Chill, Part 3 (A better way)

Probably the best way to conserve chilling water is to brew in the winter, when the water from my tap is 6° or 7° C.  Of course I like to brew year round and in many places the water temperature never gets that low.  So after abandoning my pre-chiller concept it was time to pay a visit to the Cheap Chinese Tool Store.

Do you have a Cheap Chinese Tool Store near you?  Well, mine is not really called the Cheap Chinese Tool Store, it goes by a name that suggests a deep, protected body of water where ships might anchor to unload cargo and the second part of the name rhymes with crate.  Let me state for the record that I have no issue with the Cheap Chinese Tool Store.  It is full of cheap tools. A set of screwdrivers for $5, a bar clamp for under $2, an 18 volt electric drill for $25.  These are prices you do not see at your local mega box home improvement store.  Still I feel slightly dirty when I buy from the Cheap Chinese Tool Store.

The item from the Cheap Chinese Tool Store that forms the basis of this article is the cheap garden water fountain pump.  For less than one Alexander Hamilton, I walked away with a low output submersible pump:

The job of this little pump is to transfer ice cold water through the wort chiller.  I was concerned about whether it would have enough head pressure to do it, but it managed (barely).  It a perfect world one would spend the money to buy a pump with enough output to pump the water from the ice bucket through the chiller and back to the ice bucket.  Well, this one does half the job.

The procedure is as follows.  At the end of boil I run tap water through the chiller as normal.  It doesn’t take long for  the wort temperature gets down to say 50° C (about 120° F).  I use quick disconnects to quickly change the chiller input from the tap to the pump submersed in a an ice bath.  Plug in the pump, and the cold water flows down through the chiller and into a small bucket on the ground.  As the bucket fills, I simply pour it back into the bucket of ice water.  If necessary I add more ice to keep the water well chilled.  Is it perfect?  No.  Is it cheap?  Yes !  Does it work ? Yes!!

With a little patience this setup can easily lower the wort to lager pitching temps with a minimum of wasted water.  And of course I catch the initial water output in my mash tun, as it is scalding hot and is excellent for washing the pots and pans. It is almost perfect.  But alas, it is not the best that can be done.

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