Birth of Cool, Part One

BYOB by | Apr 2012 | Issue #63

Illustration by Ellen Crenshaw

After an unprecedently warm winter here in Southern California, it’s time to worry about stupefying hot temperatures for brewing. Turns out, our little yeast buddies are sensitive and have no love of warmth. This month, we’ll focus on going from boiling to fermentable.

Everyone does the boiling pot in a cold-water sink bath at first. It works and is cheap, but at some point, you should switch to a copper chilling device, either a coil immersed in the pot (immersion chiller, aka “IC”) or a coil you move the wort through (counterflow chiller, aka “CFC”). Their effectiveness is governed by your ground water.

If you live in Alaska and are using fresh glacier melt water, you’re set. If you live anywhere that thaws for more than two weeks, then you’re screwed. No matter how hard I try, I can’t make wort colder than my 80°F water.

I combine my CFC with an extra IC, and pump wort from the kettle into the CFC that uses hose water to chill from boiling to 80°F. From there, the wort travels into the IC sitting in a salty ice bath before hitting the fermenter. I can run flat out and chill 11 gallons in 15 minutes to 60°F with 20 pounds of ice during summer’s brutality.

Why bother? Because it’s best to pitch your beer cold and let it rise slowly to suppress the early formation of obnoxious esters and fusels. This Tripel benefits from the chilly start!

For 5.5 gallons at 1.086, 17 IBU, 5 SRM, 9.5% ABV, 90-minute boil

Grain / Malt / Sugar
14 lb. Pilsner malt
0.5 lb. Caramel Pilsner malt
1.5 lb. sugar (Have fun!)

Mash for 60 minutes at 149°F.

0.3 oz Magnum (pellets) | 14.00% AA | 60 minutes
0.5 oz Czech Saaz | 0–5 minutes

Wyeast 3787 – Start it cool and let it come up to temperature.