Posts Tagged ‘counterflow’

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 http://www.brew-magic.com/chillwiz.html

image compliments of http://www.brew-magic.com/chillwiz.html