Customer Spotlight: Jack, Brewing Hop Head From California

Jack, from Thousand Oaks, California sent in this awesome story on his beer brewing adventures. He’s been brewing for years and documented how he brews below. You’ll love all the detail he put into it & the fun he has along the way!

HI MY NAME IS JACK FROM THOUSAND OAKS CALIFORNIA, AND I AM A HOP HEAD!
Jacks6x19

I HAVE BEEN BREWING BEER FOR THE LAST 10 YEARS, USUALLY MAKING A DOZEN OR MORE BATCHES A YEAR. ABOUT 4 YEARS AGO I SWITCHED TO ALL GRAIN BREWING. AROUND THE SAME TIME I STARTED DRINKING IPA’S. I GOT ADDICTED TO THE DIFFERENT HOP FLAVORS AND BITTERNESS. I NO LONGER WAS INTERESTED IN BREWING 5 TO 10 GALLON BATCHES OF MY USUAL BROWN, RED ALES OR EVEN DARK RICH STOUTS THAT I OFTEN ENJOYED.

WHEN I FIRST STARTED BREWING SMALL BATCHES OF IPA’S IT WAS NOT TOO HARD TO SEPARATE THE PELLET HOPS BECAUSE I WAS ONLY USING A FEW OUNCES PER BATCH. AS I PROGRESSED WITH LARGER BATCHES (HOP FORWARD BREWING) I STARTED TO USING A POUND OR MORE HOPS. IT BECAME MORE DIFFICULT TO CONTAIN THE HOPS AND I STARTED RUNNING THE BEER THROUGH A LARGE FINE MESH STRAINER BEFORE FILLING THE CARBOY. THE STRAINER STARTED TO GET PLUGGED UP ALMOST IMMEDIATELY. I WOULD NEED TO RINSE THE STRAINER WITH WATER AND THEN HAVE TO STERILIZE IT BEFORE STRAINING THE HOPS OUT AGAIN. AFTER GOING THROUGH THIS ABOUT 8 TO 10 TIMES IT BECAME FRUSTRATING. I KNEW THERE HAD TO BE A BETTER WAY. SO I TRIED USING HOP BAGS BUT THEY WOULD LEAK OR WOULD BE A COMPLETE HASSLE (TRYING TO OPEN A TIED HOP BAG THAT IS BOILING HOT & THEN HAVING TO RESEAL IT) ON MY 4 OR MORE HOP ADDITIONS DURING THE BREWING PROCESS.

I DECIDED TO ORDER A HOP SPIDER FROM THE UTAH BIODIESEL SUPPLY WEB SITE. I WENT WITH THE 6X19 300 MICRON FILTER AT FIRST. IT WORKED GREAT ON THE FIRST FEW BATCHES BUT AS I STARTED MAKING BIGGER BATCHES AND USING SEVERAL POUND OF HOPS, IT BECAME OBVIOUS THAT I NEEDED AN ADDITIONAL LARGER HOP SPIDER. SO I PURCHASED THE 10.5 X 16 FILTER AND USED IT IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE OTHER FILTER. USING BOTH HOP SPIDERS TOGETHER ALLOWED ME TO INCREASE TO A 26 GALLON BATCH ( WITH MY LARGER BREW KETTLE)

UTILIZING ABOUT 4 POUNDS OF HOPS.

I AM TOTALLY IMPRESSED WITH USING THE BREWING FILTERS. ADDING THE MULTIPLE HOP ADDITIONS IS EASY AND EFFICIENT. I STILL USE THE STRAINER BUT AM ABLE TO GET THROUGH THE PROCESS OF FILLING THE 3 OR 4 CARBOYS WITH ONLY CLEANING THE STRAINER MAYBE ONCE. THE CLEAN UP ON THE STAINLESS HOP SPIDERS IS ALSO EASY.

[Check out Jack’s Recipe!]
JACK’S IMPERIAL IPA (26 GALLON BATCH, 88 POUNDS OF GRAIN )

HOPS PELLETS ADDITIONS TO THE BOIL UTILIZING THE 300 MICRON HOP SPIDER FILTERS 6 X 19 AND ALSO THE 10.5 X 16
16 OZ. COLUMBUS
16 OZ. SIMCOE
12 OZ. CITRA
8 OZ. AMARILLO
12 OZ. CASCADE

DRY HOPPED IN 4 CARBOYS (SECONDARY) EVERYDAY FOR 5 DAYS
½ OZ CITRA X 5 DAYS = 2.5 OZ
½ OZ AMARILLO X 5 DAYS = 2.5 OZ
½ OZ CASCADE X 5 DAYS = 2.5 OZ
7.5 OZ X 4 CARBOYS = 30 OZ TOTAL DRY HOPS UTILIZED.
NEED TO INVEST IN CARBOY FILTERS. HINT, HINT!

I HAVE BEEN USING THIS VARIETY OF YEAST FOR THE LAST 20 OR SO BATCHES. IT FERMENTS QUICKLY IS HIGHLY ALCOHOL TOLERANT AND I HAVE ENJOYED THE BEER’S FLAVOR MORE USING THIS YEAST. (I HAVE PERFORMED SEVERAL SPLIT BATCH COMPARISON WITH OTHER STRAINS OF YEAST AND THIS IS WHAT I LIKE)
Jacks Brewing Yeast

I MAKE A 2000ML YEAST STARTER A FEW DAYS BEFORE I BREW AND ADD 2 TO 3 VIALS OF YEAST.

AFTER 24 HOURS I USUALLY PITCH IT OR CHILL IT AND DECANT THE BEER AND MAKE A SECOND STARTER. I TEND TO MAKE 10 TO 26 GALLON BATCHES.
Jacks Yeast Ready To Go

THE WAY I USED TO CRUSH MY GRAINS I NEEDED MY GOOD FRIEND JAMES TO HELP LOAD THE MILL. I USED ABOUT 88 LBS OF MALT ON THIS BATCH.
Jacks Grain Mill

NICE MALT CRUSH I USED A .029 ROLLER GAP SETTING ON MY MILL FOR THIS BATCH.
Jacks Crushed Malt

MY NEW GRAIN MILL SET UP THAT WILL BE MOUNTED ON MY BREW CART.
Jacks New Grain Mill

120 QUART IGLOO COOLER THAT I CONVERTED INTO A MASH TUN. (THE BABY WILL HOLD 90 POUNDS OF GRAIN)
Jacks Mash Tun Cooler

MASHING IN THE GRAIN IN THE MASH TUN. THE IDEAL TEMPERATURE IS 152 DEGREES FOR ABOUT 60 MINUTE BEFORE SPARGING ON THIS BATCH.
Jack Grain Mash

SPARGING THE MASH TUN WITH 170 DEGREE WATER AND COLLECTING THE WORT TO START THE BOIL.
Jack Sparging Mash Tun

CONVERTED KEGGLE SYSTEM GREAT FOR 10+ GALLON BATCHES (I WELDED / FABRICATED BOTH CARTS)
Jacks Complete Keggle System

IN THIS SET UP I AM USING A 26 GALLON BOIL KETTLE TO MAKE A 15 PLUS GALLON BATCH
Jacks 26 gal boil kettle

MY LARGEST BREW SETUP CONSISTS OF:
FERMATAP 26 GALLON HLT, 120 QT MASH TUN, 160 QT BAYOU BREW KETTLE, FERMATAP 8 GALLON KETTLE AND THE 6 X 19 AND 10.5 X 16 HOP SPIDERS (26 GALLON BATCH)
Jacks Largest Brewing Setup

I HAVE OVER A POUND OF HOPS IN THE 6X19 HOP SPIDER
Jacks6x19

AFTER AN 8 PLUS HOUR DAY OF BREWING THE BREW DOGS AND I ARE BEAT!!!
Jacks Brew Dogs

THIS IS AFTER 8 HOURS FROM WHEN THE YEAST WAS ADDED.
EVERYTHING IS GOING AS PLANNED.
Jacks Glass Carboys

15 HOURS INTO THE FERMENTATION I HAD TO INSTALL A BLOW OFF TYPE SYSTEM SINCE THE CARBOYS WERE FOAMING OVER THE AIR LOCKS.
Jack Fermenting Carboys

THE YEAST IS GOING CRAZY THE MOVEMENT IS VERY FAST LIKE A PUMP IS CIRCULATING THE SOON TO BE BEER. (THE PERVIOUS BATCH IMPERIAL IPA 10.5 % ABV)
Jacks Yeast Movement

CLEAN AND STERILE BOTTLES OF COURSE. THE ONES WITH THE LABELS ARE JUST BACK UPS, I ALWAYS THINK I WILL BE SHORT BUT USUALLY HAVE 20 EXTRA BOTTLES.
Jacks Bottles

MOST OF THE TIME I SIPHON OUT OF THE CARBOY INTO A BOTTLING BUCKET OR THE BEER IS TRANSFERRED A FEW TIMES AND FILTERED BEFORE BOTTLING.
Jack Siphoning

I HATE THIS PART JUST FINISHING WITH SOME 12 OZ BOTTLES.
I USUALLY USE MOSTLY 20 OR 22 OZ BOTTLES.
AFTER ABOUT 120 BOTTLES I AM REALLY DONE, OF COURSE THE BEER FROM THE LAST BATCH THAT I AM DRINKING (POUNDING) IS KEEPING ME GOING WELL PAST 12:00 AM.
Jack Bottling Beer

ALL FINISHED JUST HAVE TO WAIT 2 TO 3 WEEKS FOR CARBONATION
Jacks Beer All Bottled

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5 comments on “Customer Spotlight: Jack, Brewing Hop Head From California

  1. Excellent set up. Similar to mine. I want to push it and do 10 gal. batches in my keggle system. Haven’t tried it yet. Just came across this looking at biodiesel stuff from Utah supply. I must get a brew kettle filter for my hops. What a great idea.

  2. Jack,

    I have a converted beer keg (keggle) and am thinking the bigger the better for the hop spider. I see in your picture you have a 6×19 spider in a really large kettle (26 gallon batch). Is that big enough to get good absorption of hops into the wort, or would you recommend getting a bigger spider? I am thinking the bigger the better.

    • Mike, After this post he sized up to a larger hop spider for his big kettle. We built him a really big Brew In A Basket.

      Basic rule of thumb is you want the diameter of your filter to be at least half the diameter of your brewing kettle. That helps give you better absorption rates.
      Hope that helps.
      -Graydon, Utah Biodiesel

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