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Whirlpool - The big How-To

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Kaiser

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One of the problems that may home brewers (especially beginners) are struggling with is the separation of trub/hops and wort. My first approach to this was using a large funnel with a mesh screen. This screen clogged up immediately, causing a lot of stress when I was concerned about getting the wort as fast as possible out of the way of germs and into the primary. I ended up dumping most of the trub into the primary as well.

Pretty much the same happened with the 2nd batch when I thought A colander would do a better job. It wasn't until my 3rd batch that I gave the idea of whirpooling a try. But it didn't work as well as I thought it would. With subsequent batches I improved the technique and are now able to completely relax when it comes to transferring the wort into the primary and leaving most of the trub behind.

Whirpooling employs 2 methods of seperating the trub from the wort. The first one is sedimentation, which means the trub will sink to the bottom when left alone. The second one is centrifugal force which forces the trub into the center of the pot. If both methods are used, the trub will be collected in a nice trub-cone in the center of the pot. This is the main trub seperation technique that is used in commercial breweries before the wort is chilled.

Just sedimentation would work to. But since the trub would be evenly spread on the bottom of the pot, you cannot siphon as low as you can if the trub is collected in a cone.

Here is what I do:

I chill the wort with an immersion chiller. Note that I left the spoon in the pot during the boil and when the wort is being chilled.


Then I move the pot to an elevated position. After the whirlpool has been started you shoud not move or disturb it. The whirlpool is started with the spoon. After that, the spoon is taken out.


Now rest the wort for at least 20-30 min. You should keep it covered during this time. During this time sanitize my fermentation gear.


Then you can set up your siphoning gear. If you keep the wort covered, there is no worry about infection. The set-up shown here is more complicated than necessary as I added a chiller to get the pitching temp down to 60F. I oxygenate later with O2 and an SS stone, which means I don't worry about sufficient aeration at this point. When you put in the racking cane, slide it only half way down into the wort. You don't want to disturb the trub cone by accident.

.. to be contiued (I can only use 4 images per post)
 
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Kaiser

Kaiser

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After a while the top of the trub cone will come into view and you can see how steep its sides actually are, meaning that you will be able to get the end of the racking cane pretty close to the bottom of the pot. The wider the pot, the closer you can get the racking cane to the bottom.


As you come closer the trub cone will start to drift out.


This is when you start siphoning some of the trub. I use pellet hops for my beers. They are less likely to clogg up the racking cane as they are small enough be be sucked up. But whole hops will work to, if you are careful.
 
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Kaiser

Kaiser

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This is the amount of sediment that I got into the primary. If this is your first time, I recommend siphoning into a funnel with a mesh screen. This way you have some sort of insurance. I stopped doing this, however. One less item to sanitize :) . The trubid stuff in there is yeast and cold break. The cold break is actually desired. Some sources suggest that the removal of all trub from the wort will lead to an "empty" tasting beer.

As you may have already noted, there is still some wort left in the kettle with all the trub. This wort should not go to waste

I use a colander with a paper towel to seperate the remaining wort from the trub. Since none of the equipment is sanitized I would refrain from adding this to the primary without boiling it first . Use it as gyle/speise for priming or for future starters (decant the starter liquid in this case and pitch only the yeast sediment).


This is the only thing I need to throw away. All the wort has been saved from the brew kettle.

Since there will be a disturbance of the rotation, a whirlpool will not work that well for kettles where a screen is attached to the spigot. When I'm going to build a bigger brew kettle, I plan to insert a slotted ring, that is connected to the spigot. This ring will not disturb the rotation and I will get a trub-cone. I can then draw the clear wort from the base of the trub cone into the primary or CFC.
 
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Kaiser

Kaiser

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Gosh, I had to spread this over 3 threads (to many pictures). Luckily, nobody interrupted me :)

Kai
 

Lounge Lizard

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Very nice post!

I have been wondering why someone would whirlpool, and then try to use a spigot that draws from the center of a keggle. Makes little sense. Perhaps I won't even put one on mine. Of course, my mash tun and HLT will need spigots (ball valves)....


Edited: Looks like I jumped the gun. So you are going to eventually go with a spigot. Hmm....
 

Blender

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Very nice information and the pictures really help. I tried this the last time I brewed and I thought I swirled pretty good. I was not able to get a nice cone in the center so my results were not that good.
 

AdIn

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Wait for 20-30 minutes, that's the key. When I tried to wirlpool my wort - I did not wait and thought I did something wrong, ended up with all the trub in primary.

Thanks!

BTW, nice copper color of your wort too. For how long did you do each rest?
 

cweston

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AdIn said:
Wait for 20-30 minutes, that's the key.
That and stir the whirlpool for at least a minute to really get it started. I think I wasn't doing it vigorously enough the first couple times I tried it.
 
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Kaiser

Kaiser

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cweston said:
That and stir the whirlpool for at least a minute to really get it started. I think I wasn't doing it vigorously enough the first couple times I tried it.
Make sure you only stir cold wort vigerously since it could cause hot side aeration in hot wort. But I don't think anybody here pland to use whirlpooling with hot wort.

Kai
 
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Kaiser

Kaiser

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AdIn said:
BTW, nice copper color of your wort too. For how long did you do each rest?
This is my Oktoberfest with

6lb Pilsner
5lb light Munic

The mash was a tripple decoction (I already admited in another thread that it was overkill ;) ) with about 10-15min boil times for the first 2 decoctions.

Kai
 

m_f

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Kaiser: thanks for the post!
That is one thing that is driving me nut on brew day! had I read your post before I had saved 8 bucks I spent on a Funnel-mesh combo that didn't work last saturday!!!!

I'll give wirpooling/syphoning a try next weekend. I did it before but not OK... I'll try it again.

Only one comment on whirpooling hot wort:
I think that this is the way to go with counterflow chillers or at least someone told me so. No idea how they deal with aireation though...

thanks again!
 

Rhoobarb

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Kaiser said:
Make sure you only stir cold wort vigerously since it could cause hot side aeration in hot wort. But I don't think anybody here pland to use whirlpooling with hot wort.
That's a good point, though. I had read all sorts of advice on whirlpooling, but none of them mentioned to do it after chilling. Makes sense, I was just surprised of no mention.

Great post, BTW!
 
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Kaiser

Kaiser

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m_f said:
Kaiser: thanks for the post!
That is one thing that is driving me nut on brew day! had I read your post before I had saved 8 bucks I spent on a Funnel-mesh combo that didn't work last saturday!!!!
I have two of them. One large one for the bucket and one that fits the carboy. I still get some brewing use out of them. But large funnels are always handy even if they are not used for brewing.


Only one comment on whirpooling hot wort:
I think that this is the way to go with counterflow chillers or at least someone told me so. No idea how they deal with aireation though...
It sure works. But you have to be more careful not to suck air into the wort by creating a vortex (or wortex in this case ;) ). Just stir it slower for a longer time to get the even rotation. One of the breweries I vistited recently uses a pump to get the whirlpool going. The just suck in the wort and inject it back at angle.

Kai
 

Brewpastor

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Kaiser said:
Make sure you only stir cold wort vigerously since it could cause hot side aeration in hot wort. But I don't think anybody here pland to use whirlpooling with hot wort.

Kai
I whirlpool hot wort all the time. That is how it was developed in breweries. It is designed as a way of seperating hotbreak. That doesn't mean it can't be done post chilling, but the infection issue is greater post chilling. I have never had a problem with hot side aeration whirlpooling, the beer is whirled, not splashed. The reason it makes sense to whirlpool post chilling is if you don't have any other way to remove cold break from your fermenter. This is the reason conicals are used, that and yeast removal later on. But my point is simply that whirlpooling is very often done on the hot side.

This BYO link is useful and makes my point near the end when it talks about sucking trub into the chiller:
http://byo.com/mrwizard/750.html
 

Baron von BeeGee

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Just to sort of branch off on the side here, this is exactly the type of post that should be put into a FAQ or How-to thread/forum/something. Brewpastor started a great one of step-mashing this week, as well. I think some sort of moderated area where 'worthy' material is brought in for reference/posterity would be really useful. I know it's been bandied about some by TxBrew and others.

And a picture is definitely worth 1000 words!
 
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Kaiser

Kaiser

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Brewpastor said:
But my point is simply that whirlpooling is very often done on the hot side.
This is indeed true. But only because commercial breweries don't use immersion chillers (danger of infection and less efficient) and many homebrewers (especially in America) don't really know about whirlpooling.

Kai
 

boo boo

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For some reason I don't get that big of a cone when I whirpool. I have about 3 inches of break material on the bottom of my kettle. Thanks for the heads up on saving/straining the leftover wort for later use. Always seemed a waste to me to throw it down the drain. I can freeze it to be used for future starters if I boil it before using it in a starter.
 

Baron von BeeGee

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boo boo said:
For some reason I don't get that big of a cone when I whirpool. I have about 3 inches of break material on the bottom of my kettle.
I had complained privately to the Kaiser of the same phenomenon. I would get a good mound when whirlpooling hot wort, but not cold. However, my last batch I whirlpooled cold and started watching a movie and forgot about it for about 35 minutes. When I siphoned I had a great mound (heh heh). I think I was rushing the process with cooled wort...it really takes a while for the whirlpool action to cease leaving a nice mound.
 

Walker

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I admit that I don't wait long enough, but with everything that you read that stresses cooling the wort down as quickly as possible and pitching the yeast immediately thereafter, I have a hard time walking away for more than 10 or 15 minutes.

-walker

PS: nice write-up, Kai.
 
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Kaiser

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Imperial Walker said:
I admit that I don't wait long enough, but with everything that you read that stresses cooling the wort down as quickly as possible and pitching the yeast immediately thereafter, I have a hard time walking away for more than 10 or 15 minutes.
Keep it covered and there should be no worry. Germs lack the abiliy to "crawl" under the lid or aluminum foil. They have to fall be drafted for carried in. You get way more potential contact with germs when you try to pour it through a strainer and funnel and have to unclogg the funnel many times. I have been there ;)

Kai
 

BrewStef

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Kai,

Can you get a good whirlpool going if you have a kettle with a ball valve? How about if it also has a thermometer? Would the probe in the thermometer get too much in the way or would it disrupt the whirlpooling effect?

I am thinking about getting this: http://morebeer.com/product.html?product_id=15439

But I also want to be sure I can get a good whirlpool going.

Should I just RDWAHAHB?

Thanks.

Stefan
 
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Kaiser

Kaiser

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BrewStef said:
Kai,

Can you get a good whirlpool going if you have a kettle with a ball valve? How about if it also has a thermometer? Would the probe in the thermometer get too much in the way or would it disrupt the whirlpooling effect?
Sorry to say that "I don't know" I haven't updated my kettle yet. I plan to get a new one eventually and will install a ring that connects to the spigot so I can whirlpool. But I'm not sure about the thermometer. In the end you can always omit the thermometer since it is not that necessary on a boil-kettle ;).

Kai
 

BrewStef

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Kaiser said:
I plan to get a new one eventually and will install a ring that connects to the spigot so I can whirlpool.
Kai,

Thanks for the response, but why would a ring connecting to a spigot help the whirlpool?

Sorry if this is too much of a Noob question.

Happy Easter.

Stefan
 
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Kaiser

Kaiser

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BrewStef said:
Thanks for the response, but why would a ring connecting to a spigot help the whirlpool?
This is not to much of a noob question, actually.

In order to make for a smooth wort rotation, w/o many turbulences, you have to make sure that there is nothing sticking into the wort. Either a spigot that is flush to the inside of the pot or a ring that goes around the pot should work. The ring has the advantage that the wort can enter it at many places around the trub cone, thus reducing the draft (and with this potential trub intake) that can build up at a single point.

But I haven't really looked into designing something like this. These are only thoughts I have about a potential design of a new brew-pot based on what I have seen and read so far.

Kai
 

BrewStef

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Thanks for the info. I think I will just stick with a basic full-boil pot and siphon it the old fasioned way. I really like the idea of doing everything possible to make the process easier and more consistent, and don't mind spending a little money (no brewsculptures are in my near future though) but sometimes simplest is best.

Cheers,

Stefan
 
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Kaiser

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BrewStef said:
I really like the idea of doing everything possible to make the process easier and more consistent, and don't mind spending a little money (no brewsculptures are in my near future though) but sometimes simplest is best.
I'm not crazy about updating my brewhouse either, just yet. Except for the boil overs, that I have to watch with a 25qt pot, I'm doing pretty well. Although that can get rather frustrating :(

I'm actually more interested in fixing the fermentation end of things first. That's where the beer will spend most of it's time anyway.

Kai
 

BrewStef

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Herr Kaiser,

Thanks again for this how-to. I used this whirlpool technique very effectively this last weekend. I did not have a whole lot of trub as I was just brewing a heffeweitzen, but it did form a nice cone nonetheless.

Cheers :mug:

BrewStef
 

cool brew

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This is definitely helpful. I use a hop bag, so not much gets in there anyway, but I may try this next time.
 

thed007

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thanks for the advice, i cant wait to try this on my next batch
 

IvanTheTerrible

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I'm reading all this as I prepare for my first brew this week.

This is probably a dumb question, but after whirlpooling at letting the trub settle, if you are siphoning from the brew kettle into the carboy, how do you aerate the wort?
 

bradsul

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There are different methods you could use. Draining into the fermenter through a strainer would help to aerate but you would want to supplement this with some shaking. An oxygen kit or an aeration kit would be the best options in my opinion. Personally I drain out of my CFC through a strainer and then aerate using an aquarium pump and airstone.
 

eviljafar

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I hold my finger over the end of the siphon and squirt the wort into the fermenting bucket. Then I put the lid on and shake the hell out of it until my arms get sore.
 

gwood

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IvanTheTerrible said:
I'm reading all this as I prepare for my first brew this week.

This is probably a dumb question, but after whirlpooling at letting the trub settle, if you are siphoning from the brew kettle into the carboy, how do you aerate the wort?
I was also wondering this on my first brew a few weeks ago and I purchased a sprayer that attaches to the end of the siphon hose...worked quite well. Then I shook the hell out of the carboy for a bit for good measure.

Great thread here guys. My first batch was just full of trub and I think that it's obvious now that I didn't wait long enough after whirlpooling. I was also worried about waiting too long due to potential infection. I'll give it another shot soon.

Cool Brew: Hop bag huh? Interesting...does it impact ultilization at all?
 

BierMuncher

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Here was my last attempt.

Turned out great but I could have let it sit another 15-20 minutes.

I'll probably employ this method instead of my paint-strainer-around-the-immersion-chiller method. Much less fuss and clean up afterwards:

Whirlpool.jpg
 
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