As home brewers we all look to make our brew day a little simpler, or easier. I consider home brewing, in general, to be a “beervolution” (a Fermentation Nation term for learning from your mistakes), and that will be the focus of this series. Hops and hop management during your boil is what we’ll tackle today.
Tying your hops to your kettle is what I started with, but invariably, I stir a little too hard and the bag comes loose, forcing me to fish out the bag. It works, but a design that can definitely be improved. In comes Fermentation Nation’s first installment of Beervolution designed to save your day, with the Hop Spider!
All arachnophobics need not fear, it’s not a spider that feeds on the bugs that eat hops. It’s a design to suspend your hops in the boil conveniently. There are 2 general designs for the Hop Spider, with a few variations each.
The first design is one that I use, it’s easy to make and cheap. It starts with a PVC reducer, with three carriage bolts drilled and fastened, and a clamp on the bottom of the reducer to hold your hops. To use it, you would take a paint strainer bag sourced at your local mega store, cinch the clamp closed, and you’re in business!! Put it over your kettle, and put either your leaf or pellet hops in to bath in your wort. Having used this for the better part of 2 years the repeated use of it has started to warp the PVC. Thus comes in the next upgrade. This is still the same design, but a change to hardware. Instead of using a PVC reducer, upgrade to a stainless steel sink drain meant for a garbage disposal. This requires a few more tools to mark and cut the holes for the carriage bolts, but you’ll now have a product that will require minimal upkeep and will last years!
Here are a few Links for those of you that are visual: Brew Your Own: Hop Spider, Mostly Harmless Brewing: Stainless Steel Hop Spider.
The second design is a stainless mesh cylinder with spokes on the top to keep it off the bottom of your brew kettle. Same premise but yet another upgrade to the same design. Rather than having to fuss with a paint strainer bag, and caring for it in your cleanup process, you can go with this design. It can be purchased at: Stainless Brewing or DIY plans at: Suregork: DIY Stainless Spider.
Another example of a hop spider ready to go
It is our hope that you enjoyed this, our first installment of Beervolution. In the coming installments, it is our thoughts to go from the simple to complex, from kludged together to the cutting edge of the home brewing industry. Thanks and ferment on!
– Mathew, The Bearded Beervolusionist
The fine print; we at Fermentation Nation received no monies from any establishment for this review, and opinions expressed in this piece are entirely our own. All images are copyrights of their respective owners.