Chill Out, Homebrewer, and Make a Wort Chiller

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This weekend I was blessed with the ultra-rare Sunday off. How did I spend it? Road trip! Jess and I started the day with a pilgrimage Flying Dog Brewing Co’s homebrew shop in Frederick, MD, called the Flying Barrel, in search of this month’s Stove Topper brew kit, The Fear Imperial Pumpkin Ale (more on that later). After that, we went out to Hollin Farm for an afternoon of pick-your-own veggie and fruit fun.

On the drive home we were being the beer geeks we usually are and chatting about ways to make brewing easier in our tiny apartment. The Fear promises to yield an enormous batch (5 gallons as opposed to our usual 2.5), so anything would help. The kit is also an all grain kit, so I will need to chill a lot of wort relatively quickly before being able to toss in the yeast.

Among the ideas we came up with was a wort chiller, which I’d seen in How to Brew by John J. Palmer. My usual cooling methods take a lot of ice cubes and extra time to chill even a small batch of wort. The wort chiller promises to speed things up by allowing me to chill a big batch within a few minutes. As a bonus, this method also helps to drop some of the unwanted proteins from the wort, giving you a clearer, cleaner beer.

Without sparing any time we stopped by the local big box hardware store for the supplies to make it. My materials are simple and the method is just as easy.  I apologize for not having “in progress” photos; I was so caught up in making the thing that I simply forgot to take them.

The materials:

20’ of 3/8” internal diameter copper tubing
10’ of PVC hose that will go over the copper tubing
A hardware piece to attach to your sink faucet
5 hose clamps

The process:

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Select a medium pot to use as a “mold” for the copper tubing. You want the mold pot to be smaller than the one you brew with. Bend the copper tube around it without kinking the copper.  The part at the bottom should have some extra tubing left so you can bend it up to the top later.  Once you have finished the wrapping, bend the lower end up to the top, leaving the two ends at approximately the same length.  After this, cut two three-foot lengths of PVC hose and slide them over the end of the copper tubing.  Use two hose clamps on each of these attachments to hold them in place.  Attach the piece that will attach to your faucet onto the hose that goes into the top of the wraps.DSC_1323

Once you have completed the whole piece, it’s ready for use.  Just settle the copper tubing into the hot wort and attach the end to the faucet, leaving the “outgoing” length of hose to drain in your sink.  Turn on the cold water, and let it run for about 20 minutes or so, depending on how cold your water is.

DSC_1324I hope this little bit helps with your homebrewing! Look for a new side page to be created soon, giving helpful hints and directions for your own homebrewing.

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