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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Equipment/Sanitation > Hop Rocket recirculation
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Old 02-16-2013, 08:59 PM   #1
Dougal
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Default Hop Rocket recirculation

Hi there,

Putting together a new setup:

Kettle > Pump > Hop Rocket > Therminator > Carboy

All these tool are new to me, past batches have just been dumped from kettle into carboy via a strainer and funnel after using an immersion chiller.
It seems that most people will recirculate for 10 minutes during the boil to make sure everything is sanitized. My main question:

How does recirculation work with a Hop Rocket?
Do I need to leave it empty then open and add hops somehow or do I recirculate with the hops in? Do I need to bypass the Rop rocket during recirculation instead?

Thanks a mil

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Old 02-16-2013, 10:19 PM   #2
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I've heard two methods:

Connect everything up and recirc for 10 minutes to sanitize the loop. Keep in mind that once you start the recirc, that the temp in you kettle will drop even if no water is running through the plate chiller. When you do this, you will not get the flavor/aroma impact from Hop Rocket.

Pump StarSan through the tubing, pump, HopRocket, and plate chiller to sanitize. Drain the StarSan and pack the HopRocket with leaf hops. Pump from the kettle through the HopRocket and plate chiller into your carboy.

The Hop Back is meant to extract the hop flavor and aroma, get chilled to lock in the flavor and aroma, and then go into the fermentor. When you recirc back into the kettle, the hop chemicals stay at high temperatures and will continue and isomerize (and other chemical processes) that change the hops contribution until the wort temp drops.

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Old 02-17-2013, 02:31 AM   #3
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Ok so I think Im going to go with the starsan option. Makes the most sense to me. I can then drain the starsan into the carboy to sanitize that.

Thanks

Still interested in hearing whats working for other people.

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Old 02-17-2013, 03:25 AM   #4
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Would pushing the StarSan out of the system with gas be a bad idea?

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Old 02-17-2013, 01:59 PM   #5
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I think running the StarSan into the carboy sounds like a great idea. Just get the suggested 30 second contact time with the StarSan on all surfaces of the carboy.

I'm assuming the CO2 is clean enough to not cause any infection issues, but I'm not sure. Other opinions would be good.

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Old 02-17-2013, 02:29 PM   #6
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I do not think there is a need to sanitize the hop rocket. If you recirc back to the kettle for a bit, the heat is enough. Even the chiller can be sanitized with heat in this way if you don't turn the cold water on.

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Old 02-17-2013, 03:57 PM   #7
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Effingbeer,

I think that there are two basic ways to use the HopRocket. One is to recirc through the HopRocket and plate chiller back into the kettle. The second is to run from kettle through the HopRocket and plate chiller into the carboy.

In the first, the hops in the HopRocket act like whirlpool hops. In the second, the hops in the HopRocket act like a hop back. The difference is that in the first, the hop compounds that the wort picks up in the HopRocket continue to steep at a hot temp... while in the second the hop compounds in the wort are chilled.

I'm sure that a hybrid method is possible. You could recirc through your system to sanitize it with the HopRocket empty, turn the pump off, drain the wort from the HopRocket, fill the HopRocket with leaf hops, and then transfer from the kettle through the HopRocket and chiller into the carboy. But I always make a mess when I drain my HopRocket and I'd have to be very careful it had 200F wort in it.

Here is a link to the way that one person uses his HopRocket... I'm sure that there are other methods:
http://www.themadfermentationist.com...hoprocket.html

I usually fill my HopRocket with a bag of rice hulls and use it as a filter before my plate chiller. When I recirc through the HopRocket at plate chiller, my kettle temp drops from 212F to 180F even though I have the chiller water off. Because I'm doing three gallon batches and my recirc loop is about a gallon, I actually have to turn the heat up in order to keep kettle temp above 180F.

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Old 02-17-2013, 04:06 PM   #8
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I use my hop rocket in the configuration you stated in the OP. The only difference is that I use a CFC instead of a plate.

During the mash or boil, I just dunk my hop rocket in star san and call it good. I've got a good 10 batches or so this way w/o any sanitation issues.

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Old 02-18-2013, 01:47 PM   #9
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Kwadric,

That is correct. I have a lot of Blichmann toys and the hop rocket is my favorite. I use my rocket both ways depending on my goals. I am not too worried about sanitation issues with the hop rocket. The most wild yeast, bacteria, mold, and other micro flora come from the hops. Of course it has to be clean and the extra starsan doesn't hurt.
The focus should be on the plate chiller. I soak mine in PBW after every use and use a turkey baster to push it thorough every port backwards and forwards, rinse, and the same treatment with starsan.
I typically use it for whirlpool with an immersion chiller. I have found that I don't get as much hop character going straight from kettle to the plate chiller. So I usually turn on the recirc, let it go for 5 min or so, then start chilling. I can get 10g to pitching temp in about 10 min. Most of my contact time is well below isomerization temps, so I'm not tooo worried about IBU.
Last summer I got a crapload of leaf hops(citra,Amarillo,centennial,sorachi ace, and others) for FREE from a quitter, so I have been making a ton of IPAs and pale ales using hop rocket for all of them. (I put the last part in there for jealousy points over all my FREE hops!)
Cheers!

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Old 02-18-2013, 01:49 PM   #10
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Kwadric,

I just wanted to say, great idea on the rice hulls! I don't think I would have ever thought of that, but I think I might try it!
Cheers!

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