Building an Immersion Chiller is a very simple project that just requires a little bit of time and effort and a few feet of copper tubing. Although it is simple in form and function, it is very necessary for all-grain beer brewing. The reason is that it is imperative that you cool the hot wort after the boil as quickly as possible in order to minimize possible contamination. It is during this cooling process that the wort is most vulnerable to infection from the ever present airborne yeasts that exist around us. An added benefit to this is that the high speed cooling process can aid in the formation of cold break which is coagulated protein that settles out of the boiled wort. This cold break removal will create a clearer, cleaner tasting beer that does not have as much of a haze to it when the beer is chilled.
What You Need
- 25′ of 3/8″ flexible copper tubing
- 20′ of 3/8″ flexible vinyl hose (food grade)
- 1 — faucet to hose adapter
- 1 — 3/8″ hose barb to 3/4″ female hose connector
- 1 — 3/8″ hose barb to 3/4″ male hose connector
- 4 — stainless steel hose clamps that fit 3/8″ tubing
- 1 — paint can or cylindrical object of approximately the same diameter
- 1 — 3/8″ tubing spring bender
- To begin, mark off about 16″ of the flexible copper tubing. This is going to be where we will start bending the copper tubing.
- Slide the tubing bender over the free end of the copper tubing and bend the tubing at our 16″ mark. We want this to be about a 90 degree angle or as close as we can get.
- Now we are ready to begin shaping our immersion chiller. Remove the spring bender and place the copper tubing on the floor with our 90 degree bend up against the side of the paint can’s bottom edge.
- Now, carefully begin winding the copper around and up the paint can. Keep the wraps right up against each other and try to do it as smoothly as possible.
- When it looks like you are getting to the end of the coil and there is enough free tubing to bend it up and have both free tubing ends next to each other, stop.
- Slide the spring bender over the free end of the coil and bend the end up 90 degrees to rest beside the other free end that is standing vertically by the copper coil.
- Now, use the spring bender to bend the last 4″ of each of the free ends 45 degrees away from the coil. The final result should look similar to the diagram at right.
- Split your 20 feet of flexible vinyl hose into 2 10 foot sections.
- Slide a length of tubing over each of the free copper tubing ends. It might help to submerse the ends of the vinyl hose in boiling water for a few seconds to soften it.
- Slide a hose clamp over each of the hoses and tighten them down so the hose and copper tubing have a leak free connection.
- Slide another hose clamp over each free end of the vinyl hose and place the 3/8″ hose barb to 3/4″ female hose connector on one end and the 3/8″ hose barb to male hose connector on the other. Once again, submersing the end of the vinyl hose in boiling water can soften it enough to slide it over the hose barb.
- Tighten down the hose clamps over the hose barbs on each hose to avoid any leaking and you are finished.
So how does it work? Well, it is very simple. All you need to do is attach the coil to the hose adapter on your sink faucet. The other end can either go into the sink and the hot water used for cleaning or some other purpose. It is also possible to connect a hose to this free end so you can route the used water to your garden. Now, place the immersion cooler in your boiling wort for the last 15 minutes of the boil in order to sanitize it. When your boil time has finished, you can turn on the cold water from your sink. This will route cold water through your immersion chiller. The cold water will absorb the heat from your boil and will send it out the other end of the immersion coil. Using this simple device, you can cool 5 gallons of wort in less than 20 minutes. The time it takes is dependent upon water temperature. This simple tool is one of the most useful brewery additions for home beer brewing.