Poor hops utilization with hop-spider?

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xdosequisx

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Has anyone else on here noticed their beers coming out drastically less bitter than the estimated IBU would predict when using a hop-spider?

Last handful of brews I've been using a morebeer 200um hop spider to prevent plate-chiller clogging. All of them have turned out way less hoppy than the recipe would indicate. I do try to make sure the basket is as submerged as possible, and stir it around a bit with a spatula. Does anyone else have this issue?
 

Mute_Ant_Brew

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I have noticed the same. My hoppy brews were coming out not so hoppy. Makes sense really since the hop matter isnt evenly distributed through the wort. Turns into more like steeping tea than an actual hop addition.

I only use my hop spider for beers with single bittering additions now. Any more than that and I don't bother with it.
 

thehaze

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I've used a hop spider with the Grainfather a few times and it wasn't good.

I've since got rid of it and throw all hops loose, even in the fermenter. Much, much better results. Cheers!
 

Beer666

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I use the cheap nut milk bags of eBay. Really minimises the amount of trub.
 

Dgallo

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Yeah, this is due to the decreased surface area that the Hop Spider causes. I’ll try to find the article but Hopstiener conducted a large study on hop oil extraction through various methods, times, and Temps; Scott Janish uses this study a lot in his own research. They proved that surface area and oil extraction have a direct correlation with one another, meaning that the more room the hops have to move around in your boil, WP, or Dryhop the better the extraction. To the other end, the more restricted the hop particles are (in a hop bag or hop spider) the less extraction one will get. They concluded to elivate hop aromas and flavors to only add them loose, free of restriction.
 

McKnuckle

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Just another data point piling on, but... yes. Ditto.

Too bad, because they are so convenient. I think it's not just the reduced surface area, but also the fact that pellet hops disintegrate and clog the openings, especially on stainless hop canisters. (That was a really useless waste of $50.) The bags I think are marginally better, but not by much.
 

mongoose33

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Yeah, same conclusion. I tried to position the spider so that it would sit above the heating element so the rising boil would pass through the spider, roiling the hops and overcoming the surface-area issue, and while that seemed to work somewhat, the only seeming solution to this is to increase the amount of hops in the spider. I'm sure there's a diminishing return to that strategy as well.
 

Dgallo

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Yeah, same conclusion. I tried to position the spider so that it would sit above the heating element so the rising boil would pass through the spider, roiling the hops and overcoming the surface-area issue, and while that seemed to work somewhat, the only seeming solution to this is to increase the amount of hops in the spider. I'm sure there's a diminishing return to that strategy as well.
Yeah, that exactlywhat hopstiener found. that using bags or stainless screens will cause a diminished return since you will have to use more hop material to achieve simililar flavors which in turn decreases the surface area even further Obviously they studied this for commercial brewers, profit margins matter.
 

Rodent

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used a spider for a while, and ditched it for the same reasons noted above.

all my hops now go commando unless I have also a stainless screen inside the keg
 

Beer-lord

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I keep thinking if I hop commando my BoilCoil will burn the hops though many say that's not the case but I've been using a SS 400 micron hop filter and it works just fine with up to about 5 oz of pellets and I do stir often. I do sometimes add extra hops to compensate but so far find it's not be a problem. I do lots of late additions and a whirlpool does help as does dry hopping.
 

chickypad

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Still more piling on, but I found the same. I'm in the commando group now too.
 

LostHopper

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Just another data point piling on, but... yes. Ditto.

Too bad, because they are so convenient. I think it's not just the reduced surface area, but also the fact that pellet hops disintegrate and clog the openings, especially on stainless hop canisters. (That was a really useless waste of $50.) The bags I think are marginally better, but not by much.
I've been trying to come up with a legitimate use for my hop spider since I've abandoned using it in the boil.
I saw a photo on Utah Biodiesel that it can be used a filter when racking beer to a bucket fermenter. I might try that sometime before I totally junk it.
 

McKnuckle

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If you drain your kettle directly from its ball valve after chilling, as opposed to using a CFC or plate chiller, then just capture the hop debris on the way to the fermenter. After trying several solutions, I settled on a sieve (used for making honey) that works really well: Mann Lake HH440 Stainless Steel Double Sieve

The top layer is 840 microns, and the lower is 420 microns.

I brew 2.5-3 gallon batches so here's an average example; i.e. not a ton of hops, but all of them stopped nicely. And it does not clog like finer mesh filters always seem to do. I place this over a bucket and drain into that first, then pour the wort into the fermenter.

Sieve.jpg
 
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don_bran321

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Yup. I stopped using my hop spider completely for this reason. IPA's turn out great now
 

Jag75

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I have found that it does kind of inhibit the hops as well on a minimal level. What I do to help is dunk the spider in and out of the wort . I've also tried doing a brew without it . Straight up plugged my pump and the return . It was a major pain to get it clear and flowing freely again and honestly how much less bitter is it . Is it that noticeable.....I dont think it's that much . I'd rather deal with maybe 2 less IBU then a clogged return and pump. Or you can add .25 oz more hops to make up the difference.
 

isomerization

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I have found that it does kind of inhibit the hops as well on a minimal level. What I do to help is dunk the spider in and out of the wort . I've also tried doing a brew without it . Straight up plugged my pump and the return . It was a major pain to get it clear and flowing freely again and honestly how much less bitter is it . Is it that noticeable.....I dont think it's that much . I'd rather deal with maybe 2 less IBU then a clogged return and pump. Or you can add .25 oz more hops to make up the difference.
Judging by the existing comments in this thread, I think it’s a much bigger delta than that.
 

Jag75

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Judging by the existing comments in this thread, I think it’s a much bigger delta than that.
Some people probably have really enhanced pallets . Mine is so so I guess. It would be interesting to split a batch for the boil and use a bag/spider with one and commando on the other .
 

MaxStout

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I've noticed the same. I find it helps to use a long spoon to stir the hop slurry inside the bag once in a while. I also suspend it above the kettle after the boil and while chilling to allow the hoppy liquid in the bag to drain into the wort.
 

bigdawg86

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I am not a fan of high IBU beers, but I stir the contents of the hop spider every few minutes, and when cooling (plate chiller) I will sometimes run the return directly into the spider.
 

Dgallo

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I promise everyone in this thread if you add your hops loose at every part of the brewing process (boil, whirlpool, and dryhop) you will get a much brighter and definitive hop verity flavor and aroma using less hops. Bags cause folks to over dryhop, which leads to muddled flavors. All you need to do is adjust your water and grains accordingly for the volume loss. Trust me, it’s cheaper than upinh your hops and produces a better beer
 
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xdosequisx

xdosequisx

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Wow, quite the response! I guess this issue is a lot more widespread than I had imagined. The difference for me is really quite severe. I brewed a Czech Pils with a predicted IBU of about 35-40, it came out at what I would guess to be maybe 15.

I am definitely going to abandon the spider from here on out, maybe replace with something like McKnuckle's double-sieve to prevent plate-chiller clogging?
 

mongoose33

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I've noticed the same. I find it helps to use a long spoon to stir the hop slurry inside the bag once in a while. I also suspend it above the kettle after the boil and while chilling to allow the hoppy liquid in the bag to drain into the wort.
I've done the swirling and dipping thing, and the suspend it over the boiling wort thing, none of which were particularly effective.

Makes me wonder if some sort of recirculation approach might work, as in drawing off boiling wort from a ball valve and redirecting that back into the hop spider to maximize the mixing of and exposure to the wort of the hops.
 

bigdawg86

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Makes me wonder if some sort of recirculation approach might work, as in drawing off boiling wort from a ball valve and redirecting that back into the hop spider to maximize the mixing of and exposure to the wort of the hops.
If you draw from the re-circulation port you probably wont have the same pump cavitation issues that you would otherwise have from drawing from the dip tube during a boil. Then once boil is done switch hoses to regular configuration.
 

TheHopfather

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Makes me wonder if some sort of recirculation approach might work, as in drawing off boiling wort from a ball valve and redirecting that back into the hop spider to maximize the mixing of and exposure to the wort of the hops.
I've got a Grainfather and I use a hop spider on anything with a lot of hops because the pump filter tends to clog and transfers take forever. I recirculate the wort through the hop spider during the hop stand, or even while sanitizing the CFC and my beers come out plenty hoppy. I also stir the hops up in the spider every so often.

I wish I didn't have to use the spider and could just go commando but I can't stand the transfer taking 30+ minutes into the carboy.
 

GnenieGone

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This last dry hop in the wcipa, I crushed all the hops with a sanitized spoon. I'm going to brew a starter beer for Heady Topper. I'll do that with the boil/WP hops to see if any higher utilization. It'll still be a mess tho...
 

olotti

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I I’ve my hip spider but I use a homemade one with the 5 gal paint strainer bags so idk if this makes a huge difference but in the boil that bag moves around very freely and then after I squeeze the heck out of it to get out all the hoppy goodness. Whirlpool hops are added into the same bag and I just stir the bag every 10 min or so to get the hops moving around in the wort, yesterday’s beer there was an actual oily sheen on top of the wort so it appears that al the good stuff is getting extracted. Maybe the ss ones are worse because their a fixed piece of equipment they don’t flow and float around like the bags do.
 

IBRUTOO

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I squeeze my hop spider bag and seem to get same level if not more hop flavor than commando...
 

Dgallo

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I squeeze my hop spider bag and seem to get same level if not more hop flavor than commando...
Youre also squeezing excess chlorophyll and polyphenols into you beer, which both increase your risk of oxidation on highly hopped beers. Especially if your doing it with dryhoping because your splashing as well allowing more disolved oxygen to enter your beer. This is very bad practice for beer longevity
 

Cantina De Jefe

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If you drain your kettle directly from its ball valve after chilling, as opposed to using a CFC or plate chiller, then just capture the hop debris on the way to the fermenter. After trying several solutions, I settled on a sieve (used for making honey) that works really well: Mann Lake HH440 Stainless Steel Double Sieve

The top layer is 840 microns, and the lower is 420 microns.

I brew 2.5-3 gallon batches so here's an average example; i.e. not a ton of hops, but all of them stopped nicely. And it does not clog like finer mesh filters always seem to do. I place this over a bucket and drain into that first, then pour the wort into the fermenter.

View attachment 616204
I have a similar arrangement. False bottom with dip tube in the boil kettle and a secondary screen around the dip tube. I think it almost works too well. If i use more than 6 oz of pellets with a whirfloc in 11 gallon batch i have to be careful not to recirculate too much or it will get stuck. I generally try to use only whole hops and recirculuate using my plate chiller. It works well. Cool down is 15-20 minutes and cold break/hop capture is got to be high 90%. Never clogged my plate chiller once. Not even 1 hop leaf ever in the chiller. Beers come out much more clear too.
 

olotti

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Youre also squeezing excess chlorophyll and polyphenols into you beer, which both increase your risk of oxidation on highly hopped beers. Especially if your doing it with dryhoping because your splashing as well allowing more disolved oxygen to enter your beer. This is very bad practice for beer longevity
How are u not extracting those same compounds if the pellets are free in the boil
 

isomerization

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Youre also squeezing excess chlorophyll and polyphenols into you beer, which both increase your risk of oxidation on highly hopped beers. Especially if your doing it with dryhoping because your splashing as well allowing more disolved oxygen to enter your beer. This is very bad practice for beer longevity
Chlorophyll is insoluble in water-based solvents, are you sure about this?
 
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