Homebrewing - Home Brewers Blog

West Coast Brewer Home Brewing Blog

Tag: wort chiller

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.

 

Home Brewing Wort Chillers

Wort Chiller

Wort Chiller

 

A home brewing wort chiller is a piece of brewing equipment that is important to both all grain home brewers and extract brewers. That being said, different home brewers have different needs when it comes to chilling wort. For instance, one of the main factors to consider before purchasing a wort chiller is batch size!  If you are going to opt for an immersion chiller, you are going to want a larger format chiller for a 15 gallon batch size than you are going to want for a 5 gallon batch size.

 

Speed is important when it comes to chilling your wort!  The quicker that you can knock down the temperature of your wort from a boil to around 70F and get it into a sanitized fermentor, the better. The more time it takes for you to cool it, the greater the chances of it coming in contact with wild yeast strains or bacteria that would just love to dine on that cooling wort.  No pun intended, but the primary qualification of a wort chiller typically BOILS down to how quickly it cools your wort. That being said, there are other things you will want to consider before making a purchase.  I have used immersion chillers, plate chillers and counterflow chillers; each had qualities that I liked and and a couple had aspects I disliked.  Ultimately the counterflow wort chiller worked out best for my needs because it is compact, fast, easy to clean and fairly clog resistant. They can be used in some gravity fed brewing systems but I would recommend having a pump available to maximize the chillers cooling potential. I will also say this, I have a good friend that has been home brewing for about 20 years now and he swears by his immersion chiller and has a few compelling reasons for not making the switch to a counterflow chiller.

 

Lets review some of the wort chilling options that are currently available for a home brewer:

 

 

Immersion Wort Chillers: Click Here for Immersion Wort Chiller Pricing

 

Immersion Wort Chillers

Immersion Wort Chillers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Counterflow Wort Chillers:  Click Here for Counterflow Chiller Pricing Options

 

 

Counterflow Wort Chiller

Stainless Steel Convoluted Counterflow Wort Chiller

Stainless Steel Convoluted Counterflow Wort Chiller

Stainless Steel Counterflow Wort Chiller

 

For those of you who are trying to go all stainless steel with your home brewery, a stainless steel convoluted counterflow chiller is one of those items that has been almost impossible to find.  You can breathe a little easier as that is no longer the case.  For right around $200, you can pick a stainless steel counterflow chiller up here:

 

Click Here for Stainless Steel Convoluted Counterflow Chillers

 

You can also select add on options for your stainless convoluted counterflow chiller including stainless steel quick disconnects and ball valves!

 

Stainless Steel Convoluted Counterflow Wort Chiller for Home Brewing

Stainless Steel Convoluted Counterflow Wort Chiller for Home Brewing

How to build a home brewery brewing stand!

How to build a Home Brewery \ Beer Brewing Stand \ Brewing Rack \ Single Tier Brewing Sculpture

How to build a Home Brewery \ Beer Brewing Stand \ Brewing Rack \ Single Tier Brewing Sculpture

 

I can not speak for everyone, but for me, once I had made the change from extract to all grain home brewing I began having visions of what I wanted my home brewery to look like.  In a way, a big part of the allure of home beer brewing for me was making the best beer possible.  For me that included building my own home brewing rack, doing my best to perfect the process and being as efficient as possible.  I am not going to lie, there were a few times along the way that I questioned what the hell I was thinking and why I did not just buy a home brewing stand, but now that all is said and done I am a bit proud of what I was able to accomplish with my own hands.  In hopes of helping some of my fellow home brewers out I am going to supply some general information on how I put mine together.  If you need any specifics on something I do not list here, please feel free to drop me a line with what details you are looking for.

 

Home Beer Brewery

Home Beer Brewery

 

 

 

The dimensions of my brewery are 61″ Wide, 20.5″ Deep and 20.5″ tall excluding the wheels. The following is a list of parts that I used to create my home brewing sculpture, but many of the items such as the kettles, sparge arm and pumps can be traded out for other items of your preference. I am assuming that you have some basic welding experience (it is not that hard) and the required tools including a welder, cut saw, drill and grinder.

 

For the frame of my single tier home brewing stand I used 2″ x 2″ steel fence post that I cut into the appropriate sizes.  I made two large 61″ x 20.5″ rectangles for the top and the bottom, with a supporting vertical bar on each corner of the brewing stand.  In between each of the 3 burners, I placed 2 bars for spacing and support.  Even with all 3 kettles full of liquid, the beer rack is incredibly stable.  Here is a link to the fence post available at home depot:

Fence post for the brewing rack

 

The burners are really an item of personal preference.  I started with 54,000 BTU burners, but then later upgraded to a 210,000 BTU Bayou Cooker Burners.  The smaller burners were more efficient as far as propane usage goes, but the larger bayou cooker burners certainly get the job done much quicker.  I welded brackets onto the bottom of the top level of my home brewing stand to hold the burners in place.  Initially I had a flexible line with a regulator running from each burner to a master regulator that was hooked up to the propane tank, but then later ran pipe with separate valves for each burner. The bayou cooker banjo burners are available here:

Banjo Burner – 210,000 BTU Bayou Cooker Home Brewing Burner Stand

 

For the home brewing kettles I opted for the Blichmann 20 gallon kettles.  They include a site gauge so you can easily see the volume in your kettle, a 3 piece stainless steel ball valve and adjustable thermometer.  These stainless steel brewing kettles are one of the best buys that I have ever made and have no regrets about them.  They have a variety of options including a false bottom for your mash tun, hop blocker for your boil kettle, and sparge arm.  I opted for the false bottom and hop blocker and have been very happy with them.  I do mostly 10 gallon batches, but could go as high as 15 gallons with these 20 gallon kettles.  You will want to buy kettles that are appropriate for the batch size that you intend to brew.  Blichmann currently offers 10 gallon, 15 gallon, 20 gallon, 30 gallon and 55 gallon kettles.  You can find the kettles and optional items available here:

Stainless Steel Home Brewing Kettles

 

You will need to get 2 high temperature food grade pumps for your single tier home brewing rack.  I placed my pumps in between the hot liquor tank \ mash tun and the other between the mash tun and boil kettle.  With two pumps you will be able to conduct your sparge while also transferring wort from your mash tun to your boil kettle.  I use high temperature rated march pumps with stainless steel quick disconnects.  The pumps and disconnects can be found here:

Home Brewing Pumps and Quick Connects

 

As far as sparge arms go I have tried several.  The best one that I have ever come across is the morebeer ultimate sparge arm.  It is made of stainless steel, has a ball valve built into it to easily control the flow rate and can be used to recirculate or lauter your wort in addition to sparging.  The ultimate sparge arm can be purchased here:

Ultimate Home Brewing Sparge Arm

 

Lastly for my wort chiller I use a convoluted counter flow chiller.  Much like the sparge arm, I have tried just about every chiller from immersion chillers to plate chillers and I have found the convoluted counter flow chiller to be the best.  What I like most about it is that it is just about impossible to clog, it is compact, it cools wort incredibly quickly and it is easy to clean and sanitize.  These convoluted counter flow chillers are also sometimes referred to as chillzillas.  They can be found here:

Home Brewing Convoluted Counterflow Chillers

 

Those are the basics on my home brewing stand \ single tier brewing sculpture.  If you have any specific questions or comments, please leave a comment or shoot me an email and I will do my best to assist you.  Best of luck to you on building your own all grain home beer brewing stand.  If it seems like a little more work then you are up for, there are also some really fantastic pre-manufactured stainless steel home brewing racks and brewing sculptures available here:

Stainless Steel Home Brewing Stands and Brewing Sculptures

 

Brewing Sculpture

Stainless Steel Home Brewery

 

Stainless Steel Quick Connects and Disconnects

Stainless Steel Quick Connects

Stainless Steel 1/2″ Quick Connects

 

Stainless Steel 1/2″ Home Brewing Quick Connects and Disconnects

 

To many home brewers one of the primary marks of a good home brewer is efficiency, both in grain conversion and time.  Quick disconnects are a means of achieving a shorter brew day while at the same time preserving the integrity of the threads on your home brewing equipment.  In addition to the time savings during the brewing process, it may also help save time during cleaning and storage.

 

I switched over to 1/2″ stainless steel quick disconnects on my brew kettles, march pumps, wort chiller and sparge arm about 4 months ago and have been very happy with the decision thus far.  It allows me to connect and disconnect hoses in a matter of a couple of seconds which is nice when the gear is burning hot!  The hose swaps are quick and best of all I no longer have to worry about where I left my wrench or screw driver.  I had previously tried the Blichhman quick disconnects but found these spring loaded version to work much better.  They have been leak free for me and have made clean up allot easier and quicker.  The only downside that I can really see is the cost.  You are looking at about $10 per connect and disconnect as compared to a 50 cent worm clamp.  Personally, I think it is a good long term investment.

 

If you are looking to pick up a few quick connects and disconnects, you can find them here at a good price:

Stainless Steel Quick Connects and Quick Disconnects

Wort Chillers

A wort chiller is a device used to rapidly cool the wort after the boil has completed. Typically the wort is knocked down from boiling temperatures to less than 80° F as quickly as possible so that yeast can be pitched. Once the wort falls below boiling temperatures, it becomes susceptible to bacterial and wild yeast contamination. It is important to get the wort below 80° F without splashing or aerating it too much, as hot side aeration can oxidize your wort above that temperature.

There are three typical types of home brewing wort chillers. Immersion chillers are large coils constructed of copper or stainless steel. They are placed inside the brew kettle while cold water is pumped through the chiller, cooling the wort. Plate chillers are made of fused plates and have channels where the cold water is pumped in from one end, causing it to intersect with the plates being heated by the wort from the other end, which rapidly cools the wort. Lastly, counter flow convolution chillers have hot wort flowing through one tube as chilled water passes over it from the opposite direction in a surrounding tube. I personally prefer the counter flow convolution chillers because they permit me to cool my wort quickly while also being easy to clean, since hops and trub are less likely to get lodged in the tube than they are in a plate chiller.

 

 

 

Below is a photo of three examples of home brewing wort chillers: an immersion chiller, plate chiller and a counter flow convoluted chiller.

You can purchase the wort chillers here:

Home Brewing Wort Chiller

Home Brewing Wort Chiller

%d bloggers like this: