Posts Tagged ‘pre-chiller’

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