Hop Spider BM 50L - issues

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Hop Spider BM 50L - issues

Unread postby Sladek789 » Sat Nov 25, 2017 9:29 pm

I only have a few Braumeister 50L brews under my belt (but have been homebrewing for a few years).
My current wort cooling setup is like this: wort pumped from front valve (I have a BM drain valve at the bottom too), wort goes through plate chiller and goes back to Braumeister with a tangential return pipe to create a whirlpool (homemade but something like this http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ZrBqpjTHftY/U ... G_1478.JPG).

Knowing that plate chillers are effective but a mess to clean and that I like hoppy beers (so easily use 200-300gr of hops pellets per brew), I decided to invest into the hops spider from BrewUK (https://www.brewuk.co.uk/brau-hop-spider-50l.html) to reduce the amount of hops pellets material going through the plate chiller. And it does an awesome job really, almost no hops material outside of it.

But I got two issues which I cannot solve and I was wondering if others were using similar equipment and I have similar experience, as well as have found a way to fix those problems.

1- all that hops pellets material '"seals" the 300 micron mesh and while draining the wort, the inside the hops spider does not drain out, I have pretty much the Braumeister empty but the hops spider more than 2/3 full.

2- while circulating the cooled wort from the plate chilled to the BM, between the BM wall and the hops spider exterior wall, the wort there cools normally, but as the hops pellets sealed hops spider mesh and the temperature inside the hops spider does not cool or very slowly. For example, when I noticed the issue last Friday, the wort was at 30C between the BM wall and the hops spider exterior wall, but still at 70C inside the hops spider! I had to navigate the whirlpool outlet inside/outside of hops spiders to get a balanced temperature.

Let me know your thoughts because right now, I do not know what to do...change the cooling device, immersion chiller, counter-flow Chiller, stop using that hops spider,... I need your brain power on that one.

Thanks in advance for your help guys!
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Re: Hop Spider BM 50L - issues

Unread postby BMDrysdale » Sat Nov 25, 2017 11:04 pm

G'day Sladek789,

Most impressed with the tangential return pipe setup - and I hadn't been aware of the BM Hop Spider, looks good (but a bit costly).

I have similar high hopped (I.P.A.'s) taste preferences as you appear to have and have encountered similar hop sock problems using larger amounts of pellet hops.

I use a conventional (home made) hop spider and use French Voile curtain material as hop sock material when using pellets. My hop socks vary in size - my first hop socks were actually re-used grain bags from my BIAB days. To be successful it would seem that the sock/mesh material (BM stainless or Curtain material) needs to be fairly fine, so our experiences with blockage are probably to be expected - I too experience mesh blockages using French Voile, and deal with that by raising the hop spider partly from the wort, using my malt pipe hoist, and at the same time gently "running" a sanitized long-handled spoon around the inside of the hop sock, this seems to unblock the (spoon) contact area at least, and facilitate flow through the sock material. A sanitized long-handled (nylon?) brush might work similarly in the stainless filter.

In recirculation/whirlpool, I feed wort return back into the sock, being mindful of the above-mentioned blockage issue. this seems to work well. "Whirlpool" efficiency is variable.

I too use a reverse flow plate chiller and am pleased with it's efficiency. It did partially block with hop solids when in recirculation/whirlpool use once (of 24 so far) - something went wrong with the sock I think. Hence the importance of the fine mesh sock material at least working to some degree. If that blockage problem recurs, then I may consider an immersion coil cooler, but, so far so good. I clean the plate chiller using a caustic "rinse" cycle both after use and before next use.

I also find that the (emptied) malt pipe, returned to the BM, with the coarse mesh bottom filter in place, is a perfect hop sock for fresh cones when late hopping using cones when recirculating/whirlpooling.

Hope the above promotes some thought and is in some way helpful. - BMDrysdale.
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Re: Hop Spider BM 50L - issues

Unread postby IPA » Sun Nov 26, 2017 9:02 am

I only use whole hops and combined with the BacBrewing Springer I can empty a 50 litre BM leaving only two litres of wort behind with no tipping. I cool it from boiling to 22° in a single pass through a plate chiller without a pump. Job done!
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Re: Hop Spider BM 50L - issues

Unread postby mashy » Sun Nov 26, 2017 9:52 am

I have to say I have experienced both of these issues.

IMO the mesh is too fine causing the issues you mention and limits hop efficiency. I now use the mangrove jack hop spider which is courser (BUT I use leaf hop)

Second I gave up of plate chiller and built a Hydra/Cobra style immersion chiller. Which I am very pleased with. Very quick, easy & clean - full marks all round.
Last edited by mashy on Mon Nov 27, 2017 5:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Hop Spider BM 50L - issues

Unread postby Sladek789 » Sun Nov 26, 2017 9:30 pm

Thanks BMDrysdale for your detailed answer. Thinking of it now, your solution of mixing/stirring a few times the hops spider content to ease the drainage could work. During my first brew with the hops spider I had the issue #1 (drainage) and on another, the issue #2 (cooling). During the last brew with the issue #2, as I had to put the whirlpool output inside the hops spider to cool its content, so it is naturally mixed it well and that time I had no issue with draining it, but the wort was cloudier.

@IPA, I almost exclusively use pellets as whole hops are not as easy to find here, except for local Czech hops. Second, as my fermenter is higher than the BM front outlet (I have it low to ease the malt pipe removal), I have to use a pump (which has a flow regulator though), I guess the suction could be higher than when the BM is drained with gravity and not sure the BacBrewing Springer would work as well as with gravity draining. I really wonder how well the BacBrewing Springer work with hops pellets, especially with an heavily hopped beer. If you brew one like this one day, let us know!

@mashy, great to see that someone faced the same issues, but a lot more depressing to see that your solved them by not stop using an hops spider (for pellets) and start using an immersion chiller instead of a plate chiller. That hops spider costed me a fortune and I have to say, works extremely well. I also have an almost brand new plate chiller (which works well too), I have to try fixing those issues with my current equipment or my wife will kill me if she will see me buying extra brewing equipment ...and she would be right… for once :roll:

I also wonder how/if the trub (i.e. protein break) to do not "seal" the hops spider even more. And also the Irish moss/whirlfloc that I add at the last 15 mins of the boil, sprinkling it all over the kettle so inside and outside the hops spider. I guess that I could stop using Irish moss/whirlfloc, as usually using gelatin later, before kegging.

So in short, I will try next time mixing/stirring the hops spider content to fix draining and not using Irish moss/whirlfloc, I just need to find a way to fix the cooling issue. I guess a sort of double whirlpool outlet, one into the hops spider and one between hops spider and BM wall could do the trick. Kind of complicated but feasible I think.

Thanks again for your feedback, if anyone has any extra experience or idea, I’m all ears.
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Re: Hop Spider BM 50L - issues

Unread postby mashy » Mon Nov 27, 2017 6:03 am

Just a thought. I do not add any hops until after the protein break.

Normally 15 mins in 20l
Last edited by mashy on Mon Nov 27, 2017 6:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Hop Spider BM 50L - issues

Unread postby mashy » Mon Nov 27, 2017 6:04 am

And I have found late hopping has improved the flavour.
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Re: Hop Spider BM 50L - issues

Unread postby Sladek789 » Mon Nov 27, 2017 8:07 am

Actually mashy, it was one of the possible improvements I thought about too, but forgot to mention it in my last post.

I usually have a 70 mins boil with a bittering addition at 60 mins, then either a small flavor/aroma addition at 10 mins for none hoppy beers or only a massive whirlpool hops addition for hoppy beers.
So I would try to put the basket as late as possible, possibly even only for the flavor/aroma addition when I do no have a large bittering addition (which happens sometimes when using low alfa hops such as EKG for English ales).

I think that I'm on a good way to fix the draining issue with mixing/stirring the hops spider content, I now need to be creative to fix the temperature difference inside/outside the hops spider.
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Re: Hop Spider BM 50L - issues

Unread postby mashy » Mon Nov 27, 2017 8:18 am

I got the idea from Gordon Strongs' book "Better beer" - brilliant read - I 200% recoomened. Scetion - Late wort hopping.

It works REALLY well even in beer that need a nigher load for bittering (Seems to make for a rounder bitter profile). Reduces boilovers and seems to help with the 'snot break' not gumming everything up as much. I use 60 min boil with FIRST addition after 30 mins.
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Re: Hop Spider BM 50L - issues

Unread postby tsgreen » Mon Nov 27, 2017 9:02 pm

I agree with BMDrysdale, pipe is awesome! Where did you get that?

I do pretty much exactly what you do, minus the cool pipe. I'm with Mashy on waiting well after the hot break before adding. I brewed a Nelson Sauvin (pellets) IPA this weekend and decided to use some Irish moss that I had from previous brewing equipment. My hop spider lock up as well. I have always used whirlfloc since I bought my BM. If I am going for higher IBUs I do divide my hops across two spiders (not the answer you are looking for I know). As this was not particularly high IBU I didn't feel a second spider was needed. I am tempted to brew another batch with same amount of hops using whirfloc to see if I have same problem.
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Re: Hop Spider BM 50L - issues

Unread postby BMDrysdale » Mon Nov 27, 2017 9:39 pm

Sorry, on completion I realise that I've gone off topic a little. And, italicising text seems only to work once.

"I usually have a 70 mins boil with a bittering addition at 60 mins, then either a small flavor/aroma addition at 10 mins for none hoppy beers or only a massive whirlpool hops addition for hoppy beers." - I usually use the same boil addition timings and larger whirlpool additions (after temperature is dropped below abt 80 Degrees C) as you do (have found though, that real hop aroma/flavour impact seems to be achieved from dry hopping with about 100gm (pellet) hops per approx' 20 litres (i.e., per fermenter) - Sorry if the following is what you do anyway, but - I split the wort into two SS stainless conical (abt 30 litres) bucket fermenters, which allows for different dry hopping regimes, and so end up with two "different" (corny kegged) beers. I dry hop at secondary ferment stage, after transferring to clean fermenters, and have found that I can rotate 3 conicals that way. Two are in use for the primary ferment and when needed for secondary ferment, I transfer from one primary into the (3rd) remaining clean fermenter, then clean the first one and use it to receive transfer from the second primary fermenter.

"So I would try to put the basket as late as possible, possibly even only for the flavor/aroma addition when I do no have a large bittering addition (which happens sometimes when using low alfa hops such as EKG for English ales)." - Ditto.

"I think that I'm on a good way to fix the draining issue with mixing/stirring the hops spider content, I now need to be creative to fix the temperature difference inside/outside the hops spider." - I recirculate (by pumping) from the BM outlet tap directly back into the hop sock, using the hoist hook to keep the return pipe in place above/into the hop sock. This technique has worked well for me anyway and I think that it also helps to address the temperature differential issue too as returned wort is directed to the interior of the hop sock. Periodically stirring the hop sock interior while scraping the walls during this recirculate might also assist in working through the temperature differential issue.

Food for thought. Good Luck - BMDrysdale.
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Re: Hop Spider BM 50L - issues

Unread postby Sladek789 » Mon Nov 27, 2017 10:02 pm

tsgreen wrote:I agree with BMDrysdale, pipe is awesome! Where did you get that?

That is sadly no mine, I just took it as inspiration only (mine is made of recycled extra SS tubes and fittings I had in stock, so not as fancy, I will try to do a pic tomorrow). It seems that the guy who owns it did it himself but he is maybe selling some (you can ask for a quote on the website), you may want to check with him. Here is the source.
http://banksbrewing.blogspot.cz/p/kettl ... ories.html

My understanding (might be wrong) is that whirlfloc is simply a powder/refined version of irish moss. As irish moss has larger particles, it will definitely block the mesh, at least it is my theory. Maybe the fine particles of whirlfloc will be less of a problem. I'm definitely interested to see your feedback if you decide to do a second similar brew but with whirfloc instead of irish moss.
I currently got no whirfloc in stock so I will simply try without anything next time. I anyway use gelatine before kegging.

About the dual hops spiders, the one I have is 27cm/10.5" wide (40cm/16" high), so huge and I like it that way. I choose it big on purpose to give as much space as possible to hops to do their magical work and somehow limit the hops utilization reduction known to happen while using hops spiders. I have fairly little space to add another one or I will have to buy two smaller and not use the one I have. It is a shame...and more investment :(

But via this discussion and the guys feedback, I start having a few idea how to limit the stuck hops spider, just the hops spider content cooling is still to be sorted.
As per my calculation, there is about 20l of wort/hops/trub in it when full, so more or less a 1/3 of my full post boil volume. If there is little exchange between the inside and outside due to hops material blocking, at least partially, I will have to dual a whirlpool output, in and out, at least it is the only idea I got so far.
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Re: Hop Spider BM 50L - issues

Unread postby Sladek789 » Mon Nov 27, 2017 10:11 pm

BMDrysdale wrote: I recirculate (by pumping) from the BM outlet tap directly back into the hop sock, using the hoist hook to keep the return pipe in place above/into the hop sock. This technique has worked well for me anyway and I think that it also helps to address the temperature differential issue too as returned wort is directed to the interior of the hop sock. Periodically stirring the hop sock interior while scraping the walls during this recirculate might also assist in working through the temperature differential issue.
Food for thought. Good Luck - BMDrysdale.


Very tasty :) , great feedback. Txs.

Your fermentation management is also impressive, I wish I could sample of your different beers from the same brew. I did that a few times in the past (different yeast and/or dry hopping) and it was very instructive.
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Re: Hop Spider BM 50L - issues

Unread postby Sladek789 » Tue Nov 28, 2017 4:37 pm

Here is my whirlpool arm made from extra SS tubes and fittings I had in stock, so not fancy but works well.

20171128_165514_resized.jpg
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Re: Hop Spider BM 50L - issues

Unread postby Sladek789 » Tue Nov 28, 2017 9:37 pm

First attempt of a dual whirlpool outlet, one real whirlpool, one just coming back to hops spider and I guess mixing it a bit, while cooling it too.

20171128_213721_1511903139439_resized.jpg

I would need to test it to see how much fluid goes outside of hops spider and inside. I keep you posted.

PS: As I had to modify it, I added a thermowell to allow the measurement of the wort after cooling, allowing me to adjust the cooling water flow accordingly.
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