The wort chiller

We were planning on writing about the priming and bottling of our E.S.B, but we’ve been a bit busy and we haven’t downloaded the photos from Anni’s camera. This will be an intermediate post on wort chilling.

As both Anni and I mentioned in our last posts we didn’t really chill our beer after boil and prior to fermentation. We just used a cold water bath and cooled it over the evening. This last week however, we made our own wort chiller!

Both John Palmer and Marty Nachel explain how to make your own chillers in their books. The process is quite simple, the problem, at least from my perspective was finding the correct materials in Finland. However, thanks to our friend (and fellow homebrewer) Topi, we knew where to get the main component necessary. Before going on to source of material and end result I’ll explain a bit of the idea behind the wort chiller.

The idea behind the wort chiller is basically that of a heat exchanger. You have a looping coil of metal tubing through which you pump cold water. This cold water goes through the loop of metal tubing and cools the liquid its immersed in while getting hot. This water is then poured out of the loop while more cold water is pumped from the input. Think of a slinky made with tube and you’ll kind of get the idea. Ideally, the tube used should be minimum 3/8 inches in diameter(roughly 9mm) according to Palmer. While it doesn’t have to be made out of copper, copper is a bit more maleable than other metals so its easier to work with just using your hands and doesn’t require special equipment.

Now, going onto the results and how to achieve them. What we want to get to is something like whats shown below:

Wort Chiller

Wort Chiller

As you can see from the image above the input of the chiller starts at the top, then coils all the way to the bottom and then goes back up straight from the bottom to the exit. In order to bend the tubing I used a small pot as a reference. I didn’t want it to be too small and I didn’t want it to be too big, so I chose a pot that made a nice inner circumference in comparison to our mashing pot. Since the pot I used was quite short in height I could only wrap so much tubing nicely. The rest was a mixture manual bending and pot reference bending, that’s why the bottom part of the chiller above doesn’t look as nice. For the small bends I used a mug as support for the bending, I added some electrical tape to add some friction. I used this because if I had just used my hands I might have bent to narrowly and might have closed up the tube by accident.

As for the material used, here is the list:

  • 10m long 8mm diameter copper tubing (Polttoaineputki in Finnish), found from Biltema.
  • 10mm diameter plastic hose found from K-Rauta
  • 8-16mm clamps (Letkukiristin in Finnish) found from Biltema or K-Rauta

That’s all you need for the wort chiller, but you might also want to look into how to plug the hose to your faucet. For this I found two parts that were needed. I don’t know how they’re called in English, but they’re basically quick adapters that fit the faucet, I found the ones I needed from K-Rauta.

Notice that the diameter for the faucet connector might be different depending on the size of your faucet. So make sure you take it off and measure the diameter before you buy anything. Similarly, the hose connector was bought with the 10mm hose in mind, so you might want to buy that according to your needs.

Lastly, you might have noticed that the diameter of the copper tubing we used is only 8mm, contrary to the minimum suggested diameter from Palmer. This was merely a practical decision, it was the cheapest and easiest option available to us. In our experience it doesn’t really matter for small batches (<30 litres). We just used ours today and it worked like a charm! we cooled 20L of wort in about 30 min!

We’ll write another post soonish about our second batch of beer, and about the bottling experience with the first one. Stay tuned!




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