How To... » How To…: Build a Hop Spider

How To…: Build a Hop Spider

A Hop Spider is a cheap DIY method for straining hops from your wort during your boil.  I recently made a second one, since my first melted.  I’ll explain why my first didn’t work and why this one will hold up much better.

What you will need:

  • 3″ to 4″ PVC Coupling
  • Four long bolts (the length of the bolts depends on how big the opening in your kettle is.
  • 8 washers for the bolts
  • 8 nuts for the bolts (mine were 1/2″)
  • A worm clamp big enough to fit around the bottom of the coupling
  • 5 gallon paint straining bags
  • A drill and bit that is a little bit bigger than the width of your bolts (mine was 3/8″)
  • A ruler
  • A marker
  • A clamp of some sort

IMG_1063First you will need to use the ruler to find the approximate widest parts of the coupling on the 4″ side (which will be our top).  Using the marker, put four dots to signify the widest sections. IMG_1064From each dot, measure down approximately half way the height of the top (4″) section of the coupler.  Add another dot.  This is where we will be drilling our holes.IMG_1066Clamp the coupler and drill your holes where the dots are marked.IMG_1068They dont have to be perfect holes.  Clean any plastic burrs that are left behind.  It’s easier to clean them off after drilling each hole since the plastic will be a little softer from the heat of the drilling. IMG_1069Next, insert the hardware and tighten it down.  Use a bolt and a washer on each side of the plastic.  The washer will be up against the plastic with the bolt holding it tight.IMG_1071All tightened up and looking good!IMG_1072Feed the paint straining bag through the worm clamp and slide the worm clamp over the bottom (3″) section of the coupling.  Tighten the worm clamp AS TIGHT AS YOU CAN!  You don’t want it falling into your wort!IMG_1073 IMG_1074And there you have it. A hop spider that sits ever so nicely in your boil kettle! IMG_1076

A few notes:
My first hop sider melted since I used thin PVC.  Look how thick the one above is.  I don’t expect it to warp at all with it’s thickness.  If it does, I plan on using it once right side up, and the next time up side down.  This will probably reverse the warping that happens.

I said above, the length of your bolts depends on the size of your kettle opening.  My kettle has a 12″ hole cut.  With the top of the coupling being 4″, I needed an additional 4″ on each side to match the width of the opening.  With the area of each bolt that was being used by nuts, as well as the area that would sit on the ledge of the kettle, I used 6″ bolts.  As you can see, they are a nice fit.

Be sure to tighten everything before each use.  It is especially important to have the worm clamp very tight.  I have had this loosen during the boil and fall in, defeating the entire purpose.  And it’s no fun to try and fish out either.

Paint strainer bags can be found at the hardware store, as well as the rest of this equipment.  They are great since they are re-usable.  I have been using the same couple for about a year now and might replace them only because they are a little discolored.  They still filter my hops wonderfully.

A hop spider is a bit of a pain if you use an immersion chiller.  You will need to lift it out, let the hops drain, add the chiller and re-add it.  Without someone to help, or with a lot of hops, this can be an issue.  I’ve done it for awhile now, even by myself, but it’s not simple.

I have read on-line that this method is good enough of a filter to use even a plate chiller.  I plan on buying one with my electric setup and will report back the results I have.  If not, maybe doubling the hop bags would improve the filtration?


I hope you enjoyed this write-up!


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2 comments on “How To…: Build a Hop Spider
  1. spdragon says:

    Great post and great idea!

  2. Don Maier says:

    Another great post, Brian.

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