I’ve been home brewing for several years now and as most homebrewers know you are always trying to improve and evolve your brewing process. Sometimes that method involves a crazy DIY (Do It Yourself) project that then leads to more projects. Other times it’s as simple as learning about adding Irish Moss 5 minutes before the boil is over (and irish moss is real cheap, def worth the purchase). And other times it’s something that is expensive and you keep telling yourself you don’t really need it… That was the case with me and the Therminator (it’s more fun if you say it in Arnold’s voice) heat exchanger for cooling your wort down after the boil.
And I was wrong… the Therminator (seriously try not saying it like Schwarzenegger now) is completely worth the modest invest of $200 and I also highly recommend shelling out the extra money for the quick connect barbs. Especially if you are brewing anything larger than 5 gallons and it’s not winter in Maine (if so just put the lid on your fermenter and stick it in the snow, done). I’ve been able to take 15 gallons of wort at 200+ degrees down to under 70 degrees in 10-15 minutes, using only ground water as the cooling liquid which passes through the Therminator. This was also in Georgia in July were the outside temp was well over 95 degrees. Also, I could have easily got the temperature of my wort well into the 50s and maybe 40s if I wanted. So for all you homebrew lagerers it’s a great investment.
The way the Therminator works is your wort is channeled through a very small array of pipes running through a metal block that at the same time is pushing cold water through itself. This causes the wort’s temp to drop drastically due to the large surface area being exposed to the cold water. So on the Therminator “block” you have a water in and a water out valve, and a wort in, wort out valve, they never touch one another so don’t worry about contamination. Very Important: if you do decide to invest in the Therminator which I think any home-brewer who has gone beyond 5 gallons or plans too should have, then make sure you are ready to flush the Therminator EVERY time after you use it. If you let it get dirty and let all that sugar watery wort contaminate it then you have just wasted 200 bucks. It’s not complicated just flush the Therminator after each use, it’s very simple.
I know I’ve said this a couple times, but the Therminator is worth the purchase. It saves so much time off your brew day by not having to wait several hours for your temperature to drop naturally, or dealing with bags of ice and tubs, or the copper coils that are a pain and potentially add contamination to your tasty brew. Get the Therminator, and clean it after each use!
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