Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Chilling Tales

  For about 13 years I have been brewing beer on and off.  In New Mexico (thanks to Jeff Jenkins) I brewed my first batch of beer.  Then I learned the method of doing a 1 gallon boil, chilling with an ice bath, and than cooling even farther by adding 4 gallons of very cold water.  Even if your ice bath ins't completely effective, the 4 gallons of near freezing water brings the temperature down fast.

  Since then I have begun doing 2.5 or 3 gallon boils.  To move beyond the 3 gallons I would have to get a larger pot and a bigger burner than my stove top.  Keeping everything in the kitchen and brewing with what I have has worked out very well and produces some great beers.   However, I have learned that cooling 3 gallons is much more difficult and time consuming than cooling 1 gallon.  With a three gallon boil I have more boiling water than cooling water, and of course the ice bath isn't as efficient.  I have tried the ice bath, putting the pot in a mound of snow during the winter months, and even putting pre-boiled frozen blocks of ice into the wort.

  Finally I have decided to construct an immersion chiller. If you google immersion chiller you can find all kinds of articles and how to videos on how to build one or what is the best method, shape, size, or metal.  Below you will find links to the ones I liked the best.  To coil my chiller I wrapped the copper tubing around a paint can, and to make the 90 degree bends I used a tubing bender I got on ebay (for $2) which is much like one you would use for bending brake lines on a car.  I found this is ok up to a point, but when you want to bend to 90 degrees it is not quite enough.  If you are concerned about making the bends 90 degrees and want to avoid kinks, you get what you pay for when it comes to tubing benders.  Here is another idea I came across that maybe I could have tried: , but in the end I have a couple of small kinks in my chiller as the photos show.

Small kink in the bend

  The bending tool cthuliz used is the best type for getting a good bend.  If you don't care if your bends are 90 degrees or how they look then you can get by without it.  To start off I've used two stainless steel clamps on each copper to vinyl connection.  If that leaks on me I will refer to the connectors cthuliz used (which is a great design), but I think I will be ok.  Now on to the next brew so I can give this a test.

If you're really interested in how heat exchange works:
Coiling your copper:
The best how to I've seen: