Every now and then a new homebrewing product comes out that catches my eye and I say, I can not believe nobody had thought of that. The Trub Trapper is one of those home brewing equipment idea.
So what is the Trub Trapper and why is it so great? Well, lets start by talking a little about trub first. Trub is that thick sludge left at the bottom of your boil kettle after you have transferred your wort to the fermenter. It is a combination of hops, compounds, proteins and solids left over after the boil. The problem is that it is very difficult to stop the trub from passing in to your fermenter. Trub formed during the boil can adversely affect fermentation and produce undesirable flavors and haze in your finished beer. It is something that you want to avoid if at all possible and I will explain further in a couple of paragraphs. You worked to remove these unwanted compounds and byproducts during the boil so you do not want to allow them in your homebrewing fermenter.
How does the trub trapper work? Well, it is pretty simple really, you place the TrubTrapper in the bottom of your home brewing kettle so that your brew kettle dip tube is outside the tub trapper ring before you fill your boil kettle. You conduct your boil as you normally would and then whirlpool post boil. Let the wort settle for approximately 10 minutes and you are ready to go. It is that simple. The high temperature soft silicone gasket and overall weight of the TrubTrapper will keep it in place during the boil and whirlpool so there is no need to re-position, or try and unclog anything. A small amount of the overall trub will settle outside the trub trapper filter ring during the whirlpool process, and a portion of that will flow in to the fermenter but the grand majority of the trub will be trapped inside the trub trapper which is where you want it.
Why is trub transferring in to your fermenter such a bad thing? Well, excessive trub can coat yeast membranes impeding transport in and out of the cells which encourages metabolic by-products. Not to mention fine particulates in trub can lead to haze formation in your finished beer. Trub can also be responsible for head retention issues, impact aroma, flavor stability and off flavors such as sulfur, harsh bitterness and soapy notes. If you have been experiencing any of this in your home brew then the trub trapper may be exactly what you are looking for.
If you like to reuse your homebrewing yeast, the trub trapper can help with that too. Excessive trub affects your ability to harvest and re-use yeast effectively and efficiently. High trub levels make it more difficult to collect and clean the yeast and poor yeast health caused by excessive trub eliminates the ability for you to maintain the quality of your yeast which impacts the quality of your beer!
So how much is the trub trapper and where can I get it? It runs for about $50 and you can find the TrubTrapper here!
I have been using a Blichmann HopBlocker since my first batch of all grain brewing. Blichmann is known in the home brewing community for quality and dependability and the Hop Blocker certainly helps them in maintaining that reputation. It is crafted entirely out of sturdy stainless steel and after more than twenty batches, it is still in “like new” condition.
What I like most about the HopBlocker is the two piece configuration that allows me to keep the hot break and hop material away from the kettle draw tube so I draw only clean wort into my fermenters. After the boil, I will typically whirlpool the brew kettle for a minute or two and then let the trub settle out and form a cone on the bottom of my kettle. This process usually takes about 15 minutes. Once the trub has settled, I slowly draw the wort, discarding the first few ounces to clear out any initial particulates that may have made their way into the hop blocker during the boil or whirlpooling process.
I then continue to slowly empty the wort from the brew kettle into the fermenter. Once the wort level has reached about the bottom 1/3 mark of the HopBlocker, I slow down the wort flow even further and remove the sliding metal band from the HopBlocker. At this point the HopBlocker is drawing in wort through its fine perforated filtering holes (visible in photo #1). I decrease the wort flow rate to help reduce the quantity of particulate matter drawn in to the HopBlocker and to help minimize the possibility of clogging the HopBlocker. The HopBlocker is effective at reducing about 90 to 95% of kettle trub if used properly, unlike standard screen tubes which tend to draw more trub and have a higher probability of clogging.
The one downside of the HopBlocker is that it does not play very nicely with whole hops. They can clog the filtration holes. When using whole hops, it is recommend that you either boil the hops in a bag or strain them from the wort prior to using the HopBlocker. The overwhelming majority of hops I use in the boil are pellet hops, so this has not been an issue for me.
If you are interested in purchasing a Blichmann HopBlocker, they can be found here:
Blichmann Hop Blocker photo #1 – Shows the HopBlocker with the screen down. The slot in the metal band slides over the kettle draw tube, but I wanted you to be able to see the small hole perforation, so I placed it at this angle.
Home Brewing, Blichmann Hop Blocker
Photo #2 of the Blichmann HopBlocker – After the band had been removed and the last of the wort was being drawn from the kettle.