As I’m catching up on some of my long delayed blogging, many of these coming posts will be out of order, to be reordered through the magic of post-date editing. Plus, as I’ve not been blogging regularly, I’m out of practice at writing things like this and will tend to ramble incoherently from entry to entry. Read it if you wish, ask questions if you want, make of it what you will.
I made my own wort chiller. It was an experience that I enjoyed, however, I know that my wort chiller is probably a little inferior to the one I could have picked up at the local HWBC and it was certainly more expensive. I went with 30′ of 3/8″ ID copper tubing, wrapped around something cylindrical. I say “something” because I have no recollection of what it was. The diameter of the chiller ended up being much smaller than the pot itself, but this was intentional; the smaller size enables me to gently stir the wort, to hasten the cooling process.
While it was helpful in its first usage, cooling wort to 80 from around 200 in 20 minutes or so, it still used too much water. After some more research, I figured out a rather common sense way to use as little water as possible, namely monitoring the temperature of the water coming out of the chiller. As I’m trying to conserve as much water as possible, this was a great aid. I went from using an unknown amount of water running full blast through the tubes in its first run to a closely tweaked, near trickle of water in the second batch. Additionally, I utilized an ice-cream maker to hold water for pre-chilling of the input water. It’s a bit abstract to just talk about, so here’s what it all looks like.
The white thing to the right, with the ice pack in it, is the ice cream maker. That little bucket is filled with some weird freezing compound that easily turned about an inch of the surrounding water into ice. Had I started the cooling with it, I probably would have had to wait for it to thaw to remove the PVC pipe. Also, I was able to catch about 3/4 of the water I used for cooling in a 3 gallon pot I had sitting on the floor. Since the water was pretty warm, it worked excellently to mix with vinegar and use for cleaning. Water not wasted! Still, I know I can do better, but more on that in another entry. Furthermore, with the monitoring technique, even with a much lower flow rate, the cooling time was the same, if not less (because of the ice bucket.
In conclusion, if you want a wort chiller but are interested in saving a little money, buy an already made wort chiller. Unless you have a hookup in the copper tubing industry, you’ll likely end up paying more to build your own since you’re probably not going to get bulk discounts. However, if you go the DIY route, I guarantee you’ll have more fun, and fun is what this is all about, right?