Hop spider or not

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by Brandonhelvie, Mar 2, 2016.

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  1. Brandonhelvie

    Brandonhelvie Initiate (0) Nov 11, 2015 New York

    I'm getting ready to brew a pliny clone. I have done some research regarding the use of a hop spider and was going to build my own. However, I've gotten mixed feeling about the use of one. I've read that it helps keep the brew clean, but, have also read that the hops doesn't get fully utilized due to being "balled up" and not free to go through out the boil.

    Also wAnted to dry hop in bags to prevent the hops from floating on top. Also, got the same information regarding dry hopping in bags.

    As always I come here to se where people stand as far as best practices. I will experiment in the future, just don't want to with this particular batch.
  2. mikehartigan

    mikehartigan Maven (1,365) Apr 9, 2007 Illinois

    Regarding the hop spider, I use a 5 gallon paint strainer with my keggle - plenty of room for the hops to swim around. Once I add the first flavor addition, I start the pump. The outlet hose goes directly into the hop spider, making sure the hops see plenty of action. I've not done an A-B, but I'm blown away by the hop flavor I'm able to extract this way.

    Regarding dry hopping in a bag, I use large grain bags for this. Again, the idea is to give the hops plenty of room. Again, I haven't done an A-B, but this, too, works very well.

    In both cases, the benefit far outweighs the potential downsides, which are clogs all over the damn place.
    GreenKrusty101 likes this.
  3. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Initiate (0) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    A Hop Spider is something you can make for $5...and handy for very hoppy brews where you are making multiple late additions. I only use mine for 10 gal. batches as it's just as easy to use a pre-fermenter strainer when not using my pumps and CFC for 5 gal batches.
  4. PortLargo

    PortLargo Pooh-Bah (1,665) Oct 19, 2012 Florida

    My Hop Spider is a critical piece of brew equipment. Compared to direct pitch (and real clogging problems) it's probably a touch less effective, but easy enough to do a good job. In addition to the good advice posted above, I regularly give my hops multiple stirs during the boil . . . the idea is for maximum contact with the wort. If you whirlpool hops you really want to circulate that wort with a pump or lots of stirring. I dh in the keg using a conventional paint strainer bag, this still results in some hop debris (bag seepage) which settles and pours off over time. I upgraded to fancy dh-bags (400 micron) and was very disappointed . . . it muted the beer/hop interaction significantly (but reduced hop sediment). So I went back to the cheapo paint-strainer bags (under $1). I never put more than two ounces in these dh-bags, will use more bags if needed.

    FWIW: I'm finishing up dh'ing my Pliny clone. First dh step was direct pitch in the primary. I've racked to keg and have a bag suspended with the second dose of hops. This was first for me . . . normally I do all the dh'ing in the keg.

    A final tip is to consider hop extract for initial bittering. You're typically only talking an ounce here, but the extract keeps that out of the boil and my results have been good (thanks Vinnie).
  5. pweis909

    pweis909 Grand Pooh-Bah (3,114) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin

    I use a stainless steel hop spider periodically. It is too small for more than 2-3 ounces. Bigger is better. However, what I realized I can do is instead of using the spider to contain hops, I can use it to exclude hops. I started just throwing the pellets into the boil, and then I would insert my spider near the end to sanitize it. I'd cool with my chiller, and then stick my racking cane into the spider to rack out of the kettle. The spider excludes the hop, you don't rack a lot of trub. Felt pretty clever about this.
    AlHounos and A2HB like this.
  6. Brew_Betty

    Brew_Betty Initiate (0) Jan 5, 2015 Wisconsin

    Beware of paint strainer bags. There are several types of nylon. Not all nylon is food grade. A paint strainer bag purchased at home depot doesn't need to be food grade. Contact China to determine what type of nylon is used.
    A2HB likes this.
  7. OldBrewer

    OldBrewer Savant (1,199) Jan 13, 2016 Canada (ON)

    That's exactly what I do except in reverse! I put the hop spider in the fermentation pail and the end of the hose (draining end) in the hop spider. Works great.
    pweis909 likes this.
  8. Brandonhelvie

    Brandonhelvie Initiate (0) Nov 11, 2015 New York

    Reverse hop spider,genious! Never thought of that but makes total sense!
    pweis909 likes this.
  9. jnrjr79

    jnrjr79 Initiate (0) Feb 23, 2009 Illinois

    I used a hop spider for a number of batches, but ultimately gave it up and have gone to just throwing the pellets right into the boiling wort. My unconfirmed perception is that I was losing something with the spider. I don't have any clogging issues putting pellets in loose and whirpooling, but I do use a pump to push the wart through a plate chiller and into the fermenter.
  10. CarolusP

    CarolusP Initiate (0) Oct 22, 2015 Minnesota

    I've never used a hop spider, but I recently stopped using a hop bag for the same reason. My bittering hops always came through just fine, but my late hop additions always seemed very diminished to the point of almost seeming non-existent. When lifting my hop bag out of my wort, it looked like a full water balloon and would drain very slowly, which led me to believe that I just wasn't getting much wort flow through the bag during the boil. I've now gone to just dropping the pellets right into the boil.
  11. Brew_Betty

    Brew_Betty Initiate (0) Jan 5, 2015 Wisconsin

    Nothing beats "free hops" in terms of hop efficiency. Users of nylon hop bags and metal baskets can get the same results by using a little more hops. I use metal baskets and don't have a problem producing plenty of hop flavor and aroma with a reasonable amount of hops.
  12. CurtFromHershey

    CurtFromHershey Initiate (0) Oct 4, 2012 Minnesota

    I used to use a fairly large bag clipped to a couple points on the rim of my kettle, but it was a PITA to get the IC chiller in and out. I switched to draining the commando wort through a paint straining bag on the way into the carboy, but the bag gets clogged up pretty quickly this way. I'm convinced there's a super clever way out there that doesn't require me to purchase a new piece of equipment, doesn't require an autosiphon or manually pouring wort into the carboy (would like to use kettle's ball valve), prevents most boil hops from getting into the carboy, and still allows commando hop pellets. Still looking for it though.
    KeyWestGator likes this.
  13. KeyWestGator

    KeyWestGator Savant (1,135) Jan 21, 2013 Florida

    This is basically my situation exactly. I use my ball valve and go through a mesh strainer before a paint strainer bag. Last IPA, I had to handle and dump the paint strainer so much I swore I was gonna get an infection. Some how, it turned out ok.
    CurtFromHershey likes this.
  14. ghostinthemachine

    ghostinthemachine Initiate (0) Aug 14, 2015 Louisiana

    I rack my beer through a sanitized BIAB strainer bag. more risk for infection than a hop spider/
  15. ErbStang

    ErbStang Initiate (0) Mar 16, 2016 Illinois

    I've heard they can be a big PITA to clean. Personally I prefer a good whirlpool and side pick up tube.
  16. drink1121

    drink1121 Initiate (0) Mar 23, 2009 California

    has anyone ever dumped the boiling water back into their Rubbermaid mlt with false bottom to "strain" out the hops?
  17. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Initiate (0) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    Not sure what you are suggesting, but boiling water to strain out hops doesn't sound like a good idea.

    Edit: Mostly for sanitation reasons (lauter tuns are usually not that sanitized)...still not sure what you are suggesting :confused::confused:
    #17 GreenKrusty101, Mar 16, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2016
  18. drink1121

    drink1121 Initiate (0) Mar 23, 2009 California

    dump the already boiled wort into the mlt, doing a 20 minute whirpool from there. obviously the wort is still hot enough to kill anything in its way for the 20 minutes. I did this on my last batch because a hop bag broke on me and the beer turned out to be the best beer I ever brewed.
    GreenKrusty101 likes this.
  19. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Initiate (0) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    Why not just use a strainer over your fermenter? ...seems easier and safer.
  20. drink1121

    drink1121 Initiate (0) Mar 23, 2009 California

    cause I have a pump and plater chiller. has to go through way too many small areas that could fill with hop matter.
  21. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Initiate (0) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    Hop bags are a necessity then...what kind of bags are you using and how many boils have they been through? Are you using whole cone or pellets? My CFC clogged once when I thought hop bags were overkill. Sounds like your method works, but I wouldn't make a habit out of it...imho. cheers
  22. A2HB

    A2HB Initiate (0) Oct 30, 2013 Michigan

    This was my exact thought! I only use those for whirlpool or hopstand hop additions once the wort is under boiling temp. For boiling additions I only use the cotton mesh bags or it's no bag at all. Paint straining definitely does not have to be food grade or safe for human consumption
  23. drink1121

    drink1121 Initiate (0) Mar 23, 2009 California

    I just didnt tie it well enough. it didnt actually break...
  24. SigEp

    SigEp Crusader (493) Jun 28, 2003 Florida

    I use a ss hop spider. For late hop additions I actually swirl the spider with the hops around the boil and take it out frequently to drain/press on the hops. Seems to work pretty well. Have actually reduced the amount of hops I put in it as I was finding that when the hops were getting fully saturated to the point they were swelling and compressing within the spider cylinder, it appeared to me that the utilization was going down. Have not clogged my pump since using the hop spider and would not go back to that disassembling-backpumping 1 hour extension of my brew day. I also have moved to strictly using hop shots for bittering additions so the hops spider is only for my late/burst additions.
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