Straining Hops

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I have tried boiling hop pellets (in extract) for 5 mins a few times now, and when I tipped it in without straining, I got so many blockages in my bottle filler valve, I had to take the spring out of it, and let it dribble a lot between fills.

Then when I tried to strain it through muslin, it sat there in a big murky wet blob, and dribbled very slowly through the strainer. Even when scraping the muslin with a spoon, it slowed down to a drip. I had to put the rubber gloves on, and give it a squeeze.

Don't particularly want these little particles in my beer anyway

Perhaps cheesecloth would be better.

Any suggestions?
Just do a scaled down version of the whirlpool.

When you've finished boiling your extract get a sanitized spoon and stir the wort until a whirlpool appears. Let the wort sit for a while then pour (carefully) to your fermenter or wherever it's going. The hops should sit somewhere in the middle in a small cone or mound.

You'll find that if you pour carefully and slowly you'll leave most of the trub, hop bits etc. behind in the pot.

I usually follow this method when I'm making large (2-3lt) starters.

That notwithstanding just put your hops into a stocking and tie it up. Make sure to boil the dye out and sanitize it first. If you use a stocking it's probably a good idea to figure about 30% more hops into your recipe than you originally anticipated. Utilisation tends to go down this way.

Warren -
OK - rack to a secondary for a week or 2 and do some Cold conditioning.

Also, Rack to a bottling bucket and bulk prime.

Hope this helps
Yes thanks. That's what I'll do. Get another fermenter.

Now you say cold conditioning. What, do you mean put the secondary in a fridge?
You can also use a large strainer. Make sure you sanitise it first then put on top of your fermenter and pour through that. Depending on the amount of hops you use you may need to empty it once or twice.

The whirlpool method is the one that stops hops getting into your primary fermenter. Warren has given you the procedure above. After whirlpooling the wort leave it stand for an hour: in this time the hops/trub will settle into quite a stable conical pile in the bottom of the brewpot.

After the hour, move the brewpot smoothly, and pour the wort in one smooth pour through the sieve into the fermenter. doing it this way you will not see the hops untill right at the end of the pour.

When I was doing partmashing in 2000 I did not know about the whirlpool method and getting the wort into the fermenter was a miserably tedious process: pour in the wort, let it slowly run into the fermenter, scrape the hop/trub filling the sieve to get the last wort out, empty the sieveful of hops over the garden, add the next lot of wort etc.

Jovial Monk
I put my hops in bags made from net curtains, these are very fine & keep all the debris out. I see Warren says add 30% more hops, is this the accepted norm? i don't make any adjustment & feel my bittering is correct.. Would boiling a bit longer compensate if there is a loss?

Hi Ross,

You find that when you add your hops to a stocking, muslin bag etc. That there's less surface area for the boiling wort to extract from due to the hops being virtually in one big sold mass. You'd be rest-assured that the pellets in the middle of this mass would more or less be under-utilised.

If you've always used this method sure, you'll find that you don't use more because it's what you're used to. However if you were to just add the same amount of hops to the pot without the above methods you'd most likely achieve a higher hop utilisation due to the hops vs. surface area.

As you say boiling longer may or may not compensate. Either that or put the hops into several smaller bags in the boiler this would mean less hops per bag and more contact area with the wort.

Warren -

The bags I use leave plenty of room for the hops to circulate & they certainly don't remain static in a clump whilst boiling. I understand what you're saying about "what I'm used to", but I want to know what my bittering levels are for when I enter comps etc...

Do other people here add extra bittering hops when using bags?
With my partial mashes I used to put the hops in the leg of some pantyhose. When I switched to mashing and just chucking the pellets in loose I got an obvious increase in bitterness, maybe not as much as Warrens 30% but definitely an increase, maybe 10 to 20%. But the stocking squishes the hops into a tight little package with not much surface area. Maybe your big loose bag doesnt have the same effect.
I agree with Warren & GL. Generally I use a stocking to hold hop pellets but on the last brew I couldn't find it so just chucked the pellets in loose. The brew was noticeably hoppier - at least 20% I'd estimate. It was an exact repeat of a bitter I'd brewed a few months ago the only variable being the hop treatment. A bigger bag like a grain bag or the one Ross uses might be a better option if you want to contain hop pellets & increase utilisation.
There'd have to be somebody enterprising out there who could possibly fashion themselves a s/s mesh cage for their hops.

I'd be thinking of something similar to a deep-fryer basket with a covered top perhaps? ;)

Warren -
I used to put hops in pantyhose, now I chuck them in loose and don't even bother straining the wort. I just pour everything in the fermenter and rack next day. Sometimes I leave hops in there until fermentation ends. I use hops, mainly cones, to add flavour and aroma to beer, not for bitterness.
Rob - I agree - a stocking is not a good idea as it holds everything in a ball - the net curtain bags work much better & I'd be surprised if I'm losing any real bittering...
Thanks for all your suggestions. I found an all metal strainer at an asian bargain shop - that fits inside my boiling pot, and it's about 4" deep, so I can just sit it in the pot, with the pellets in it, except that I won't be able to stir. Perhaps I'll just turn the gas off at that point, put the lid on the pot and just let it sit and soak for 15-20 mins before I lift it out. This thing didn't have a handle, so I made one from wire that will lay flat, and allow me to put the lid on the boiler.

I remember reading somewhere that you should cool the wort as quickly as possible to pitching temp. Still it's worth a try.

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