Posts Tagged diy

How to Build a DIY Wort Chiller

If you homebrew, one of the most useful tools you can have in your kit, is the wort chiller.  This, put simply, is a coil of copper tubing that sits in your wort, and takes the heat away.  There are two main advantages to using the wort chiller.  Number one, it cools the wort from the boil temperature to your pitchable temperature much quicker, and thereby reducing the time that the wort is in the “danger zone”, and at risk for infection or contaminants.  Number two, it speeds up your total brew time dramatically.  Most properly constructed wort chillers will take your wort down to pitchable temperature (70-75 degrees typically) in 15-30 minutes.

There are two general types of wort chillers.  The first is the immersion chiller (the device sits in the wort, and cold water is pumped through the copper to remove heat).  The second is the counterflow chiller (the wort is pumped through the copper coil in one direction, and cold water is pumped in the other direction in a surrounding coil of tubing, typically rubber).  The instructions in this post will be for an immersion chiller.  It is less expensive to build, and eaiser to keep clean, as you just put it in the pot with about 15 minuts to go in the boil.

In order to build your immersion chiller, there are a few items youll need to pickup from your local hardware store.  The first, and most important item is the copper.  Youll need a minimum of 25 feet, 50 is ideal.  And the diameter of your tubing should be 3/8″ OD  as this allows the best compromise of surface area in the wort versus flow of the water inside.  This is the most expensive peice to the wort chiller.


When you buy your copper, hopefully, it will be coiled somewhat already.  Mine came in this nice neat box and already had most of the shape i was looking for.  You can also purchase a copper bender, which will help you prevent kinks when bending.  If you do get a kink, youll need to cut the copper and start over, as your water will slow down and not allow efficient heat transfer.  So, depending on your tube bending skills, you may or may not want to purchase the extra tool.


Pull your copper out of the box, and stretch it a little vertically to make a long/tall coil of copper.  Then find something cylindrical to wrap your copper around, and help create a uniform coil.  (i started with a paint can, but it didnt work so well so I switched to a small CO2 tank I had, which made the perfect coil.


Note the vertical peice with the 90 degree upturn at the bottom of the coil.  Dont forget to add this, as you will not want your connectors, in or out, to be inside your wort.


Once you get the coil you are looking for, you should then solder on your connectors.  I used a small propane blowtorch and regular plumbers solder to make the connections.  Put one on each end of the tubing.  Now that you have your connectors on, and your copper coiled, slide the cylinder in the tubing, and fine-tune your copper coil so that you have as much copper as possible in the wort.  Your in/out connectors need to be angled  and long enough so that they can rest outside of the wort pot.  If one of your connectors springs a leak, you dont want that water in your brew!


To use your chiller, youll need a short peice of hose for the output (a washing machine hose works great).  This hose will go in the drain of your sink, or on the ground outside, depending where you are using the chiller.  For the input, simply connect a garden hose from the kitchen sink, or an outside spigot, again depending on where you are using your chiller.  Place the chiller in the brewpot with about 15 minutes to go in the boil and it will sanitize anything on it. (its a good idea to keep it fairly clean all the time though)  Once your boil is complete, turn the hose on high and cold, and wait.  Your tap water normal temperature will also help determine the rate of cooling you will observe.

There you have it, a DIY Wort Chiller!

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How to build a DIY Mash Tun

Thanks to my brew buddy, Monkeyboy, for demonstrating his DIY mash tun at my house this weekend.  It is a simple concept, design, and build.  I ended up building one in about 30 minutes for around $25. (i had an extra cooler lying around with a drain in it, that was threaded on the outside for easy attachments)

First thing’s first.  If you are an extract brewer, then you have probably never used a mash tun.  The short and simple definition of what it is, is an insulated container outside of your brewpot, where you will soak your grains in hot water in order to create the wort for your main boil.  If you are accustomed to brewing with extracts instead of all grains, you have been bypassing the mash to wort step by simply purchasing the extracts to put directly in the boil.  Both ways will still produce good beer, however, the all grain method will definitely be a less expensive method in the longrun for any brewer.

So, to build the aforementioned mash tun, the main structure of the device is an old cooler with a lid and a drain.  Youll want a cooler that can hold 10-15 lbs of raw grain and several gallons of water.  Other than that, size really doesnt matter.  I had an old cooler in the garage that was perfect for the job, so I grabbed it and we were off.


Old Igloo Cooler I had with a lid and drain

Old Igloo Cooler I had with a lid and drain


I took a trip to Lowe’s Home Improvement store and picked up the needed peices for about $25.  
Here is my bill of materials: 

1  12″ braided stainless steel toilet/sink supply line.
1 brass female to male threaded coupler
1 brass gate valve
1 brass female to barbed coupler
1 section of 3/8″ inner diameter rubber tubing
1 hoseclamp



Here are all the parts I purchased for about $25I took the drain assembly off of the cooler, and took it with me to the store to make sure all the parts fit correctly.


With all of these parts in hand, I returned home to assemble the mash tun. 

The first thing I did was to cut one end off of the braided supply line. 



Be very careful cutting braided stainless. It will poke you and cut you easily. Gloves are a good idea.


I then CAREFULLY pushed back the braided stainless steel as far as i could to expose as much of the inner rubber hose as possible.



I couldnt get the braid back much further, but thats okay, it will give the filter in the mash tun a little rigidity.


Then I cut the hose off as far as I could get.  After the cut, i pulled the braided stainless back over the hose and stretched it out to about 2 feet in lenght.  I then took a pair of needlenose pliers and rolled the frayed end of the stainless sheath up about an inch (like a tube of toothpaste).



Again, be very careful with the braided stainless.


This is your filter that will lie on the bottom of the mash tun and filter most of the grain out of the mash for you.  Mine luckily screwed right on to the inside of the coolers drain. 



Make sure your filter isnt longer than the width of the cooler. You dont want a curl or a kink when you have a mash tun full of hot mash.


You may have to get an adapter or two from your hardware store to make yours fit.  (take the drain into the store with you)  If all else fails, you can cut both ends of the stainless sheath, pull out the rubber hose all together, and then just use a hose clamp to secure the filter to the drain.



This is the drain taken off of the cooler and a test fit of the external hardware.


On the outside of the cooler, I simply attached the female to male coupler, then the gate valve, and then the male to barbed coupler.  Then the drain hose slides right on the barbed section.



External hardware assembled and ready to Brew!




Full view of completed Mash Tun


Voila!  A mash tun for your all grain recipes.  This how to will not be exact as all coolers are different and may need individual tweaking.

Its a simple process and probably can be done a thousand ways, but this seems pretty inexpensive and effective.

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