Last night I transferred my latest beer from the conical fermenter to my 5 gallon homebrew keg. This batch was a modification of MoreBeer’s M-80 IPA which I put a Vermont Style IPA spin on using the London III yeast and dry hopping with some Citra whole hops. I tasted some as it came out of the fermenter and even warm, flat and unconditioned it tasted fantastic! I can not wait for it to finish up in the keg for a few days!
Over the past 4 months or so I have been trying hard to find a good solution for keeping the solids and hop matter created during the boil, out of my homebrewing fermenter. I started out using a Blichmann hop blocker, which worked fine, but I was a little disappointed with the quantity of wort that I had to leave behind in the kettle. I then switched over to a hop spider / stainless steel hop filter which worked terrible as I was plagued with clogging issues. I then used 2 stainless steel hop filters with worked better but I still had major concerns regarding diminished hop utilization. Now I have found myself going down a new path and trying the Trub Trapper.
The reason I purchased the Trub Trapper was because on paper it looks like the perfect solution for my needs and works well with my all grain configuration. What I like about the design of the trub trapper is that it has no top or bottom, so the hops can circulate in the kettle and I do not have to worry about reduced bitterness and aroma from stagnated hop circulation. It has a low profile so even if it gets clogged, there wont be too much of a wort loss and most importantly the trub is supposed to be caught in the trub trapper during the whirlpool so I do not transfer it to my conical fermenter.
So how does the trub trapper work in reality?
Per the description of the trub trapper, it is intended for a 10 – 15 gallon home brewing kettle and they do offer a smaller version for 5 gallon kettles. I use a 20 gallon Blichmann home brewing kettle, but for the most part only brew 5 and 10 gallon batches, so I figured, what the hell, I will give it a shot with my setup. My initial concern once I received the trub trapper was that it might be too small for my brewing setup but I figured I would give it a test run anyhow.
For my test brew, I went with a 5 gallon batch of MoreBeer’s M-80 All Grain IPA home brewing recipe. I figured the 6 oz’s of hops would be a good test of the Trub Trappers capabilities. Prior to brew day I started off by giving the TrubTrapper a good cleaning, like I do with any newly purchased home brewing equipment. The design of the Trub Trapper is relatively basic. It looks like an old school air filter but instead of a paper membrane in the center, it has a ring of drilled stainless steel surrounded by a layer stainless steel mesh. On the top and bottom of the Trub Trapper there is a silicon seal. Prior to starting my boil, I placed the trub tapper in the center of my boil kettle as shown in the following photo.
Something important to keep in mind, the TrubTrapper is only going to be effective if you have the capability of conducting a whirlpool at the end of your boil. Whirlpooling is a brewing process where after your boil has completed, you recirculate your wort inside your kettle with the use of a pump and whirlpool arm. As the wort swirls around your boil kettle, the trub trapper catches and contains it. If you do not have a whirlpool arm in your kettle, you can easily add one yourself as I did. A whirlpool arm will run you about $38 and you can find a great home brewing whirlpool arm here if needed. This animated homebrewing gif shows the whirlpooling process being conducted.
For the trub trapper to be most effective, you need to allow the wort to whirlpool for about 10-15 minutes. Depending on your homebrew recipe, this could be a great time for a hop addition or to begin your wort chilling process which is what I did. All in my whirlpool process lasted about 20 minutes before my wort had chilled down to 70 F and I began transferring it to my conical fermenter. So did the Trub Trapper work?
You bet your sparge arm it did! The TrubTrapper exceeded my expectations. As you can see from the photo above, it did a fantastic job of capturing the trub and keeping it away from my kettle transfer tube. Initially it clogged a little bit, but I learned that if i burped the far side of it, the seal permitted the caught wort to escape while the Trub Trapper still contained the thick trub sludge. For $50 I feel that it was a great buy, especially when considering that alternative solutions cost far more and are not nearly as effective.
If you are considering buying a TrubTrapper, you can get it for a great deal here and it ships free if your order exceeds $59!
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Cleaning home brewing equipment is now my favorite aspect of home brewing, but I know that it is a critical part of creating good beer and keeping my home brewing rig functioning properly. My home brewery has grown to the point where it has gotten complicated to clean. Home brewing equipment such as ball locks, hoses and pumps create pockets of space where bacteria can thrive. After a home brewing session, you have basically created the ideal environment for a bacterial incubator to form. It is a damp, dark environment that has a thin sugary syrup coating everything from the wort passing over it. If you do not clean properly, you are setting yourself up for possible beer contamination and off flavors.
I do not worry about my Hot Liquor Tank and the pump that drives it since it is only passing hot or cold water. I just make sure that the pump, valves and hoses are kept free from moisture. As far as my RIMS, Mash Tun, Boil Kettle, Valves, Hoses and Pump that feeds those system goes, I have a different process. The primary aspect of that process is recirculating a warm / hot (120 F) bath of PBW over everything for 15 minutes. You can actually see the water change in color after it has recirculated for a few minutes. I then allow the equipment to soak over night, then heat the solution again and flush it with clean water. I then break down my RIMS system and scrub out any lose debris, scrub my valves and reassemble. Like I said, it is not fun, but cleaning is an important part of brewing.
If you are looking for a great home brewing cleaner, you should give PBW a shot. You can find it here:
Now a cleaning cycle on the home brewing rig with some PBW #homebrew #homebrewing #homebrewer
Recently I had the pleasure of brewing up a batch of beer on one of my friends home brewing setups. It is always nice to get another home brewers perspective on home brewing. I find that I learn a lot about the home brewing craft from examining other home brewers methods and practices. Even better, both of us use similar home brewing hardware and like similar styles of home brew.
One of the biggest differences in our home brewing systems and our beer brewing practices is when it comes to the mash. Where I have made my mashing process complicated (possibly over complicated) over time, doing my best to make sure my mash is at a specific temperature for the entire 60 minutes, he sets his mash temp, closes the lid and does not attempt to correct for any temperature loss over time. By the time his mash has completed, the temperature in his tun has only dropped by approximately 6 to 8 degrees F.
My concern with a drop in mash temp would be that perhaps the finished beer would come out too dry or thin due to the lower average mash temp, the starches would only be converted to very simple sugars. Yet after sampling several of his beers, that did not turn out to be the case. I sampled 4 of his beers that day, varying from stouts to IPA’s and all of them were fantastic. I would not describe any of his beers as too thin or too dry.
The image above is of my Blichmann BrewMomerter. I hi-lighted the segment that pertains to the mash conversion. As all grain home brewers, for the most part we mash at between 150-152 F to get a well rounded mash conversion. When I asked my friend if he was concerned with the temp dropping, he said that he felt that most of the starch conversion was occurring early in the mash process while his temperature was on target and that he had never noticed a degradation in the quality of his finished beer since he started conducting his mash in this manner. I am inclined to agree with him based on the high quality beer that he produces.
I think that sometimes as home brewers, out of our desire to brew “perfect” beer, sometimes we go too far and over complicate things (or at least I do). I am not saying to ignore your mash temperature or to only mash for 10 minutes. My point is more that modern varieties of beer have been produced for over 600 years, well before yeast was even discovered in 1857. Considering that our ancestors created beer without having the benefit of such instruments as a BrewMometer, perhaps there can be some flexibility when it comes to brewing.
One of the home brewing items that he possesses that I am pretty envious of is a large sized stainless steel hop spider. When I say large sized, I mean large sized, this thing is giant as you can see from the animated image. The photos were taken during the whirlpool process after the boil had completed. I have been trying to get a hop filtering system to work out on my home brew system for the last few batches without a great deal of success. I have been trying to overcome some challenges with clogging issues in my hop filter and he shared some great advice with me. He said that in order for a hop filter to work properly and to get similar hop utilization compared to not using one, you need to have a hop filter that is at least half the diameter of your home brewing kettle. The size of the filter made a dramatic difference. I could see the wort moving around inside of his filter and he had hardly any clogging issues.
Not fun but you got to do it, cleaning the tap lines. #homebrew #homebrewing. I broke down the beer tap and soaked it in PBW. Then I cleaned all the lines with line cleaner and reassemble. #home #brewing
Just about any good home brewer will tell you that one of the first rules of home brewing beer and making good home brewed beer is cleanliness. Unfortunately humans are not the only beer lovers on the planet. Beer is loved by everything from insects to bacteria and your homebrewing and keg systems are highly susceptible to bacterial growth. Beer lines, keg fittings and taps are often times places where the like to hang out and they should be cleaned regularly. Thankfully there are several products out there to help you keep your systems sanitary and your beer tasting good!
After building my Kegerator setup which you can view here, I knew that I would need to care for it and clean my taps so I purchased the line cleaning kit and some liquid beer line cleaner which is shown above. The kit was great, it came with instructions and everything that I needed in order to do the job. The beer keg line cleaning kit came with a 1 quart hand pump that pushes Beer Line Cleaner through the draft beer system. The faucet gets removed and cleaned with the included faucet wrench and brush. The process is relatively quick and easy and takes about 20 minutes to clean a couple beer taps out.
If you are interest in purchasing a draft beer line cleaning kit you can find it here:
Here are the detailed instructions on how to clean your keg beer lines, beer taps and beer faucets:
1) Remove the tap from the keg. Use a beer faucet wrench to remove the faucet (the piece that the beer actually flows though to your glass) from the draft beer shank. The beer faucet collar should have a few holes in it, insert the wrench end into a hole and spin the collar clockwise to remove.
2) Next, disassemble the faucet to the point that the shaft inside can slide out. Place these parts in a bowl with 2 cups of warm water and ¼ teaspoon of Beer Line Cleaner. Put one cap full of beer line cleaner into the beer line pump jar and fill with warm water. Attach the lid pump unit back on the jar. Get a bucket to collect the fluid running from the tap. Insert the cleaning brush small end into the bottom of the tap to allow the flow to go through if needed.
3) Pump the cleaning solution though line and tap allowing the solution to sit in the lines for 10–15 minutes, then pump through. Follow this with 1–2 jars of water to rinse. Remove the brush from the tap.
4) Use the brush and a towel to clean the draft beer faucet and then rinse with clean water. Reassemble the faucet, hand tighten parts, leave loose enough so that they move freely. Attach the faucet back onto the shank again, using the wrench, do not over tighten, just tighten enough so that it does not leak any precious beer!
Homebrewing Product Information Found At: HomeBrewingCoupon.com
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Home Brewing Coupon Code Found At: WestCoastBrewer.com
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