DIY Hopback

I migrated from a three vessel brew system to BIAB a few months ago and it’s been an interesting journey. I really like the brew day efficiency of BIAB – less to prepare and clean and a much shorter brew day.Hopback assembly However, there are a few things about BIAB for which I’m actively developing solutions. One of those things is filtering the particulates from my wort prior to chilling. Enter the DIY hopback.

I first got the idea from a youtube video and thought ‘That would make a great filter, too!’ I bought an asparagus steamer from Bed Bath and Beyond, drilled some holes and installed my fittings. Here’s a shot of the finished product.

 

Hardware Specs

Inlet Connection

1 x 1/2″ Hex Nipple
1 x 1/2″ Machined Coupling
2 x 1/2″ Lock Nut
1 x 1/2″ Type B Camlock Coupler
1 x 7/8″ ID Washer
1 x 1/2″ Food Grade Gasket

Outlet Connection

1 x 1/2″ 90* Street Elbow
1 x 1/2″ Lock Nut
1 x 1/2″ Food Grade Gasket
1 x 1/2″ Hex Nipple
1 x 1/2″ Type F Camlock Adapter
1 x 1/2″ 2-Piece Ball Valve
1 x 7/8″ ID Washer

Finished Product

Here are some pics illustrating how this is assembled. Right now, I’m using a very fine mesh hop bag as the filter. It prevents pellets and other particulates from clogging my plate chiller.

HB-outlet2HP-outlet1

HB-outlet3HB-ballvalve HB-inlet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some future plans:

  • I’m replacing the vessel with this one. It’s 2 inches shorter and 1.5 inches wider and doesn’t have handles.
  • Replace the hop bag with a stainless steel fine mesh screen. This will help with cleaning and durability.
  • Weld 1/2″ spuds to the inlet and outlet and ditch the gaskets.
  • Install an electronic flow control sensor to turn my pump on and off at specific fluid levels.

I bought a Crouzet NNR110A fluid controller from Mouser. Here’s the link. Right now, I’m using a remote to turn the pump on and off as the vessel fills but sometimes I’m not quick enough and the vessel empties and the pump runs dry for a moment. This will ensure that there’s always fluid inside the vessel preventing any pump issues.

That’s all I have for now.

Cheers!

Christmas Ale – 2014

Each year, I try to make my signature Christmas ale that I first brewed a few years ago. The original batch was an experiment where I dosed the wort of an American amber with some mulling spices. The result wasn’t bad but had too much clove. I’ve since refined the recipe and have cut back significantly on the clove.

The first ever batch of my Christmas ale was an extract brew – 2 x 3.3lb cans of amber LME and some hops. Pitched some dry yeast and I had beer a few weeks later. The end result didn’t taste bad, but the beer lacked body and depth. I played with the recipe and incorporated steeped specialty grains, which helped the beer a lot.

I now brew all grain and lately I’ve been brewing a lot using the brew in a bag (BIAB) method. I brewed my Christmas ale two weeks ago and it’s happily fermenting away. I’m feeling a bit festive so I’d like to share the recipe with you all for my Christmas ale.

Grains

11 lbs Pearl Malt (an English Pale Malt)
1 lb Munich Malt
1 lb Flaked Wheat
12 oz Crystal 45 (English)
8 oz Chocolate Malt
8 oz Crystal 120

Hops

1 oz Chinook pellets – 60 minute boil
.5 oz Centennial pellets – 15 minutes whirlpool

Mash

Add 42.34 qts of water at 163.1F
Mash at 156F for 60 minutes
Heat to 168F for 7 minutes and mash out

Specialty Ingredients

1 Whirfloc tablet, last 15 minutes of boil
.5 oz of mulling spices with whole cloves removed, last 15 minutes of boil
3-5 whole cloves, last 15 minutes of boil

Boil

Bring to a vigorous rolling boil for 90 minutes and add hops and specialty ingredients at their respective times

Fermentation

I normally use either WLP001 California Ale liquid yeast or Nottingham dry yeast, but I’m trying a different yeast for this brew at the recommendation of a my LHBS.

Chill and oxygenate the wort
Pitch 2 packets of rehydrated Mangrove Jack M44 West Coast Ale yeast
Ferment at 65-70F for 15 days

Dry Hop

I dry hop toward the end of fermentation for 5-7 days.

.5 oz of Centennial
.5 oz of Cascade
.5 oz mulling spice (whole cloves removed)

Notes

This yeast was a very slow starter. There were no visible signs of fermentation after 24 hours. Finally after about 30 hours, a thin krausen formed on top and grew to about 2 inches thick. Things finally settled after about 10 days.

Here are some pics of the ingredients and brew process. I have a few more days before I measure gravity and decide whether to keg or condition. I’ll post an update then. Again – this is for the BIAB method. If you would like this to be converted to extract or standard all-grain, let me know and I’ll post the converted recipes and process.

Cheers!

14.75 pounds of malty goodness

Mmmmm...hops! Boil!Pre-boil Gravity 1.046CA-ferm