Posts Tagged ‘chill-wizard’

homebrew projects and burger bar revisited

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

last week I managed to put some finishing touches on some home brewing components.

  • remember this old post about the chill wizard?  you know, the one for $830?  well, with some helpful tips from the folks over at homebrewtalk (my new must-read forum), I scored a march pump from a forum member and got a plate chiller for a steal via germany (email me for more info), then picked up a bunch of stainless hardware from bargainfittings (fast shipping!) and made my own pump/cooling setup for less than half the cost.
  • basically, I picked up a small toolbox off of amazon for cheap, installed the pump into a base end of the box, and strapped the plate chiller to the other end.  I tossed on extras like a air purge valve on the pump out and an in-line thermometer at the wort out of the plate chiller, as well as a pump switch on the top of the box.  the whole thing is plugged into a GFCI outlet so I don’t shock the shit out of myself.
  • after tightening everything with some plumbing tape, I ran my portable pump setup through my (almost finished) brew setup to test it, and after a few leak fixes everything worked like a charm.  this thing might not be the prettiest setup out there, but it gets the job done just as well as the high-end options and is simpler/significantly less expensive.
  • I also kegged up my bohemian pilsner and tapped the second keg of my belgian date barleywine, which recently celebrated its first birthday.

in other beer news, AP and I were in vegas at the end of last week, and after very little persuading we headed over to burger bar for another visit.

  • as usual, the selection was outstanding, especially for a burger joint in a casino.  I started off with a st feuillen saison on draft, while AP went local and had a pint of sin city’s amber ale (which she thoroughly enjoyed).
  • after my initial pour, I couldn’t resist any longer, and went straight for one of my hard-to-find favorites: dogfish head’s 120 minute IPA.  I pulled the same stunt as last time and ended up cruising the strip with a cup of this liquid gold (which might not have been the best idea, as outside temps were in triple digits).
  • AP and I managed to return twice more during our stay, and partook in specialties such as new belgium’s la folie ’10 (significantly more sour than last year’s, according to my palate), kiuchi’s commemorative ale (spice ain’t my thing, but these guys have the belgian complexity down pat), and bitch creek ESB from grand teton.
  • I was even debating ordering up the firestone 11-13 bomber flight, but lousy luck at the craps table prevented any celebratory splurging.
  • again, the service and burgers were great and the beer selection made me feel right at home.  if you’re a beer fan in vegas this is without question the place to be.

wort chilling

Thursday, August 27th, 2009
as you can see, sanitation is crucial in my cooling setup

as you can see, sanitation is crucial in my cooling setup

When i first started brewing, my solution for cooling the wort was to dunk my brewpot in a sink full of ice water and stir occasionally over the course of an hour (or two) until the wort got down to a temp where i could pitch the yeast.  After one too many trips for ice during brewday I decided to consider wort chilling alternatives.

  • I decided on an immersion chiller.  Truthfully, it doesn’t chill as fast as i would like – it still takes at least 30-45 minutes to get my wort down to pitching temps.  maybe my ground water temp is the problem (or maybe I should adjust my flow rate)?  Also, the first time I used the chiller the copper looked (and smelled) pretty funky, even after a couple rinsing sessions with PBW.  I was definitely hesitant to lower it into my boiling wort, but the brew turned out fine (I just had a pint of it last night).
  • you can build an immersion chiller yourself to save a few bucks if you want, it’s pretty simple.
  • also, you can incorporate a pre-chiller into your setup to further lower chill times, but this brings back the ice dilemma for me.  Not a bad idea if you have an ice machine and some extra tubing though.  As explained in this article: “begin cooling [your] wort without the chiller, then dunk the pre-chiller in ice water once the outside of my kettle is cool enough to touch.
  • another option I plan on investigating in the future is a counterflow chiller such as the therminator.  It gets good reviews and cools 10 gallons of wort to pitching temps in less than 10 minutes!  Here’s a good comparison between immersion chillers and counterflow chillers that explains both pretty well.
  • some day, i hope to rock the ultimate chilling solution: sabco’s chill-wizard.  it is a CIP therminator with a built-in oxygenation stone, temperature gauge, and pump.

On another note, maybe wort chilling isn’t the way to go.  I recently read an article (in celebrator or beer advocate, i forgot) about a brewer at the Grey Parrot in long beach, WA that spontaneously ferments his wort.  To do so, he cools his wort slowly without chilling, thereby creating a vacuum in the fermenter, which is connected via a ball valve to a tube leading to the roof of the brewery.  One tug of the ball valve and the outside air is sucked into the fermenter, creating a truly spontaneous fermentation, and evidently, some great beers.  Although this technique isn’t exactly in stride with my reading on spontaneous fermentation, I have definitely kept it in mind for the future.

image compliments of

image compliments of