hop baskets/hop spiders

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jwill911

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I've been brewing for about a year now, still doing extract though the question is related to hop additions during boil. I'm beginning to think a hop spider would be better than mesh bags. Are there drawback using SS mesh hop spiders. Looking for suggestions and or experience. And recommendations.
Thanks,
John
 

Dr_Jeff

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I initially used a paint strainer bag on a little rig that allowed me to add additional hops as needed during the boil. I could see the entire kettle boiling and the wort inside the bag was still. When the boil was over it would be still holding wort. The "fabric" would be covered with break material. (did it that way for a couple of years) I decided to try one of the stainless steel mesh variety, the larger one that is cone shaped, used it several time and had the same problem, as well as it wouldn't hold enough when I made an IPA. It now hangs in the corner of my brew area, unused. (used 4-5 times) Since then I just toss them in loose, and do a whirlpool at the end and don't worry if some end up i the fermenter. They will settle out and eventually be covered with yeast, or mixed in with the yeast.
 

Golddiggie

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I had used the stainless spider (started with the nylon mesh bag version) until my new kettles arrived. I went with the one NOT in a cone shape, 6" diameter and about 14" tall. Held more than enough hops for even my hop bursting IPA (up to 6 gallon batch size, easily). I've put over 12oz of [pellet] hops into it without issue.

They work if you get the right one for your kettle and use it right. There are larger diameter versions available (place out in Utah makes them) if you need something bigger.

I had my friend (TIG welder) put the new mesh setup on my old stainless ring setup. Since I had that setup to work with my keggle.

I'm actually looking to sell the spider I was using since the new kettles do the whirlpool method and I've got a wort strainer/filter between the pump and plate chiller (extra insurance). That worked out very well for the last batch we brewed (first with the new kettles).
 

Jag75

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I bought the hop spider , used it a few times hated it . I got a false bottom to add to my Grainfather which works fantastically. The hop spider clogged up way too much for me. It took forever draining the wort from it . Plus its a booger to clean .
 

Bramling Cross

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I made one of these.

Like me, it's cheap. Unlike me, it'll also fit in my kettle with my large immersion chiller. I try to avoid using it whenever possible, but my SS Brewtech kettle's whirlpool port plugs solid whenever my hop load breaches 3oz.

It's not my favorite piece of kit, but it gets the job done. And it's cheap.
 

Deadalus

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I made one of these.

Like me, it's cheap. Unlike me, it'll also fit in my kettle with my large immersion chiller. I try to avoid using it whenever possible, but my SS Brewtech kettle's whirlpool port plugs solid whenever my hop load breaches 3oz.

It's not my favorite piece of kit, but it gets the job done. And it's cheap.
I had one of those deform on me during a boil. I had gotten it as part of a package of homebrew equipment I bought and was using it on a propane fired keggle. Regular PVC has a service rating of 140F. CPVC has a rating of 200F so a little better but the potential to deform may still exist.

I use the the big SS hop spider 6x14"mainly because I use a plate chiller. It works much better at keeping bits out than mesh bags. I have a SS paddle that fits it nice that I can just twirl to stir hops. It's a little extra time to clean it versus throwing out the mesh bag. If reusing your bags, it takes about the same amount of time to clean.

The hop spider does double duty when I run PBW through the system after brew. I run the recirculation through the hop spider to catch the last little bits that get into the plate chiller.
 

Golddiggie

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@Bramling Cross if your kettle port plugs up with anything over 3oz, that sounds like a pretty serious design flaw to me. My first whirlpooling batch had 12oz of pellets in it and I didn't have that issue. Hell, doing the whirlpool I didn't have the strainer in the loop and had no blockages.

This is what I was using for a spider:
PXL_20210512_111032963.jpg
PXL_20210512_111044140.jpg

To be clear, I did NOT use the spider for the latest batch (with 12oz and whirlpooling).
Filter section is 6"x14" with a 3" 'collar' that the threaded rods go into. Those can be changed out depending on the opening in the kettle/keggle. Also, with the pair of nuts on each one, to the outside, you can get it to rest in the opening securely. It's all stainless steel so zero worries about temperatures.

I had seen the BYO article using PVC to hold a mesh bag and thought that was a VERY bad idea. As already mentioned, PVC doesn't do well with boiling temperatures.

This filter is looking for a new home/user at this point too.
 
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Bramling Cross

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@Bramling Cross if your kettle port plugs up with anything over 3oz, that sounds like a pretty serious design flaw to me.

It's a little too clever by half on the SS Brewtech boys' part. It does an amazing whirlpool, but the design incorporates a hard 90 degree angle that feeds into a thin slit that establishes a wide current around the edge of the kettle. It's quite impressive in that respect, but that 90 degree angle can quickly become a hops trap.

Your spider is a really nice looking design, btw.
 
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Golddiggie

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It's a little too clever by half on the SS Brewtech boy's part. It does an amazing whirlpool, but the design incorporates a hard 90 degree angle that feeds into a thin slit that establishes a wide current around the edge of the kettle. It's quite impressive in that respect, but that 90 degree angle can quickly become a hops trap.

Your spider is a really nice looking design, btw.
To me, the 'thin slit' is a major design flaw. There are plenty of options for making it work, but a bend then severe restriction just to increase the flow speed doesn't seem like a good one to me.

The setup in my Spike BK uses 5/8" OD (full 1/2" ID) tubing with a smooth bend in it and that's it. It does the job. I find things that use the KISS principle are often the better choices. Especially where getting "too clever" actually becomes a problem.

The first iteration of that hop spider used a nylon mesh bag along with a stainless worm clamp (all metals were stainless steel). But I didn't like needing to set the depth each time and hope nothing slipped during the boil. I don't think I ever had the bag touch bottom (when using propane burners) but the worry was always there. When I started brewing again, last year, I decided to go with a stainless mesh to contain the hops. Since I have a friend that TIG welds, getting it together was pretty easy. If I hadn't gone to a Spike kettle setup, or with the SCL, I would probably would have changed out the legs for longer threaded rod (already have on hand) to make it work there. But with the SCL in the mix, I didn't want to create that gap between the kettle body and it. Plus the BK came with the whirlpool setup.
My main drive to make the spider was to keep hop matter out of my plate chiller. With the Brewers Hardware wort strainer taking over protecting the chiller from getting clogged up. I also tune the wart flow to get the maximum chill down before going to fermenter in a single pass. Easily getting into the low 60's F that way. That might be a little higher in the hottest parts of summer (if we brew on those days) but I'll be able to adapt well enough.
 

Spartan1979

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I used a PVC pipe (a reducing coupler) on my hop spider. I did melt it once when I placed the lid on top of it. I use a SS hop spider now, but I would hesitate to use the plastic as long as I don't put the lid on top!
 

mendelec

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I initially used a diy setup with PVC/strainer bag/threaded rods, much like Bramling Cross and use an upgraded version of it to this day. As others noted, schedule 40 PVC just ain't made for boiling wort temps. I had sagging as the plastic softened and that concerned me. So, I swapped out the PVC for a similarly sized lined steel can (top and bottom removed); probably from a can of tomatoes or soup or something. Definite improvement over using a piece of softening melty plastic that isn't rated for the temps involved. We have one of those can openers that uncrimps and peels the lid off, rather than cutting it, so no sharp edges or anything from the can. Been pretty happy with it since, though I do periodically ponder swapping out the can for an even wider one. I break it down after each brew for cleaning and have yet to see any sign of corrosion.
 

ChiknNutz

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My $0.02 is the [soft] mesh bag is superior to the [hard] SS hop spider in that you can manipulate the bag as needed like a tea bag and cleanup is very easy. For large-ish hop charges I use the bag. For smallish ones I go commando. I like to keep it simple and this seems to work for me. Of course, YMMV.
 

Golddiggie

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My $0.02 is the [soft] mesh bag is superior to the [hard] SS hop spider in that you can manipulate the bag as needed like a tea bag and cleanup is very easy. For large-ish hop charges I use the bag. For smallish ones I go commando. I like to keep it simple and this seems to work for me. Of course, YMMV.
Just be sure you set the bag height properly and it doesn't droop down to either the kettle bottom or onto your element. That was always a concern for me, no matter how I set the bag into the ring. With the stainless option, I didn't need to 'manipulate the bag'. If anything, I could stir the hops with the long handled spoon (stainless as well). It also always seemed to drain out well when chilling.

Cleaning the mesh bag was also always more involved than the stainless mesh. I would need to invert the nylon bag at least a couple of times to get everything out. IME, easier with the stainless since I could simply hose it down (put upside down on the ground/floor and blast it) to get everything out. Put it into the bucket of PBW and you can get the rest of the matter cleaned up (maybe using a scrubbing brush as the final step).

IMO, the largest issue people seem to have with the stainless mesh spiders is how most of them want to be hung from the side of the kettle. Mine originally came that way. We simply cut those parts off and welded it to the ring I had been using with the nylon bag. We also set it so that it could go deeper into the kettle, since the legs were not centered (vertically) in the ring.

Really not a concern for me anymore since I'm now using the Spike kettle, whirlpooling, and have the wort strainer before my plate chiller. The strainer is easy to clean as well, since you can take it apart far enough to remove any hop matter captured. Anything that gets through the mesh won't plug the chiller.
 

easttex

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I've used muslim sacks, I've used mesh bags, and I've used a couple different stainless mesh hop spiders. They all worked in varying degrees.

Recently though, I began using a whirlpool return to recirculate during chilling. This is gets all the hops piled up in the center of the kettle and allows me to draw mostly clear beer off the sides. I have dropped the hop spider since I began using this since it's one more thing to clean and I no longer need it.
 

Golddiggie

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Used it again today when I brewed a best bitter recipe. First solo batch since I got back into brewing. Need to make some alterations to the stand to make it easier. For one thing, brewing in the garage (so I don't need to setup the canopy in the driveway) means I need to install leveling feet. Those arrived today, which I plan to install tomorrow. Need to get some additional nuts to use with them since they only included one. IF they were Standard and not F'king metric, I could just tap what they'll be installed into. Not going to buy a tap for this one project. I'll cut some angle iron, drill holes for the feet studs to go through and then use two nuts to get them to level the stand. Bonus effect since they'll be installed front and back is that the stand will be even more stable now.

Plan to brew a breakfast stout on Friday (before the 90+F weather hits). That will fill my second CF10. Which means not going to brew anything else for a couple/few weeks or until one gets emptied. Do plan to do a CO2 purged hop drop into the best bitter once fermentation is finished and I dump the yeast (after cold crashing). I'll let those go a few days (or however long I feel like or schedules demand) before carbonating in conical. I do need to fire up the glycol chiller tomorrow. Might need to use it depending on fermenting temperature of the beer.
 

Dancy

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I like using a hop spider for my Mash & Boil. However, I do remove it from the edge of the kettle from time to time during the boil (with a glove, of course) and swirl it around a bit to be sure the hops circulate well in the wort. When hooked over the side, the wort inside the spider appears to be rather still during the boil so I question how well the hop oils/flavors are circulating so that's why I do that. Based on how my beers turn out, I am satisfied and I like not having a lot of hop pellet particles ending up in the fermenter.
 

JesterMage

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I have been thinking about using something like this. The question I have is do I need to up the amount of hops? After reading "how to brew" and John explaining about how a lot of surface area gives the oils a place to cling to, a spider, be it mesh, muslin or SS, seems to give an awful lot of surface space for the oils to stick to as opposed to just throwing the Hops into the Pot and letting them circulate during the boil.
 

MaxStout

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I have been thinking about using something like this. The question I have is do I need to up the amount of hops? After reading "how to brew" and John explaining about how a lot of surface area gives the oils a place to cling to, a spider, be it mesh, muslin or SS, seems to give an awful lot of surface space for the oils to stick to as opposed to just throwing the Hops into the Pot and letting them circulate during the boil.

I have never measured, but I estimate that I'm getting about 70% utilization using the spider. Sure, I have to add more hops, but I'm willing to trade that for getting less trub.
 

Dancy

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I have never measured, but I estimate that I'm getting about 70% utilization using the spider. Sure, I have to add more hops, but I'm willing to trade that for getting less trub.
So how much do you increase your hops over the recipe? +30% or another number? This makes sense to me and I want to continue using my hop spider.
 

shawn252

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I also use a hop spider, and do the same as Dancy said above, plenty of time during the boil to give it a few lifts in and out of the boil kettle to help disperse the hop oils.
Cheers.
 
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For what it's worth, I have hopped commando and used hop spiders, hop bags, bazooka screens, as well as built one of the the contraptions that fits over the boil kettle described above. I have found that when I was using an IC, commando was best. However, now that I use a plate chiller, I have been dissatisfied with all of the filtering options; so I just bought a hop stopper 2.0 (the Electric Brewery). I should be able to hop commando without clogging anything...now all I need is a day off to brew.... There are a few threads about it so you can check other people's experience.
 

day_trippr

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I riffed through bags, spiders, and Hopstopper 1.0, no joy. Years later, I've been using a Hopstopper 2.0 for the last year, in an unconventional manner, with excellent results. It does require discipline wrt flow rate (stay under 1 gpm) but it does the job with a minimum of effort...


Cheers!
 
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