Thursday, June 14, 2012

Chillin'



I thought today I'd talk about the chilling process...as it related to beer of course.  There are several methods to chill beer; drop your hot pot in an ice bath; a copper coil chiller that is dropped into the pot; and a plate chiller.  I have used all three and my favorite is the Therminator plate chiller from Blichmann Engineering.  The idea is to run cold water from the hose through the plates within the chiller and then also run the hot wort through it at the same time.  This counterflow results in heat from the wort being absorbed by the cold water and run out the exit hose, while the cold water also cools the wort.  With this process you can chill 5-6 gallons of boiling wort in 5-10 minutes, depending on your ground water temps.  Here in MN it works fast, but in the South it can require some prechilling of the water with ice. 

This gizmo isn't cheap, but has saved me about 30-45 minutes off my brew day.  The only issue I have with it is the difficulty in cleaning it.  I have a back-flush hose and run water through it each way after use, but I still remain paranoid that there is crap left in there.  I usually also run hot PBW through it for 10-15 minutes with my pump, then soak briefly in Starsan before each use.  Do not let this sit without at least flushing it right after use!




3 comments:

Brian J. Ackermann said...

yeah, I'm terrified of botching a batch because I couldn't get the thing cleaned. THats the main reason I've stayed with the copper coils up to now. Though to be honest, I have fears of contamination there as well.

Unknown said...

I have thought about getting one as well but a little scared since you can't open it like the pro breweries can. I have heard some guys boil that thing multiple times and stuff still keeps coming out of it. The other thing I am worried about is it add time to my already long brew day because of cleaning it. I have a feeling I would be so worried about it that I would boil it multiple times before each use. Have you ran into any issues of infected beer? Do you run any hop filter in front of your line out like the Blichmann HopBlocker?

Eric Wentling said...

Good questions! I did recently upgrade to a Blichmann Boilermaker pot and Hop Blocker. They keep a lot of junk out of the chiller, but the biggest thing I get caught in there is cold break. I run hot water through the chiller, backward then forward and that seems to get most of the junk out of it. Recently I've taken to running boiling water through it for 15 minutes, recirculating by using a pump. No infected batches while using this method.