Welcome to another IPA-themed edition of Beer Fact Friday, friends. This week’s topic: The hop back.
As we discussed in previous weeks, hops are generally added to a beer while it’s inside two pieces of brewing equipment: the boil kettle and the fermentation tank. But there is a third piece of equipment that brewers can utilize to infuse their beers with even more fresh, hoppy aromatics. It’s called the hop back.
The hop back is a vessel that sits between the boil kettle and the fermentation tank and is filled to overflowing with whole-leaf hops. Think of it as a giant drip coffee maker: As the wort passes from the kettle into the hopback, it trickles down through the hops, absorbing their aromatic oils. Once it reaches the bottom of the hopback, it’s sent to a chiller, and all those aroma particles become locked in. Cleaning out all those waterlogged hops gets a bit messy, but we think it’s worth the extra aromatic oomph you get in beers like Hop Knot, Double Knot, and Xerocole.