Product Spotlight: HOPTOPs

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Hello everyone, and welcome to our first "product spotlight". In these articles we are looking to shine the light on some of the new or up and coming products available to us homebrewers. This spotlight features HOPTOPs, a new product which is an airlock created to fit on mason jars. Let's dig in.
HOPTOPs offer a new way to ferment things.

The History and Beginnings of HOPTOPs


I asked the creator of HOPTOPs about how they worked, and got some interesting history in the process.
HOPTOPs come apart for easy cleaning, and are dishwasher safe.
So fermentation airlocks go way back to none other than the prolific inventor Leonardo Da Vinci. I just saw an original glass version of a Da Vinci air lock in use storing some Chianti Classico in Tuscany last week. The principal is simple, the excess CO2 escapes by pushing its way through a reservoir on standing liquid, often antiseptic [Star San or water are fine for us!]... The patent pending mechanism makes the fermenting container more stable and easier to transport or store without any risk of knocking off the old-school bubbler in the process.
One of the huge benefits I see with this product is the ease of storage. Airlocks are always in the way it seems, as they add an extra 4 inches of height to everything. Beyond the extra space and easy storage of these airlock lids, there are some other uses.

Real World Applications


As the video on Dave's (the creator's) Kickstarter page explains, even pro brewers have found a few uses for HOPTOP's prototype models.
Create perfect blends and do easy oak aging experiments.
I showed the HOPTOP to my friend, an awesome cider fermentation consultant, and he said that to him the value was doing dozens of small blend recipes at once with a really controllable volume and process. He said he could also use it to capture the live cultures from the lees and store them conveniently until inoculation of the next batch. The simple cleanup being a chief advantage over earlier methods.
Mason jars were just outside the brewers paradigm because they were lacking an elegant lid/airlock solution. In every way they are an perfect vessel, they are super easy to clean because you can stick your hand inside they are cheap and can even be heat cleaned in the dishwasher . HOPTOP itself splits right in two so washing it thoroughly is part of the design, (unlike its closed predecessors).
I see a few great uses for the HOPTOP. Firstly, it's a great way to grow and test wild cultures, similar to what Dave's cider-making friend has done. If anyone remembers the rice-wine thread (and article) here on homebrewtalk, they are made in containers similar to mason jars (or mason jars themselves), with cheese cloth in between the jar and the lid. These can give rice wine makers a lot more control in the airflow department.
Mason Jars come in all shapes and sizes, making them great for many homebrewing applications.
The largest Mason Jar you can acquire is one gallon, with more common jars being 64oz (half gallon). You may be thinking that you can't use these effectively, as they aren't ideal for fermenting a larger 3-5 gallon batch. However, there are a few options that you may not have considered. You could bottle most of your batch and age a smaller portion on oak or fruit for testing. Or you can rack the entire batch into lots of jars, each with separate oak varieties / toasts, fruits, or spices to get "quick wins" when it comes to your experiments, and apply your findings on a larger scale next time.

In Closing


People have long used Mason Jars for fermenting foods but the homemade airlock solution of a rubber grommet through the lid made a lousy seal and and resulted in a cumbersome vessel. The HOPTOP makes the perfect system by combining the time-tested elements of existing technology creating a whole new animal.
HOPTOP will be available on Kickstarter for about two more weeks. We are almost at 10X our original goal! If you think you could use it, ordering it on Kickstarter is your best bet. While we do sell our previous products directly to the public after kickstarter, anything can happen between now and when we actually get our website up and running.
They will be produced in the USA, which is always reassuirng to hear. Their Kickstarter can be seen and backed in the link below. Rewards include sets of HOPTOPS if you're interested on getting your hands on some; https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1640002012/hoptop-mason-jar-airlock-brew-and-ferment .
The low profile makes HOPTOPs great for storing
If you know of a new product that deserves to be a product spotlight here on Homebrew Talk, send a PM to me (MarshmallowBlue). It can be a new product that you think people should know about, or a promising upstart looking for exposure.
Cheers
 

Comments

I see a lot of similar ideas used in pickle ferments, and cannot understand why anyone spends money on this stuff. The lids that come with mason jars are already a one way air lock, and replacements are a small fraction of the price of any of the new substitutes.
I'm all for people trying to develop new equipment to make fermentation easier and more reliable, but there is a difference between building a better mouse-trap and reinventing the wheel.
 
Mason Jars can explode if gas can't escape quickly enough, which may not be an issue for pickle ferments, but could cause issues in small batch wine/beer ferments, especially if there is a clog.
 
Seems perfect for small batch pickles and sauerkraut. I've never heard of regular canning lids being a one way airlock...would not trust that. But this seems like a great idea.
 
I consider myself a fairly intelligent person, yet somehow I can't imaging the standard mason jar lid being at all useful as a 1 way airlock.. placing a steel disc on the top of a jar does not qualify as a 1 way airlock IMHO.. It is designed to be sealed in a vacuum in a pressure cooker... that's how the seal works.
 
Whether or not a grommet on a mason jar lid makes a worse seal than a grommet on a fermenting bucket lid is an empirical question. I use grommeted lids for all kinds of pickles I make and have not had any problems. Seems to me that this may be a high tech solution for a low tech problem...
 
I mean absolutely zero disrespect to the author of this article or the site admins that chose to publish it; however, this article comes across to me more as a lengthy advertisement for a Kickstarter campaign than anything else. I have no problem with publishing honest, straightforward product reviews here, which to me would include both pros and cons of the products, but this just reads as, "this is awesome, this is awesome, here's a bunch of problem with existing solutions, and here's a link to our Kickstarter." Just my 2 cents.
 
The lids will seal with a boiling water bath, or even if you fill it with hot contents. When the jar is heated air leaves through the lid, when it cools air cannot enter. That is a one way air lock.
I've used them many times for hard cider and wine, finger tight rings and clean lids, works every time.
 
I like it. I like the low profile and ease of cleaning.
I'm curious to see DaVinci's original design, but unfortunately there is almost ZERO information to be found online showing he ever designed anything like this. Any links?
 
Once the product is actually available is when we'll be able to give it an actual review, and I'm sure many members here will do so in the forum. Thank you for your feedback as far as delivery is concerned. We are looking to feature other products that are newly available /or will be available to brewers soon, so this will help us format them better moving forward.
Thanks and Cheers.
 
I've put yeast in mason jars before and accidentally closed the lid too much. The results bulged the lid out of shape before spraying beer all over my fridge. I backed this on that one experience alone. I'm just happy it didn't break the glass and end far worse.
 
You can't stack these so how is this better than putting an airlock into a plastic lid? Way too expensive for me. DIY or bust.
 
Use these:
http://www.amazon.com/Pickle-Pipe-One-Piece-Waterless-Fermentation/dp/B01726CJ9Y?ie=UTF8&psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o05_s00
Similar, available on amazon. Need wide-mouth jars.
 
This just sounds like an advertisement to me. I don't know the rules, but it just doesn't seem right to be pushing your own product here, saying that this is great, and solves a problem that doesn't exist.
I have used the plastic lids with grommets and airlocks for many years and have no issues with them. Nothing in this 'Article' gives me anything to indicate these lids will do anything that I can't do with my current set-up.
 
This actually isn't my product, I'm the editor Dave, but not the creator Dave (also named Dave). In future spotlights, I'll work harder on providing a full scope and sounding less "advertisy" / pushy.
 
My Mason Jar Lids always rust after multiple uses. It's not a problem when they're cheap, but at 7.50 a pop it would be an issue. How can I ensure that these wont rust as well? What are these made of?
 
I agree that a slight finger tight seal will work (tighten ring until slight resistance is felt). Consider the purpose of the lid, positive pressure from inside the jar during fermentation keeps contaminants out as gas escapes. Once fermentation ceases and pressure inside equalizes with the outside there will be little to no in-gasing. Remember, this is not for permanent storage, only for the period of fermentation. This should work until you bottle or process for longer term storage.
 
These are interesting but the cost-benefit is pretty poor considering vessel size and, accordingly, the number you'd need to do anything fun, even experimentally. As long as you aren't rustling your jars every day a loose-fitting ring is the only airlock you'll ever need.
 
I just received mine last week and put some spent yeast in one jar. I didn't know you had to put water in it, for some reason I thought it was a dry operation. I figured it out immediately though. When will you have a decent review completed?
 
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