By Mike Granoth
As any hophead brewer knows, we are always looking to add more hoppy goodness into our beers. My idea is to add a hopback to my brewing system. A hopback is basically a vessel, filled with whole leaf hops, that is placed inline between your kettle and your fermenter. It was originally used as a way to filter trub from your wort. It was quickly realized that the hot wort running though whole leaf hops was a great way to add additional hop flavor and aroma. The thought is that when you use a hopback and then cool the wort rapidly, say through a counterflow chiller, that you are able to retain the additional aromatics in the wort. So here are the steps I took to build my hopback.
I picked up this container from Bed, Bath & Beyond for around $13.00. Nothing makes you girlfriend more suspicious then asking her to go to Bed, Bath & Beyond. This is made by Oggi and I believe it is has a 60 ounce capacity. My next purchases were from Lowes and Brewhardware.com. I needed to buy the fittings to connect it to my kettle and pump.
The next step was to figure out and mark your inlet and outlet location. I picked a spot on the side near the top for the inlet and dead center on the bottom for the outlet. I drilled a small hole and then used my ¾” Greenlee hole punch to make a ¾” hole in both locations. It worked really well with nice clean holes. It was also cool to be reusing my grandfather’s old electrician tools again for something completely different.
Once the holes were punched, I instated the fittings to both the inlet and outlet. The pieces below are a ½” flange nut, ½” flat silicone gasket, ¾” flat washer and a ½” hex nipple, female to female. I assembled them with the hex nipple and flat washer on the outside of the vessel and the gasket and flange nut on the inside.
Here is a photo of the assembly.
Once both assemblies were tightened, I applied Teflon tape to both the exposed female threads and screwed on the connectors for my kettle connection as well as my pump.
Finally I installed a mesh sink strainer into the bottom of the hopback to act as a secondary filter and to keep the outlet clear of the hop material.
This will be attached directly to my kettle at flameout and then run my wort through it into a counterflow chiller and straight into my SS Brewtech Brew Bucket. I will be buying a counterflow chiller soon and I will post an update when I get to try it out.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions. Thanks.