Why Should I Chill?
Wort chillers are important in the brewing process for a few reasons:
1) Wort is very susceptible to infection from 140°F until it is sealed in the fermentation vessel. Even the smallest of wort chillers will speed up how quickly you can pitch your yeast and help to limit the possibility of an infection; A brewpot with no outside means of chilling can take several hours to cool to pitching temp.
2) DMS (Dimethyl Sulfide) is a volatile compound that is produced during the brewing process. DMS is driven off during boiling, but will form and remain in the wort from the time the boil heat is turned off until it is chilled. In small quantities, DMS will have no effect on the finished taste or aroma of the beer, but if the wort is not chilled in a timely manner, DMS will form in large quantities causing the beer to taste and smell like canned corn.
3) Aroma hops contain volatile oils that burn off quickly at high temperatures once released from the leaves. These hops are added to the boil long enough to extract their aroma oils, but not long enough to burn the oils off once they are released from the leaves. To prevent the burn off of these oils, cool the wort below 140°F as fast as possible. This will help preserve the intended aroma of your recipe.
4) Cold break is desirable in brewing. It reduces the effects of chill haze, leaving you with a much clearer brew. Cold break is formed from proteins that are present in the wort. At 140°F, cold break will form IF the wort is chilled rapidly. Therefore, it is important to chill the wort to under 140°F as quickly as possible to induce cold break, and have a clearer beer.
5) Saving time might not seem like a big deal, but if you can cut down your brew day by a few hours it really makes a difference. If you are an extract brewer, it can be the difference between being able to brew on a weeknight or having to wait until the weekend. For the all grain brewer, it can free up the last part of the brew day to do more important things…like drinking beer!