Not long ago Steph and I did a road trip across the USA. We drove all the way from New York City down to South Carolina, then west all the way to LA and then up to San Fran. It was without a doubt one of the greatest experiences of my life. One of the big take homes was a new appreciation and love of craft beer. The yanks have craft breweries in just about every town and in true American Style the beers are bold, innovative and a little bit in your face. Since returning back home I’ve began brewing my own beer and as I get further in to it I am slowly building up my gear list. One piece of equipment I’ve badly needed is a wort chiller. For those uninitiated, after you boil up all the ingredients (much like a soup) you need to cool the new beer (wort) really quickly so as to reduce the chances of bacteria from growing before you pitch the yeast. Yeast needs a certain temperature to live – too hot and you will kill the yeast, too cold and it may not ferment properly. Rapidly cooling wort is also important because it will help to discourage certain off-flavors in the finished brew.
Wort chillers can cost over $100 if you buy them from the shop so with some help from the interweb I made my own. Here is how I did it:
Tools and Materials
- I couldn’t get one piece of copper long enough so I had to get to 3m lengths and joing them together. My advice? Get one length if you can. You can’t really join the two bits together in the tight fashion that’s required without putting kinks in the pipe, which I found out later on.
- If you have to get two, join them together with a Compression Union (mine was 15cm x 15cm). Once they are joined it is slightly easier to shape the pipe in to the spiral required. By necessity the sections that join together will have to be pretty much straight or you will get leaks. At first mine weren’t and I ended up with a kink and a leak.
- Next you need to shape the pipe. Find something roughly the diameter you require and twist the pipe around it. Careful not to put any kinks in it. The top end where the water will come in needs to be straight and the end at the bottom of the coil needs to come up through the middle of the coil:
- If you do put kinks in it, you will need to cut the pipe. I didn’t have a hack saw so I had to use a pocket knife. It sucked:
- Once the pipe was cut I file the edges down to the little plastic rings on the compression pipe were save from abrasions (and safe from leaks).
- Once you are happy with the coil, attached the plastic tubing that will lead to the tap (one end) and eject the warm water (the other end). I sued simple plastic tubing and an outside garden hose bit that fit my tap:
- Next go and test the thing for leaks!
- My finished product looked messy, mostly due to the fact that I had to use a compression joiner and couldn’t coil the pipe as tight as I wanted.
I tested it for leaks and it seemed to be OK. I’ve yet to brew with it so I guess I’ll just cross my fingers until then…