Sunday, March 01, 2009

Look Ma, I Made a Wort Chiller

I can't help but do it myself. I don't know what in my life brought me to this point; I'm sure some of it is German frugality, but if I can figure out how to make something instead of buy it, and it will save me a few bucks to do so, you better believe I'll make it. I already make my own beer, but I've been lusting after a wort chiller for a while now. For those who don't brew, a wort chiller is a means of quickly cooling boiling wort (beer before the addition of yeast and therefore alcohol) to a temperature of about 75* F. This needs to happen quickly because the wort is designed to be an attractive food source for yeast, and is therefore also an attractive food source for every other microorganism in the house. So as soon as it's cool enough one needs to inoculate the wort with the beer yeast so it can out compete any other microorganism that's looking for a free ride.

Right now wort chillers are selling for $60-$120 in the store, and I just haven't felt I had the capital to spend on one, but a few weeks ago I was thinking about it again, so I grabbed a brewing book with instructions for making one and tagged along to the hardware store. I meant just to price the materials, but when I saw that I could make my own wort chiller for about $35, and we had a 10% off coupon, I was sold.

It took $35, a screwdriver, and 20 minutes, and behold:
Up until this point I've used the fairly cheap method of setting the pot of boiling wort into a sink full of cold water and changing the water every few minutes. This take 30 minutes to an hour to cool from over 200*F down to 75*-80*F. I figured a wort chiller would make that just a little faster. Boy was I thrilled when I used it last weekend and discovered it only takes about 10-15 minutes! I was almost resentful of not having enough time to clean up while cooling my wort. Almost.

Instead of placing the brew pot into a sink full of cold water, now I set the copper coils of the wort chiller down into the brew pot for the last 15 minutes of the boil (to sterilize it). Then I just remove the pot from the heat, hook up one end of the wort chiller to the faucet, make sure the other end is set to drain into the sink, and turn on the cold water. Brilliant! I wish I had made this thing 2 years ago!


. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Funny! Robb made one, just like this.

(Also funny -- the word that I had to type in to prove that I'm not actually an Evil Robot is "coper," which is pretty close to what your wort chiller is made of.

Rebecca said...

Clever girl. I am wondering if not chillig his wort is what caused Craig's last two batches to fail. Interesting.

Evil Robot said...

Such a pretty and efficient looking doo-hickey.

One word of hard-earned advice... Even if you're sure the coil is empty, when you put it in the boil kettle, stay away from the open ends. They can build up pressure and shoot boiling hot water.

This can be inconvenient if anything is in its path like, for instance, your face.

Think hot soup and blender.

If this happens you'll have no one to blame (i.e. Lisa) but yourself...