A Brewery Chiller Can Keep Your Brewers’ Wort Happy
Good beer requires good process control. The ability to produce the same beer day-in and day-out is important in brewing. A brewery’s most enthusiastic customers expect the same flavor that they have come to know and love, regardless of the batch that their beer comes from. Keeping those customers happy requires the excellent temperature control that can be achieved with a brewery chiller.
The performance of yeast is greatly affected by the temperature of fermentation. It is not enough to control the average temperature of the brew; the temperature must be controlled at all times to avoid producing fermentation byproducts that are difficult to remove later.
For instance, yeast pitched at a higher temperature than intended can produce high levels of diacetyl. Diacetyl produces a buttery flavor in the beer; while a small amount of this flavor may be desirable in some ales, the flavor of diacetyl is rarely acceptable in lagers. High temperatures at the beginning of the fermentation process can cause the yeast to undergo a flurry of early reproduction. This can have other effects on your beer during the later stages of fermentation. A brewery chiller can bring your wort to the correct temperature for pitching of yeast and maintain it there throughout the fermentation process.
Fermentation is exothermic
This means that the fermentation process produces heat as it proceeds. While some of this heat can transfer to the environment where the fermenter is stored, the small external surface areas of most fermenters prevent this method of heat transfer from keeping your beer cool. Without a brewery chiller, the temperature of your beer can vary by as much as 10 degrees Celsius during the fermentation process. This produces unpredictable effects on the yeast and a combination of flavors that cannot be reproduced from one batch to the next.
Brewery chillers are often glycol chillers
Glycol chillers are an efficient way of cooling liquids such as a brewer’s wort. A glycol chiller uses either propylene glycol or a mixture of propylene glycol and water to circulate heat away from your brew and to a refrigeration system or heat exchanger. Cold propylene glycol then flows from the refrigeration system or heat exchanger back to your brew.
Glycol has a wider range of operating temperatures than water
Propylene glycol freezes at -12.9 degrees Celsius and mixtures of propylene glycol with water can remain liquid at temperatures as low as -52.8 degrees Celsius. The ability to operate at low temperatures allows glycol chillers to cool your wort more quickly than a water-based chiller. In effect, a smaller glycol chiller can do the job of a much larger water-based chiller.
In addition, the cold temperatures provided by glycol allow the chiller to respond to temperature spikes quickly. The rate of heat transfer is proportional to the difference between the temperature of the item being cooled and the temperature of the coolant. A low-temperature coolant can help your system return to its target temperature more quickly.
Small, local breweries and craft brewers often operate on a shoestring
Buying the best equipment sometimes does not make financial sense because they do not produce beer continuously. Renting a brewery chiller can make sense for these types of brewers; the cost of an occasional chiller rental is easier on their pocketbook than an equipment purchase, and owning a chiller would simply leave it with lots of idle time.
A brewery chiller is a key component of any brewing system. If you brew beer, you need the process control and repeatable fermentation results that proper cooling can provide.
For more information, please contact us. This article is not engineering or food production advice.