Making Friends and Getting Influenced by (Great) People

By: Rick Theiner

I really like going to conferences.  Those of you who have come by our booth or met me at the various events that we visit and/or sponsor know this to be true.  I love meeting the users of our products and I especially love showing people the new products that we are introducing and explaining to them how they can make their lives easier.  

I especially love meeting the awesome people who make up the, er, “beverage support industry” (for lack of a better term).  What I mean by that term is that there are lots of people and businesses who want to help hobby and commercial brewers, winemakers, and distillers make a better product.  These are the folks who make supplies (malt, hops, cleaners, etc.) and equipment (kettles, chillers, bottles, etc.) that are then provided to you, the end user. Some of them co-exist with LOGIC, Inc., like the yeast suppliers; some of them compete with us, and we’re even friends with a few of those folks; and some of them occupy a niche in which we can help each other out.  This blog post is about this last type of relationship.

When I’m attending these events, I really don’t think about it as work because I’m a home fermentation hobbyist just like you.  I will attend the talks and seminars to improve my own beverages and then I will up my game and my equipment by learning about the things that are available by visiting other vendors and sponsors.  Recently I was at a conference where I met the guys from BruTools (the makers of the Exchilerator wort chiller), Zach and Kenny, and found some kindred spirits.

Maxx Exchilerator wort chiller used for my cleaning experiment

It may seem like cleaners and chillers don’t have much to do with each other, but we both have the goal of making your product (in the case of chillers it is most likely beer) the best that it can be.  We talked about the problems in cleaning chillers (from my side) and we talked about ensuring good heat transfer (from their side). I think that there were good ideas from both sides and at the end of the conference we decided to challenge each other.  They sent me a Maxx chiller and I told them that I was going to make it really nasty and then clean it.

Brewing set up using Grainfather and Exchilerator wort chiller

When the Maxx arrived, it was in pieces.  And I don’t mean that UPS had destroyed it; I mean that some assembly was required, and that was a good thing.  The core of the chiller was all put together, of course, but I had to connect the right segments to ensure that it worked with my system.  The instructions were very clear so I wasn’t confused (I do get confused easily, so this is impressive). And here’s the really cool thing—as I mentioned before, I brew with a Grainfather, which is really resistant to aftermarket modifications, but the Exhilerator connected with only a few minor tweaks and no special fittings.

For those that aren’t familiar with the Grainfather, the method of sanitizing the chiller provided with the unit is to simply run the hot wort through the chiller on a recirculation loop (back into the kettle) for 10 minutes.  In the case of the Exchilerator, I did this, but there is an outlet thermometer that came in awfully handy for this. When pasteurizing clean equipment, exceeding 160 F for 15 seconds is generally accepted as a method and time to deactivate spoilage microorganisms, so I simply watched the temperature hit that point for the necessary time and then moved on with the process.

thermometer by Exchilerator

How did it cool?  VERY well. Even better, with that outlet thermometer you can see exactly where the temperature is hitting.  The first time I used it I was brewing with kveik yeast, so I wanted to start hot, but not too hot (I was shooting for 95 F).  The outlet thermometer allowed me to see that temp (and my previous chiller outlet thermometer, retrofitted onto the Grainfather, only went to 80 F).  I didn’t have a flow meter on the chilling water, but I did have to throttle it back to keep it from chilling it too much, so I would say that this is a good thing.

The bottom line is that the Exchilerator worked great!  And I could have gone on and cleaned it up after running my chocolate coffee porter through it, but where would the fun be in that?  After pitching the yeast and setting my beer aside to ferment, I took the chiller off and set it in the window where it remained for the next two weeks (much to my wife’s, Sharon’s, chagrin) so that I had a challenge when it came time to clean it.

To find out how the Tale of the Exchilerator ends, head on over to the Exchilerator website where I share with you my thoughts on our new, collaborative effort, also known as WASH. We are so excited to announce our new cleaning product, available exclusively through Exchilerator!