Hopping Through a Hopback?

Post #1 made 9 years ago
G'day All,
Been doing a bit of reading about hopbacks and was wondering if anyone has used one in traditional or biab, or even if it is practical for biab?
If anyone has used one, was there a noticable difference in your beer?
I read that they use the hopback in Little Creatures Pale Ale, and I don't mind that drop at all :)
Cheers Brad ;)
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Post #2 made 9 years ago
I haven't used one myself Brad but have tasted several beers using one.

Little Creatures does use a hopback but the amount they use in the hopback varies from brew to brew depending on what hop styles they have in store, how old they are etc etc. The head brewer from Little Creatures came and gave a talk to a few of us last year and it was fascinating at how he managed to juggle different methods of hopping to suit what he had in store and still get such good consistency in LCPA and his other beers. This was a brilliant talk by a totally enthusiastic and unpretentious brewer. His main point was that hops will not behave scientifically. Each hop has its own personality and once you know how to deal with it, many things become possible. He loves exploring the personality of hops.

I have tasted home brewed hopbacked beers where pellets were used between the keg and the tap with the sole intention of making the beer as bitter as possible. This is certainly not my cup of tea and leads in my case to an instantly worn palate, a dry puckered mouth and a hangover. It is also actually not a proper hopback.

A proper hopback in a brewery is always used immediatley after the kettle but before the chiller and has two purposes. One is a filter - in other words the hop flowers (not pellets) are used to get rid of some of the trub. The other is to affect the hop profile, mainly aroma.

My opinion is that like recipe formulation, you probably need to have a knack for working out how to use a hopback well. A few people have this knack. For me, I would have to brew the same recipe side by side ten times with and without a hopback to be certain there is a difference - something I will never do. Those with the "knack" could probably hone it down within two or three brews done at separate times.

As for it being practical, it is certainly as practical for BIAB as it is for traditional. The biggest problem with using it like Little Creatures is that you would need a counter-flow chiller. Getting this to work by gravity is a whole new ball game. You'd probably really need a pump and then you are opening up a whole new level of complexity (the cleaning is enough to turn me off) for very debatable gain.

But there is no reason that you can't try a hopback using wort chilled in the kettle, hot wort going into a cube or hot wort going from your kettle into the hopback and then into a counter-flow chiller. All will produce different results.

The great thing with you is that you can probably make one quite easily :). My only suggestion is to give it a go and not base your opinion of the results on just one brew.

Personally I think NRB's All Amarillo American Pale Ale is a better beer than LCPA. It tastes great on the third or fourth glass whereas LCPA to me becomes a bit one dimensional after say half a glass.

I think hopbacks in breweries are probably used to save the brewery money by using less hops to add more aroma. Saving a few cents on a brew is not something we have to worry about.

I could be totally wrong though. Have a read here.

Forget hopbacks and make SS auto-syphons please :).

Last edited by PistolPatch on 11 Jun 2010, 17:16, edited 10 times in total.
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