Thursday, December 5, 2013
The Blichmann Hop Rocket In Action
Let's do a product review today! Two years ago Santa left a fine gift beneath out tree: the Blichmann Hop Rocket. I was very excited at the time but admit that I didn't find a time to use it until the following summer. I dug it out again this fall and decided to document the process.
The idea behind this contraption is to mimic the whirlpool addition of late hops that many commercial breweries use. This adds a bright hop aroma and a little taste to the finished beer, and is really only appropriate for hoppy beer styles like IPA and pale ales. Since I don't tend to brew many of those, I don't break out this toy very often. The secondary use for the rocket is to act as a secondary filter for your beer (through the leaf hops and screen) before entering your plate chiller or carboy.
1) Place the rocket upside down to begin the preparations.
2) Insert the filtering apparatus into the inverted rocket.
3) Add leaf hops. This will fit from 1-3 ounces of hops, but not more. Keep in mind that hops will expand when they soak up hot wort.
4) Add rubber gasket and cap off with the large stainless bottom piece.
5) Tighten with included tool. (No wise cracks now...)
6) Turn upright and ready to hook up!
7) Hook up heat tolerant silicone tubing from the brew kettle --> the pump --> the Hop Rocket --> the plate chiller --> the waiting sanitized carboy. Yes, you are going to need a pump to push that wort through the rocket!
8) Fill 'er up! Note my need to prop up the silicone tubing so it does not kink. The Rocket is pre-chiller so it gets very hot. Make sure to use gloves for all of this.
Final results were 10 gallons of IPA, heavily hopped in the last 15 minutes of the boil, then run through an ounce of Cascade whole hops. I really should have used more but this was a thrown together brew with what I had in the freezer. I ended up dry hopping in the primary once the fermentation was slowing as well. Did the Hop Rocket really change the brew? Hard to tell with all the other hop action going on in this beer. It would be worth doing this again, but only running half of the wort through the Rocket and tasting the final beers side by side. Next year! I did note that far less trub made it into the carboys and this was certainly my clearest wort ever. I also flushed very little debris out of my plate chiller this time, so much of the hop bits and trub were caught in the Rocket.
One can also hook this up to a jockey box and use it as a Randall to infuse fresh hop character into a kegged beer, but I haven't tried it yet. Has anyone else?