Hopback 101

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wikipedia:

A hopback, used in the brewing of beer, is a sealed chamber that is inserted in between the brewing kettle and counter-flow wort chiller. Hops are added to the chamber, the hot wort from the kettle is run through it, and then immediately cooled in the wort chiller before entering the fermentation chamber. It facilitates maximum retention of volatile hop aroma compounds that would normally be driven off when the hops contact the hot wort. Because it is a sealed chamber, the volatile hop compounds are trapped in the hot wort, and then the wort is immediately cooled, which keeps the volatile compounds in solution.
From BYO:

A hopback offers a great way to add real fresh-hop character ö you know that great smell of late addition hops? Did it occur to you that every whiff you get is hops that are leaving your wort?
A hopback is a way to run newly boiled wort right through fresh finishing hops, usually right between the kettle and the chiller. The simplest ö take a handful of hops and wrap it in a stainless steel "choreboy" made of coarse steel wool. Hold this down at the bottom of you kettle with the tip of your siphon when you siphon hot wort out, or put it right upstream of your spigot in the bottom of your kettle. The wort will flow through the choreboy and the fresh hops, then right out to the chiller. A hopback can also be made from a square box of perforated steel, or can be made from a mason jar and put outside the kettle before the chiller. Hopbacks also serve to help strain some spent boiling hops and protein out of the wort.
 

Bobby_M

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I can't see why it wouldn't work as a grant. A grant is really just a pot with a bulkhead drain on it to act as a buffer between the pump and the actual donor vessel.
 

2ndstorey

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I have been thinking of building one lately too. More of an inline sort of thing out of 4" PVC. I want to put an end cap on one end and a screw cap on the other. A QD on each side and a scrubby on the inside bottom as a filter. Pretty simple but not usable as a grant.
 

puney_the_youkel

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My hopback is somewhat unconventional. I use a coffee French Press from Cost Plus: http://www.worldmarket.com/kitchen-...ARRIVAL_FLAG|1||CATEGORY_SEQ_3009|0/index.pro

I use it in several different stages in brewing. Post boil, I put a couple of ounces of hops in the french press and add boiling wort, which I steep for 60 minutes or so and then add it to the fermenter.
Additionally, I dry hop with the french press prior to keg conditioning. I put a couple of ounces of hops in the french press, add boiling water, and add to the keg. Sometimes, I replete this step multiple times for a really strong hop flavor and aroma.
I have been really successful in using this technique to add both hop aroma and flavor to my beer. I have compared my beer side-by-side with both Pliney The Elder and Pliney the Younger, and using just four to six ounces of hops, as a tea, added to the keg, my beer has equal hop flavor and aroma.
 

HenryHill

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Nice find ollllo. May be a little small for a decent grant; hard to tell how big of capacity by pic. I'm considering grant gravity drainage and then recirc, but haven't searched for a grant yet. QD's, and this thing could be very useful...

Good value I think, at sale price, as finding buying and then fitting up a home style one could easily run you the $49, everything adds up, including gas to find/buy a canister, to make just ordering one very enticing.


hmmmmm.....
 

kmudrick

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Is there a way to use a hopback without the use of a counterflow or plate chiller? I currently use an immersion chiller with no plans to change that..
 

beerthirty

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I'm going to build a hopback using the basic design in the link that olllllo provided. I plan on a couple of changes though. The wort will enter at the bottom through a slotted pipe to help prevent channeling and have a weighted perforated SS plate sitting on top of the hops to keep them submerged. The reason I'm doing this in reverse is the upper temp limit on the acrylic lid is 70C(158F). Once the wort hits the level of the upper discharge, an air pocket should keep the hot wort away from the low temp lid. The compression fittings will be switched to QD's to keep all connections in the system the same. Linen and Things has a set of four canisters for $19. I plan on using the smallest one to keep wort loss to a minimum. Comments or suggestions on this are welcome. Maybe you see or think of something I have missed. I'm hoping to begin the build tomorrow if Linen and Things has the canisters in stock.
 

hatzbrews

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does anyone know how to purchase a hopback? i have been unsuccessful in locating a shop.....
help! i need hop aroma!
 

bsay

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Ignore this post, I posted this when the thread was just hatzbrew's post, before this thread was merged
 

k1v1116

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if your just interested in hop aroma, I think adding hops at flame out or dry hopping will work just as well. My understanding is that the hop back doesn't simply add aroma / flavor but it acts as a filter bed to remove trub and other hops. I think you also need a pump to make it work, gravity feed would take forever if it works at all.
 

drez77

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I just finished building a hopback. I will take some pictures of it latter and post them. I want to get 2 things out of it. One is to run my 0 minutes hops through it for bitter beers as I whirlpool so the last thing the hot wort goes through are the hops. I also want to use it as a sort of grant. I have a falls bottom and also a finer mesh under the false bottom. I plan to run the wort through the hopback before going into the fermenter. I am not sure if it will work. It cost me about 25 bucks to build and most of that was the piece for the false bottom. It should make more sense when I get the pictures posted.

Mike
 

Revvy

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I just finished building a hopback. I will take some pictures of it latter and post them. I want to get 2 things out of it. One is to run my 0 minutes hops through it for bitter beers as I whirlpool so the last thing the hot wort goes through are the hops. I also want to use it as a sort of grant. I have a falls bottom and also a finer mesh under the false bottom. I plan to run the wort through the hopback before going into the fermenter. I am not sure if it will work. It cost me about 25 bucks to build and most of that was the piece for the false bottom. It should make more sense when I get the pictures posted.

Mike
One of the brewclubs in town has their own made with a whole house water filter housing like this.



I think dogfish head uses something similar...They can also hook it up to a draft line and serve the beer "filtered" through a bed of hops.
 

drez77

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Here is the pictures of my hop-back.

[/IMG]

Inside view



False bottom and screen

 

Revvy

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Revvy, the highest max temp on those filter casings I can find is 120*. Do you know of one that has a higher rating?
I know nothing about them...I'm surprised they're rated so low though,,,I always thought that hot tap water was in the 170 range...

Besides, if you are using an IC and going from kettle to fermenter, you should be well below that range anyway..Isn't that when a hopback is traditionally used, during transfer to the fermenter? If so you should hopefully be running it at near pitching temp.
 

drez77

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Besides, if you are using an IC and going from kettle to fermenter, you should be well below that range anyway..Isn't that when a hopback is traditionally used, during transfer to the fermenter? If so you should hopefully be running it at near pitching temp.
I use my hop - back when I whirlpooling. So the last thing the hot wort goes through is a bed of hops to try and lock that aroma in. I think it is also possible to cold hop-back where you would put it in line between the cooled wort and the fermenter.


Mike
 

beerthirty

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The way I understand it is to be used between kettle and chiller. That way the hot wort extracts the volatiles and is immediately chilled so none escape to vapor, as in 0 min additions. (If you can smell the hops they are no longer in the kettle) This is the main reason I plan on trying one. The only downside I have seen is sometimes a hopback might also extract grassy aroma/flavor. If it does then I will have a SN Southern Hemisphere clone. Although its not something I would be proud of.
 

GlassblowersBrew

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My hop back, built with a SS braid about 8 inches long inside a small SS pot, continues to clog up with the fine pellitized hop particules and whatever isn't filtered out of my keggle through the SS mesh filter fitted into the inside thread of its ball valve. Does anyone have any suggestions for how to keep my SS braid from clogging? Ive heard about a screen pad. Anyone know what this is. Maybe some coarse steel wool sandwiched between two large holed SS screens. Maybe a series of mesh screens of varying sizes to filter larger to smaller particles before they get to the SS braid. I really want to use my hopback but it seems to slow down the chilling process so much, it makes my CFC kinda pointless. Without the hopback I get very fast chilling, but with it, it takes forever. BTW I am using a gravity feed for my whole system. Thanks
 

mrbowenz

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My hop back, built with a SS braid about 8 inches long inside a small SS pot, continues to clog up with the fine pellitized hop particules and whatever isn't filtered out of my keggle through the SS mesh filter fitted into the inside thread of its ball valve. Does anyone have any suggestions for how to keep my SS braid from clogging? Ive heard about a screen pad. Anyone know what this is. Maybe some coarse steel wool sandwiched between two large holed SS screens. Maybe a series of mesh screens of varying sizes to filter larger to smaller particles before they get to the SS braid. I really want to use my hopback but it seems to slow down the chilling process so much, it makes my CFC kinda pointless. Without the hopback I get very fast chilling, but with it, it takes forever. BTW I am using a gravity feed for my whole system. Thanks
Steel wool isn't your friend, I started collecting coffee screens, the cone shaped filters ( brass ultra fine weave ). You can find them a plenty at garage sales and the like. I used two of them, and then used monofiliment fishing line to join them together . They worked well for me .
 

GlassblowersBrew

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Steel wool isn't your friend, I started collecting coffee screens, the cone shaped filters ( brass ultra fine weave ). You can find them a plenty at garage sales and the like. I used two of them, and then used monofiliment fishing line to join them together . They worked well for me .

I will keep my eyes peeled for these. Thanks!
 

GlassblowersBrew

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I don't think pellets are the right form for a hopback. It's instant sludge.

If plugs arent available, can I put my pellets in a nylon bag in the hopback and run my hot wort into the bag attached around the hose with a zip tie? Just trying to figure out how to make this thing work. The hopback can probably hold about 1 gal of wort.
 

gonzo brewer

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I made a hopback using the same canister as drez77. My buddy welded ss nipples at 1" up from bottom and 1" down from top. He also fabbed a SS 3 legged ring that supports a SS sink drain screen (OSH) at the bottom. The ID/OD match is not perfect, so I put a lttle bit of SS scrubbie underneath at the outlet. I also drilled a small 1/8" dia hole in the top acrylic for venting so I can see the wort level. Otherwise condensation makes the acrylic obscure.

I Gravity drain from my keggle thru the hopback thru my CFC to a carboy sitting on floor. The bottom of keggle is 48" high. I constantly monitor the keggle ball valve and hopback outlet ball valve to maintain the canister level about 7/8 full.

I have used this about 12 times and have found that a small amount of pellets hops can be used with whole hops but they slow the drain process considerably. I have used up to 1-1/2 oz. of leaf hops and it takes about 15 min to drain/cool 5 gallons and about 25 minutes for 10 gallons. I also whirlpool before I drain and my keggle pick-up tube (with no screen) is on the outside wall of the keggle (I tilt the keggle at the final moment and shut off the valve right when the break matter hits the pickup tube).

I am an obsessive hophead and have learned that my Pale and IPA aromas have increased proportionally from late hopping - to tons of flameout hopping - to using a hopback in addition to flameout hopping. Now instead of using 3 oz. at flameout, I'll use 1-1/2 oz. at flameout and 1-1/2 oz at hopback for more aroma with the same amount of hops.

I am not sure how a pump would work on the outlet of the hopback, but the governing flow restriction in my setup is definately the CFC.

If you build one, duplicate the Morebeer unit but reduce the screen holes -they are too large and you will clog your CFC.
 

homegrownbrew

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Is there a way to use a hopback without the use of a counterflow or plate chiller? I currently use an immersion chiller with no plans to change that..
i am playing around with the idea of going out of keg via ball valve to march pump. From march pump to hopback. Out of hopback to a custom copper tube fitted with a t fitting on the end right into Jamils whirlpool "S" shaped copper tube that goes right back into the keg. I also have an immersion chiller 50' 1/2 copper and dont want to change to IMC either. I like the simplicity and efficiency of my chiller. I thought you could immediately following the boil pump the hot wort through the hopback and then right back into the keg recirculating through the hop back as many times as you want, and then simply turn on the water to the immersion chiller already in the brewpot...you could continue to recirc the cooling wort through the hopback in theory filtering unwanted break materials and other trub...CANNOT WAIT TO BUILD THIS PUPPY!
 

nicadrick

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Drez77,

Can you detail the false botton/screen a bit? Does it just sit at the bottom? Can you show the outlet port from an inside view?

Thanks!
 

GilaMinumBeer

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I have the hop back from B3. Edit: Fitted with tri-clamp fittings from Sabco. WARNING! the fittings alone cost more than the hopback itself.

Bought mainly to be used as a plate chiller pre-filter since I tire of the paint strainer filter/hop stopper/scrubby ineffectiveness with high hop loads and break filtering. But, I also grow my own hops and what a better way to put those to use than in a hopback eh?

Anyway, my filter method is to load the hopback with rice hulls. A 55 pound bag of rice hulls cost me $35 so, no need to skimp. Over that I place a stainless steel vegetable steamer basket. the basket weighs down the rice hull enough to creat a tight filter bed without sacrifice to flow. Without the basket the wort just drills through the rice hulls as they float.

Above the basket I can still add an ounce of hops should I choose to.

The result. All pellet hops and hot break trub are trapped in the rice hull filter medium and keep well away from my plate chiller therefore allowing me to dose my kettle free-nilly with whatever medium i choose.

Oh. And it makes a damned fine hopback too.
 

humann_brewing

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I have the hop back from B3.

Bought mainly to be used as a plate chiller pre-filter since I tire of the paint strainer filter/hop stopper/scrubby ineffectiveness with high hop loads and break filtering. But, I also grow my own hops and what a better way to put those to use than in a hopback eh?

Anyway, my filter method is to load the hopback with rice hulls. A 55 pound bag of rice hulls cost me $35 so, no need to skimp. Over that I place a stainless steel vegetable steamer basket. the basket weighs down the rice hull enough to creat a tight filter bed without sacrifice to flow. Without the basket the wort just drills through the rice hulls as they float.

Above the basket I can still add an ounce of hops should I choose to.

The result. All pellet hops and hot break trub are trapped in the rice hull filter medium and keep well away from my plate chiller therefore allowing me to dose my kettle free-nilly with whatever medium i choose.

Oh. And it makes a damned fine hopback too.
sounds interesting, do you have pics?
 

remilard

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I have the hop back from B3. Edit: Fitted with tri-clamp fittings from Sabco. WARNING! the fittings alone cost more than the hopback itself.

Bought mainly to be used as a plate chiller pre-filter since I tire of the paint strainer filter/hop stopper/scrubby ineffectiveness with high hop loads and break filtering. But, I also grow my own hops and what a better way to put those to use than in a hopback eh?

Anyway, my filter method is to load the hopback with rice hulls. A 55 pound bag of rice hulls cost me $35 so, no need to skimp. Over that I place a stainless steel vegetable steamer basket. the basket weighs down the rice hull enough to creat a tight filter bed without sacrifice to flow. Without the basket the wort just drills through the rice hulls as they float.

Above the basket I can still add an ounce of hops should I choose to.

The result. All pellet hops and hot break trub are trapped in the rice hull filter medium and keep well away from my plate chiller therefore allowing me to dose my kettle free-nilly with whatever medium i choose.

Oh. And it makes a damned fine hopback too.
Glad that worked out for you. I haven't been to the BM forum in a while.

No problems with haze from the rice hulls I take it? I would have thought not, it should be mostly beta glucans and not real soluble. I'm thinking about adding a hop back (mostly for, you know, hops) and this would be a way to keep the system the same if I don't want any hop character.
 

GilaMinumBeer

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Glad that worked out for you. I haven't been to the BM forum in a while.

No problems with haze from the rice hulls I take it? I would have thought not, it should be mostly beta glucans and not real soluble. I'm thinking about adding a hop back (mostly for, you know, hops) and this would be a way to keep the system the same if I don't want any hop character.
Nope. No issues on the second and foloowing runs so far. Just clean clear wort into and out of the plate chiller. I recirculate through the HB with the chill wizard to bring the batch temp down quickly and trap as much trub as possible. Yes, I realize I am also trapping cold break that is benificial to yeast but I usually dose the fermenter with some nutrient to be overly safe.
 

mb2696

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i've been thinking about adding a hopback to my system, but am curious about how much of a difference it makes vs only FO hops. is the effect different or just more efficient? in other words, could you just replace the hopback hops with more FO hops, or is it just not the same? thanks!
 

dstar26t

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GilaMinumBeer,

Are you rinsing the hulls before putting them in the hopback? They are so dusty/dirty without rinsing first.

Here's my hop back, it's a modified asparagus steamer:





I used it as a grant at first but it wasn't big enough for 12 gallon batches. I modified a corny to use as a grant instead:





 
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