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First Brew with Hop Stopper

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SwAMi75

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I got a Hop Stopper from Dennis (tnlandsailor), and just finished up my first batch with it. I used it in my converted keg, connected to a weldless ball valve.

Service was awesome....it shipped the day after I ordered it, and UPS got it here quick. Dennis also supplied me with the proper fitting to adapt it to my valve. All I had to do was ask.

It seems very well made, and is a very clever little piece of gear. I did have to cut off some of the tubing to center it up in my kettle, but that just required a cheap little tubing cutter and 2 minutes. The supplied instructions are pretty well written.

It performed just as advertised. I brewed a stout, which only used 2 ounces of pellet hops. Not exactly a big challenge, but having seen how it works, I have no doubt that it'll stand up to my next big IPA. :D

Now the not so good:

First, you can't get an immerison chiller all the way down into the wort because of it. Of course I foresaw this, but it's still a pain. Seems to me the only way to efficiently cool a batch with it installed would be with a counterflow chiller, or some other more elaborate setup.

The second problem is adding extract or some such to the boil.....the Hop Stopper covers much of the bottom, and this stuff settles under it, and will scorch. It just so happens that I used lactose in this batch, as well as a secret ingredient (ORRELSE and I are having a competition), and I had some scorched gunk left over in the bottom of the kettle. In hind sight, I should have pulled the screen off and just used the dip tube for this batch since it didn't have a buttload of hops, but I thought I'd mention it for those who might be interested.

Overall, I think it's a damn good piece of equipment, and am very pleased with the service I recieved. The cooling problem will require some adaptation on my part. I don't think the scorching problem will be an issue with 95% of my brews, but would be a big issue for an extract brewer.
 

tnlandsailor

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Excellent feedback!

Correct on all points. I orginally constructed the Hop Stopper for my own home brewery where I was brewing all grain (no extract) and using a counter flow chiller. The dip tube in the Hop Stopper will definitely cause an immersion chiller to set up several inches higher on one side. Hard to avoid this, but I'll give it some thought. It won't really hurt the Hop Stopper to set the chiller right on top of it, but it may cause the chiller to not sit straight and not be completely submerged. Not a huge deal, but might lessen the effectiveness of the chiller a bit.

Regarding the addition of extract. This is a problem I hadn't really considered. If I were to propose a solution to this, I would say pour extract with one hand while continuously stirring with the other. I think DME would probably be better than LME, since LME is really thick, it would tend to sink the bottom pretty fast, but a vigorous stirring would prevent most or all of the potential scorching for either.

I really appreciate the feedback and I will ammend my instructions to include these issues. Thanks again.

Prosit!
 
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SwAMi75

SwAMi75

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No problem. I appreciate the service!

I think what would be cool is a false bottom type setup made of that screen, if you could keep it as rigid as you have with the HS. Not necessarily for mashing, but for filtering hops.

Anyway, glad I could help. Thanks!
 

hot_cook10

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If you're just screening hops why not just use a $3 hop bag? I reuse my hop bags over and over. Much, MUCH cheaper!
 

Dude

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hot_cook10 said:
If you're just screening hops why not just use a $3 hop bag? I reuse my hop bags over and over. Much, MUCH cheaper!
I went with the hop stopper as well because the hop bags are really not a valid solution if you use whole hops.

Dennis, I'm preparing my first brew with the hop stopper for Friday. I'll be sure to post a review as well. As Sam said, its a fine product so far, very professional looking and the instructions and shipping were top notch.
 

tnlandsailor

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Hop bags will seriously diminish your hop utilization (bitterness), flavor, and aroma. Allowing the hops to completely saturate in the whole boil will yield better results all the way around. The Hop Stopper is just a tool, you can make great beer without it. It just makes things easier, and easier is good. Looking forward to the critique from ORRELSE.

Prosit!
 

Sir Sudster

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TNLANDSAILOR, I've been thinking of getting one these hop stoppers but now I have some concerns due to the chiller issue. I have an immersion chiller that is 50ft of 1/2 inch copper tubing and some straight 1/2 copper pipe for extending over the kettle. This makes the thing pretty heavy especially when you add water through it. Could you possibly design the hop stopper so that it is vertical . It could fit the contour of the kettle flush against the side leaving ample room for an immersion chiller. Obviously, you wouldn't use a dip tube but I don't use one anyway. I will buy and beta test it if you want to give it a shot.
 

tnlandsailor

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The problem with vertical is that once the liquid level drops below the screen, the portion that sticks up doesn't do anything anymore. Keeping the screen low and flat allows the maximum screen area to be effective down to the last bit of wort. I don't think a vertical screen would be nearly as effective.

The only real issue with the immersion chiller is that the dip tube will cause the immersion chiller to not sit flat on the bottom. It will sit up a few inches on one side. I don't think the weight of the chiller will damage the dip tube. The screen itself should be centered in the kettle so that it should sit right in the hole in the middle of the chiller.
 

Dude

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I guess I'll piggyback my review off of this thread so future searches will give a few opinions of the Hop Stopper in the same place. One stop shopping.
I'll also be adding my .02 cents on the sight glass, which I also got from Dennis.

First, the products look extremely prefessional. You can tell a lot of hard work went into the preparation to build these. The instructions included were awesome. They include full steps for assembly and how to use it, and even little tips. Serious props Dennis.

Now, for the brewing! I have to hand it to the Hop Stopper for making this the absolute smoothest brew session I've ever had. I have almost 20 batches (some of those were half batches) under my belt now and this one was by far the easiest. Two of the most stressful times for me on brewday are straining and chilling. My straining problem is solved. No more accidental pouring of green hop sludge on white carpet (don't tell my wife!), or clogged siphons after a few seconds of trying to get trub free wort out of the brew kettle. I used pellet hops and whole hops in this batch, and in 5.5 gallons of wort not one piece of pellet residue or anything close made its way through the hop stopper. No false advertising here! It definitely stops the hops!
One concern I did have before I used it was how much wort would be leftover in the brew pot, that couldn't get siphoned out. Answer: Less than two pints. I can definitely live with that! I didn't have the immersion chiller woes because I used a counterflow chiller for the first time. That's the way to go. :D

The sightglass was just as easy to assemble, came with great instructions, and even cool little see-through labels to affix to the tube. Awesome! It worked like a champ too. For as big as these kettles are, its hard to guess how much liquid you have in them during a boil. So much heat comes out of that kettle too! I don't think its a mandatory part to have, but the sightglass is a useful tool that I'm glad I have. The price can't be beat either. I dare you to find a cheaper sightglass for the quality you get here.

I hope I covered everything. The Hop Stopper is a God-send for brew day. It just makes brewing SO much more enjoyable for me because now I won't be dreading how to siphon or pour out 5 gallons of wort without getting tons of hop sludge.

Now, Dennis--I just acquired another keg that I was going to have converted into a HLT, but I noticed on my current mash-tun that if I do beers any bigger than about 14 lbs of grain I'm going to have problems. I'm wondering, would a hop stopper be suitable to put in a mash tun? I don't see why it wouldn't work, do you? I could mash like 50 pounds of grain in that! My only concern would be the screen and the copper tube getting weighted down quite a bit by grain, but it seems pretty stout anyway.
What do you think?
 

robmee

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I just got mine today, I haven't installed it as the damn hurricane has delayed the rest of my equipment. I was very pleased with the overall service and Mr. Dennis gave me more than a few helpful hints and the instructions are top notch.....WELL DONE! I would recommend it on just that part of the expirence, hehe can't wait to use it....damn hurricane.
 

El Pistolero

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Since you're gonna have to wait anyway, relax...have a few home brews. ;) And while you're at it, thank your lucky stars you don't live in Mississippi. :(
 

robmee

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well I used to live in pensacola, sometime I wish I was still there, they don't have crawfish in tampa
 

Sir Sudster

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robmee said:
I just got mine today, I haven't installed it as the damn hurricane has delayed the rest of my equipment. I was very pleased with the overall service and Mr. Dennis gave me more than a few helpful hints and the instructions are top notch.....WELL DONE! I would recommend it on just that part of the expirence, hehe can't wait to use it....damn hurricane.
Got mine yesterday too. Nice piece of work tnlandsailor!
 

tnlandsailor

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There are several folks on this board who have purchased a Hop Stopper and I'm really looking forward to hearing the rest of the reviews.

Prosit!
 

robmee

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well I finished the first brew with the hop stopper and it worked as advertised. I had very little left in the kettle after transfering. It was an extract brew so not so much to filter but very nice, it help ALOT.
 

Sir Sudster

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tnlandsailor said:
There are several folks on this board who have purchased a Hop Stopper and I'm really looking forward to hearing the rest of the reviews.

Prosit!
All went quite well. This thing is Great! I loaded up the hops on this trial run
and the flow never ceased..didn't even slow down. I do 11 gal. batches so my hop load was substantial(Whole hops). Great job Tnlandsailor! The Hop Stopper gets my vote.
 

Dude

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Sudster said:
All went quite well. This thing is Great! I loaded up the hops on this trial run
and the flow never ceased..didn't even slow down. I do 11 gal. batches so my hop load was substantial(Whole hops). Great job Tnlandsailor! The Hop Stopper gets my vote.
Yep.
Before I got the hop stopper I was considering finding another hobby. I LOVE brewing but everytime I brewed I was having serious problems finding a way to strain hops. I was spilling green hop soaked wort all over the beige carpet, losing beer, etc. The hop stopper saved it for me. By far the best thing I've done to improve the process. That and the counterflow chiller.
 

Dude

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Dennis....what is your recommendation to clean this thing? I recently took mine out after 3 brew sessions without a thorough cleaning (I always clean the kettle and the hop stopper, but I only remove the entire deal every so often) and I noticed a very large amount of protein material inside it. I had to take the copper tube out and make the opening of the screen larger to get those chunks out.

Maybe in a future design you can come up with some kind of zipper or something to make it easier to clean the inside of the screen?

What do you do?
 
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