For the first couple of years of our Brewing adventure we’ve been cooling our wort using the high tech method of putting it in a bath full of cold water. It works and it’s easy but it’s not particularly efficient nor is it great economy, it uses a lot of water. But it’s all we had and we were happy with it. Recently however my Landlord got one of his engineers to put a new tap in my mine’s kitchen, the engineer was a marvellous dude from across the seas and I asked his advice re attaching a hosepipe to the tap in order to use a proper chiller for our brewing. He, being a professional, shrugged and said “I’ll just put in a new valve in the cold water line” a couple of minutes later I had one. The integration of this new valve into the system meant we could get ourselves a fancy chiller. First thing we did was look around at what was available and we decided to go with a copper tube immersion chiller. The cheapest I found was around £40, but we’d still need hoses and connection bits to hook it all up so we decided that if we could scratch build one for less than £40 we should. Turns out we could and this is what we did…
Copper tubing – Try and get a coil of at least 25 feet, 10mm diameter – Ours was from Wickes £23
Hose to connect to in and out of chiller – Again we managed to scrounge this, we used garden hose but that can be pricey and you need so little if you’re having to buy it buy the clear plastic flexible stuff from ebay. You’ll need around 10 feet of it in total, depending on where you’re running it to and from…
Jubilee clips – Three or four – £pennies each
Connectors – You’ll need a connector to attach the in pipe to what ever your water source is. Ours was a short length of copper pipe and some Jubilee clips, but equally you could fit a proper Hozelock system.
However we looked at it this was going to be our most expensive and most difficult to build piece of kit. There’s a fair amount a stake if you get this wrong so take your time and do everything slowly and carefully (something us hyperactive children found difficult to do)
Step one – Grab you copper coil and something cylindrical that will fit inside your boil kettle, for us this was a paint tin . Spread the coil out and wrap it around your mould, now gently tighten the loops until its tight to the mould all the way round. Spread the coils out slightly so you will reach as much of the wort as possible, this will ensure even chilling.
Step two – This is the hard bit. What you need to do now it to create the in and out valve. This is the bit where you need to slow down, if you put a kink in the pipe the likely hood will be that you will put a hole in it and wreck it, this means you’ll have to cut that bit off and start again, the more you do this the shorter and therefore less efficient your chiller will be. Right, sufficiently warned? Good. First things first measure how tall your in/out pipes are going to have to be: What you’re after is pipes that will come out the top of your boil kettle with a bend towards your water source. Once you know how long they need to be gently bend the bottom end of your pipe up and straight to create the in pipe (the one that will be connected to your water supply.) This is where you need to be careful, bend the pipe a little bit at a time and gently, remember: in this case kinks are bad ;). Once you’ve got a nice in pipe grab the other end and bend it round until you’ve got your out pipe. It’s the same technique as the in pipe so again, take it slow. Once you’ve got the in and out sorted you’re ready to connect everything up for a test run
Step three – Connect hoses to both pipes and connect the in hose to your water supply. Here again we went cheap, jubilee clips. They work but they can be a bit of a fiddle to attach and detach. Make sure your connections are good and tight as you don’t want any leaks, especially at eh out end – the water will be nearly boiling… Once everything is connected take the rig for a test run, make sure you run water through it for 10 minutes or more so you can be sure everything works how it should.
There we go. Expensive and complicated? Not really, total cost to us £25 and if we can make it anyone can…Its worth remembering that as the water coming out of the out hose is near boiling you can use it to clean equipment with, or make tea… maybe…