fair amount of hops outside the spider.

the spider reduces IBU by about 10 i'm estimating. so i target 10 higher. it probably changes based on total amount of hops added to the spider.

its a nice tool, but at least mine isn't perfect.

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Re: Just say “no” to letting pellets swim free
« Reply #29 on: November 21, 2021, 06:54:29 pm »
A false bottom with a layer of whole hops might also be filtering out break material.

When I had a hop stopper and plate chiller, the hot break and pellet mush would stay in the kettle but the cold break ended up in the fermenter.  Now that I've scaled down, I chill everything in the kettle and don't bother with a screen, but I rarely wait long enough for all the break to settle.  End result is about the same in terms of wort clarity.  There's break (white, not green) in suspension in the hydrometer sample that I take at the start of transfer, which settles down to about an inch or less within 10 minutes, revealing clear wort.  It never makes a difference.