I was asked 11 question about using a hop cannon for dry hopping. It was for a particular Hop Cannon made by a supplier in China.
I had recommended a client buy one based on my previous experiences. I’ve used the Chinese hop cannon mentioned, as well as a Braukon Hop Cannon.
My client who purchased the Chinese hop cannon was extremely pleased with the results. I was blown away too, because the results from the Chinese made hop cannon were comparable to the German made Braukon.
Please note: that this article is my experience and findings. When using the Braukon, I could measure O2 pick-up using an Anton Parr CBoxQ in the bright beer tank after dry-hopping and centrifuging.
When I speak about aroma profiles it’s from sensory roundtable discussions and thoughts on overall hop aroma from panel feedback.
But SO much cheaper! I would 100% recommend to my future clients.
The manufactuer of the hop cannon purchased by my client (in China). Recently asked me to answer some questions for another prospective customer.
This customer was from Europe, but looking to buy the Chinese made hop cannon. Because even with shipping it was still much cheaper than any European versions.
The customer sent me 11 questions that I answered them, happy to help a fellow brewer.
About the same time, I was having a discussion with a brewing friend, who’d just purchased a hop cannon too.
I shared the answers below with him even though he purchased his hop cannon from another supplier. He found the information helpful so…
I thought I would share the answers below with you, as it might be of useful to you as well.
Questions about Hop Cannons
1. Do you use it for dry hopping?
Yes, we use it for dry-hopping and also often for adding finings at the same time (think SB3). It means we can kill two birds with one stone.
The SB3 when added at the same time doesn’t affect overall hop aroma from the trials we have done. Subsequent runs with the hop cannon have backed up our initial findings.
2. Assuming yes, what is the max amount of hops you have put in and what is the max volume of your cannon?
There are different sizes provided by the supplier so, choose the one that best suits your needs. The jump in price for a larger cannon isn’t much more, as you’re just paying for extra materials.
Therefore, if you think you’re expanding to bigger vessels in the next few years. Go for the larger option. As it will save you money in the long term.
You need to check with the supplier but, using a minimum of 30% of the total max hop load should give you good results.
3. What is the max g/l or lbs/bbl dry hop you have done with it?
Most we have done so far is 10Kg for 1,750 litres. The client I purchased the equipment for has the 180L option. I can’t remember total hop load right now but I think it is around 25Kg maximum for the 180L model.
Edit: Checked and yes it was 25Kg (pushed to 30Kg) for a 180L volume hop cannon.
4. How long do you circulate for?
For Braukon, they recommended 5 times your total volume of the tank for recirculation. So, it depends on the power of you pump. So, with the above example (5 * 1,750L = 8,750L).
In actuality, a minimum of 3 hours to a maximum of 6 hours, is how long I run the cannon for. The bigger the hop load the longer I tend to run it. Some people run a hop cannon for 8 hours or more.
5. What temperature do you use it at?
Usually around 17C with the chilling in the tank set to 17C so it doesn’t heat up. I never dry-hop below 10C and usually make sure I am above 15C.
Generally, the warmer the beer the more aroma you get. Brewers like to dry-hop at ale fermentation temperatures. So around 19-21C.
It is my personal preference to go a bit lower, as it leads to less chance of extraction of polyphenols. I am hoping for less chance of astringency or hop bite too.
6. What speed do you run the pump at?
Every hop cannon I have run, it has been as fast as it can go. It’s all under pressure and I want to create a good vortex to get the aromas out of the pellets.
Also Braukon says a higher turbulence avoid the candle blocking too!
Do not spund your fermentation before using the hop cannon. You might get CO2 breakout and too high a pressure in the hop cannon when it’s running.
7. Have you noticed any down sides? e.g. grassy flavors?
No, I haven’t, please note the hop aroma still develops after the initial use of the hop cannon. The initial aroma is more like raw pellet hops.
A more expected hop aroma develops over the next 3-4 days. I don’t chill my beer after using the hop cannon for 3 days. There’s also some carry over of hop material to the tank.
There isn’t much and the chances of hop creep; but I do like to guard against it. In theory you could chill right after the hop cannon.
However, I usually factor into my brewing schedule, to allow a period for warm temperatures after the hop cannon run before chilling.
Also note after chilling, when the CO2 content in the beer has been increased it can also add to the “pop” of the hop aroma.
The braukon was the same and even though my experience of hop cannons isn’t huge. I’d expect this to be similar with most types.
Not backed up by theory but not all brewing is. Like spunding producing finer bubbles and less harsh carbonation than using a carbonation stone.
I’d expect more grassy flavours from traditional methods, because of increased hop material in the beer and it’s harder to evacuate this matter too.
8. Have you had any trouble with DO?
Anecdotal evidence, for the Chinese hop cannon. Nope, although I didn’t have a DO meter for at the brewery I was consulting at.
With the right set-up procedures and good practices, there isn’t much chance of O2 pick up. I fill with CO2 from the bottom of the cannon as I put the hops in.
I have already purged the cannon with CO2 beforehand too.
9. Have you had any issues with the pump?
We use an in-house CIP pump that came with the brewery and have never had an issue with it.
10. Would you recommend getting one?
a. Lighter hop loads than traditional methods
b. Can fine the beer at the same time
c. Less hop material carry-over to the tank
d. Less chance of oxygen ingress than traditional or alternative methods
e. Can be used for other additions like coffee or puree (without the candle filter for puree)
f. The Chinese hop cannon comes with a CO2 stone (could be useful).
There are probably more advantages but this is off the top of my head.
The client I recommended the hop cannon too, was at first sceptical but came round to loving the hop cannon quickly after using it.
It was a hop cannon or a DE filter. Once the fining of the beer is dialled in; then the hop cannon will be useful for clearing the beer too, thus no need for the DO filter.
11. Any other notes or finding you think might be useful?
Just be good with you SOP’s and DO will not be an issue. It does take a few goes before you feel comfortable with a hop cannon.
If you have trouble pushing the beer back into the tank after the run. You might have to push some CO2 back the other way into the candle to unblock it.
What will help keep the hop cannon unblocked is purging the yeast from the beer prior to the day of using the cannon.
It is easy enough to do but we did have an issue with some beers that still had a lot of yeast in suspension. Usually from less flocculant British ale strains.
Please note: Underneath the article is some additional information.
Dry Hopping Using a Hop Cannon Conclusions
I was late to the hop cannon party, as I have only used them in the last 3 years of my brewing career.
I am though a convert and would always recommend a hop cannon for a brewery with a 10HL brew-length or more.
If you would like help sourcing a hop cannon for dry-hopping then please feel free to contact me. You can email at the address below or write a comment.
The hop cannon in the pictures and the video above are from the hop cannon that was made in China. The one with results comparable to the much more expensive German Braukon.
I am working with this same supplier to make further improvements. In brewing it never pays to stand still.
The supplier wants to make it better than the Braukon. With my 25 years of brewing experiences I am happy to help.
Thanks for reading my article “Dry Hopping Using a Hop Cannon”.
Stay safe and happy brewing.
When I posted this article on LinkedIn, I got some great feedback. Please see the picture below:
This from someone I greatly respect (I didn’t have permission to use their name) and whose feedback I always appreciate. My answer was this:
User, thanks for your comment, I always appreciate your feedback as you give great nuggets of information.
When I used the Braukon at the brewery I worked at, we could test the DO with a Anton Parr CBoxQ.
We were happy with the levels from the end of fermentation through dry-hopping (cannon) and centrifuge to bright tank (we didn’t have any line filtration).
The numbers were always under 30ppb. We felt that was acceptable for craft beer were we producing for the equipment we had.
With the resources you have, you can drill down further than I can for sure (several DO tests, sensory and more).
A lot of my experience is with a round table sensory panel with my colleagues in craft brewing.
I’ve found in my experience, with a hop cannon, that we can get favorable hop aroma using less hop load than using traditional dry-hopping methods (dry-hopping with a point or two before FG into tank).
This is has been the consensus from people I’ve worked with at various breweries. Looking online at other people’s feedback on different forums I can see that isn’t the case universally in the brewing industry.
I went on further to say
You do make one good point…
Static dry-hop. As, I work in a smaller craft breweries I’ve not had to concern myself so much about hop aroma and shelf-life.
Working in a larger brewery, where packaged product can have a year shelf-life. Then I can see how aroma stability is critical to overall assessment.
So, why testing shelf-life aroma in overall analysis if favorable, will make traditional methods the preferred method (and also if data for fresh hop aroma is better too).
Do you have any links please, to studies that have been done on different dry-hopping methods with analytical sensory data results? I’ll definitely add to my article and account for this.
Also, thanks for heads up regarding the CO2 and 02 confusion, will change. I will also make it clearer in my article this is my personal experience and that not all based on hard data.
Again, thanks for your feedback and you always give me information that I can use, to go off and study and increase my knowledge base.
I hope you will continue to read my articles and give me feedback as I really do appreciate it…