A couple of years ago I built a big new house with a big new double garage. Do you think I've ever come close to parking a vehicle inside my big new double garage? Bloody oath I haven't! Because it's crammed full with all sorts of homebrew gizmos and gadets, haphazardly cobbled together over the 15 years or so I've been brewing. Plus the wife has to take some blame, she seems to think my man cave is a legitimate dumping ground for surplus household crap that just might come in handy one day.
Anyway, one source of weird brewing gizmos over the years has been looking for easy, cheap and effective methods to chill wort. Cooling your wort quickly is important; it prevents oxidation, reduces the risk of contamination and it gives you clearer beer.
At first I went for the low tech (alright, cheap) approach of simply sticking my boiler in a big tub of icy water. Aside from the obvious drawback of having to lift and manouveure a big heavy pot of boiling wort, it was just too fricking slow, a couple of hours at least. Putting frozen bottles of water in the wort made it a bit faster, but meant even more stuff to clean and sterilize and I can be quite lazy.
Next I looked at immersion chillers at the homebrew shop. Being a cheap bastard, I figured I could make one myself, how hard can it be to shape a length of copper and attach a couple of hoses? So off to Bunnings I went, and indeed it wasn't that difficult to come up with a perfectly serviceable copper immersion chiller. While it looks kind of rustic (alright, cheap), it brought the cooling time right down to about 45-60 minutes. But that's still kind of slow and its a hell of a lot of water to drain onto a wee little courtyard garden (this was before the big new house).
Combining both techniques yielded further improvement. But it was still quite inefficent, wasteful and just too much hassle for this cheap lazy brewer. Briefly I played with running the immernsion chiller's feeder hose through an esky of ice, but the gains were becoming marginal from my ever growing accumulation of wort chilling crap.
Finally, last year I upgraded to a counterflow wort chiller. I thought long and hard about making one myself...but this office boy knows his limitations, so I just bought one. A counterflow wort chiller is The Answer to your wort chilling needs. It just took me 15 years to figure out.
I still dream that one day my big new double garage will shelter a vehicle. Anyone want a cheap shitty home made immersion chiller?
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