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Flame off to wort chilling - what to do?

I’ve been thinking about my procedures from the moment the full volume boil (5 gal) is completed until I open the brew kettle valve to start the hot wort flowing into my counterflow plate chiller.

How do you whirlpool your wort? A few stirs with the spoon or do you really get a vortex going? If the latter, does hot-side aeration concern you?

How much, if any, time do you allow for the whirlpool action to bring hops to the center and settle to the bottom of the pot? How quickly should I be getting the wort chilling started?

Currently I don’t allow for much time for settling, no more than a few minutes, before I open the valves. Can I wait longer before chilling?

My reasons for asking is the load of pellet hops gunk. The outlet screen and Blichmann hop blocker have not done a great job in keeping the hops out of the Therminator but I’ve never acheived the sort of hop concentration in the center of the brew kettle I’ve been told to expect. I’ve moved to using mesh bags for my hops, and while I don’t seem to experience bittering loss it concerns me for my bigger, hoppier brews.

Kai’s article
http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?title=Whirlpooling
on the subject implies that one good stir followed by a 20-30 min rest is sufficient to produce a good trub cone. I use a WIC so I whirlpool for 30-45 min and follow with a 20 min rest, which produces a nice cone.

In theory, once you have all the particles evenly suspended you want the flow slow enough for the cone to start forming in the center without getting knocked around by turbulence. I could see this requiring more active whirpooling time if you have a lot of obstruction or if the initial flow rate is not high enough. I suggest just trying it out with your kettle: first just a vigorous stir followed by a 20 min rest, and increase the active stirring period by 10 min on the next batch if you don’t get good cone formation.

For best cone formation the interior of the kettle should be free of obstructions that affect the whirlpool flow. I’ve got a pickup tube and an immersion chiller in the wort and I still get a reasonably good cone, but I don’t think the chiller matters as much because it is cylindrical. Does the hop blocker sit in the middle of the kettle? I wonder if that would hurt cone formation?

Very interesting. I’m truly surprised by the amount of time allowed for trub to settle. I’ve never asked anyone or brewed with anyone else so I had no idea what was recommended or typical. Based on what I’ve read, I’ve always felt rushed to start chilling the wort ASAP. Looks like I had no need to be in such a hurry. So allowing 20-30 minutes for the trub to settle is okay?

The Blichman hop blocker is a about 5-6 inches tall and 4 inches in diameter, an obstacle to wort flow around the perimeter of the kettle, but not so much as to overly interfere with a good whirlpool.

I stir mine 6-7 revolutions with a nylon spoon and turn the pump on before the liduid stops moving. I get a real good cone but my pot is 21" in diameter. Shoot … 20-30 minutes, I am not only done chilling 20+ gallons of wort but also done recirculating the PBW and hot water and system cleaned out and nearly put away.

I like to chill ASAP so that the flavor and aroma hop additions ARE flavor and aroma hops.

That’s awesome, I never knew the cone could form so quickly. Would you say it’s about a minute from flameout to valve opening? It’s probably going to vary a bit with kettle geometry and obstructions, I could see a bigger diameter pot being more efficient at forming a cone because of the more gradual gradient from high speed flow to still.

[quote=“nyakavt”]It’s probably going to vary a bit with kettle geometry and obstructions, I could see a bigger diameter pot being more efficient at forming a cone because of the more gradual gradient from high speed flow to still.[/quote]I think the diameter of the kettle is the big variable - a keggle is only about a foot across, so you have to stir like crazy and wait a while to get the edges clear, but a 21" kettle will have clear edges much faster.

[quote=“nyakavt”]That’s awesome, I never knew the cone could form so quickly. Would you say it’s about a minute from flameout to valve opening?[/quote]Yes a minute is about right.

I am very glad to hear more about what other brewers do at this point in the process. I would like to try a low hops brew without bagging the hops, get a good whirlpool and try the hopblocker. I will allow more time after the whirlpool for settling and we will see how it goes.

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