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How do you use it? What does it do? Do you pass finished wort through it hot or cold?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

Hopback http://bayareabrewing.com/category/homebrew/10/

Theory

A hopback is a sealed chamber into which you put whole leaf hops. Hot wort exits the kettle, passing through the hopback before chilling.

Like whirlpool additions, the hops contribute volatile aroma compounds that would normally evaporate in the boil. The leaf hops also filter hot break, helping to clear your beer.

Construction

Any sealed chamber large enough to hold a few ounces of whole leaf will do. Probably 10-20 grams per gallon of wort. Add an inlet and outlet and put some sort of screen on the outlet. The one pictured above is good for gravity flows, but might not work as well for force pumped wort.

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If the pump was on the outlet side of the hop back, do you think it would work to reintroduce the wort to the top of the kettle again in a whirlpool fashion? I totally forgot about the mason jar set up. Now I am intrigued about making one myself. Great answer, I wish I could vote twice!! –  brewchez Apr 16 '10 at 15:26
    
I'm wary of hindering the inlet side of a pump. It is bad for most pumps to cut off their feed. Furthermore, I think the point is to add the hop compounds then immediately chill in a closed system, thus keeping the hop oils in the wort. Recirculating back to the kettle may mean losing some of the hop goodness. This is all just theory, mind you. We need an experiment. –  Dean Brundage Apr 16 '10 at 19:03
    
But the losses would be minimal and you could adjust for it with recipe, no? I agree about the inlet side of things –  brewchez Apr 19 '10 at 13:23
    
Yeah, you can always just throw more hops in the hopback. –  Dean Brundage Apr 19 '10 at 13:39
    
Is oxidation a concern when putting hot wort through the hop back? –  brewchez Apr 21 '10 at 12:17
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