Cleaning hop debris from the kettle strainer is about as much fun as cleaning the toilet. But there is no reason you have to put up with such drudgery. Hop spiders are designed to contain debris to prevent it from clogging up your system and from migrating to the fermenter. They also free you from having to spend time cleaning every nook and cranny of your kettle strainer. You can either purchase this or make your own.
Commercial versions typically hang from the side of the kettle, suspending the hops in the boil. DIY filters, on the other hand, take the form of a tripod from which your hops are suspended into the boil. Below we’ll look at four of the best commercially available products and also take a quick look at what are the steps involved in making your own.
- 1 Our 4 Best Hop Spiders & Bags for 2018
- 2 #1 G Francis Stainless Steel (Editor’s Choice)
- 3 #2 Gooday Stainless Steel
- 4 #3 Strange Brew
- 5 #4 The Weekend Brewer (Best Hop Bag)
- 6 DIY Hop Spider: How to Build One at Home
- 7 Our Editor’s Choice is…
Our 4 Best Hop Spiders & Bags for 2018
Below are the four hop spiders and bags our experts deem to be the best on the market today.
#1 G Francis Stainless Steel (Editor’s Choice)
You can go ahead and drop the hops into your boil, but why would you want all the mess (as well as the cleanup involved) when you can just hang the G Francis variant over the side of your kettle and suspend your hops inside? No more debris mucking up your kettle filter. No more detritus fouling up your brew during fermentation.
The G Francis variant holds one gallon and cleans up in a flash either in the sink or in the dishwasher. It’s also incredibly easy to use. Just place the filter over the rim of your kettle during the boil and pour your hops directly into the suspended stainless steel filter. That 300-micron mesh will stand up to the rigors of the boil without rusting, warping or wrinkling. It’s also easy to sterilize prior to your boil.
Because there are no arms extending from the this product, it stores away easily in your kitchen cabinets or anywhere else you want to put it. It’s suitable for medium to large-sized boils and will be an invaluable component of your brew process for years to come.
- Extremely easy to clean.
- Saves loads of time and hassle.
- Durable stainless steel stands the test of time.
- Accommodates up to 1 gallon of hops.
- A bit large for a 5-gallon brew.
#2 Gooday Stainless Steel
This product from Gooday is built like a tank and is more than capable of providing a safe, mess-free environment during the all-important boil. Like the G Francis, it hangs off the side of your kettle and suspends the hops in the boil so you can get the aromatic and flavor-related benefits you need without any of the mess that comes with simply dumping hops into the boiling wort.
It is simple in concept and execution. It’s also easy to clean. It saves you from having to get down and clean your kettle filter after the boil or from having to hand wash this bag. With the Gooday stainless variant, you just spray it down with a garden hose, and you’re good to go for the next boil. With two hooks at the top, it’s also one of the most secure hop bags out there and won’t be jarred loose by an aggressive boil.
If you’re into convenience and a quality finished product, this Gooday representative provides both.
- Robust construction.
- Easy clean-up with a garden hose. Can be air-dried.
- 300-micron stainless steel mesh.
- Corrosion and heat resistant.
- Not available in different sizes.
#3 Strange Brew
Although a stainless hop spider is not included with this Strange Brew product, the spider itself will nonetheless save you the considerable hassle of having to try and DIY your own spider. With this one, you won’t have to worry about the strength and durability of the arms or whether or not the bag for brewing will attach properly.
It’s all accounted for. This saves you from having to clean and sanitize stainless steel strainers (admittedly that’s not very difficult to do, but some folks are not fond of it) and will fit most kettles. And while it doesn’t come with the bag itself, it does come with anti-slip sleeves that keep the spider in place during the boil.
- Classic tripod design for stable suspension.
- Easy to use; adapts to most kettles.
- Saves you from having to clean the steel mesh.
- Outstanding build quality.
- Bags not included.
- Not so convenient to store.
#4 The Weekend Brewer (Best Hop Bag)
At the other end of the convenience spectrum from this stainless steel is the spider bag. The spider bag is a decidedly low-tech answer to the problem of containing hop debris, but it’s a solution that appeals to many people’s sensibilities. The Weekend Brewer bag can be an appealing option for a variety of reasons.
First, it eliminates debris in the strainer that can migrate to the fermenter.
Second, it cleans up easily with a little mild soap.
Third, hops won’t overtop it like they sometimes do with the steel mesh.
And finally, it costs less than a six-pack. In fact, it costs less than a beer in many bars.
To use The Weekend Brewer bag, simply drape the bag over the rim of your kettle, secure it with the drawstring and you’re ready to go.
- An excellent option for first-time homebrewers.
- Easily holds up to 20 pounds of grain.
- Smell and stain-resistant material.
- Bag is fabricated from highly durable polyester.
- Not as aesthetically pleasing as a steel hop spider.
- Cleaning can sometimes take a while.
DIY Hop Spider: How to Build One at Home
Although the above profiled commercially available hop spiders will help you save time and money, there are still some folks who prefer doing things themselves, and that’s fine. The good news is that building your own DIY hop filter is a fairly straightforward (although time and resource-consuming) process that should be well within the skillset of a dedicated creator.
That said, if you wish to build your own variant, you can pick up most of what you’ll need at the local home improvement store for a small amount of money. Here are the things you’ll need:
- PVC coupler
- Stainless steel screw clamp
- 3 pieces of 1/4 inch threaded rod, 1 foot in length for each
- Nuts and washers that will fit the rod
- Paint strainer bag
Once you have all the materials gathered together, follow these steps to create your DIY product.
- Step 1 – Using a power drill with a 1/4 inch drill bit, drill 3 evenly-spaced holes in the upper (wide) portion of the PVC coupler.
- Step 2 – Screw a nut 1 inch onto the end of the threaded rod. Add a washer. Insert the short end of the rod through the hole in the PVC coupler. Add a washer on the inside and screw another nut on tightly to hold the rod in place. Repeat for the other 2 rods.
- Step 3 – Screw another nut 1 inch onto the long end of each rod. Insert a washer and then screw another nut right down onto the washer. This washer will keep the spider in place on the kettle. (You will likely need to adjust the position of this washer on the rod to accommodate your particular kettle.)
- Step 4 – Pull the paint filter bag up over the narrow end of the PVC coupler and secure it using the screw clamp.
You can do all this if you like but it will likely require trips to more than one store to find the necessary items, and if you don’t have a power drill you’ll have to either borrow or buy one.
The time you’ll spend tracking down materials and actually building this DIY hop spider hardly seems worthwhile when you can order a high quality, professionally-made product like the one from G Francis for a small amount of money with just a few clicks on your smartphone.
Our Editor’s Choice is…
This equipment was invented to help homebrewers simplify what can be a pretty complex and labor-intensive process. With the G Francis hop spider stainless steel on your kettle, you eliminate clogged strainers and all the time and hassle that comes with cleaning them. You also eliminate the possibility of debris in your fermenter throwing off the balance of your brew.
This product is incredibly easy to use and will help you streamline your brewing process while making it faster and less messy. It will also help ensure a high quality finished product. And isn’t that the most important thing?