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A ‘chilling’ story (by guest blogger Jon)

March 08, 2011 By: grant Category: Beer Gear, Homebrew, How to

Jon Korneliussen tries a two-chiller system

Jon Korneliussen tries a two-chiller system

The following is a guest post from Bluff City Brewers & Connoisseurs member Jon Korneliussen about his recent experiment using two chillers to bring wort temperature down post-boil for lagering. We’ve never used two chillers before — does anyone have any advice?

I’ve been brewing for about two years and have made eight batches of beer now. I am extract brewing, and steeping specialty grains to make a wider variety of beers. I do a partial boil of two gallons on my stovetop. Lately, I have been looking to add new techniques to my process, but am still not ready to make the leap to all-grain brewing (for a variety of reasons I won’t bore you with).

Last fall, I decided to dabble in true lagers, and wound up making a fairly decent Rauchbier. Things went fairly well for this batch, but I had difficulty cooling the wort to a pitching temperature of 54 degrees. Two hours after the boil, I finally lost patience and pitched the yeast at 59 degrees.

This winter, I set about to make things right. After much research, I decided the method to try was a two-chiller system, where the first chiller is placed in ice, and the second in the wort. Several brewer bloggers had pitched this as a way to quickly drop the temperature below tap water temperatures. I bought one chiller to use for ales, and borrowed a second (thanks, FuzzyBrew crew!) to complete the setup. After an hour of chilling, I made it to 62 degrees. Although this was twice as efficient as before, it was not the 20 minutes I was hoping for!

Days later, I pored over my beer notebook, looking for patterns. Lo and behold, there it was. On a previous batch of ale, I had placed the wort in an ice bath, ran the wort chiller through it, and brought it down to 75 degrees in 20 minutes. Adding 60-degree tap water over-chilled the wort, making it too cool to pitch ale yeast, and I had to let it warm up for a few hours.

Next batch I will try a variation on this technique. Prior to brewing, I’ll place three gallons of boiled water in the refrigerator to chill to 40 degrees. After the boil, I’ll cool the wort to 75 degrees using the ice bath / immersion chiller combination, then add the chilled water to lower it to 55-60 degrees. If I overshoot my target, I can add room-temperature water to bring the temperature back up. I’ll post a comment here to let everyone know if this worked.

3 Comments to “A ‘chilling’ story (by guest blogger Jon)”

  1. The results of my alternate technique: 20 minutes. Using an immersion cooler and ice bath, I was able to bring 3 gallons of wort from 212 to 65 degrees in 15 minutes. I then added 48 degree pre-chilled water to bring the temperature to 58 degrees (low enough to pitch my lager yeast) in under 20 minutes. This procedure is a keeper for partial-volume boils.

  2. Thanks for the update, Jon!


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