Balancing Act

Are Hopsy SUB TORPs Refillable? Yes. Learn How in 5 Easy Steps.

Updated January 7, 2019: Added instructions on how to clean spout and tube assembly in Step #5.

Are Hopsy TORPs refillable? Yes. Learn how in 5 easy steps.
Are Hopsy TORPs refillable? Yes. Learn how in 5 easy steps.

This article answers the age old question: Are Hopsy SUB Torps refillable? The answer is a resounding yes. But before we dive into the details, let’s briefly talk about Hopsy’s beer sub program and the SUB mini kegerator by Krups.

What is Hopsy and How Do Their Beer TORPs (Torpedoes) Work?

Hopsy is a Bay Area based start-up company that began by delivering craft beer-filled glass growlers to local customers in their early years. They have subsequently changed their business model to solely integrate the SUB system by Krups into their service and product offerings.

In doing so, they are able to deliver beers in 2 liter size plastic bottle that work exclusively with the SUB system. Hopsy and Krups call this plastic beer container a torpedo, or TORP for short. Torpedo goes into a Sub, get it?

Essentially, a TORP is really just a plastic beer growler that works with the Krups SUB system.  It allows the SUB system to pressurize it by injecting the TORP with compressed air. It is also easier to transport locally or across the country. To learn more about the TORP, read the “Anatomy of a TORP and How They Work” section below. Just imagine your local brewery inserting a tube down a TORP and filling it with your favorite beer instead of a traditional glass growler, that’s really all what a TORP is. According to Hopsy’s Twitter feed:

TORPS are filled by our partner breweries like a growler indeed. You can read more about the SUB and the TORPS here https://t.co/ks26MgQx1q— Hopsy (@Hopsy_beer) February 26, 2017

Hopsy Beer Club

Hopsy ships beer across the country in these TORPs, and the beers they offer is pretty impressive with new breweries signing up quite frequently. According to Hopsy, they rotate their beer offering every week with seasonal favorites, featured and new brews. By doing so, Hopsy connect craft beer drinkers with breweries from across the nation, giving their customers the opportunity to try brews that were once inaccessible.

Their beer subscription service allows the subscriber to receive a set number of beer TORPs every month. Just like any other subscription service, this can be postponed, changed or canceled at anytime. If you are not a Hopsy subscriber and would like to learn how to get your hands on a SUB system, two TORPs and two limited edition Hopsy beer glasses all for $60.00, scroll to the bottom of this article and click on the link. You get the SUB system practically for free, I get a $1.00 beer box for the referral. Cool? Cool.

Why Would You Want to Refill a TORP?

Two simple reasons:

1. To get the local craft beer of your choice that’s not available from Hopsy into the SUB for that perfect cold pour!

2. And if you find yourself in a TORP shortage during a party, you can easily run to your favorite local brewery and have TORPs on standby without waiting for delivery.

Those are the only reasons to refill a TORP. Imagine having an ice cold glass of Pliny the Elder or an exclusive IPA from your local brew-pub restaurant straight from your counter-top beer tap and in the comfort of your own home!

Disclaimer

This article contains information conducted on a Krups SUB mini kegerator purchased and operated by myself, therefore I assumed all risks that may compromise the performance of the SUB and its warranty. If you are going to follow these instructions, do so at your own risk. No warranty is expressed or implied in this guide and should be read from an educational standpoint.

Anatomy of a TORP and How it Works

If you cut a TORP open, this is what you’ll find.

Anatomy of a TORP bottle.
Anatomy of a TORP bottle.
  1. Cap
  2. Outer shell
  3. Beer bladder
  4. Compressed air injection hole
  5. Tube topper assembly
  6. Tube
  7. Spout
  8. Collar

Furthermore, if you cut open the beer bladder, you’ll see a hollow floating white cap. This white cap act floats as beer fills the bladder. When the beer bladder reaches capacity, the cap blocks the filler passage and forces any excess beer to spill.

Filler cap plugging the filler neck when beer bladder reaches full capacity.
Filler cap plugging the filler neck when beer bladder reaches full capacity.

When a TORP is loaded into a SUB, it is chilled until it reaches nominal drinking temperature, approximately 36° F, indicative of the power button turning green from red. Every time you pour a glass of beer, the compressor activates and injects compressed air into the hollow cavity inside the TORP, between the outer shell and beer bladder. In doing so, the beer bladder is continuously pressurized and pushes out of the faucet when the tap handle is pulled down.

What the beer bladder looks like in a new TORP filled with beer.
What the beer bladder looks like in a new TORP filled with beer.
Beer bladder compresses as you pour beer.
Beer bladder compresses as you pour beer.

The compressed air injector hole is located at the bottom of the TORP and doesn’t have a check valve, like a bike tire. This is why you hear the hissing sound of air releasing when you unload an empty TORP from the SUB. This also means that a TORP is shipped or stored depressurized. It is only pressurized when it is loaded into the SUB.

How to Open Up an Empty TORP

At first glance, it seems that a spent TORP cannot be refilled. You look at it, you rotate the topper collar, you think it’s constructed in such a way that it is a one-time-use contraption. I thought so too, until I gave it a shot using a seafood fork lying in front of me.

Typical double ended seafood fork / pick.
Typical double ended seafood fork / pick.

Tools Needed

1 Seafood Fork / Pick
1 Food-safe funnel
1 Growler of beer from your favorite local brewery

Step 1

To open up an empty TORP, pop off the rotatable black collar that sits at the top of the neck of the TORP, just below the spout tube.

The topper collar sits on top of the TORP neck and is rotatable.
The topper collar sits on top of the TORP neck and is rotatable.

This collar simply guides the tube away from the neck in an organized fashion and it rotates so the tube does not get tangled up. Simply place both your thumbs on the the collar and push it out of the TORP neck.

Slide the collar off by pushing out of the TORP neck.
Slide the collar off by pushing out of the TORP neck.

It should slide right off with a click. Easy right?

Collar pops right off.
Collar pops right off.

Step 2

Next, take the fork end of a seafood fork, position it vertically and carefully jam one of the pointy ends between the white plastic cap (where the tube comes out of) and the neck of the TORP. You can also use a small flat head screwdriver.

Carefully insert the seafood fork between the cap and TORP neck.
Carefully insert the seafood fork between the cap and TORP neck.

Carefully push the white plastic cap up, just enough to release it from the TORP neck. Be careful not to damage the cap as it may compromise the seal on the TORP, which is why a seafood fork works best. 

Carefully push the seafood fork up, then rotate so it is parallel with the TORP neck and continue to push up until the tube topper is exposed.
Carefully push the seafood fork up, then rotate so it is parallel with the TORP neck and continue to push up until the tube topper is exposed.

Once the cap is released, position the fork horizontally and continue to push up so about 5 mm of the tube topper is exposed.

Alternatively, you can grab on to the tube and yank it hard until the topper pulls out. I don’t recommend this method because the white plastic is pretty cheap and breaks easily. Plus you’re also straining the tube and the joint that connects the tube to the topper.

Step 3

Use the paddle end of the seafood fork and wedge it between the cap and the TORP neck and push the cap up until 1/2″ of the TORP tube topper is exposed.

Switch to the paddle end of the seafood fork and continue pushing up.
Switch to the paddle end of the seafood fork and continue pushing up.

Step 4

Using your fingers, pull up on the white cap carefully and out of the TORP neck to remove the entire TORP tube topper assembly. The TORP bottle should now be fully exposed. 

Use your finger to pull out the tube spout assembly.
Use your finger to pull out the tube topper assembly.
Tube topper assembly out of the TORP.
Tube topper assembly out of the TORP.

Since it takes a day to completely dry a TORP, you may want to save and clean several empty TORPs simultaneously so you can fill them up at will.

Time to rinse and air dry!
Time to rinse and air dry!

Step 5

This step is important! Blow air into the TORP until you cannot blow air into it. You will need to do this to expand the beer bladder so it’s back to full capacity. If you do not blow air into it to expand the bladder, then you can probably fill 1/3 of a 64 oz. growler at most. The beer bladder is a
collapsible hard plastic membrane that retains its shape when collapsed. It’s not a bag or balloon that automatically expands and takes the shape of whatever it is filled with.

Take this time to thoroughly rinse the empty TORP, drain completely and air dry. Make sure the bladder is fully inflated to ensure sufficient cleaning.

Thanks to Kevin in the comment section for the tip to clean the spout and tube. The spout is a 2-piece plastic assembly, that doubles up as a simple valve and spout. When the tap handle is pulled, the tap handle mechanism engages the spout and pushes the coupler to open the valve and allow pressurized beer to flow from the TORP and into your chilled beer glass. When the tap handle is returned to its resting position, the tap mechanism pulls the coupler back and closes the valve.

Spout with valve closed
Spout with valve opened (for cleaning)

To clean the spout and tube assembly, simply hold down the base of the spout and pull the spout away from the tube, to open the valve. Once the valve is opened up, clean water can flow through the tube. To dry the spout and tube assembly, hold the assembly by the spout and spin the tube around. The centrifugal force will force the residual water out of the tube. Thanks again Kevin for the tip!

Refilling Your Empty TORP

A TORP can hold approximately 67 oz. of beer. Your typical large growler can hold about 64 oz. of beer. Take your empty 64 oz. growler to your favorite local craft brewery and have it filled up. Then place a food safe funnel into the neck of an empty TORP and slowly pour that growler full of beer down into the TORP.

Pour slowly. You will lose some beer from foaming, but minimal. I recommend doing this over the sink to minimize any mess.

Pour your local craft beer that's unavailable through Hopsy into an empty TORP.
Pour your local craft beer that’s unavailable through Hopsy into an empty TORP.

Give your empty and cleaned TORP a rinse, then refill with your favorite local craft brew! I recommend using a 8″ rubber tube to attached to the funnel to assist with the pour.

Attach a rubber tube to your funnel to assist with the pour.
Attach a rubber tube to your funnel to assist with the pour.

Re-assemble the TORP and load it into your SUB as you normally would, pull down on the tap handle for a second to pressurize the TORP, wait until the power button turns green and pour!

Pro-tip: If you successfully transfer your favorite local craft beer from the growler into an empty TORP in one fell swoop, you retain most of the carbonation. If you don’t, you risk losing the carbonation, which results in a flatter than optimal beer.

Let chill to drinking temperature then joy your beer!
Let chill to drinking temperature then joy your beer!

Things to Consider

The bladder inside a TORP that stores the beer compresses and contracts as the SUB pumps air in the hollow space around it very time you pour a glass, effectively crushing the bladder. This is how a TORP stays pressurized. Over time, re-using and refilling a TORP will degenerate the quality of the bladder, causing it to become brittle and ultimately fail. What happens when you flex an object repeatedly for too long, say a piece of wire? It breaks. Same concept. I do not know how many time a spent TORP can be refilled, but I will keep an eye out for this number.

Another thing to note is the rubber grommet on the TORP tube topper assembly will also eventually fail from wear and tear from all the removal and installation process. This will wear down its structural integrity and eventually leak. As with the bladder, I do not know the failure rate but will keep an eye out.

My estimate is to not re-use a TORP for more than ~10 times. I personally would reuse a TORP for a maximum of 5 times. If you are subscribed to Hopsy Beer Club, there’s no reason to keep reusing a TORP for too long anyways since replacement empty TORPs should be abundant!

So next time someone asks you, “are Hopsy Krups SUB Torp mini kegs refillable?” Direct them here.

Get Yourself a SUB and a Hopsy Starter Pack

If you do not own a SUB mini kegerator and want in on the action, use the following link to get the SUB practically for free. $60.00 will get you a SUB mini kegerator, two beer TORPs of your choice and two limited edition Hopsy beer glasses. Use the link below and select a Hopsy location that is closest to your residence (San Francisco, New York, Chicago and San Diego) to check if they deliver to your area.

Get your Hopsy starter pack and SUB mini kegerator for $60!*

*Limited time offer, offer may change at any time. Be sure to read the fine print and beer delivery commitment requirement.

39 thoughts on “Are Hopsy SUB TORPs Refillable? Yes. Learn How in 5 Easy Steps.

  1. Fabio

    Thank you for sharing this! You actually tipped me over and I made the purchase because of the possibility of re-using the torps. And, I used your referral code, of course. Have a beer on me. 🙂

    Here is something that is so obvious. In order to re-inflate the internal bladder, in Step 5, simply insert the Torp backwards into the Sub, and push it in using your hand. Do not try to close the door. This will make the pump run and push air into the bladder.

    Does that work for you?

    1. 5teve-0 Post author

      Thanks for the support Fabio! As far as using the SUB to reverse fill air into the TORPs, I haven’t looked into this method but will give it a try tonight and update (unless someone wants to give it a shot first).

  2. Eryc

    This is fantastic! Thank you so much for this guide. We just received our SUB and the first conversation we had was, “Are these things recyclable?” It’s even better that we can reuse them instead and keep our plastic usage down. I’m also excited to be able to put non-Hopsy beers in the SUB. I’m very grateful for and excited about your post. Thanks!

    1. 5teve-0 Post author

      Thanks for the kind comment! The TORPs are definitely recyclable if you don’t plan to re-use them. We’ve had over 25 TORPS delivered, but only keep 4 empty ones on hand at any given moment. The rest goes into the recyclable bin for weekly pick up. Cheers.

  3. 1Nce

    Thank you, I had to find out a way to refill these as my daughter lives in Maine. Hopsy doesn’t deliver that far, but she has plenty of quality craft brewery’s within 10 minutes. So now I just have to send her a few empty Torps a year, and she’s all set.
    These instructions are super easy.

  4. Ryan

    Thank you. This is great!. Two questions if you know the answer.
    1. Does any other company supplies this TORP in the US? Not that I know
    2. Had hard time to find who has patent for this TORP design? I do not think Heineken has it.
    if we know, We can purchase the empty TORP bottles or supplies to local breweries

    1. 5teve-0 Post author

      Hopsy is the exclusive distributor of TORPs in the USA. Pretty sure Krups, the company that designed and manufactures the SUB system hold a patent on the TORP bottle.

  5. Helmut

    Hello and thank you for the guide, definitely given me something to think about.

    I received a Sub for Christmas; the Heineken edition as they are the distributors of this in the UK and for the most part your guide is clear and understandable but I have a couple of questions more on some of the terminologies used here if you can help?

    1 – Have you tried refilling with beer directly from bottles or cans i.e. fizzy? You mention carbonated above which means ‘fizzy’ to me but then how does the beer stay carbonated after being poured into a new container?
    2 – Are Growlers refillable bottles you get from craft breweries, are they fizzy already or still/ flat beer? If so I think I need to suggest this to some local places here in Aberdeen. btw, Growler has a completely different meaning here!

    It’s great to see that you guys get craft brews (Hopsy) in the US. As above, the UK distributor for these is Heineken who have a selection of some generic lagers as well as some more ‘exotic’ beers and a selection of Belgian/ Dutch and German beers (https://uk.the-sub.com/) I note that Hopsy don’t deliver internationally and Heineken only offer in Europe so perhaps one day both options will be available internationally?

    Thanks for your help.

    1. 5teve-0 Post author

      Hey Helmut, appreciate the comment. Answering your questions,

      1. I do NOT recommend transferring beer from bottles or cans into an empty TORP. Why?? Just drink from the the can or bottle; it’s already chilled, stays fresher for longer period and it is already properly fizzed. By transferring beer from a can or bottle, you lose some carbonation in the process and it gradually goes flat no matter how airtight the container is (think of an opened soda liter bottle).
      2. The beer filled into the growlers here are already fizzy, straight from the keg.

      The great thing about Hopsy here in the USA is we can sample different craft beer from different part of the country (participating brewers at least), something that we couldn’t do before without having to actually traveling to the brewery. Hopefully the UK adopts this business model and everyone can have a jolly good time with friends at home!

  6. Durf

    Thanks for your article. I received one of these from my wife for Christmas this year, and my immediate thought was – how do I refill this thing with my home brew or wine?. I had already found that I can pump water back into them with simple water pressure from the tap. I was curious as to refilling with carbonated or flat beer. I’ll try refilling with primed beer and see if the torp explodes. If it does, I’ll carbonate it first, then use that for the refill. I also found that purchasing a “Lower Unit Pump” from Walmart for $4.86 will re-fill the bladder without removing anything. Will continue to experiment since I like the thing, and now it’s a challenge..

    1. 5teve-0 Post author

      You definitely can fill a TORP with primed beer, but it’s probably not advisable to fill it completely full. I’d say leave 1/3 reserved for carbonation gas.

    2. Dennis

      Durf, I see the “Hyper Tough Marine Lower Unit Pump” on Walmart but I’m not sure exactly how this helps refilling the bladder without removing anything… can you be more specific??? Thanks!

  7. Josh

    Great guide, thanks! I just refilled a torp, with your help. One suggestion on filling the torps. Use a mini siphon so you dont get foam. You want to use the siphon to take the beer from the bottom of the growler, and siphon it into the bottom of the torp. I got almost zero foam and got about 63 OZ of beer into my Torp. You can buy a mini siphon from amazon with a tube for about $12.00.

    https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00SDLLZDY/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

  8. JB

    Hi thanks for this!

    2 questions..
    1-do you know if you can recarbinate the Torp with a co2 bike pump.
    2- can cold brew coffee be used?

    Thanks!

    1. 5teve-0 Post author

      No, think of the TORPs as empty growlers for refilling only. If there’s a way to inject CO2, then I am not aware of the best or most efficient method.

      Yes, cold brew coffee can be used. Hopsy actually sells cold brew coffee and kombucha in their line-up. You can pretty much fill a TORP with any beverage.

  9. Kevin

    You can clean the tube/spout by pushing the tube end of the spout into the spout. I believe that is what the tap handle does to open the line when you pour. Run water through it the snap it back out.

    1. 5teve-0 Post author

      Best way is to fill and rinse the TORPs out with water, 4 times. The tubes cannot be cleaned, so to speak, so you’ll need to spin it around (preferably outdoor) to force the residual beer out via centrifugal force.

  10. Dave

    Hi, what do you need to replace the tap handle on the sub? Seems like the screw inside the stock handle isn’t removable. Thanks!

    1. 5teve-0 Post author

      You will need to buy a bolt with the correct thread pitch and length, saw off the bolt head, screw it into the SUB tap and then screw the tap handle onto the new thread. I found a bolt at my work by pure luck that works PERFECTLY. I will measure the thread pitch later and post a DIY guide on how to do it sometime over the weekend. Cheers!

  11. Tyler

    Thanks for this. Will have to try it because personally, the price of the Torps will be the number one reason this machine ends up in landfills soon. If you made a short video of this on YouTube, that would be awesome!

    1. 5teve-0 Post author

      Hey Tyler, thanks for the comment. Growler refills around here (Southern California) costs between $18.00 to $32 for a 64 oz., depending on the craft brewery, brew and ABV%. Getting a box of 4 TORPs with my beer of choice for $75 that includes tax & shipping, about $18.75 gross cost per TORP (Hopsy Beer Club pricing), is actually more cost effective than refilling TORPs in my case and I don’t have to deal with the hassle / mess. As mentioned in the post, the only reasons I’d refill a TORP are to enjoy brews that are not available through Hopsy in the SUB, and to be able to run to the local brewery and refill empty TORPs on standby so the tap doesn’t run dry during a party, not necessarily to save a measly few dollars. I went through about one TORP every half hour in the recent holiday dinner party we hosted and refilling them with local IPA by Absolution Brewing, Co. definitely saved the day! :).

      1. Steven Drake

        This all sounds great, and i bought one through Amazon. It was less than an Amazin experience. Hopsy does not ship to me. No one at Amazon knew a thing about it. I kept feeding the Hopsy rep zip codes of people until I got down to those I vaguely knew, or are a 6 hour drive away. Finally…bingo my sister in law lives where they deliver. The down side, she is a school teacher and her husband works for the federal government. Hopsy requires someone over 21 to sign for the beers, and that isn’t an option. I asked Hopsy if there was a beer distributor I could buy them from in Maryland, and it sounded like I had rolled my office chair over his tongue. The whole thing would be great, if I could get it.

        1. 5teve-0 Post author

          Sorry to hear about your experience Steven. The Hopsy web site isn’t the easiest to navigate either. Not sure why Amazon would sell the SUB machine when Hopsy is the exclusive distributor of TORPs. It just adds another level of confusion in my opinion. They run four different sites based on the location of their local office (San Francisco, San Diego, Chicago and New York) and you’ll have to sign up to the site that is closest to your residence. Took me a while to figure it out. I believe Hopsy is constantly adding new locations to their business model. I’ve had more than 5 deliveries since I joined Hopsy back in November and haven’t had an issue (beers are delivered to my work).

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