Thursday, April 28, 2011

Hopback/Hop Rocket 1st brewing thoughts

My birthday present to myself this year was a Blichmann Engineering Hop Back or Hop Rocket.  The devise can be used either way.  Last night I was brewing my 2nd installment of my Justice Pale Ale Experiment and I got an itch to use it.  Knowing that I have the necessary fittings and hardware in my brewing "junk drawer" I got to work.  After rediscovering all the cool brewing parts I've long forgotten I found the female to female sleeve I was looking for.

Once I had that I got out the Hop Back and grabbed the Glacier Leaf Hops that I bought for it.  The above picture was the hops vacuumed packed from Hops Direct.   


Here is the Blichmann Hop Back on the floor with all the parts clean and ready to go.  Notice the "flow" of the wort is bottom to top.  
3 oz of Glacier Leaf Hops ready to go.  On a side note the device is rated to carry a max of 4 oz of leaf hops only.  Due to clogging concerns I went with 3 oz.

Here is the Hop Back ready to go next to the Glacier Hops with the necessary Homebrew glass shot.  BTW it is a 1/2 glass of my 1st Justice Pale Ale recipe for inspiration.   


Here is my set-up with the Hop Back installed.  Note that I F*cked up and installed it upside down but the flow was correct.  On Brewing Network's Forms "Tasty" a IPA homebrewing trendsetter has some different thoughts on this.  I really need to take a look at all aspects of the "use" of this.  I if you want to read the posts on this Click HERE.


Now the problems I ran into using this product.  Remember that this was used on a "whim" and I really didn't think the whole process through.  


After the boil, I had the device installed and I could not get the boil kettle's ball valve 100% open.  I think it was at about 60% open.  This hindered my pumps flow rate.  

 Here is a picture of the valve hitting the Hop Back.  I have a couple idea's on how to overcome this....

  1. To get a longer female to female fitting.  The one I have is 1.5" long.  I would need at least 3 to 3.5" 
  2. To change the flow of the Hop Back. 
  3. To create a mounting plate or ring for the Hop back to sit in.
  4. I think that I opened the valve to fast off the boil kettle and compressed the hops to the screen.  
Bottom Line the Hop Back worked great for trub removal.  But with my slow flow rate, I was pumping for on hour.  Which is way to long for the people with a March Pump.

The trub on the batch with the Hop Rocket had little to no trub when the wort settled.  My 2nd batch of the night (Justice Pale Ale #3) without the HopRocket had the normal amount of trub when settled.  I have a picture from my cell phone that I will upload in a couple minutes.

Overall for $100.00, I am happy with the 1st testing....now to have a beer and test the Hop Rocket or randell side of the product.

UPDATE #1

With the initial trouble I had while using this product, I took a different direction and I have focused on using this as a Hop Back/Randell. 



Here is the hopback with the top open and ready for some Glacier Hops.  I have just poured the 1st beer into my tasting glass to compare the differences. 

Here is the Hopback in the chest freezer all hooked up and ready to roll.  The size and the attractiveness of the unit is really noticeable in this picture.  I do need to upgrade the plastic male to barb fittings into stainless steel.  For now this set-up is holding great. 

UPDATE #2

This is strange, I've heard of using a Hopback will increase the amount of foam in the pours, so with that information I added a longer output and lowered the pressure.  When I pour a beer I get a great pour with the correct amount of head on it.  1/2 into the pour I get a bubbling sound and a drop in pressure.  After that I hold off on the pour and let the pressure rebuild. Then I complete the pour.  This is a normal occurrence for now.  I really need to play with the pressure on the CO2 tank. 

2 comments:

  1. Nice article! We recently used the Hop Rocket on a porter. We did 10 gallons with the Hop Rocket and 10 gallons without. The Hop Rocket did make a big different in flavor. The non-HR batch went into a Bourbon Barrel and the HR batch is in kegs now.

    We posted an article on our site that shows how to setup ball valves and quick disconnects on the Hop Rocket when using it as a Randall. Your readers might be interested in that setup as well!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the comment. I just checked out the post on the Randell...honestly, my only gripe is that Blichmann should of included those parts when ordering the Hop Rocket.

      Either way, It does make a big difference in the final product. I really want to experiment with Coffee, fruit and other items in addition to your standard hops.

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Thanks for Commenting, Prost!