Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Brewing Tools

Problem solving during the brew day leads to innovative ideas that can be utilized on a regular basis. For the longest time I've struggled with how to proceed with the introduction of hops at zero minutes or the so called "flame out" addition. These are hops that are added so late in the boil that they impart a lot of flavor to the beer without much in the way of international bittering units (ibu's). Typically this is done for American style pale ales, IPA's and imperial IPA's like Hammer Head, Pliney The Elder and Hopstoopid giving them that huge hop character.

Floss to the rescue

I haven't come across any clear consensus in the homebrewing community as to what the exposure time should be after adding at flame out. Do you dip them in and immediately remove? Leave them in until the wort is chilled by an immersion chiller? Maybe, experiment with different times over a number of batches until the perfect amount of time is discovered.



Wire hook
 

 In my particular case, its been a dilemma for me because I've been concerned with the heavy bag of hops dropping down to the bottom of my brew kettle during the chill down/transfer phase, and blocking the pickup tube. With my brew system, after the boil I pump the boiling hot wort through a plate chiller then a post chiller that is submerged in an ice bucket and finally the wort is directed into my fermentor. While this process is going on I can't attend to bags of hops in the boil kettle since I'm busy with the transfer. So, to prevent hop bags from clogging things up, I've been removing them after about five minutes of steeping. This seemed like a waste of expensive hops as I figured that I probably wasn't getting the exposure time I needed to impart the hop flavor/aroma I desired. For that matter, the late addition hops, those that I add at one, two or five minutes seem to fall into the same category. Am I really getting the full impact I deserve?

Floss hanging on hook




Well, a solution finally came along during my last brew session. Kind of a Macgyver idea but it worked so well that I'll plan to use the technique from now on. Here's how I solved my problem.














Hop bag hanging near bottom

Using a short length of copper wire that I salvaged from a piece of 12 ga. Romex, I created a hook that I then attached to the handle of my keggle. With this in place I can hang the hop bags into the boil using lengths of dental floss tied to the bags laces. The floss is long enough so that the bags hand loosely in the wort but not long enough to allow the bags to reach the bottom of the kettle when it is fully drained. In this way I can leave all of the hop bags in place and attend to the transfer care free. Naturally, any string can be used in this application, I used the floss because it was nearby and comes in a handy dispensable spool. This technique is also good when using an immersion chiller in that it helps prevent the chiller from trapping the hop bags down at the bottom of the kettle.

But waits there's more... this same wire hook works great for hanging the large spoon that I use in brewing, preventing it from falling into the boiling wort.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is a great idea!

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