As most homebrewers probably do, I started out cooling my wort in a sink filled with ice. But as I learned the importance of chilling the wort down as quickly as possible, I decided I needed a better process. Chilling the wort quickly accomplishes a number of things, including:
- Prevents the formation of DMS:
DMS (dimethyl sulfide) smells and tastes like cooked corn and is
something you usually don't want in your beer. It forms naturally from
SMM (s-methyl methionine), which is found, in various quantities, in
malted barley. SMM is converted into DMS at temperatures above 140°F,
so quite a bit of it can be formed during the mashing and boiling stages
of brewing. Fortunately, boiling drives off most of the DMS. Once the
boil is ended however, SMM will continue to be converted into DMS, but
now the DMS is no longer boiled off. So, the quicker you can get your
wort chilled, the less DMS you get in your beer.
- Produces clearer beer:
When wort is chilled, haze-causing proteins coagulate and drop out of
solution. The faster the rate of chilling, the more these proteins
coagulate and drop out. The more these proteins coagulate and drop out,
the fewer there will be in your finished beer. The fewer of them in
your finished beer, the less your beer will exhibit chill haze. So,
faster chilling leads to clearer beer.
- Gets you to yeast-pitching temps faster: Once wort drops below about 140°F, it is susceptible to bacteria and wild yeast. The quicker you can pitch the your yeast, the quicker you can get a controlled fermentation underway and the less likely you are to have bacteria or wild yeast take hold in the beer (as fermentation proceeds, the pH of the beer drops and the alcohol level increases, creating an inhospitable environment to unwanted microbes).
- 20' of 1/4" (ID) x 3/8" (OD) flexible copper tubing
- 10' of vinyl tubing
- 2 hose clamps
- faucet adapter
It works great - with this chiller I can get my wort cooled down to pitching temps in 15-20 minutes. If I were to do this over again, however, I'd raise and bend the input and output so that they would be out of the kettle. The way it is now, if the hose clamps ever loosened up, I'd end up dripping straight tap water directly into the wort. As it is, I just make sure the clamps are fully tightened before each use.