Another item that I wish came with my intro brewers kit is an immersion chiller.
This item would not have saved me as much pain and humiliation as the BLOW OFF VALVE would have (see previous post), however it would have made my
life brewing experience a little easier.
An immersion chiller is helpful in that crucial time between boiling and transferring into your primary fermenter.
After the boil, the wort is close to boiling temperature. So, it is quite hot. It is important to bring the temperature of the wort down so that 1) the yeast can interact properly with the sugars in the wort; 2) the hot wort does not crack the glass of your expensive glass carboy (primary fermenter).
The directions that came with my starter brew kit told me to fill up my sink with ice and sit the boiling pot in that to cool it down. Some instructions tell you to let the boiling pot (with your wort in it) sit overnight. They are suggesting this dead serious.
I do not have the patience to sit through tv commericals, I certainly am not going to wait all f’ing night for my wort to cool in a tub of ice like some savage.
Having the wort cool more quickly is an advantage for a few reasons:
1) Less risk of an infection. When wort is very hot, it is more sterile. This is because bacteria have trouble operating at high temperatures. Bacteria in high temperatures is like me in a nite club, I am miserable, inactive and wish I was dead.
2) Another advantage of chilling wort faster is that you get to pitch*** your yeast faster. You do not have to stand around twiddling your thumbs like a jack-ass while your boiling pot sits in a tub of ice.
I got my immersion chiller on craigslist for $40. I paid the guy $38.00 because I am sometimes a bartering stallion.
I have seen immersion chillers that are no better than mine for more than $100.00, so watch your ass.
Above is another example of some genius making his/her life easier. This person, like me, has to use their immersion chiller outside like a leper, but not all of us have hoses inside.
Basically, you hook up your hose to the appropriate nozzle on the immersion chiller, the other nozzle leads to your run-off tubing for the water once it runs through the coils. The water starts off cold as all icey hell, but once it runs through the boiling wort, it warms up as it magically sucks the heat from your wort, this cooling it more efficiently than a primitive tube of ice.
Cnce you take your boiling pot off the stove, you set it somewhere flat. You take the STERILIZED immersion chiller and sink the coils into the wort, then turn the hose on. MAKE CERTAIN THAT NO WATER OR ANYTHING ELSE GETS INTO THE WORT. You should be careful that the runoff water does not go anywhere dangerous, like on your cat or any electronics, valuable art or transformers action figures. What is really crazy is how hot the run-off water is at first, it really does suck the heat out of the wort. By the end of the 10 mins or so, the run-off water is room temperature and eventually cold again. That is when you know that you are getting close. Your temperature should be below 70 degrees.
Once you hit 68 degrees or so, it is time to put the immersion chiller away and prepare to move the chilled wort into the fermenter to PITCH*** your yeast.
Some chillers get super fancy, sometimes to an unnecessary degree. Check out this guy’s super fat pipe chiller. It looks like that thing could chill a goddam volcano. Whatever makes you happy.
In closing. Get yourself an immersion chiller, make you life easier.
*** I would like to take this time to address the term “pitch” your yeast. This is a widely accepted term which, in my opinion, is ridiculous. You do not throw the yeast like a horseshoe or a softball. You drop the yeast into the opening in the fermenter. This is one of MANY terms that experienced brewers use to keep their boot on the necks of the new home brewer. Do not worry guys/gals, we will get through this together.
– Thomas Murray