I'm quite proud of myself at the moment :) I completed construction of my wort cooler for brewing my beer. For those of you unfamiliar with the process of brewing beer, the wort is the liquid mixture you create by steeping the grain and adding the malt. This is all done at a temperature of approximately 160 degrees.
Once the wort is finished (takes about 2 hours), you have to cool the wort down to the temperature needed to pitch the yeast. This is typically 70 degrees for the yeast I use. The tricky part is that you have to cool it as fast as possible because the temperatures between 150 and 90 degrees are the ideal temperatures for bacteria to grow. They are not dangerous bacteria, but they will spoil the flavor of the beer. In the past it has taken me 2 hours to cool the beer by setting the 4 gallon pot in an ice water mixture. Not very effective. It hasn't hurt the beer, but I still wanted to improve. So, last night I bought 50 ft of copper tubing, some acrylic tubing, and got to work on my wort chiller.
There are two types of wort chillers; immersion and counterflow. The immersion chiller is placed in the wort and then cold water flows through the copper tubing to cool the wort. With the counterflow chiller, the wort actually passes through the tubing and the tubing is placed in ice water. It cools faster than the immersion chiller, but is harder to clean. And cleanliness is THE MOST important part of brewing.
So, I built an immersion chiller. No blueprints, just the general principles of how it works. It worked beautifully. I got 3 gallons of water down from 150 degrees to 80 degrees in 15 minutes as opposed to 2 hours. Next step, test it in an actual wort. I'll be doing that this weekend. Wish me luck :)