Home Brewing, Part II: How to Build a Wort Chiller

>> Thursday, June 10, 2010

We lied. You need one more thing to brew at home in addition to that laundry list of items we provided last week. So, before we show you how to brew . . . and once you’ve purchased a turkey fryer, your means of rapidly boiling your wort (pronounced wert), unfermented beer, you’ll need a means of rapidly cooling it down.

The reason? The faster you can cool your wort from boiling to 80 degrees F or less, yeast pitching temperature, the better your beer will turn out. A slow drop in temperature coupled with prolonged exposure to the elements can produce spoiling. Enter the wort chiller, a device that helps improve beer clarity and reduces the chances of contamination.

Such a contraption can cost you between $60 and $85 (above) in your local brew store or even online. But there is a DIY way around these hefty price tags. Yup! That's right: It’s time to build one!

What You Will Need:

How to Build It:

Step 1: Slowly lift the copper coil from both ends to form a tall cylinder. The cut ends should be at the top and bottom of your cylinder. The copper is soft and malleable, so this part will be easier than it sounds.

Step 2: Straighten/unravel about 18 inches of tubing from the bottom and thread it through the top of the cylinder. Straighten/unravel about 6 inches of tubing from the top, and bend both ends so they are parallel. Set aside.

Step 3: With a sharp knife, sever one end of the washer hose, fit a 1/2 inch metal clamp over the hose, and slide one end over the copper tubing. With a flathead screwdriver, tighten the metal clamp over the overlapping tubing.

Step 4: Slide one end of the vinyl tubing over the other end of the copper tubing. With a flathead screwdriver, tighten the metal clamp over the overlapping tubing.

Step 5: Now you can attach the threaded end of the washer hose to your garden hose and run cold water through the copper tubing to test -- which, someday soon, will be used to cool your wort.

Eco Tip: Since this process can take about 15 minutes, you can save the return water by refilling your plastic jugs, watering cans, and other containers that will help you repurpose the water.

Check out Part III: How to Brew Beer – next week! And if you missed last week's list of what you'll need, check it out now.

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