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What is Hot Break and Cold Break in Homebrewing?

Homebrewing Hot Break and Cold Break

Homebrewing Hot Break and Cold Break

 

Homebrewing Hot Break and Cold Break

In the process of home beer brewing, hot break & cold break are two important phases of the brewing process that can have a significant impact on your beer in a couple of different ways. For that reason it is important to understand and control the cold break and hot break properly if we want to brew the best homebrew that we can.

 

So what is hot break and why is it important for the hot break to occur? Hot break is basically the coagulation of proteins, oils and other solids during the wort boil. The proteins and solids that join together during the hot break phase of a boil can be partially responsible for chill haze in a finished beer if they are not properly cleared during the hot break, cold break or beer fining processes. During a boil the hot break occurs as soon as the boil begins. At that point the proteins begin to form foam at the top of your brew kettle. A few minutes after a rolling boil is achieved, these proteins begin to merge together and eventually their mass helps drags them towards the bottom of your kettle at flame out. I personally will use whirlfloc or Irish moss at the end of my boil to help drop out as much protein, excess hop matter and fine particles as possible, which helps reduce the likelihood and quantity of chill haze in my finished beer.

 

Home Brewing Cold Break

Home Brewing Cold Break

 

So now that we have hot break squared away, what is cold break? The two are actually very similar, the may different is that where hot break occurs as the wort is heated to a boil, the cold break process occurs as wort is rapidly chilled. Cold break is the precipitation of proteins, solids, oils and hop matter as the wort rapidly cooled. Much like the hot break, as the cold break occurs, these dense solids join together and begin to fall to the bottom of the kettle, leaving the wort clearer than it would be if a proper cold break does not take place. A cold break helps improve a beers clarity, head retention and even has an impact on the flavor of your beer. Having an efficient and effective wort chiller helps make it easy to achieve an effective cold break. If you use a plate chiller or counter flow wort chiller, you may want to consider pumping the wort back into your kettle with a whirlpool valve as opposed to directly into your fermenter so that you do not transfer the cold break solids and proteins into your fermenter where they will impact the outcome of your beer.

 

Whirlfloc is an inexpensive addition to your brewing process that can make a significant impact on your beer.  If you have not tried it, I highly recommend it.

Whirlfloc can be purchased here

 

If you are looking to improve your cold break process, I highly recommend a convoluted counterflow chiller which can be found here:

Counterflow Homebrewing Wort Chiller

 

If you have any questions or comments on hot break or cold break, just drop me a line. I will be adding a whirlpooling arm to my brew kettle here in a few days and will do my best to post some information on that process as well.

 

Retrofitting a 7 Gallon Stainless Steel Conical Fermenter to fit in a Chest Freezer

Stainless Steel Conical Fermenter ANIMATION

Stainless Steel Conical Fermenter ANIMATION

 

Recently I had purchase a 7 gallon stainless steel conical fermenter and was in heaven until I realized that it did not fit in my converted chest freezer / fermentation chamber! So you know what that means; time to grab the cut saw and go all A-Team on the conical fermenter.

 

Stainless Steel Conical Homebrewing Fermenters

Stainless Steel Conical Homebrewing Fermenters

 

In the above photo, the stainless steel conical fermenter on the right is the 7 gallon unit that I am converting to fit into the chest freezer.  I am adding a temperature control unit to the stainless steel conical fermenter on the left and will cover that project in a future blog.  So to start, I had to replace the lid on fermenter with the lid from one of my stainless steel brew buckets.  Because the stainless steel brew bucket lid is flat, it saved me a few inches and let me connect a stainless steel elbow pipe fitting so that I can use a blow-off tube as opposed to an airlock which save me another couple of inches.  With those simple modifications, I was just about there.  Next I measured the clearance space from the lower valve to the floor and I had approximately 4 inches of clearance.  So I trimmed each leg down approximately 3 inches as you can see in the photo at the top of the page.

 

The modifications to my stainless conical fermenter worked perfectly and now it easily fits in my chest freezer and I am once again a happy man. You can see the photo below. If all goes well, I will brew my first batch with this fermenter this weekend and will let you guys know how it goes, but so far I have been very happy with the quality. I gave it a good cleaning and there were no leaks, all of the welds are perfect and the valves and fittings are all very high quality.

 

If you are looking to purchase one, they are currently available for just $395!

Click Here For the 7 Gallon Stainless Steel Conical Fermenter

 

If you need on of the stainless steel brew bucket lids, they can be purchased here for $23

Stainless Steel Brew Bucket Conical Fermenter Lid

 

 

Conical Fermenter

Conical Fermenter

 

 

 

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