Paint stirring wort: rapid cooling but messing with the hop profile?
It’s been months since I last brewed some beer and far longer since I last wrote about it. This past week I took the day off work to make a recipe that has been kicking around in my head for ages – the super complicated SMaSH beer. Yep, single malt and single hop. In this case I used plain old two-row and Columbus hops. I had a beer from DC Brau a few months back with a strong dose of Columbus that I really enjoyed so I decided to do a deeper dive on the flavor and aroma profile.
Now, to the point of this blog post. In talking to other homebrewers I think I may use a somewhat unique technique to cool my wort or at least my particular process. I use a sterilized paint stirrer attachment for my cordless drill to whirlpool the wort while my immersion chiller is running. The thought is that I’m circulating the hot wort around the cold/cool water making its way around the chiller coils. I know that whirlpooling isn’t a new concept and is used in nearly all commercial breweries but I don’t know of anyone using it to accelerate the cooling process. I have found that I can cool a five and half gallon batch from boiling to 65 degrees in about 10 minutes or less (probably a good 5 minutes faster than without it). It also appears that this helps introduce a fair amount of oxygen into the wort as it will often become very frothy. Here is a brief video of the paint stirrer in action.
I’d imagine this also impacts my late hop additions (i.e. the isomerization of humulones). As someone who spaced off during chemistry class if fire wasn’t involved, I don’t quite comprehend the chemical reaction and how my whirlpooling may play into the final product. I gather that it might impart some additional (and unintended) bitterness but maybe not. Feel free to chime in here, scientists.
Has anyone else tried this simple approach to cooling or oxygenating your wort? It made sense to me to try this $5 piece of equipment to shave a few minutes off my brew day. Hopefully, I’m not messing up my beers in my attempt to be efficient.