Our post a few days ago brought up some thoughts on cooling wort. In the South this is especially relevant in the summer. We brew outside, so getting the temperature down can be a time-consuming process. I thought I’d go into a little more depth on how we cool our wort and open up the forum to new suggestions. In summer months it can take us up to an hour to get the temperature from boiling down to 80F for 10 gallons of beer.
First, we use an immersion wort chiller with hose water similar to the one below (but not as pretty):
This gets the temperature down to 100F fairly quickly ? usually in about 20 minutes. We used to couple this with a plate chiller.
The plate chiller was great at first. We could essentially pump the near-boiling beer straight into the carboys (this was before our fancy Blichmann fermenters). But things quickly deteriorated.
We cleaned this thing religiously (boiled it twice every Monday) and still got off flavors from our beers. It cooled like a charm, but once the beer goes through that thing it’s pretty much a black hole. We can’t see it so we aren’t completely sure that it’s 100% sanitary. Once we stopped using it our beer quality went up. Immediately. So we haven’t used it since.
Now to get the extra 20F from 100F to 80F we keep the brewpot in an ice bath. This takes a surprisingly long time. Sometimes up to 40 minutes.
We actually keep the lid on their too to prevent yeast infections, but it somehow didn’t make it into this picture. It also helps (we’ve found) to give the wort a good stir every 5-10 minutes. I’m sure there’s a great scientific explanation, but I don’t know what it is. So this is how we cool our wort, but there may be better/faster ways out there.
Chris actually pumps ice water through his wort chiller using gravity. This, I imagine, could be highly effective. Tubbs also brought up the idea of adding salt to the ice water to super-chill it. I’m inclined to try this, though I don’t know how much salt we’d have to use.
Any other ideas floating around out there? Bottom line is we want to get this part of the brew day over as quickly as possible to make more room for drinking and socializing afterwards.