From the HBD Archive
Subject: Chillers, extract beers, & hopbacks
Date: 1992-06-24 20:55:00 GMT

>Kinney Baughman <BAUGHMANKR@CONRAD.APPSTATE.EDU> writes in the HBD:
>> But whatever the case, use one or the other. Wort-chillers are
>> essential to any homebrewery.

>I'm an extract brewer (with occasional specialty grains), on my 16th
>batch in about 1 year. Will a wort chiller help my brew?

>My current procedure is to boil only about 2 gallons of wort (from
>extract/H20), adding hops/grains as necessary, and then dumping this
>into the fermenter with 2-3 gallons of cold H20.

If this is what you're doing then no, they aren't essential. But this
does bring up the issue of whether or not one should boil just 2
gallons of wort and dump it into 3 gallons of cold water. Sure it
works. But I think conventional wisdom is that you're more likely to
brew a better extract beer by reconstituting the wort, that is, by
bringing the wort back up to 5 gallons. By reconstituting the wort
you're beginning to treat the extract more like grain-sparged wort.
Following Fred Eckhardt here, extract beers are already a "cheat", if
you will. In order to approach the quality of scratch beer, one
should treat extract beers, as much as possible, as if they were
scratch beers. Therefore one should attempt to (1) reconstitute the
wort, (2) use fresh hops, and (3) use at least some specialty grains,
especially crystal malt.

Because of these concerns, I recommend that beginning brewers get a 6
or 7 gallon boiling pot as soon as possible. When deciding on
recipes, don't get bent out of shape trying to find a can of Northern
Nowhere Amber Malt Extract. Cue in on the fact that you need amber
malt extract and make your own. Amber malt is just pale malt with
some crystal malt added to it. If you buy only pale malt extract, you
can make your own amber or dark extract with ease. Here are some
rules of thumb. Adjust quantities according to taste. Assume 5
gallons of beer.

Amber Malt 1-2 cups of crystal malt. 2 cups will add a
significant sweetness to the beer. You will barely
be able to taste 1 cup but you WILL taste it.

Dark Malt At least 1 cup of crystal and 1/2 to 1 cup chocolate
malt for a decently strong chocolate/bock tasting
beer. More chocolate and crystal for porter-ish
dark beer.

My other advice is to skip extract recipes altogether and look at the
all-grain ones, substituting 2 cans of pale malt extract for 8-10
pounds of pale malt and adding specialty grains as recommended in the
recipe. Treat the specialty grains as follows:

Grind the grains and place them in a mesh bag and throw them into the
boiler as the water comes to a boil. Lift and plunge the grains into
the boiler water as often as you wish to simulate a sparging action.
When the water reaches 170 or 180 degrees F., toss the grains.

When the water comes to boil, cut off the heat source, add the pale
malt extract, stir into solution, then resume heating. As the wort
comes to a boil a fine, creamy head will form on the surface of the
wort. Skim this creamy head and you'll never suffer from boil-over
again. The head is composed mostly of proteins that will later form a
big protein bubble when steam escapes from the liquid at the onset of
the boil. The dreaded boilover!! Haven't you noticed how boilover
only occurs in the split second between the last time you looked at
your non-boiling wort and the horrified realization that it's already
started boiling?!

And, of course, hop as advised with fresh hops, plugs or pellets.

Assuming this is the way you make extract beers then (and now we're
back to the original question...whew!) you should be using a wort
chiller because you have 5 gallons of beer to cool down in a hurry.
And this was what I was assuming when I said wort chillers were
essential to any homebrewery.

Then Russ sed:

>Subject: Re: sterilizing counter-flow chillers

>This comes up every so often, but at caveat for those making or
>purchasing a counter-flow chiller. Make sure the inside of the
>tubing is free of machining oils. Chemical cleaning is not
>sufficient in many cases...requiring actual physical scouring
>of the inside of the tubing before you bend it into a coil.

>If you want to test your tubing for oils, swab a q-tip soaked
>in rubbing alcohol around the inside. If it comes out dirty,
>you've got a problem....if problem...

>Mike Zentner, who has tried to clean oil out by running 20
>batches of boiling water, rubbing alcohol, beer, bleach, soap water and
>even lysol through an already constructed no avail.

The above is well worth mentioning. Mike had a helluva time cleaning
up some copper tubing he found or bought from somewhere. At the same
time, if you buy refrigeration grade copper tubing from a hardware
store you shouldn't have the kinds of problems Mike had, at least I
never have and I've made several hundred wort chillers. It's my
understanding that silicon oils are used in the extrusion of that kind
of copper and are easily removed with several soaks in clorox or a
couple siphonings through of boiling hot water laced with B-Brite or
beer line cleaner. Where did you get that copper tubing after all,

>And now, a homebrewing question. Darryl Bock-man ;-) said he sanitizes
>his plastic with boiling water, reasoning that the heat will kill the
>nasties in any cracks. I've been thinking of using a zapap lauter tun (bucket
>in a bucket) as a hop-back, but have been concerned about exposing my chilled
>wort to the plastic buckets. But, if Darryl's assumption is true, then pouring
>the *hot* wort through the lauter-tun/hop-back would eliminate sanitation
>concerns about the plastic. It would oxidize the wort, but at this stage it
>would mostly just darken it. Correct me if I'm wrong on that. I'd also be
>concerned about handling a brewpot full of hot wort, but I can imagine a way
>to be careful about that. Am I forgetting anything? Any holes in my thinking?

I just finished writing an article for the special issue of Zymurgy
that describes how to make a hop-back that avoids the issue of
oxidation when using a hop-back altogether. I could post the article
here in the HBD if anyone is interested and if Charlie P. doesn't
mind. But for the moment, suffice it to say that my hop-back design
uses a mason jar connected inline between the boiler and a counter-
flow chiller. The mason jar lid is drilled with two holes, each
containing a length of copper tubing, the bottom of the outlet tube
wrapped in the infamous copperwound pot scrubber in a fine mesh hop
bag. Stuff about 3/4 oz of the gummiest aromatic hops you can find
into the jar and start a siphon. The hot wort passes into the jar of
hops, picks of the aromatics, leaves the jar and enters the wort
chiller where it is immediately cooled down. Having been cooled to
water temperature, the hop aromatics aren't volatilized to the
atmosphere and instead enter the wort where they belong. The
resulting beer will have the same kind of hop character we've all
grown to know and love in Sierra Nevada Pale Ale or some of the ales
made by Hart's Brewing Company in Washington state.

And now for the new sig...

___ ---------------------------------------------------------- ___
| | Kinney Baughman | |
| | | |
\ / \ /
| "Beer is my business and I'm late for work" |

And to Steve Hamburg...

If YOU aren't Mendel then who the hell is Mendel?

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