$10 Stainless DIY Hop Blocker

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bigljd

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Here's my stainless steel DIY hop stopper that I made for $10. It started it's life as a jumbo tea ball from Amazon.com. I took a phillips screwdriver and forced a hole in the side of the SS screen and stretched it out until it was large enough to fit over my SS pickup tube. I also cut about 1.5" length off the side pickup tube, and cut some grooves into the end of the tube so that if the screen got pushed up against the end of the tube and some hops got sucked into the screen, the wort can still drain out thru the grooves.

I brewed an 11 gal batch of porter today that had 5oz of whole hops in it, and it filtered out everything with no trouble. I could drain with the valve fully open and there was no blockage or hops getting into the fermenter.

This paves the way for me to get a plate chiller now, since I don't have to worry about hops getting stuck in my pickup tube or in a plate chiller. I haven't tried it yet with pellet hops, but I think it would work OK with them too.

Took me about 5 minutes to create the hole in the screen, and 15 minutes to cut the grooves in the tube with a dremel. Don't waste $60 on a Blichman hop stopper - this will work just as well and is ridiculously easy to make.





5oz of leaf hops left in the kettle after the boil.


EDIT 4-2-2012:
I just thought I'd update that I tested this hopstopper with pellet hops recently and it does not work quite as well. It would probably work fine with just a couple oz in a batch, but if you use a lot of hops it can plug the screen up. It works best with whole hops, which is primarily what I use since I buy in bulk from Freshops.com
 
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milldoggy

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Gear101

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Ok.. first very nice.. i saw one of those the other day at Pier Imports.. and looked at it and looked at it.. i was going to use it as a hop ball.. going back to get it now!
 

milldoggy

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Well I ordered one of the Norpro oval ones. I am thinking about going in from the top, then putting a washer around my dip tube and use stainless wormclamp to hold it on. This will support the mesh and prevent it from collapsing. I will report back my findings. Thanks for the idea!
 
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bigljd

bigljd

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The height of the tea ball looks to be approx 4 1/8" tall, and according to the website it's 5.5" in diameter.

I added a couple more pictures below; the tea ball is fairly sturdy, and comes apart which I think makes for easy cleaning. It took about 15 seconds of spraying it with a hose and it looked like new again. The top of it locks onto the bottom, so you shouldn't have to worry about it coming apart in the boil.

When making the hole, I started with a phillips screwdriver to poke thru the screen, and gradually found larger diameter things to stick thru the hole to spread it out and make it larger (insert joke here). I think I used a 1/2" SS barb fitting I had lying around to spead it the final bit.

Hole placement in the tea ball will depend on the height or angle of the pickup tube. My hopstopper sits on a slight angle in the kettle, since the pickup tube holds the hole side of it up off the bottom a bit. You could probably come in thru the top of it too, if your pickup tube is mounted high enough (or if you used a smaller tea ball). The most important thing is getting the screen hole size just big enough to slide over your pickup tube - this will keep the hops and trub out of the ball. Also, make sure the end of your pickup tube is near the bottom of the tea ball so you don't waste any wort in the kettle.

There's lot of sized tea balls out there, so figure out what size and hole position will work best for your setup and go for it!





 

dave73ok

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I would also think that using an o-ring on either side of the teaball screen would help keep it in place AND be a bit more forgiving on hole size? I should try one of these! Neat idea.
 
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bigljd

bigljd

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Cool - please post pics and results of any hop stoppers you guys build. I'm sure there's room for improvement in the idea, so I'm looking forward to seeing some pics!
 
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bigljd

bigljd

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If I brew next weekend I'll try to do a batch with pellet hops (an IPA). I suspect the screen will be more susceptible to getting blocked up with pellet sludge, but there are other people I've seen on HBT with SS screen hop stoppers who have had success with pellet hops.

When I try it with pellet hops the first time I'll probably reduce the flow a little bit and maybe stir the wort around the screen to keep the hop sludge from building up on the screen. I don't care if some of the small hop material gets thru the screen (the particles would be too small to plug a plate chiller), I just need to find out if the screen will get plugged up with pellet sludge or not. I think it will work OK.
 

EarthBound

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If I brew next weekend I'll try to do a batch with pellet hops (an IPA). I suspect the screen will be more susceptible to getting blocked up with pellet sludge, but there are other people I've seen on HBT with SS screen hop stoppers who have had success with pellet hops.

When I try it with pellet hops the first time I'll probably reduce the flow a little bit and maybe stir the wort around the screen to keep the hop sludge from building up on the screen. I don't care if some of the small hop material gets thru the screen (the particles would be too small to plug a plate chiller), I just need to find out if the screen will get plugged up with pellet sludge or not. I think it will work OK.
Thank you. I think it will work OK, as well, as long as you don't recirculate in any way.
 

Eternalodyssey

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I've used paint strainers as hop bags plenty of times with pellet hops. I've had no significant problems. Its a bit of a mess to clean the bag and don't think for a second you'll get it all the way clean but it will be good enough to get you through several brewdays before it needs replacing.
 
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bigljd

bigljd

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What's the difference (in purpose) between this and a $15 bazooka tube installed on a boil kettle?
The purpose would be the same - to filter stuff out of the wort as you drain the kettle. If you can attach the bazooka tube directly to your ball valve without a coupler you should be able to drain the kettle pretty well by tilting it forwards while draining. If you need to use a coupler you'll end up leaving a lot of wort behind in the kettle.

Most bazooka tubes I've seen cost $20 or more (including shipping), so the tea ball is a little cheaper, and I think will pull more wort out of the kettle than with a bazooka by the added advantage of using a pickup tube. I think the tea ball has a slightly finer mesh to it than my bazooka tube too. I used to use a bazooka in my MLT until I switched to a false bottom for fly sparging. :mug:
 

Zamial

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They sell these at World Market as well. I bought 3 To use as hop balls. I can attest to that these will contain most of the pelleted hops inside them during a boil.
 

lonepalm

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They sell these at World Market as well. I bought 3 To use as hop balls. I can attest to that these will contain most of the pelleted hops inside them during a boil.
So do you just load them up for each addition and just drop in?

Did you get the large ones? We have a smaller one with finer mesh. Looking at ordering 1 off amazon or going use your method
 
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bigljd

bigljd

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There are a few threads on HBT that mention using tea balls to hold the hops inside during a boil, and I think it's a great idea if the recipe does not require a lot of hops. What do you do, though, if you are brewing an IIPA with 3/4 lbs of whole hops? You'd need about a 8 jumbo tea balls to hold them all.

Plus I like the idea of free range hops - it's not fair to the hops to put them in a cage when they really want to be free to dance unrestrained thoughout your boil kettle...:D
 

Zamial

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So do you just load them up for each addition and just drop in?
Yes. When I am making a stout as an example. it is easy to toss in 1-2 oz of pellet hops in these then I suspend them from the side or some thing in/on the BK. I would not recommend really going more than 2 oz per ball and even that may be a little tight. I have had no issues with poor utilization using them.

Also as mentioned they are worthless for an IPA or hop bomb beer.

Did you get the large ones? We have a smaller one with finer mesh. Looking at ordering 1 off amazon or going use your method
I am using the large ones yes, same as the ones mentioned in this thread.
 
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bigljd

bigljd

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Hey bigljd love the picture. wanna here something funny that my cousins dog lol.
No kidding? I stumbled across the pic somewhere on the interwebs when I was looking for an avatar pic. Do you know the story behind the pic? I thought it might be from Australia due to the Fosters banner in the background (but then again, Aussies have better taste than that and don't actually drink Fosters, so I guess it must be from somewhere stateside).
 

McCorkis

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yea he just finished his bar and was having a party and i think he just put the dog on the chair and he stayed their. and he slide the beer in front of him and BAM lol. he did the picture for Boston Barstool websites and since then its everywhere.
 

McCorkis

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im going to have to show him this hes going to love it. hes not a beer brewer but he does make wine since hes portuguese
 

Tinga

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I've got a braided pipe in my BK works just fine.
 

Stankonia

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Looks cool man! did you end up trying this with pellet hops too?

I know there was some talk on this thread of people putting pellet hops inside a tea-ball, but I didn't see anything mentioned if the setup in the OP worked with pellet also.
 

jdd12364

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Updates on what? It sure seemed like the conversation was over.
msehler , I didn't realize you were the spokesperson for the group ?

If the hop ball works with pellet hops hows others peoples finding using this Item ????

Nothing in this hobby is really over , don't ya think ?
 

EarthBound

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msehler , I didn't realize you were the spokesperson for the group ?

If the hop ball works with pellet hops hows others peoples finding using this Item ????

Nothing in this hobby is really over , don't ya think ?
No such thing as a dead thread on HBT! :tank:

Several people (including myself) has expressed interest in bigljd's design, especially with how it stands up to pellet hops. I was wondering about it myself!
 

jdd12364

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No such thing as a dead thread on HBT! :tank:

Several people (including myself) has expressed interest in bigljd's design, especially with how it stands up to pellet hops. I was wondering about it myself!
I ordered one yesterday & will try it with pellet hops within the next 2 weeks , I will let you know what I find . :mug:
 

milldoggy

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I made one the other day. I used the oval shaped tea thing, will post a pic tomorrow. Not brewing till next weekend, but I will post my results.
 

Zamial

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Not that I have any 1st hand experience with this exact set up but I had a thought that may make it more usable with pellet hops. What if you filled the inside of the ball with some 100% SS scrubby pads? I think that may help catch extra pellet hops and stuff that may get through the bigger mesh.
 

BOBrob

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I have used a smaller version with the pellet hop inside during boil. They will get through the screen. Zamial may have hit on a good solution with the scrubby pads. Time for another go around with that idea. THANKS Zamial! Cheers:)
 
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