Saturday, May 24, 2008

Making a New Immersion Chiller

I'm having some chillindamos issues! I've been using the same wort chiller since my extract days. The chiller was really designed for a five gallon pot but it really was inadequate when I upgraded to my 9 gallon kettle. It took longer but got the job done. The problem really occurs during the summer months when the tap water is significantly warmer. During that time, chilling wort from boiling to around 80'F could take more than 2 hours.

I was hoping that building my own would be a fairly inexpensive solution. I considered purchasing a counter-flow or plate system but cost and practicality in an apartment persuaded me that an improved immersion chiller would be more ideal.

Making your own used to be very inexpensive but recent price increases in metals have made this an expensive project. I opted for 50 feet of 3/8 OD copper tubing. 50 feet will provide lots of surface area for heat exchange. I'd have to find the receipt, but I think the copper tubing was $60. Other brewers have reported paying around $20 a while ago.

Using a spring bender and a cornelius keg, I shaped the tubing cylindrically. The spring bender, I learned, is more for short angle bends. I still experienced some crimping for steeper bends. This is not really a problem since the flow rate going through will be slow.

Making the final bends was challenging but I finished the project under an hour. My kettle lid is notched so the greatest challenge was making sure both tubes exited in that exact location while leaving the coil centered in the pot.

Lastly, I need to clean the new immersion chiller with a solution of vinegar to prepare it for tomorrow's brew test.

During the summer months, the old chiller will be put back to use as a pre-chiller. After the wort temperature drops below 100'F, the tap-water will enter the small chiller first. This chiller will be immersed in an ice bath to pre-chill the water before entering the kettle chiller. I'm hoping that this combination will be more efficient during the summer. Here's to wort chillindamos!

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