Hop Dropper for SSB Unitank

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Vale71

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My main question was about the volume needed for the spool. What’s the volume that pellet hops take up? I’m doing 12 gallons, and would like the ability to drop a full lb of hops just in case I ever decide to do that high. Wondering if 6 inches is enough, or should I even go 8 or 12?
According to this source hop pellets weigh on average 500 kg/m^3.
 

Vale71

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Follow you on all but the first part. I figure leaving the clamp seal basket cracked just so no hops fall in, but would still allow headspace including the spool to naturally purge.

Once hops are dumped, leaving the valve open would keep the same pressure as the rest of the tank.

Now I’m not sure if it actually would purge naturally. It could, but am not certain.

I’ve got an inline filter that has a 3 inch opening with a 1.5 TC top. I considered going that route and putting my spunding valve on the top, setting it to near zero pressure. Close off the blow off cane for a while, thus forcing all the pressure to exit upwards. Doing that would surely purge the headspace.

I’d just have to make sure to add an actual pressure relief valve Teed in somewhere else.
It will purge. Fermentation is slow enough that diffusion guarantees full replacement of air through CO2 by the end of fermentation from every nook and cranny.

However as others have mentioned swelling through absorbed moisture might cause the hops to form an unmovable clump if left exposed for more than a few hours making this a risky endeavour.
 

Beenym88

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Not to be an ******* but do you think your beer ever got oxidized by just dropping them in? I don’t know of any small breweries that have these advanced set ups they just drop the hops in quickly. I used to have a fermzilla and did think it was cool to be able not do the whol no oxygen hopping but that thing didn’t last long.
 
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philm63

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For some styles it can make a difference such as a NEIPA, and some highly-hopped IPAs - even a very small amount of O2 can lead to premature staling. Since I began paying more attention to minimizing O2 in my process - especially in dropping hops post-fermentation - my hop aroma has lasted much longer, and the initial hop impressions were more intense. It's just a good practice for hop-forward styles, IMHO.
 

Jtvann

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For some styles it can make a difference such as a NEIPA, and some highly-hopped IPAs - even a very small amount of O2 can lead to premature staling. Since I began paying more attention to minimizing O2 in my process - especially in dropping hops post-fermentation - my hop aroma has lasted much longer, and the initial hop impressions were more intense. It's just a good practice for hop-forward styles, IMHO.
So how would somebody drop 22 lbs of hops in with one of these contraptions? That’s for a 7 barrel system, but still fairly small scale.
 
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philm63

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I cannot say whether this concept translates to a larger scale system as I only have experience with a 5-gallon batch system so I'll defer to those with experience on larger systems. What I do know for sure is the quality of the "hop experience" improved in my IPAs as soon as I more tightly controlled O2 ingress in my process. This hop dropper with CO2 purge capability was an improvement for me.
 

Jtvann

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I cannot say whether this concept translates to a larger scale system as I only have experience with a 5-gallon batch system so I'll defer to those with experience on larger systems. What I do know for sure is the quality of the "hop experience" improved in my IPAs as soon as I more tightly controlled O2 ingress in my process. This hop dropper with CO2 purge capability was an improvement for me.
I know there’s a lot of differences in homebrew techniques vs breweries. I’ve been curious in a lot of those practices in various areas. I tried looking into plate chillers for that reason a year or so ago. Some things we have a major advantage with on our scale.

I see a hop dropper as being one of those things. We can so why not.

I also see it as a major disadvantage for breweries. I don’t see how they can, thus i imagine they don’t. If they don’t, it makes me wonder how much of an impact it really makes.

I’m on the fence, 50/5 as to why do it.
 
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philm63

philm63

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I think you nailed it when you said "we can so why not". Some of the things we can get away with on the homebrew scale are just not cost effective on a commercial scale, and some things just flat work differently depending on scale so yeah; why not.
 

Vale71

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So how would somebody drop 22 lbs of hops in with one of these contraptions? That’s for a 7 barrel system, but still fairly small scale.
These guys can provide you with a similar contraption even for very large scale operations.


On large systems you really need some type of forced circulation infuser. Just dropping the hops into a very large fermenter would have a very low yield, oxygen considerations aside.
 

Tdog

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I have two grainfather fermenters that only have a single 1.5 TC connection in the lid. I have had success dropping hops through the small valves by using a 6" 1.5 TC spool and opening and closing the valve a full 180 degrees. Tapping on the side of the spool with a wooden spoon can help release the pellets also, but the back and forth movement of the valve seems to work the best. Depending on the type of valve you have, you might have to remove the handle to get this range of motion. A ball valve might be more problematic because the settled hop pellets are not moved by the ball when the valve is actuated.
I have also got 2 GF conicals and have been researching how to dry hop similar to a hop dropper. Have you found the 1.5” TC gets blocked? I know you said to open 180° and activate the lever several times, but I’m just checking it’s worth it before I try to build it. Do you by chance have a parts list and picture for assistance. Cheers and happy brewing!
 

jbschuyler

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Great thread guys- Thanks! - I successfully dry hopped under pressure last week using a similar setup as described above. The loose hops did get momentarily stuck, but then all dropped into my Flex+ fermenter. All good -UNTIL yesterday when I had a hop jammed transfer into the keg. I only got the keg half filled and then had to call it done.

Not sure I want to use loose pellets ever again. Has any tried the same method, but with using a narrow diameter SS mesh hop tube to contain the hops. I have found a 1.375" ID ball valve so I just need a tube that will fit through it.

Please let me know if anyone knows where to find a tube of this size.
 

Biggz1313

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Great thread guys- Thanks! - I successfully dry hopped under pressure last week using a similar setup as described above. The loose hops did get momentarily stuck, but then all dropped into my Flex+ fermenter. All good -UNTIL yesterday when I had a hop jammed transfer into the keg. I only got the keg half filled and then had to call it done.

Not sure I want to use loose pellets ever again. Has any tried the same method, but with using a narrow diameter SS mesh hop tube to contain the hops. I have found a 1.375" ID ball valve so I just need a tube that will fit through it.

Please let me know if anyone knows where to find a tube of this size.
Curious, did you cold crash before you transferred? Also, with that particular fermenter, there's a good amount of headspace. I'd look into using hop bags and magnets for your dry hopping needs. Put your dry hops in a sanitized mesh back at the very beginning before sealing up, and use magnet in the bag and magnet outside the fermenter to hold in in place above the work/top of the fermenter. When it comes time to dry hop, just remove the magnet from the outside and your hops fall into your wort/beer, and they stay contained in the back so you don't have any issues when transferring out.
 

jbschuyler

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Curious, did you cold crash before you transferred?
Yes, I did my normal 3 day cold crash ( with close to 48 hours at around 35 degrees). I have read about the magnet method too, and might give it a try. Do you have a magnet type recommendation? Thanks!
 

mongoose33

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Early on, I used a corny keg post connector to the racking valve on my Spike. I discovered it tended to clog, so I switched that connector to a male camlock, used a female camlock attached to some tubing, then terminated that tubing with a ball-lock liquid "out" black connector.

When it comes time to rack, I unscrew the ball lock connector from the end of the tubing, attach to the camlock post, and release beer into a pitcher; it clears the racking arm which has yeast and hop residue in it. When clear, I screw the ball lock connector back on. This has the added benefit of purging the line of air, so that when I screw on the connector, it's virtually all beer in there.

For me, the secret has been to clear the racking arm and line before putting the ball lock connector on there, as well as using a camlock post rather than a corny keg post on the fermenter.

conicalliquidjumper.jpg
 
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mongoose33

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I've got this going for hop dropping right now, in fact, I have TOO MUCH capacity.

I bought the new Spike lid with 3 ports so that I could use TWO hop droppers instead of only one. In fact, I bought a 2" sight glass, 2" butterfly valve, and a 1.5" to 2" adapter to connect them. My biggest gripe about the 1.5" ports is that they don't allow for enough capacity. So I more than doubled it.

Probably should have thought this through more. I put the 1.5" AND the 2" on the lid, proceeded to put 4 oz of dry hops in the 2" sight glass. Guess what? There's room for more, and I didn't need the second, 1.5" hop dropper.

I am only doing a 5-gallon batch in a CF-10, so with a larger batch I presume I could well need the greater capacity. But as you can see from the pic below, there's a hop dropper sitting there twiddling its thumbs.

The ball lock connectors and tubing were to allow CO2 to bleed through the hops removing as much oxygen as possible, and terminating in a blowoff jar. Short video below.

hopdropperdouble.jpg


 
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Jeremy W

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@mongoose33 how long are you letting the hop dropper purge before dropping them into the fermenter? I have the parts for an identical setup but haven't had a chance to test it out yet.
 

jbschuyler

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@mongoose33 - Also how long are you cold crashing, and what other methods are you using to avoid hop jams during transfer from Flex to keg? I do like your set up, mine is similar except I have the older Flex lid with only one 1.5" port.
 

mongoose33

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@mongoose33 - Also how long are you cold crashing, and what other methods are you using to avoid hop jams during transfer from Flex to keg? I do like your set up, mine is similar except I have the older Flex lid with only one 1.5" port.
I just, as in 10 minutes ago, removed the ball lock connectors from the hop droppers, so the system is now sealed. That will allow natural carbonation from the remaining fermentation. Depending on how much you want to trust the TILT hydrometer I have in the fermenter, gravity is between 1.017 and 1.020.

I'm still dithering about when to drop the hops. I could do it now, and get some biotransformation from the remaining fermentation. Or I could crash and then drop the hops into a cold beer (I just read an article advocating that, I'm tempted to try it). But the idea of crashing in part is to cause the yeast and other particulate matter to drop out, so that would argue for dropping now, before crashing.

EDITED TO ADD: I just dropped the hops. I decided I'd let them do a little biotransformation plus they should be more likely to drop out, I'd think. The system is up to about 2 PSI after just a couple hours.

I'm expecting to dump yeast and trub from the bottom, at least a quart. I want to get the layer of trub below the racking arm.

That's all I'm planning to do to avoid hop jams. I've found that the connectors I use, in combination with clearing the racking arm by running some beer through the tubing, seems to resolve any clogging tendencies. I'm knocking on wood.

So long as I get the layer of hop trub below the racking arm I don't expect any problems. So long as I don't cause a huge vortex by opening the valve full bore, I should be able to pull off the beer with little problem.

That's the theory, anyway.
 
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mongoose33

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@mongoose33 how long are you letting the hop dropper purge before dropping them into the fermenter? I have the parts for an identical setup but haven't had a chance to test it out yet.
Oh, half a day or so. Two points of gravity is equal to about 1 volume of CO2 produced as it ferments, i.e., in a 5-gallon batch, as the gravity drops two points the yeast will have produced about 5 gallons of CO2.

I can't remember the exact volume of my sight glass, and I'm too lazy right now to remeasure and recalculate, but if you've ever run across the idea that to purge a keg takes something like 25 cycles of pressurize and depressurize, then I'm getting a lot more than 25 volumes of CO2 passing through my hops. A lot more.

My only consideration was that I didn't want to lose any more hop aroma than needed as the CO2 wafts it away, so I don't open up the hop dropper to the CO2 until later in the fermentation.
 
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