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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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