West Coast Brewer Home Brewing Blog

Tag: home brew (Page 3 of 3)

Which Wort Chiller Is Best for You?

If you have been shopping around for a wort chiller, you have probably noticed that you have a lot of options. Wort chillers typically are not cheap, ranging in price anywhere from $60 to over $300, so it pays to do some research before buying.


There are 3 main styles of wort chillers available for the home brewer:


Home Brewing Immersion Chillers

Immersion Chiller

Immersion Wort Chiller for Home Brewing



Immersion wort chillers are constructed of a long tube that is shaped into a coil with an input and output connection at the top of the coil. The immersion chiller is placed into the brew kettle once the boil is completed, or just prior to the boil completing (to sanitize the chiller). When it is time to cool the wort, cold water is circulated through the chiller from the inlet, and heat is exchanged via the coil as the water passes through it until hot water exits via the output connection. Immersion chillers are typically constructed of either copper or stainless steel and come in a variety of sizes. Immersion chillers have the lowest starting price, but can get very expensive. They also take up the most space of the three chiller types and tend not to be as efficient as plate and counterflow chillers, but there are some high efficiency immersion chillers available that can aid in circulating the wort around the chiller to help it cool more quickly. A benefit of an immersion chiller is that you never have to worry about it getting clogged.


Here is a link a variety of immersion chillers:
Standard Immersion Wort Chillers

Here is a link to some high efficiency immersion chillers:
High Efficiency Home Brewing Immersion Wort Chillers 



Home Brewing Plate Chillers

Shirron Plate Chiller for Home Brewing

Home Brewing Plate Chiller



Next we have plate chillers. Much like immersion chillers, you have a lot of options when it comes to plate chillers. Plate chillers come in different sizes regarding the number of heat exchanging plates they contain. As the number of plates increases, both the cooling efficiency and price increases. A 10 or 11 plate chiller usually costs about $100 and a 40 plate chiller usually costs between $150 to $200. Blichmann, which is one of the best names in home brewing products, has chosen a plate chiller as their design of choice.

A plate chiller uses a series of plates, usually constructed from stainless steel, to separate the wort from the cold water that passes through the chiller in a counter flowing direction. There are 4 ports on a plate chiller: a water input, water output, wort input and wort output. The wort is typically drawn from the boil kettle into the plate chiller, where it is rapidly cooled and then drained into the fermenter. Most plate chiller users opt to place a temperature gauge on the output of the plate chiller so that they can insure the wort is at 80F or less to help avoid hot side aeration and to ensure that the wort is at a suitable temperature to pitch the yeast.

The benefits of plate chillers are that they tend to be very compact, and they can cool the wort extremely quickly. The downside is that they are very susceptible to clogging and can be a nightmare to properly clean and sanitize.


Here is a link to a variety of available plate chillers:

Home Brewing Plate Chiller


Home Brewing Convoluted Counterflow Wort Chiller

Home Brewing Convoluted Counterflow Wort Chiller - Chillzilla

Home Brewing Convoluted Counterflow Wort Chiller



Lastly, we have my personal favorite and the chiller that I would recommend if you can fit it into your budget. A convoluted counterflow wort chiller is an coil shaped double hulled chiller that is not submerged into the wort. Similar to a plate chiller, the wort is passed through the counterflow chiller as cold water flows against it in the opposite direction.

Home brewing counterflow chillers are typically manufactured out of copper and have 4 ports, a water input, water output, wort input, and wort output port. The counterflow chiller can cool wort extremely fast and, unlike a plate chiller, is far less likely to clog, which can home in very handy if you like brewing IPA’s. Counterflow chillers are larger than plate chillers, but still very compact when compared to a larger immersion chiller.

They are also easier to clean and sanitize then a plate chiller since they use a tube design as opposed to a plate design, leaving less places for debris to get stuck. The downside is the price. A good counterflow chiller can start at $180 and goes up from there, but, that being said, I would rather save up for one than buy a chiller I would probably be dissatisfied with down the road.


Some home brewing convoluted counterflow chillers can be found here:

Convoluted Counterflow Chillers


If you have any questions on wort chillers, please feel free to drop me a line. I am always happy to help.

Gluten Free Blackberry Home Brew Recipe

Gluten Free Home Brewed Blackberry Beer Recipe


I just finished up my most recent batch of beer! It was a 3 gallon extract batch of gluten free blackberry ale. It has a nice balanced flavor with a tart finish. If you are looking to brew an extract batch of homemade gluten free beer, I highly recommend it.


Click here to view the recipe


Gluten Free Home Brewed Beer

Gluten Free Home Brewed Blackberry Beer

10 Easy Ways to Improve Your Home Brewed Beer

10 Easy Ways To Improve Your Home Brewed Beer

West Coast Brewer Top 10 Easy Ways To Improve Your Home Brewed Beer


Top 10 Tips For Improving Home Brewed Beer

Home brewing is an fun but complex hobby, and home brewers are always on the lookout for ways to make their next batch of beer better than the last. The following is a list of the 10 easiest tips and methods for improving your home brewed beer.


1) Proper Cleaning And Sanitization
Probably the easiest way of improving the quality of your beer is to simply clean and sanitize your home brewing equipment properly. Cooled wort is extremely susceptible to contamination from bacteria and wild yeast strains. Anything that comes in contact with the wort once it has been cooled must be sanitized. Even small amounts of bacteria can quickly ruin the taste of your home brewed beer.



2) Use a Yeast Starter (or at Least Rehydrate Dried Yeast)
Many home brewers fall prey to under fermented home brewed beer, stalled fermentations, or off flavors caused by under pitching yeast or pitching nonviable yeast. A yeast starter is a great way of boosting your yeast cell count and of verifying the viability of a liquid yeast. If you are unable to create a yeast starter and are using dry yeast, at the very least you should rehydrate your dried yeast.


3) Aerate/Oxygenate Your Wort
Aerating and oxygenating your cooled wort is a fantastic method for improving the quality of your beer. Yeast requires oxygen to replicate quickly and once the airlock has been placed onto your fermenter, little to no new oxygen will be available for the yeast to consume.


4) Temperature Controlled Fermentation
Many home brewers who are first starting out take the importance of fermentation process for granted. During fermentation, billions of yeast cells are digesting malt sugars and converting them to nearly equal portions of carbon dioxide and alcohol. If the temperature of the fermentation is too high for your yeast strain, the fermentation may occur too rapidly and foul off flavors may be produced in your beer. If the temperature is too low, the yeast may not reproduce quickly enough and your beer may stall, be under fermented, or increase the possibility of a bacterial infection. So always pay attention to the temperature requirements of your yeast strain, and ferment your beer in a temperature controlled environment if possible.



5) Dechlorinate and Filter Your Water
Water is the primary ingredient in beer, and its importance should not be underestimated. Chlorine and contaminants can create significant off flavors in your finished beer. Carbon water filters are relatively inexpensive, and I highly advise that you pass your brewing water through one before using it during any part of the home brewing process.



6) Use Fresh Ingredients, Especially Hops
Home brewing ingredients, just like all other food ingredients, go bad and diminish in flavor and effectiveness over time. Whenever possible, always use the freshest available extracts, grains, yeasts, adjuncts, and hops when making your home brew. If you have spare ingredients, make sure that you store them properly for future use. Hops and yeasts should always be stored in the refrigerator.



7) Dry Hop Your Beer
Dry hopping is a simple and effective way of improving the aroma of a beer. Approximately 7 days prior to kegging or bottling your beer, simply add an appropriate amount of aroma hops to your fermenting beer to impart some fresh hopped aroma to it. Dry hopping is not acceptable for all beer styles, but can be a fantastic addition to IPAs and pale ales.



8) Do Not Rush Your Beer
It is easy to get excited about a beer and cut corners so that you can enjoy the beer more quickly. Unfortunately, cutting corners typically comes with a price. Beer takes time to brew, ferment, and condition. Do your best not to cut your boil short of 60 to 90 minutes, rush your fermentation by allowing the temperature to get too high, end fermentation early, or take shortcuts in bottle or keg conditioning.



9) Use Finings When Appropriate
A lot of things go into making a great home brewed beer. It is more then just taste. When appropriate, fining agents such as whirlfloc should be used to improve the clarity of your beer. Whirlfloc and other finings, such as Irish Moss, are very simple to use; you just drop a tablet in 15 minutes prior to the completion of your boil, and it will help precipitate excess proteins and tannins out of your wort, leaving you with a clearer and cleaner finished beer.



10) Do Not Oxidize Your Beer
Oxygen can quickly skunk the flavor of your home brew, and the only time when oxygen is a good thing is when you are aerating your wort prior to pitching your yeast. Even then you must be cautious not to aerate your wort if it has not been cooled to 80F or less, as you may risk causing hot side aeration. When racking or transferring your home brew, always be cautious not to splash or let the beer bubble up, introducing oxygen into it. If you keg your beer, it is a good idea to purge the head space of the keg with CO2 after filling the keg.


Those are the West Coast Brewer 10 Easy Ways of Improving Your Home Brewed Beer.


Many of the items mentioned above such as whirlfloc and Irish moss can be purchased here:

Home Brewing Equipment and Ingredients


You can also view home brewing deals here: HomeBrewingDeal.com




The mash is water-saturated crushed malts, unmalted grains, and adjuncts that are present in the mash tun when the mashing occurs. During the mashing process, the starches will be broken down into sugars so they can be fermented by the yeast and converted into alcohol.


Beer Brewing Mash

The mash for an American Wheat Hefeweizen towards the end of the mashing.


Growlers are large capacity beer containers that are typically made of glass, ceramic, or stainless steel. In the late 1990s, growlers began gaining in popularity at craft breweries and brewpubs as an easy way for patrons to take beer home when traditional bottling was not a reasonable option. A typical growler holds 64 or 68 fluid ounces, but they come in a variety of sizes. The top of the growler creates an airtight seal using either a screw cap or a hinge/latch style cap and can keep beer fresh for over a week if maintained properly.

Below is an example of five different styles of beer growlers: a ceramic Widmer Gasthaus growler, a Deschutes latch top glass growler, a small screw top glass growler, a Russian River latch top circular growler, and a Firestone large screw top growler.

An example of 5 different beer growlers

An example of five different beer growlers.

Newer posts »