Are you tired of clogs in your brewing system? Have you found yourself doing more cleaning and unclogging than you ever thought possible? If you have, you face a problem that many homebrewers face when using hops to brew their beer. The whole flowers swell up and fall apart while the pellets turn into this nasty green sludge.
All of this could be avoided, though, with the help of what many call a hop spider or a kettle spider. Hop spiders are gadgets that make brewing life more manageable. Rather than having to whirlpool the wort to make sure nothing clogs, this prevents even needing that step. Not only making your life easier but reducing the amount of time you have to clean your kettle.
If it is so handy, though, why aren’t more people talking about it? Well, there are some drawbacks that some brewers find with a hop spider. It lacks the free flow that hops get just swirling around in the kettle. Some say that will hurt the taste of the beer you are making, while others claim there is no difference at all.
Hop Spiders Buyer’s Guide
Let’s take a look at what you should keep in mind when thinking about your own hop spider and how you can find the perfect one for your needs. Let’s also take a look at some of the top picks for a hop spider.
What Materials are Best for Hop Spiders?
When going into looking for the best kind of hop spiders, you have to look at the material. There are two main types when it comes to the apparatus used. Knowing what is best for you will make your life easier, from cleaning your equipment to what you use for your hops. In a world of hop spider vs bag, it really comes down to personal preference.
- Stainless Steel: The top pick for a hop spider is with a steel basket of micron mesh. Stainless steel hop spiders are durable, come in various mesh sizes, and can last a long time.
- Bag: There are many bags out there that you can use a hop spider with. Most bags will be nylon as you can heat it without having to worry about it melting. Do hop bags reduce utilization? The downside to this is it could change the taste of your beer. The flow through the bag won’t be as adequate as it would with the stainless steel, but some brewers swear by them.
How to Use a Hop Spider
There are various ways brewers recommend using a hop spider. But you want the hops to be as free as possible despite being contained in either a bag or micron mesh spider. Consider these tips before making your first brewing attempt. Each tip is on how to improve utilization with a hop spider.
- Do not overfill: Rookie mistake when using a hop spider happens here. If you overfill the basket, you are going to risk not only hops falling out but also taste. If the hops can’t spread out and do their thing, then the taste is going to be off.
- Height: You will want the bottom of the spider to be at least two inches off the bottom of the brew kettle.
- Agitation: Normally, when the hops are free in the kettle, they do most of the work for you. From time to time, go in and agitate the hops with a spoon long enough to reach the spider’s bottom.
- Amount: You are going to have to add hops to make up for utilization loss. Only do so when necessary, or you risk overfilling the spider.
- Draining: Let the spider drain naturally and thoroughly before removing it. If you are using a bag, do not squeeze the bag.
- Cooling: If your spider does not come with a rubber handle or rubber nubs on the hooks, let it cool before touching it. Remember, you are boiling the contents inside.
Cleaning Your Hop Spider
Once the brewing is done, you are going to have to clean the spider. How do you clean a hop spider, though? Everyone is going to have a slightly different method of cleaning than someone else, after all.
One method is taking a good garden hose and spraying it with high-pressure water. You could even take your power washer to this stainless steel hop spider. Just make sure you have some weight on the hooks, so it doesn’t just dash away from you.
Another is soaking it in really hot water with dish soap in it. It should help loosen all the stuck on sludge that is left behind from hops. Then give it a good scrub with a kitchen scrubbing brush.
One worry when using a hop spider is reduced utilization. What is utilization? It is the idea of the hops being able to get as much flavor into the beer as possible. So, does using a hop spider reduce utilization?
The best answer is no. Hop spiders show very little difference in tastes and clarity than not using one at all. It all comes down to personal preference at the end of the day. It is no different than using a bag to keep the hops contained.
Many people worry it will not be enough utilization, but as far a proof goes, there is little to no difference at all. If you are stressed, try a smaller batch at first.
What Is The Mesh Micron Size Of A Hop Spider?
The normal range of mesh micron size in a stainless steel hop spider is between 300-400 micron mesh. This number describes the size of particles that the mesh will filter. The higher the number, the more openings there are in an inch. There are 300 openings per inch when looking at the 300-micron mesh. Like there would be 400 openings in the 400-micron mesh. Many brewers swear by a 300-micron mesh for best results.
great Hop Spider options
There are plenty of options available for the perfect hop spider for your kettle. We’ve gathered our top picks from two different resources to narrow it down. Most hop spiders come in specific sizes (like small and large), but some are adjustable, so we’ve featured both options.
Hop Spider 300 Micron Mesh Stainless Steel Hop Filter Strainer
- FAMILY BREWING - A must-have for home brew lovers, suitable for brew bucket fermenter and perfect for big brewing
- STEADINESS - Hang the side of brew kettle during the boil, easy to hang and keep stable.
- GOOD FILTRATION - This brew filter will dramatically keep hop trub from getting in your brew bucket
If you ever wanted to have something easy, then this is the product for you. It attaches to the side of your kettle with two hooks. It’s easy to hang off the edge with no worry of having to do anything else. This product comes in two different sizes depending on the size of your kettle. Not only will this product keep your hops in place without having to worry about a bag, but also will be a tool that lasts. This is one of the popular large hop spiders available.
- It is made of stainless steel.
- Will not rust after one use.
- It offers good filtration with each use.
- The basket is easy to clean.
- It does not hurt the taste of beer.
- Limited space.
- Spider works best with whole hops rather than pellets.
- It doesn’t have a rubber handle protecting the metal hook.
Brewing 6x14in Hopper Spider Strainer
- FILTER BEER, COFFEE, TEA: We love beer, but what is better than the beverage itself is the satisfaction of creating it; The G. Francis Brewing 6” x 14” Inch Hopper Spider Strainer is designed for kettle brewing systems to contain hops while keeping debris out of pumps, chillers, and finished beer, resulting in a clearer beer and better taste; Suitable for brewing beer, filtering coffee, making compost tea, and putting into a boil pot
- EASY TO USE: Two hook handles firmly secure this filter over the edge of your kettle and, during the boil, hops can be poured directly into the spider; For any standard electric brewing system
- BUILT TO LAST: 300-micron mesh that will not wrinkle or damage easily; Frame made from firm stainless steel for strength and longevity; Will resist rust, corrosion, heat, and pressure; Enables easier sterilization prior to brewing and easy cleanup
If you are looking for a bigger hop spider, then you are in luck here. The concept is the same as the previous spider. It attaches to the side of your kettle to make it easier to contain the hops. However, this one has the added bonus of being either bigger or smaller, depending on your order size. The two different sizes accommodate smaller homebrewers that have either larger kettles or smaller ones. Each one can hold about the same amount of hops in both loose hops and pellets.
- Made of stainless steel that is not likely to bend.
- It is rust-resistant.
- Micron mesh will not wrinkle after one use making it durable.
- Excellent flow making sure the flavor doesn’t change from free-floating hops.
- Some users have experienced sharp points on the metal upon delivery.
- The hooks holding the hop spider are at an angle pointed down.
- More challenging to clean than alternatives.
Unlike the previous two, this one is from MoreBeer. This is one of the popular small hop spiders than the other two making it perfect for brewers with smaller kettles or taller ones. With a 400-micron mesh, it allows for the flow of liquid to hops without much interference at all. Not only will your beer taste good, but you also won’t have to spend hours scrubbing your kettle to get the wort out.
- Mades of stainless steel that won’t wrinkle or bend easily.
- 400-micron mesh won’t wrinkle or crush easily.
- Fits in smaller kettles more comfortably than larger spiders would.
- Can hold up to 12 oz of hops without spilling.
- Side hook can be bent easily for a tighter fit to the kettle.
- 400-micron mesh to fine for pellets to filter fully.
- Too fine of mesh clogs easier than a 300-micron mesh would.
- Sludge is harder to clean from the mesh without the aid of a power washer.
Hop Spider with Adjustable Hook
- 400 Micron Stainless Steel Hop Filter
- 26" From top of hook to bottom of basket and longest setting
- 6" Diameter x 14" Height Basket
What if you have a smaller kettle, though? Then this is the one for you. Smaller kettles can’t always handle the bigger hop siders as they are either too tall or too wide. This is an excellent way to make sure you get to keep your kettle from clogging without having to buy a bigger one. It is an adjustable hop spider that allows you to put it at the height you need it. At 400 micron mesh, it still allows for great flow between the hops and the liquid. This is one of the popular adjustable hop spiders out there.
- Smaller size perfect for smaller kettles.
- Micron mesh will not easily bend or wrinkle.
- Made out of stainless steel, making it rust-resistant.
- Easy to clean with a hose or dishwasher (no soap during the wash cycle).
- Easily adjustable to accommodate taller kettles.
- It may need an extra hook for stability.
- Lower capacity than some alternatives.
- The adjustment feature can be tricky to learn.
Final Thoughts on Hop Spiders
If you are tired of whirlpooling your wort or just having to unclog your system, try out a hop spider. These devices make the brewing experience easier by just avoiding the clogging. Clogging up your equipment can take time away from enjoying what you just created after all.
If everything is running smoothly, then you can share your beer with friends and family without the worry of the wort. No wort on the bottom and the ability to clean it out with a hose makes life easier. Give a hop spider a go and see just how much it can change your brewing experience.