Build a Hop Filter in 15 minutes

by Billy Broas



In 7 ways to filter your hops when homebrewing, I wrote about the paint strainer bag hop filter. This gadget is useful for keeping hop gunk out of your beer, but still getting high hop utilization.

It’s essentially a mesh bag that is suspended into the boil kettle and supported by rods that extend over the side of the kettle. A PVC coupler provides a hole where you can drop in your hops.

Builds of these contraptions are all over the internet, and one of my readers, Chris, even built one shortly after that post and shared pictures down in the comments. I liked his design so I based mine off of his.

Time for me to step up to the plate.

I don’t know why it took me so long to get around to because it is really simple to make.

Parts

  • 3/8″ Threaded rods. 3 of these. ($3.72)
  • 3/8″ Nuts and washers for connecting the rods to the PVC coupler. The section that had the rods also had a 6 pack of these – perfect for the inside and outside of 3 rods. ($1.97)
  • 4″ PVC coupler. ($1.92)
  • Hose clamp to fit the 4″ coupler ($2.00)
  • 3/8″ spade bit ($3.18)
  • 5 gallon paint strainer bag ($2.97)

Total Cost = $15.76 before tax

The only tools I used were a drill for the holes, a screwdriver for tightening the hose clamp, and a wood clamp for securing the coupler while I was drilling the holes.

How to Make it

  1. Drill 3 holes in the middle of the coupler. I measured and marked the 3 holes so that they were equal distance from each other. I then clamped the coupler to a wooden stand because the spade bit tends to bite and pull. A wooden block gave me a large surface for the top of the clamp.
  2. Insert the threaded rods and attach nuts and washers on the outside and inside of the coupler.
  3. Attach the mesh bag to the coupler with the hose clamp.

That’s it! Pretty easy and like the title says, it only took 15 minutes to make.

How did it work out?

It worked great. It kept all of my hops nice and contained and at the same time they floated more freely than they would in a hop bag. The one part that wasn’t so smooth was when I had to add my immersion chiller. The filter actually fits inside the coils, so I just removed the filter for a second, added the chiller, then put the filter back.

For recipes that don’t require a lot of hops I will probably keep tossing them in loose, but this will really come in handy with my IPAs and other highly hopped beers where the gunk is really a nuisance. If only I had this thing for my Pliny the Elder Clone…

For $15 and 15 minutes of labor this thing is certainly worth trying out.

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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Johnny Brooke - Beer Review Dude January 25, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Have you tasted any of the beers you brewed using the hop filter? I am wondering it this effects hop utilization.

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Billy Broas January 25, 2011 at 12:14 pm

I tasted it after cooling and it tasted as hoppy as it should. After reading multiple accounts plenty of people said the didn’t get any decreased utilization compared to hop bags. If you think about it, they swim much more freely in the paint strainer bag then in hop bags. There is some wort in the bag at the end, but I just let it drain for about 20 seconds during cooling and hit my final volume spot on.

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Shieldsy January 25, 2011 at 12:20 pm

Looks great Billy. I think I’ll have to give this a shot. For $15 what have I got to lose. Seems like a great idea for pesky whole leaf hops in particular. Thanks for posting. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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Mark January 25, 2011 at 7:37 pm

I have one similar to that and I have the same problem with needing to remove it to put my wort chiller in during the last 15 minutes. Could you put the wort chiller in at the start of the boil and just leave the chiller in the whole boil? That way you could leave the hop hanger in.

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Billy Broas January 25, 2011 at 11:32 pm

@Shieldsy “For $15 what have I got to lose.” <– Exactly! Please keep up posted on how it goes.

@Mark I definitely think you could leave the wort chiller in the whole time. I didn’t even think about that until afterward. One reason why I may not though is because my sight glass is calibrated without the immersion chiller, although I admit I have never tested to see how much it throws it off. Besides that, and as long as you don’t burn the crap out of yourself on the chiller, I think it’s a great idea. Thanks for the comment.

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Jorge January 26, 2011 at 12:13 am

I haven’t really had any issues in throwing my hops directly into the wort, but I think this will be helpful if you are re-using yeast so I may try this in the future…

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Brad January 26, 2011 at 2:27 pm

I’ve seen these before a ton on Homebrewtalk.com and they seem to work great for straining out the hops. My only concern is what chemicals could be leaching out of those paint strainer bags during a 60 minute boil! Aren’t those bags made out of nylon? If not, what are they made of? This is what has caused me to hold off on making one of these for myself.

On the immersions chiller getting in the way; how about making yourself a counterflow chiller! I used an immersion chiller for about a year and a half until I tried my friends CFC. Wowwww. CFC’s are waaaayyyy more convenient. Plus, I think it chilled much faster than my immersion chiller. Although you don’t need one, we split up the cost of a March pump which makes it even all the better.

Cheers!

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Billy Broas February 5, 2011 at 2:35 am

Hey Brad sorry for the delayed reply. They are nylon bags. I wouldn’t worry though – hop bags are nylon also. I would love to take a CFC for a test drive. Ah wouldn’t that type of a store be nice? “Try our out brew pot, see what you think.” Anyways, I’m looking into getting a March pump so maybe it will happen. Thanks for the comment.

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Brad February 9, 2011 at 11:39 am

Hey Billy. I’ve only looked at those paint strainer bags once on Home Depot and they looked like a more plasticy material than the thready-type hop bags that I’ve used in the past.

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Neil February 9, 2011 at 6:41 am

I might give this a go myself the video for this was great they look really simple to make.

My only reservation though would be that you aren’t getting any benefit by filtering the wort through the hop bed and removing any hot break material and trub. I guess it will all settle out in the FV though.

Great site by the way.

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Marc March 12, 2011 at 9:00 pm

Dumb question (I’m new to homebrewing)…

I just made this today, and the 15 minutes assembly time may have included my time at Lowes. It was that easy to put together.

Anyway, are the paint filter bags reusable, or do you need to use a fresh one each time? They aren’t expensive, but they look like something that could be reused if boiled in some water afterwards.

Thx.

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Billy Broas April 18, 2011 at 8:38 am

Hey Marc, I reuse the same bag but if it starts to break down then I’ll use a new one. Luckily the package came with two.

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Thom H. April 17, 2011 at 6:40 pm

Made one and my PVC buckled a little.

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Billy Broas April 18, 2011 at 8:41 am

Wow really? That’s pretty surprising.

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Matt B. July 11, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Try using CPVC it is rated for high temps.

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Billy Broas July 11, 2011 at 7:31 pm

Thanks for that tip Matt.

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Thom H. July 11, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Thanks Matt! I have been keeping it a little further from the wort. I do really like the lack of hop sludge. I still tend to add anything under 20 minutes directly outside the bag.

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peter July 12, 2011 at 1:58 pm

how does it do for pellet hops?

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Billy Broas July 12, 2011 at 3:26 pm

It works great. I use pellets 99% of the time.

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Thom H. July 12, 2011 at 3:58 pm

Same here always use pellet. Works great, less clogging.

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ilanko January 25, 2012 at 9:44 pm

Hi Billy,
my main concern is using the paint strainer bag, it might be bad for the next generation to use plastic bag under one hour heat condition. i might use stainless steel mosquito net instead.

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frank January 31, 2012 at 3:08 pm

Great project.
Are you guys using galvanized parts for this (that’s pretty much all I can find) or are you concerned with nasty stuff dripping into the wort?

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Billy Broas January 31, 2012 at 8:03 pm

Looks like mine are zinc plated. I probably should be worried about all this stuff near my wort, but I’m not.

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Jason F. March 5, 2012 at 8:17 am

Billy, What material is the bag made of?

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Billy Broas March 5, 2012 at 10:21 am

I threw away the bag but here’s a link to it: http://bit.ly/xABaDb

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Kevin Gearhardt August 16, 2012 at 2:17 pm

I know this is a few months old, but since I’m looking for a solution…

I looked at that Home Depot link for strainers and they say it’s a Trimaco product. Assuming that’s correct, according to the Trimaco website (http://www.trimaco.com/strainers.php) the bags are made from polyester.

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Kevin Gearhardt August 16, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Also found this on polyester use in cooking – much higher temps than brewing…

http://www.foodengineeringmag.com/articles/polyester-netting

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Billy Broas August 16, 2012 at 3:01 pm

Good research Kevin!

Tom L October 15, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Will this method work for hop pellets? Is the paint strainer mesh fine enough to contain them? Thanks!

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Billy Broas October 15, 2012 at 7:27 pm

It sure will. I use pellets with it almost exclusively.

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Michael November 15, 2012 at 10:54 am

Question on the PVC coupler; I know that for Mash Tuns you are supposed to use CPVC as it won’t leach chemicals at high temperatures, unlike PVC. Do you think there is any issue with using PVC here? Sure, it isn’t in the wort, but the steam is very hot and chemicals could leak down with condensation.

Trying to figure out if I should use a copper ring instead, would look pretty slick. Thanks for the post by the way, I was looking fr filtering ideas for before my pump and this seems like a great way to deal with it! Hot/Cold break not as much of a concern as hop particulate.

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Billy Broas November 16, 2012 at 10:13 am

CPVC is a better bet. Personally I don’t worry about PVC but I’m not exactly one to take a ton of precautions. Copper would look. It will get pretty hot though. Glad you liked the post.

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D&D April 25, 2013 at 11:44 am

I couldn’t CPVC but did find one that is HDPE at Home Depot. http://www.homedepot.com/p/Advanced-Drainage-Systems-4-in-Polyethylene-Slip-External-Snap-Coupler-0412AA/100181960#.UXlqvfJNWLB

BTW Billy, Thanks for this write up!

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Joe Smith December 31, 2012 at 2:24 pm

Just constructed this for my 5gal kettle. Should the paint strainer be clamped enough so that it doesn’t touch the bottom of the kettle? Or should that not matter?

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Billy Broas January 1, 2013 at 1:31 pm

I would keep it a few inches off the bottom of the kettle just to make sure it doesn’t melt on the metal.

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Rhen May 21, 2013 at 11:27 am

I’ve never tried a hop bag of any sort. Do you simply add hops to the bag at their different addition times throughout the boil?

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