Home » Posts tagged "immersion wort chiller"

Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA Extract Recipe

Without a doubt my favorite beer of all time is Dogfish Head’s 90 Minute IPA. 9% abv and 90 IBUs. Perfection.

To find a bottle of this beer I currently have to drive at least six hours to get to a state where it is distributed, so I decided to try brewing an extract version of this beer last weekend to see if I could make some for myself. There are a couple of recipes for this beer out there online, but they are mostly partial-mash and all-grain recipes. I was able to find one beer recipe that converted the partial mash into an extract recipe, so I went with their recommendations.

Finding an Extract Recipe
The ingredients called for in the extract procedure that I found required all dry malt extract (DME) for the boil, with a few pounds of crushed grain being steeped at the start. There was some controversy online about what type of malt to use – pilsener? Light? When I went down to the local home brewing store that was solved for me – they were wiped out of DME. Not ideal. I could have driven across town to a different brew store, or I could have ordered some online, but with a baby due any day now I wanted to get the brew done. The original recipe called for 8 pounds of DME, but I ended up with 9.15 pounds of liquid malt extract (LME), which is less efficient than its dry counterpart, and a pound of DME. The liquid extract does not produce as much fermentable sugar as the dry, but I was not sure what the exact conversion was at the time. The amount of specialty grains being steeped is pretty huge compared to what I usually use, so I was hoping that would also compensate some.

This is what I ended up brewing with. The expected original gravity of the beer was said to be between 1.080 and 1.088. The batch I made came out at 1.072. Oops. I am guessing that this would have come out closer to the expected gravity if I had used all DME instead of LME. The beer will be less alcoholic than it is supposed to be, but we will see how the flavor compares.

Here is the procedure I ended up using to brew the extract clone of Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA:

Ingredients (5 gallon batch):
1.5 pounds of crushed 2-Row Malt (steeped)
1.7 pounds of crushed Amber Malt (steeped)
9.15 pounds of Gold LME
1.0 pound of Golden Light DME

2 oz Amarillo
1 oz Simcoe
1/2 oz Warrior

Dry Hops
1 oz Amarillo
1/2 oz Simcoe
1/2 oz Warrior

Wyeast 1099 (Whitbread Ale)

1 tsp Irish Moss


-A day ahead of time begin a yeast starter. Usually it is recommended that you create a 2 Liter yeast starter for expected original gravity of 1.080 or higher, which I did. This used 1 cup of golden light DME and 4 cups of water to create some “wort” for the yeast to begin working on so that it could multiply and be ready for the heavy-duty wort it would have to ferment after the brew. I also used a stir plate for the first time to encourage even more growth of the yeast, and I loved it!

-Steep 1.5 pounds of 2-Row grain and 1.7 pounds of Amber grain (27°L) at 150°F for 20 minutes.

-Bring to boil and add 9.15 pounds of Gold LME and 1.o pound of Golden Light DME.

-Boil for 20 minutes before adding hops. This helps to rid the wort of extra proteins that hinder hop utilization, so hops will be used more efficiently when they are added.

-Mix all of the boiling hops together. Start the 90 minute boil, and add the mixed hops evenly throughout the boil. Dogfish Head has a shaker set up to continuously add hops throughout the 90 minutes. What I found recommended, and what I did, is to add 1/4 oz of hops every 8 minutes throughout the 90 minute boil. This works well.

-Add 1 tsp of Irish Moss with 15 minutes remaining in the boil.

-Cool the wort as rapidly as possible. For a five gallon batch it is easiest to do this with an immersion wort chiller. An ice bath can work but is not recommended because it is inefficient and can cause side effects such as off-flavors in the beer because of this.

-Place in primary fermentor 1-2 weeks, until fermentation stops. (It has been bubbling like crazy for three days as I write this).

-Transfer to secondary fermentor and add dry hops for 5-7 days.

Thoughts After Brewing
It is obvious that there are improvements that can be made to this recipe. I was short on time and wanted to give it a shot, so we’ll see how the above procedure comes through. Once I try the beer I will come back and update this post.

Update: Thoughts on the Finished Product
We left this beer in the primary fermentor for two weeks and then racked it to a secondary fermentor for what ended up being three weeks. The dry hops were in the secondary for about five days, I think (it’s all a little fuzzy because we had a couple-day-old newborn in the house by then).

For the first few weeks after bottling I was worried. After two weeks of bottle conditioning I tried one, knowing that it would probably still be a little green, but the aroma of the beer was awful. I was very worried that there was some type of infection in the beer. If you have tried the real 90 Minute IPA you know that it has an almost sweet aroma. The way most avid beer drinkers describe it, and I apologize if you have not heard this before since you will think of it every time you drink the beer, is the aroma of cat urine. That is the smell that the hop style is supposed to give the beer though, so that is a good thing. This beer did not smell like that. It smelled like garbage. I gave it a try anyway and the taste was actually pretty decent.

I had a friend try a different bottle of it on the same day and he had the same results. I saw some potential in it and I didn’t taste any off-flavors so I decided to wait a little longer to see what would happen.

Now, a month on, the beer is fantastic. It does not quite have the same potency of the real thing, which is expected since I did not convert the measurements for the malt extract precisely. It also lacks a little bit of the aroma out of the glass. I think this might have something to do with the duration of the dry hopping. I have read all kinds of ideas about how long to dry hop: one day, three days, five days, seven days….I will just have to try some different durations in the future.

The taste of this clone is awesome. You can tell that it is not the real thing but you can also tell that it is close. I will try a few tweaks on the ingredients in the future and probably get it closer. It would probably be easier to achieve the exact flavor by brewing it all-grain or partial-mash, but I have some satisfaction from making a pretty good clone using extract brewing methods 🙂

Do you have any recommendations for improving this extract clone of Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA?

The Best Piece of Equipment for Improving Your Home Brewing


We all want to brew great beer, but sometimes it feels like you have to invest hundreds of dollars into a fancy stainless steel brewing system to make beer that tastes decent.

There are parts of the brewing process that are tough to perform correctly for the beginning- to mid-level brewer.

Nowhere is the home brewing process more tricky than in the transfer of wort or beer from one vessel to another.

This might be from the kettle into a carboy for fermentation, or it might include a transfer from a primary fermentor to a secondary fermentor.

Not only do we want to prevent spills, but it is imperative to keep contaminants from entering the beer and in some cases it is necessary to prevent oxygen from mixing in.

You might be sucking on a hose to start a vacuum to transfer the beer (and dramatically increasing your odds of infecting the beer) or you might be trying to start a vacuum by filling the tubing with water and letting it drain out to pull the wort with it (meanwhile spilling all over your floor).

These are examples of doing things the hard way.

If you get to the end of the process and your beer just doesn’t taste very good, this might be one of the main reasons.

One of the biggest surprises for a new brewer is that there is an inexpensive piece of equipment that performs the transfer for you. It’s called an auto-siphon, and you can get a good one for just $15.

Auto-siphons are configured to allow you to form a vacuum and start pumping beer from one vessel to another with a couple of quick pumps of the handle.

Use of an auto-siphon reduces the risk of introducing contaminants and oxygen to the beer. It also removes the mess of spilling and the frustration of failed transfers.

Here is a quick (fairly low-quality) video demonstrating the use of an auto-siphon to start a transfer:

We recommend getting an auto-siphon like this one.

Have you ever used an auto-siphon for home brewing or wine making? What was your experience with it? Let us know in the comments below!

3 Ways to Cool Wort Even Faster

You’ve been using a wort chiller to cool your beer quickly. You’ve seen the dramatic results that wort chillers give you compared to an ice bath. Maybe you want to cool your wort even more quickly, though. Or maybe you live in a hot climate where the groundwater is warm and the tap water doesn’t cool wort to a sufficient temperature when you use a wort chiller. Here are three quick tips for improving your wort cooling process:

1. Increase the cooling rate by whirlpooling the wort.

Re-circulating the wort in the kettle with a whirlpool helps to cool it more quickly. If you are using an immersion wort chiller the whirlpool will increase the flow of the wort past the cold copper tubing of the chiller. If you are using a counterflow wort chiller or plate wort chiller the whirlpool will introduce cooled wort that has already run through the chiller into the wort that has not been cooled yet, bringing down the temperature of the wort in the kettle.

Whirlpooling has the additional advantage of collecting sediment in the wort at the center of the brewing kettle so that the wort can easily be siphoned off, leaving the debris behind.

2. Decrease outlet temperature by placing your counterflow chiller in an ice bath.

If you are using a counterflow wort chiller and groundwater just isn’t doing the job of cooling the wort far enough, try placing the chiller in an ice bath while the water and wort are flowing through it. The ice water will cool the tap water that is running through the outer layer of the chiller, and that water will in turn cool the wort even more.

3. Decrease outlet temperature by running water from an ice bath through the chiller.

If you need to cool your wort more than your tap water temperature will allow, you can create an ice bath and feed the water from the bath through the chiller. You can feed the water with gravity, or you can pump it through to increase efficiency and ease.

Have you tried any of these methods for cooling your beer more efficiently? What were your results?

Why Wort Must Be Rapidly Cooled

As a home brewer one of your biggest concerns is quickly cooling the hot wort. If the cooling process is too slow several problems can develop.

Cold Break

There are proteins in the wort that will cause your beer to haze when it is cold (this is called “chill haze”). Chill haze will not affect the flavor of your beer, but it is considered a cosmetic problem. The only way to remove these proteins and keep your beer looking clear and clean is to cool the wort rapidly, which causes most of the proteins to precipitate and settle out. This is called “cold break.”

Keeping Cold Break Out of Beer

The first step to keeping cold break out of beer is to cool the wort rapidly enough that the proteins precipitate out. An ice bath may or may not do this, but a wort chiller almost certainly will.

An immersion wort chiller will cool the wort rapidly enough to reach the cold break and it will allow the proteins to settle in the brewing kettle. The wort can be siphoned from the kettle, leaving the proteins behind.

Counterflow and plate wort chillers are more difficult to deal with when it comes to cold break. Since the wort passes through these chillers to cool there is not a place for the cold break to settle out until the beer is sitting in the fermenter. To remove the proteins the wort should be recirculated from the ‘wort output’ connection on the wort chiller into the brewing kettle in a fashion that causes it to whirlpool. The whirlpool will force proteins and other debris to the center of the kettle, allowing you to siphon off the wort into the fermenter without any proteins or sediment.

Hop Aroma

There are two main acids in hops that contribute to the brewing process. “Alpha” acid contributes to the flavor of the beer, while “Beta” acid contributes to the aroma. Alpha acid is released from the hops in boiling water over a long period of time (thus the hour or longer boil while brewing) but beta acid evaporates out in the heat. Hops that are added in the last minute or two of the brewing boil are meant to strictly provide aroma to the beer.

Hop Aroma Problems

Problems arise with hop aroma in beer when a counterflow or plate chiller is used to cool the wort.These chillers only cool part of the wort at any one time, so the hot wort spends extra time sitting in the kettle before it is run through the chiller, allowing more beta acid (and thus hop aroma) to boil off. This is not a problem with immersion chillers because they cool the entire kettle of wort at once.

Preserving Hop Aroma – No Easy Fix

There is not an elegant way to fix this problem. Counterflow wort chiller and plate wort chillers may cool the wort faster overall, but immersion chillers give the entire wort the initial cooling that it needs to prevent loss of beta acid. It is an accepted fact that some hop aroma will be lost when a counterflow chiller or plate chiller is used to cool the beer.

Dimethyl Sulfide

Brewers of lighter beers and lagers may have experienced beer that has the aroma of cooked corn. In wort there are compounds that come from lighter malts which convert to dimethyl sulfide (DMS). The DMS provides the lovely aromas of cooked corn in the beer.

Preventing DMS in Beer

The formation of DMS can be prevented by rapidly cooling hot wort below 140 degrees Fahrenheit. This is easily achieved with most wort chillers, but counterflow chillers and plate chillers cause the same problem as with hop aroma loss. The hot wort sitting in the brew kettle, waiting to run through the chiller, can still form DMS and contribute some of that bad aroma to the beer.

Once again, immersion wort chillers will cool the entire batch of wort below 140 degrees quickly. To discourage DMS buildup in the wort if you are using a counterflow wort chiller or plate wort chiller, it is best to use a pump to move wort through chiller rather than allowing gravity to feed it. Pumps are much more efficient and will get all of the wort cooled faster, even though only a small percentage of the wort is being cooled at any one time.

Have you ever had problems with cold break, hop aroma loss, or dimethyl sulfide? How did you solve the problems in other brews?

What is Whirlpooling?

Cooling wort rapidly is pivotal to the beer brewing process. Removing sediment from from wort before fermenting is also very helpful. Whirlpooling your wort can help you streamline both of these processes.

What is Whirlpooling?

Whirlpooling is what it sounds like: creating a whirlpool in the wort while it is in the brewing kettle. The whirlpool will force any debris, such as hop leaves, cold break proteins, etc., into the center of the kettle, allowing you to siphon off the beer easily from the side of the kettle.

How Do I Create a Whirlpool?

The best way to create a whirlpool is to re-circulate the wort into the kettle. If the wort is being cooled with a counterflow wort chiller or a plate wort chiller it can be pumped from the chiller wort outlet back into the kettle.

If the wort is being cooled with an immersion wort chiller it is best to pump the wort from an outlet on the kettle itself back into the kettle. When the wort is re-circulated into the kettle it should enter at an angle to the kettle wall so that it smoothly forms a whirlpool and turbulence is avoided. A whirlpool can be created by stirring the wort with the immersion chiller itself, but this increases the risk of contaminating the beer.

An Example of a Whirlpooling Setup

The best example that we have seen of a setup for whirlpooling wort is over at Mrmalty.com. They use a special setup for a whirlpool in addition to an immersion wort chiller to collect debris at the center of the kettle and to increase the cooling of the wort by circulating it around the cold copper pipes of the chiller.

Have you ever used a whirlpool while brewing? How did it affect your results?

5 Reasons You Need A Wort Chiller

Why Buy A Wort Chiller?

You’ve been home brewing your own beer for a while now and you’ve heard about people using wort chillers to cool their wort, but you’ve been getting by fine with an ice bath. Here are five reasons you may want to reconsider purchasing a wort chiller:

1. Get to a Yeast-Pitchable Temperature Faster

We are already setting aside a block of a few hours to brew our beer. If we can take the cooling time of the wort from 30-40 minutes (in an ice bath) down to 5 or 10 minutes (with a wort chiller), why wouldn’t we?

2. No More Buying Ice

Your freezer can’t produce enough ice to take a 5 gallon kettle of boiling liquid down to room temperature in a hurry, so if you plan to cool your wort in an ice bath you will be buying some bags of ice. Back when we were using an ice bath we found that four bags of ice were required to get the job done in an acceptable time frame (a cooling time of about half an hour). At a couple of dollars per bag of ice, that adds up. We purchased a 25-foot Copper Immersion Wort Chiller and we were saving money after just a few brews.

3. Protect The Beer’s Health

While the wort is still hot, above 140 degrees Fahrenheit or so, wild bacteria and yeast are prevented from doing anything. Below 140 degrees and above 80 degrees these bacteria and yeast can get active and infect your beer, ruining the whole batch. There is also a chance of oxidation damage to the wort if it cools too slowly. Rapid cooling of the wort can prevent a lot of heartbreak for the home brewer.

4. Protect the Beer’s Flavor

While the wort is hot it forms certain compounds of sulfur. If you allow the wort to cool slowly the sulfur compounds will build up and produce a nasty off-flavor in the beer. Yuck. More heartbreak, wasted money, and wasted time.

5. Reach the Cold Break

There are some proteins in the wort that can only be precipitated out by rapid cooling. If this is not done they will form a haze in the beer when it is cold, which is mostly a problem of appearance for those brewers who take pride in brewing a clean, transparent beer. The presence of these proteins, though, can harm the lifespan of the beer, making it go stale faster.

Where Should I Start?

If you are thinking about trying out a wort chiller, the easiest place to begin is with an immersion chiller. If you are brewing five gallon batches of beer you will be fine with a 25-Foot Chiller. If you are brewing larger batches you will probably need to consider a larger immersion chiller to cool the wort in an acceptable time period. A 50-Foot Immersion Chiller is what you will probably need.

Immersion chillers have historically been made of copper but you can also find stainless steel versions in the 25-Foot and 50-Foot length.

Copper vs. Stainless Steel Immersion Wort Chillers

Deciding to buy a wort chiller leaves you with some choices to make. Should you buy an immersion chiller, a counterflow chiller, or a plate chiller? If you decide to buy an immersion wort chiller you will need to choose between a copper chiller and a stainless steel model. Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of both.

Copper Immersion Wort Chillers

Copper has been the standard metal of wort chillers for a long time. Only in recent years, with the rise of the price of copper, did stainless steel chillers come on to the scene to compete with copper.

Advantages of Copper

  • Copper has great thermal conductivity. It allows heat to travel efficiently through it from the hot wort into the colder water, which then carries the heat away.
  • Copper is malleable so it can be shaped into the correct form for a wort chiller, even by the average home brewer. Great thermal conductivity allows the walls of copper tubing to be relatively thick so that they are easier to bend into shape without breaking but still can cool hot wort very quickly.
  • Copper is known for its resistance to corrosion which is important when working with substances that will be consumed.

Disadvantages of Copper

  • Price fluctuation is the greatest enemy of copper. Over the past five years the price per pound of copper has fluctuated between $1.50 and $4.50. When copper reaches the higher prices it opens up opportunities for products like stainless steel wort chillers to become economical.
  • A minor disadvantage of copper is that it oxidizes. As copper is exposed to air it will turn a darker color, and then when it is used to cool wort it comes out of the wort looking shiny. This may look bad, but in reality the change in the copper’s appearance does not do any harm to the wort.

Stainless Steel Immersion Wort Chillers

Stainless steel chillers have become increasingly economical with the rise in price of copper. The benefits of stainless steel have even made these chillers the preference for some brewers.

Advantages of Stainless Steel

  • Stainless steel is a compound metal that can be made in different grades and with some variability in the types of metal used in it. This flexibility means that the price of the stainless steel used to construct wort chillers can be controlled to a certain extent, while copper wort chillers are completely dependent upon the price of copper at a given time. 
  • Stainless steel is stronger than copper, so it is more difficult to damage. This strength also allows stainless steel tubing to be made with thinner walls, partially negating the advantage in thermal conductivity that copper holds.
  • Stainless steel is easier to maintain. It does not oxidize, and it will not corrode.

Disadvantages of Stainless Steel

  • Lower thermal conductivity makes stainless steel less efficient than copper 
  • Stainless steel is more difficult to work with. It is tough for home brewers to fabricate or  their own wort chiller with stainless steel or to re-shape their wort chiller to fit into a new kettle if necessary.

Comparing Copper and Stainless Steel

  • Efficiency: Comparisons of the cooling time between equivalent copper and stainless steel immersion chillers show that copper does have an edge in efficiency. This video from Homebrew Heaven gives a good example of the comparison.
  • Cost: The cost of metals can change dramatically over months and years. Below are examples of 3/8″ immersion chillers in both 25 and 50 foot lengths, made of both copper and stainless steel. The prices listed are the up-to-date prices of the chillers on Amazon.com. Keep in mind, the price is also affected by the size of the tubing and the fittings that are included with the chiller.