On a tip from another website, for our last brew session I used a 5 gallon paint strainer bag in the boil. I am always annoyed with post-boil straining - it seems to just take too long as the strainer gets clogged and has to clear. So this time, I kept all my hops in a cheap 5 gallon paint strainer bag, which you can find at about any hardware store (I got mine at Menards). It was clipped to the kettle using 3 small spring-clips:
To my surprise, the clips didn't really get too hot, so there's really no need to take off any rubberized handle material before using them, like I did. This worked really well, and made cleanup a snap too. I even transferred my wort into the kettle through the bag, so it caught any grains that got through during the sparge. Next time I'll probably just dump the hops, rinse, and reuse the bag (a pack of 3 was around $3). After the boil, all I had to deal with was break material. Before transferring to the fermenter, I let this stuff settle to the bottom of the kettle by leaving it alone for 15 minutes (have a drink, clean up, etc.). When it's below the ball-valve, most of it gets left behind in the transfer. Whenever I get my pre/post boil volumes ironed out, I hope to leave it all behind.
For transferring, I attach a really short hose to the barb, and let the wort slowly fall a good couple feet into the fermenter, which helps aerate it. When that initial foam dies down, I pitch and then aerate it again with a power drill mixer. Maybe someday I'll go completely crazy and get an oxygen tank, but for now this, plus a good yeast starter, plus yeast nutrient (in the boil), seems to work very well.
Cheers and good brewin'!
Lagunitas Coming to Louisiana
1 week ago