Homebrewing DIY: Mason Jar Hopback


A few weeks back, my neighbor and fellow brewer convinced me to try using a hopback. He had never used one before, but is quite into researching brewer techniques. It seemed a win-win to him. With a hopback, you get to extract some neat hop aroma and flavor by steeping hops in hot wort inside a closed system (no air allowed). It also acts as an inline filter to help remove spent hop particles, protein break, and any other stuff you may have floating in your kettle come the end of the boil.

I remember looking at the HopRocket, and while it’s a very nice piece of equipment, it’s expensive. My neighbor was convinced we could make one out of a mason jar (the glass is tempered to withstand extreme fluctuations in temperature), and keep it on the cheap. I poked around online and saw a few DIY links for making one from small stainless steel containers, and also came across a DIY for using a mason jar for $20. Great, someone else proved it works! It was time to get to work.

First of all, I was not able to make this thing for $20. If you don’t have a wide-mouthed, 32oz mason jar around, you have to buy them by the case, which run about $15 at your local hardware store. Also, I really like the idea of having a dip tube, and I didn’t have any copper tubing lying around. I guess I could have cut a piece off of my immersion chiller, but I didn’t want to risk ruining that. I got a roll (10ft was the smallest at Home Depot) for $20. So, I am already in it of $35, but with some very useful leftovers.

Here are the parts I used:

  • 32oz Wide mouth Mason Jar w/ lid and band ($15 for case of 12)
  • 5″ length of 3/8″ diameter soft copper tubing ($22 for coil of 10′)
  • 3/8″ × 1/2″ in Brass Compression x MPT Adapter with Insert ($5)
  • 1/2″ female NPT to 3/8″ brass hose barb ($3.50)
  • 1/2″ male NPT to 3/8″ brass hose barb ($3.50)
  • 1/2″ brass compression nut ($3.75 for a 3 pack)
  • 3 stainless steel hose clamps for 1/2 outer diameter tubing ($5 for a 10 pack)
  • stainless steel braided lint trap ($4 for a 2 pack)
  • 2 large rubber washers (i cut the holes to be the right size) ($1.50 for both)
  • 2 large stainless steel washers ($1 for both)
  • roll of teflon tape ($1.25)

So total, I am in it for about $70. Definitely cheaper than the hop rocket. It might not be as fancy, but gets the job done, and leaves me with extra parts to use for other things. I like making things, so it’s a good investment.

The build

Here is a diagram for the bulk of the build:

Drill the holes in the lid

I started by placing the washers on the lid to mark where to drill the holes. Then, just drilled them out and used a file to expand them as needed and to removed some of the sharp edges. Ideally, the holes are just about the same size as the threads so you have to screw the threads through the holes in the lid.

Wrap the threads

Next, I wrapped teflon tape around the threads of male hose barb, and both sides of the compression fitting.

Prep the washers

Then I cut out the center hole of the rubber washers to fit snuggly around the hose barb’s threaded end and the 3/8″ thread of the compression fitting.

Hand fit the threads through the lid

After the threads and washers were ready, I just put the washers around the threads and worked the threads through the lids.

Tighten up the wort in side

This is the side without the compression fitting. Grab a couple wrenches and tighten this thing down as much as you can.

Cut the copper tubing

I recommend using a tubing cutter (something like this) for this. You could saw it as well, but you’ll want to avoid just cutting it with scissors, as you will just crimp the end of the tubing closed.

Connect the copper tubing with the compression fitting

Your compression fitting should come with instructions, but the gist of it is to fit the collar around the edge of the tubing, place the spout inside the tubing, slide the nut on from the other end of the tube, and screw it down into the male end of the compression fitting as tight as you can get it.


Attach the lint trap

This will act as a filter to keep you copper dip tube from getting clogged. I first slide the trap up the tubing and clamped it on with a hose clamp.


Then I wound the rest of the trap around the bottom of the tube to make several layers of mesh. Then I put another hose clamp around the fat part. My hose clamps were too small to fit, so I connected two of the together.

Put it together

Nice, it’s done! Just screw the lid onto the far and voila, you have a hopback!


Before Using it

Before you use it, you should boil the dip tube with the hose clamps in it. I just filled up a small soup pot and rested the lid over the edge. The reason to boil this out for a good 20min or so is because there is some oil on the threading of the hose clamps and in the housing. You can boil it out, and not worry about it getting into your beer.

12 Responses to 'Homebrewing DIY: Mason Jar Hopback'

  1. Shaun says:

    Nice write up man, Definately on my future projects list!

  2. Adam says:

    thank you for the idea and plan!

    build: I did a slight variation. Instead of the copper and lint trap I used a 3/8″, 1/2″ coupling and cut one side off of a stainless steel dishwasher hose. Pulled back the steel as much as I could and cut the rubber inside. Plugged and clamped the end. Cost about the same but was easier since I had done something similar for my mash tun and the uncut end screwed right into the coupling.

    use: put 6 oz of pellet hops in and it clogged up. I cleaned it out and put tea in it just to make sure it worked with something other than water and worked just fine. Next time I will be using leaf hops or putting the pellet hops in grain socks so they don’t clog the hose.

    again thanks for the idea!

  3. Jonathan Greene says:

    I have only used leaf hops, although I was tempted to try pellets in a hop bad last week after accidentally buying all pellets instead of leaves for the hop back. In the end, I just decided to skip the hopback and toss my pellets in at flame out and leave the lid on the kettle while i chilled it.

    Let me know how the pellets in a bag works out. I might run a test in the meantime.

  4. Herpy McDerperson says:

    Do you need a march pump to push the wort through this set up or can it be done with gravity?

  5. Jonathan Greene says:

    This can be used with gravity. That is how I used it until a got a pump. The pump is a nice addition, but not needed.

  6. Patrick Barry says:

    Thinking about making one of these, is it still running well? I am wondering if that lint trap ever gets clogged up with sediment. Is the 32oz mason jar large enough?

  7. TwoScoops72 says:

    Nice clever DIY project. I may make this but would like feedback on the muslin bag/pellet combo. I typically do 20gal batches so I have some challenges with the size of the mason jar. Pellets would be preferred simply because I buy in bulk and pellets seem to retain freshness in a vacuum bag. Glad you guys are getting good results from this. Do to my pellet and volume issue, I typically just use a 5gal paint strain bag and toss in a big old handful at flameout. Then the hops do the work as I get ready for the counter flow chiller. Sounds like fun and would put the wort in more direct contact with the hops. Thanks for the write up.

  8. tim says:

    they make really big mason jars

  9. tim says:

    they do make really big mason jars

  10. Echo lalia says:

    Do they make really big mason jars?

  11. Darryl Snow says:

    Do you not have to worry about the jar exploding when pumping 100 degree wort through it?

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