So, after lots of reading and research, as well as LOTS of discussion here on the forum....I decided to try my hand at making my own hopstopper.
I currently use a Chillus Convolutus CFC, so I don't really need superfine filtration like I would if I had a plate chiller. I did, however clog my chiller at one point by throwing 4 oz of leaf and about 4 oz pellets directly in the boil and hoping for the best. You can read more about that fiasco here, and how I unclogged it: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f11/how-...llzilla-92124/ guess I got what I deserved. :D
After that, I decided I needed some kind of way to strain the hops out before I sent the wort to the chiller. I hope this thing works out....:ban:
I will be interested in seeing how it turns out..
What is the plan?
So, like I said, I went with the 30x30 mesh from McMaster, as others have used the 60x40 and found it to clog too easily. Like I said, I don't mind if some hop matter gets through, I just want to be able to throw my hops right in the boil (the utilization is WAY better than using nylon mesh bags) and be able to quickly drain.
It's hard to give a good indication of what the mesh is like. It's actually very stiff, high quality stainless. I thought the holes were a bit small, and I worried it might clog, so I tried a little experiment. Here's the mesh laid over my sink with an ounce of hops:
I ran hot water over the hops until they were mushy and kinda starting to sludge. Obviously, this can't compare to an hour boil. I didn't have fresh hop sludge handy so I had to make some:
Then I gently ran water over the sludge to see if it would stay and potentially gum up the screen or if it would go through:
And here's after the rinse:
You can see that just the coarsest matter is left behind. All bets are off once I use it in the actual boil.
Here's what was left behind on the other side of the screen....I took care to not have any runoff, so this stuff was ONLY transferred through the screen itself:
Again, I designed this to be used with a CFC. If I had a plate chiller, I wouldn't be comfortable with this going into all the nooks and crannies.
So now that I've talked about the screen, let's talk diptubes. I soldered a diptube that would go to the very center of the keg and sit about 3/4" above the bottom. I didn't want to get greedy; most of the stuff left at that point is worthless, and I wanted to prevent scorching. I seated it in a base that came with my old turkey fryer, it's designed to hold the weight of the turkey as you pull it out:
Here's the underside:
And, at BobbyM's suggestion, I added some slits in the pickup tube just for extra insurance:
Enter The Hoptagon!!!!
Now, I slid that apparatus into the folded over 12"X24 screen. I found that the screen could be crimped with pliers and would stay perfectly. I tried "sewing" it with some wire I pulled from the screen itself, but it was a major PITA and I gave up. You don't need to sew this, you can creatively fold it over on itself and form a nice envelope:
This is the underside...you can subtly see where I've folded the screen over...:
The top is seamless:
And here's the finished product:
It's suspended about a half inch off the bottom to promote circulation and prevent scorching. All in all it cost ~$30, we'll see how she does at my next brew, which I plan on being a big IPA with lots of leaf and some pellets, too.
Very nice. I really hope it works out for you!
yeah I'm afraid of what mine will do with an immersion chiller. Nice job with the crimping. Yes sewing the screen is a major PITA but with some nice pliers and a little practice I was satisfied. I imagine your screen will be less likely to cut you like mine can.
I went the REALLY cheap way... Took a stainless sink strainer, cut a whole in the top and slid it over my dip tube... Will post pics soon...
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