Traditional screen filters draw from the bottom of the pot — immediately sucking all pellet hops and fine break material into the screen, where they plug. In Blichmann Engineering's HopBlocker™, preferential flow leaves settled fine break material (hops and trub) undisturbed at the bottom of the pot while draining the majority of the wort through a coarse filter from the top down. When the wort level is just a couple of inches from the bottom of the pot, the fine filter element is then exposed by lifting the shield, and the remainder of the wort is filtered. It's an intuitive design that allows the fine filter to work only on a small portion of the wort, not all of it. The HopBlocker™ will filter up to 95 percent of the break material and hops from your wort without plugging. While it is designed specifically to complement Blichmann Engineering's BoilerMaker™ pots, the HopBlocker™ can be installed in any manufacturer's pot or keg, and instructions are provided.
PLEASE NOTE: The HopBlocker is designed for use with pellet hops only. Whole/loose hops will plug the unit. While using whole hops, or a mix of whole and pellet hops, you must bag your whole hops in a large muslin grain bag. This will not effect the utilization rate and will result in significantly less wort loss.
THE PROCESS IS UNIQUE, BUT SIMPLE
Install the HopBlocker™ into the pot using the snap-in dip tube. This takes only a few seconds. Ensure that the shield is pushed all the way to the bottom of the screen and that the HopBlocker is resting flat on the bottom of the pot. Proceed with your boil as you normally do. The HopBlocker™ may move a bit during the boil, but this is not a problem. It will automatically right itself.
At flameout, vigorously stir the wort with the paddle to create a whirlpool. This encourages the hops and trub particulates to settle to the bottom center of the pot away from the HopBlocker™. Allow 15 to 20 minutes for thermal convection currents to slow and allow the break material and hop particulates to settle.
Drain your pot as fast as you'd like until you see the top of the kettle drain fitting (about 3 inches of wort).
Reduce the drain flow rate to about one-third of the initial flow rate. This allows the wort to slowly permeate through the hops and trub without dragging them to the filter where it may plug. Use your paddle to hold the filter down and quickly pull the shield up with a gloved finger or a racking cane (or something similar) so that it is out of the wort completely. It is important to quickly complete steps 6 and 7 so you do not lose the siphon, which will stop the flow. That's it!
WHOLE HOPS RECOMMENDATIONS
Loose leaf hops generally plug the coarse screen. Therefore, we highly recommend using large muslin grain bags to avoid plugging. In addition, you lose a large amount of wort from leaf-hops absorption. Using a bag, you can squeeze most of this out with a neglible affect on hop utilization and significantly easier cleanup. This method does not work for pellet hops because they pass through openings in the muslin bag. And finer mesh screens do not freely allow wort to pass so hop utilization is negatively effected.
INSTALLING IN NON-BOILERMAKER POTS
The HopBlocker™ was specifically designed for use in the Blichmann Engineering BoilerMaker™ line of brew pots. However, it can be installed in other manufacturers' equipment. A 1/2" outside diameter drain tube with a 90-degree bend (not included) will need to be installed 3 inches from the bottom of the pot. The bottom of the tube should be about 3/8" to 1/2" from the bottom of the pot or keg. Because you can't rotate the tube to thread it into the inside of your pot when the tube is inserted into the HopBlocker™, you will need a flare or compression connection so you can tighten the tube in place without turning the tube. Try to locate the tube so that the HopBlocker™ is as close as possible to the sidewall of the pot. For keg-based brew pots, you'll need to install the HopBlocker™ in the center of the pot because it has a rounded bottom. However, the HopBlocker's™ effectiveness will be reduced.