Build a Glycol Chiller for Your Brewery

If you are building a commercial scale brewery, or even a large home brewery, you may want to build your own glycol chiller to control the temperature of your fermenter. Many Craft Breweries are building their own brewery from old stainless dairy tanks, or any tank they can find.

Sam Calagione, of the famous Dogfish Head Brewery started his company brewing beer on a small ten gallon brew system. He brewed batch after batch on a brew sculpture normally sold to home brewers, but I guess all good things must come to an end. Ten gallon batches all day long can get pretty tiresome. I believe Sam's original ten gallon brew system in on display at his brewery.

When Sam expanded he searched high and low and purchased used stainless steel tanks that he modified into his commercial scale brew system. For a brew system you need a mash tun, lauder tun, brew kettle, fermenter, grant, hot liquor tank and other pieces of equipment. The tanks are just the beginning-you will then need to modify them and add fittings, lines, false bottoms, pumps and more to make them function as a brewery.

I want to focus on the glycol chiller I saw on the FrankenBrew DVD. Tom Hennessy put out this video back in 1995 and he shows you how to build one out of regular copper tubing. He cut lengths of copper tubing that would wrap around the outside of the fermenter, cutting them short enough to add a manifold at each end. It is difficult to explain without illustrations, so I will just get to the basic concept.

He spaced the copper tubing about 5 inches apart and once the ends were connected to a manifold made of copper tubing--he wrapped the copper tubing around the fermenter and tightened it up. Next he tapped the tubing against the side of the fermenter to flatten the tubing against the side of the fermenter making more of the copper surface come in contact with the surface of the fermenter.

The more surface contact between the tubing and the fermenter the better. You need contact between the tubing and fermenter to transfer the heat from the fermenter to the cold glycol circulating through the copper tubing. Be careful not to flatten out the tubing too much. Once you finish tapping all the tubing you need to retighten the chiller again. Then add a layer

Glycol chillers are the norm for most large breweries, but some breweries have their fermenters in large walk-in coolers. They adjust the cooler temperature to ferment the beer at the desired temperature. Normally ales ferment in the 60's Fahrenheit and lagers ferment in the 50's. Some Belgian ales ferment in the 70's. As a home brewer I am considering using the non-poisonous red antifreeze, or even a brine solution instead of glycol. I will have a reservoir and a copper coil mounted in a deep freeze to chill the liquid down and then install a pump to pump the chilled liquid through the chiller. A temperature controller will turn the pump on when the fermenting beer warms up and the circulating antifreeze will keep it cool.

There were countless ideas and this is just one I got from watching Tom Hennessy's FrankenBrew DVD. If you are a home brewer, commercial brewer, or wanting to learn more about commercial brew systems, then it will be worth purchasing the DVD for yourself. I tried to explain, but a video is worth more words than I can type. I want to thank Tom Hennessy for making this video. He explains every step of commercial brewing and shows you how to build the brewing equipment yourself. I wonder how many new micro-breweries we will get because of Frankenbrew?

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