With my latest brew session, I wanted to try something new out in my equipment. Late last year I got a false bottom and stainless dip tube assembly with the hopes of turning one of my sanke kegs into a mash tun. I want to build a direct-fired mash tun, but the false bottom (FB) I got is a little small in diameter and I am afraid I’d get some scorching of the wort. So while I try and figure that one out I decided I could still put the FB to work in the brew kettle and use it as a hop screen. Normally I use pellet hops, but this time I went with all whole hops. Pellets would definitely just slip through the FB.
My first impression of using whole hops was that it was rewarding. There is something a little more magical to seeing whole hops floating around in the kettle then using pellets. Seems more traditional and heart warming.
At the end of the boil my FB worked great, it held back all the hops and I still had a great flow rate through the whole draining of the kettle into my two carboys. I even had 4+oz of orange peel and coriander seeds in the kettle. The seeds were nicely held up in the hops as a filter itself. I am sure that I got plenty of cold break through the hops and FB, but maybe some of it stayed in the kettle… who knows really.
I liked this so much that I may go completely to whole hops for my next couple sessions just for kicks. The only concern I have with whole hops is availability and freshness. My LHBS seems to have a pretty good turnover so freshness should be good. But sometimes I can’t find any EKG whole hops. Which is a shame because I make a lot of English inspired beers and like EKG the best.
I think using the FB and whole hops may be one small step in moving closer to using a plate chiller or counter flow chiller in the near future. My resistance to such tools has been separating hop debris out of the wort to prevent clogging of those types of chillers. Certainly a counterflow and FB-whole hop combo would work well in this regard.