Creating a hop basket has been something I’ve been wanting to do for a while now because I make IPAs quite often. There are many hop filtering options out there, so building a hop basket is not the only solution, but one I decided to try myself. There are many examples of home brewers making hop baskets over the internet, so I decided to give it a try myself to see how I’d make out. This is an article of my attempt.
The most difficult step of this project is finding the parts.
Hop Basket Parts List
- Stainless Steel 304 Wire Mesh: This is close to what I used. This item in particular is only 30 cm x 90 cm (12″ x 36″). You may want a larger basket than just 30 cm (12″). If so, you’ll have to source a larger sheet of woven SS mesh. Also, be careful to get mesh that is wide enough for the SS sleeves you get. You’ll want more than enough because you also have to create the bottom of the basket. To calculate the circumference of the sleeve, multiply the diameter times pie (2rπ).
- 2 x Stainless Steel 304, 20 cm Diameter Sleeves, about 3 cm (1″) wide: I can’t find this anywhere on the net. I bought mine from a friend.
- 4 x Worm Clamps, 30 cm long: I had to use two clamps together to get the circumference that I needed. Clamps big enough to fit around the SS sleeves were hard to find. You can probably source these relatively cheaply if you shop around.
- 3 x 3/8″ Stainless Steel Hex Bolts: I got these items and the next two below from Home Depot. You can buy them individually there, but I’m providing links just for reference.
- 3 x 3/8″ Stainless Steel Lock Washers
- 6 x 3/8″ Stainless Steel Washers
- 6 x 3/8″ Stainless Steel Hex Nuts
- A drill: You don’t need anything too powerful. A cordless will do fine.
- Step Drill Bit: These are essential when drilling through SS.
- Metal drill bit: Used to create a pilot hole for the step drill bit.
- Punch: The punch is used to create a small dimple into the steel so that your bit stays in the centre of your intended drill location.
- Adjustable wrench: To tighten the bolts to the top sleeve.
Building the Basket
As always, ensure that you wear gloves. I find that the wire mesh easily pokes through skin and it’s almost impossible to avoid. I use mechanics gloves for the job.
- Drill three holes into the top sleeve at opposite ends of each other. These holes will serve as the anchor points where the bolts will go into to create a hop spider, similar to this build. First, use the punch to create the dimple where you want to drill. Use a small metal drill bit to create the pilot hole, then use the step bit to drill a hole through the sleeve until it reaches the 3/8″ mark. Drill the hole fairly slowly because you don’t want the bit to heat up. It cuts though the steel better that way as it allows the bit to catch the steel as it cuts.
Create the basket cylinder. Take the two sleeves and wrap the woven SS mesh around them, like shown in the photograph to the right. You’ll notice that the woven mesh is much larger than the diameter of my sleeves. This is essential to fold the cylinder edge to make a seal. I folded the edges at least three times to ensure that it wouldn’t unravel.
- Clamp the top ring in place. Using the worm clamps, secure the top sleeve in place to keep the cylinder from unraveling. For my application, I had to use two clamps that I put together to be able to fit the circumference of the sleeve.
- Create the Basket Bottom: Using another piece of the woven wire mesh, cut a square that is bigger than the circumference of the bottom sleeve. Place the sleeve on the mesh and wrap the mesh around the outer sides of the sleeve. You can then trip the excess mesh so that the screen fits neatly around the sleeve.
- Install the bottom of the basket. This is probably the toughest part of putting the build together. I did it by installing the bottom clamp loosely to the bottom of the basket, and then fitting the bottom through the top until it reached the bottom. I then tightened the clamp until it secured the bottom piece in place. It took a few tries.
- Install the hex bolts: First, you’ll have to drill a hole through the wire mesh where the existing holes are. Easy enough to do. Then, add one nut, then a washer to the hex bolt. Install the hex bolt to the sleeve. Add a washer, lock washer and then a hex nut to secure the bolt in place. Tighten a little with an adjustable wrench. Repeat this step to the other two holes.
This project took me roughly 1 hour to complete. The results were great and I used it during my last brew. It was easy to clean and I’m very happy about that.