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Hop Utilization in Hop Spiders

In an effort to explore options to avoid trub in the fermenter, I’m exploring a hop spider. I’ve read some old threads that suggest maybe 90% of normal hop utilization due to the bag, and others that suggest no difference.
see: … bu-248665/

Before I commit to building one, I’m curious if anyone has any (up-to-date) opinions, information, or other research on hop utilization when inside the spider’s paint strainer bag. I’m especially interested to know if there’s an accepted “upper limit” on hop ounces per bag… if it’s “one ounce” in a giant bag, then it’s just not worth the effort for me.

I made my hop spider approximately one year ago. I have 24 batches through it and haven’t noticed any loss in hop utilization, although I’m not sure I could detect the difference between 34 and 36 ibu in side by side beers. I have had 7 ounces of hops in the bag at one time. I’m sure I could get more in. The real interesting moment is when you are trying to put your chiller in for the last 15 minutes of the boil. The bag drains slowly. I end up holding it up for a minute or two, and trying to sneak the chiller in under it without dripping wort down the side of the kettle, or my leg. I would recommend it’s use. I made mine out of a 4" PVC joiner, and some 1" PVC. Total cost was under $10.00.

+1. I built mine a few months ago and have used it for a few batches. Haven’t noticed any ‘lack of hoppiness’ for lack of a better term. I use a 5gal paint strainer for the bag so it can hold a LOT of hops. There would be no point if it could only hold 1oz. I too spent somewhere around $10 on mine. Cheap, easy to make and makes the brew day go easier. I was using mesh hop socks or cheese cloth… big pain in the a$$. The hop spider is much easier. The only issue is it’s just one more thing to take apart and clean at the end of a brew day, but it’s worth it. And agreeing with homebrew4us, would you really notice a 10% drop in hop utilization if that were even the case? Which I doubt is really even the case. The hops are free to float around the pot inside a 5 gal paint strainer. There’s lots of room. If anything, I bet I’m getting better utilization than when i was using mesh bags for my hops which really constricted the flow of wort around and through the hop particles.

I don’t use the “spider”; but, I do use a 5 gal paint strainer bag & just clip the bag to the top of the kettle. Haven’t noticed any difference in hop flavor from when I just threw the hops in the kettle.

  • With everyone. Seems to get good utilization and never really noticed that the bitterness or flavor wasn’t really where it should be. Rather than use a spider I just lay a long stainless steel spoon across the top of the kettle and clip the bag to it. One less piece of equipment to build and clean. In addition I also put a weight in the bottom of the bag to keep it extended.

At the risk of asking a dum dum question, would a bag set up like this suffice for pellet and whole or just whole?

Works fine for pellets. I’ve been using one for a couple years when I migrated from IC to counterflow chilling. Like others, I’ve noticed little detectable bitterness/taste differences before/after. Now, the aroma may be a bit lower since you are literally removing all of the hops as soon as the boil ends. When using the IC, the late addition hops remain in the beer throughout the whirlpool and chilling. I don’t really care since I am not a hop head so I’d be interested if others noticed this too.

At the end of the boil when you remove the bag and see the spent pellets, it’s amazing how much volume a couple ounces of pellets takes up.

I haven’t noticed a difference either since I’ve been using it. The modification I made to mine was to get rid of the bolts that keep it centered in the kettle. Instead I mounted an upside down double coat rack hanger on the side. Now it just hooks on the side of my kettle. It moves around nicely during the boil so I know it is not impeding anything and is still getting good circulation by being on the edge of the kettle. This also allows me to drop in my chiller without any troubles at the end if I leave it in the kettle.


Wouldn’t this burn the bottom of the bag? I could see it being a good idea, put the immersion chiller in with the bag still in, after the chill, remove chiller, then remove bag. But I’d be afraid of the bag burning or scorching.

[quote=“Beersk”]Wouldn’t this burn the bottom of the bag?[/quote]Only if you weigh it down and have a short kettle.

Over a dozen batches this way, never burned the bag.

Probably the main factor reducing hop utilization for those that bag their hops is that the hops are too constrained to circulate wort around them. The good thing about a hop spider is that it tends to not constrain the hops since the bag is sort of held open by the spider. They are free to bob and weave in the rolling boil.

I’ve used a paint strain bag rig of some sort for years to hold the hops. The difference in hop utilization, if any, is minimal IMO. But I also tend to not do a lot of hoppy beers, YMMV.

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