Massive wort cooler

Massive wort cooler

In brewing, wort is “the liquid extracted from the mashing process during the brewing of beer or whisky. Wort contains the sugars that will be fermented by the brewing yeast to produce alcohol” [Wikipedia]. At a certain point in the brewing process, you need to cool down your wort. This ambitious homebrewmaster made a huge cooler (96 ft of tubing) for his 22 gallon brewpot. [via Zedomax]

Massive DIY wort cooler 96ft long

14 thoughts on “Massive wort cooler

  1. Wilson! says:

    I hope that isn’t kept outdoors or visible from a window -that much copper is a magnet for thieves…

  2. the_case says:

    Has the dude ever heard of a in-line plate chiller? It cools the stuff down to room temp as it passes through a line to the fermenter – its never been a problem with my 12 gallon batches…

    The cheapest plate chiller probably costs about half of what he spent on the copper alone – not to mention the time investment… and it only takes up the space equivalent of a large shoe.

    Impressive, yes. There are just better/cheaper ways to achieve the same result.

  3. ehrichweiss says:

    Ok, what I’m about to say is going to seem backwards but it’s definitely something to consider.

    You need smaller tubing to get better cooling because the ratio of the surface area of the copper, and the volume of water doing the cooling is too small. You want more surface area of copper and less volume of cool water to which to transfer that heat.

    surface area of tube = Pi x diameter of tube
    volume = Pi x radius^2
    ratio = surface area of tube / volume

    size: 1/4″
    surface area: 0.785 square inches per linear inch of tubing
    volume: 0.0490625 cubic inches per linear inch.
    ratio of surface area to volume:16

    size: 3/8″
    surface area: 1.1775 square inches per linear inch
    volume: 0.110390625
    ratio of surface area to volume:10.666666667

    size: 1/2″
    surface area: 1.57
    volume: 0.19625
    ratio of surface area to volume:8

    These aren’t exact numbers for several reasons including that they don’t take into account the thickness of the actual copper but they tell us the overall story, smaller gives better heat transfer, increasing by 32.5% moving from 1/2″ to 3/8″, and increasing by 100% moving from 1/2″ to 1/4″. That means a specified volume flow in the 1/2″ would get about 1/2 the transferred heat as the same flow rate in the 1/4″.

    If you own a website or are writing a book, and want to include these numbers, feel free; facts aren’t copyrightable and I wouldn’t care even if they were. Though I would appreciate a copy of any books, or a link to the sites..:) Besides, this knowledge came from someone else, I just worked out the math on it.

    1. Jesse Colclasure says:

      Your comment regarding tube diameter makes sense. The goal is to achieve turbulent flow, as opposed to laminar. We use an equation in plastic injection molding to calculate Reynold’s number to ensure that we have turbulent flow through the cooling lines in the mold. The higher the Reynold’s number, the higher the cooling efficiency. If you can increase the flow rate, you can use a larger diameter tube. If your water flow rate is limited, you would need a smaller diameter tube.

  4. water temp says:

    With the amount of exchange in the size of the chiller, wouldn’t the water actually be the same temp as the wort by the time it travelled half way through the wort, hence half of the pipe would be wasted.

  5. Anonymous says:

    How much volume does the chiller take up in your brewpot? It seems like this would reduce the size of the batches you can brew in your pot.

  6. Darrel says:

    That’s too much. If it’s built just for the sake of its sheer size, I suppose it’s ok. But rather than doing that, I prefer buying a simple wort chiller, something like what’s available here: And besides, I personally prefer plate coolers.

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. His free weekly-ish maker tips newsletter can be found at

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