Whirlpool. What is it and how to make it when you homebrew

Whirlpool. What is it and how to make it when you homebrew

- Categories : Beer Tips

Today let’s talk about Whirlpool. If you want to obtain a clearer beer, improve your hop flavours and aromas and reach your pitching temperature quicker, this article should interest you. We will have a quick look at what a Whirlpool is, what are its benefits when brewing, and how you can make it the best way possible during your next brews.

What is a Whirlpool?

Whirlpooling is a simple process used in most breweries and which can easily be done when homebrewing to offer a great impact on your beer. During the brewing process, the Whirlpool is performed when the boil is finished and just before the wort is chilled. 

By moving the wort in a circular motion we create a force which pushes it outwards. But because Whirlpools are performed in closed vessels, the wort is pushed to the edges of the vessel. This creates a pressure difference within the wort: the pressure is higher at the top and near the edges and lower at the bottom of the vessel. Moreover, because the wort near the bottom and the edges of the vessel is exposed to more friction, it moves much slower. This difference in friction and pressure between the top and the bottom of the liquid pushes it and any solids within it to the bottom centre of the vessel. Once the solids start colliding and clumping together at the bottom centre of the vessel, they remain there. 

By applying this process to brewing, the wort can be cleared from its solids by gathering them at the bottom centre of the vessel. And because kettles or Whirlpool vessels are usually designed with a conical bottom, this helps the solids gather to the bottom centre. 

What are the benefits of Whirlpooling?

The primary purpose of Whirlpooling your wort is to clear it from its solids. These solids are mostly made of proteins extracted from the malt and hop residues. They will all collide and coagulate together to remain at the bottom centre of the vessel, allowing the rest of the wort to clear. 

This also favours a quicker chilling of the wort. If we apply a Whirlpool motion while cooling down the wort, the wort will be cooled down more evenly and quickly. 

And because the wort can cool more quickly, we can also limit the production of dimethyl sulfide (DMS). DMS is produced during the boil when the s-methyl methionine (SMM) is convert into DMS under the catalytic effect of heat and it gives an undesired cooked-corn flavour to the beer. By cooling down the wort more rapidly at the end of the boil, the production of DMS can be controlled and we can limit the production of this off-flavour.

And because we can cool down the wort faster, we can capture more hop flavours and aromas from late boil additions or Whirlpool hop additions. Because the wort is cooled down rapidly, the hop volatile compounds are much less evaporated from the wort. This is way Whirlpool hop addition are very appreciated for bringing flavour and aroma to the beer. But it is important to let the wort cool down around 80ºC to add these hops in order to avoid isomerization and evaporation of any volatile compounds.

How can I do the Whirlpool when homebrewing?

Creating a Whirlpool is very simple, all you need to do is create a circular motion of your wort. 

We recommend the Whirlpool to be performed for 15 minutes and to then let the wort settle for 5 to 15 minutes to allow the motion to stop and let the solids to gather in the bottom centre of your vessel. 

  • Creating a Whirlpool using MyBrewery Equipment

For those of you who have one of our MyBrewery 30 litres or 45 litres Brewhouse, you can easily perform the Whirlpool using our Whirlpool 30L or 45L accessories

These accessories easily connect to the external tube of the machine allowing the wort to recirculate through it thanks to the integrated pump of the machine. Once you have equipped your machine with this accessory, all you have to do is turn the pump on and let the wort recirculate to obtain the Whirlpool motion.

Remember you can also introduce the Chiller into your machine if you want to cool down your wort while Whirlpooling it. Just don’t forget to let your wort rest 5 to 15 minutes after you have finished your Whirlpool.

  • Creating a Whirlpool using a beer paddle

If you do not brew with our MyBrewery machines, there is an even easier method which can also be done with our MyBrewery machines. 

All you need is a beer paddle. Make sure you have a stainless steel one as you will be working with very warm wort and it is not advisable to use a plastic paddle. 

By simply stirring the wort in a circular motion around the edges of your vessel you will easily create a Whirlpool. Try and stir rapidly enough to create a good motion but be very careful not to splash the wort and burn yourself nor create any overflow. 

Once you have obtained a good motion, remove the paddle from the wort and let it settle for 5 to 15 minutes. 

This technique can also be performed while you are cooling down your wort in iced water in your sink for example. 

Now, you have learnt a little more about Whirlpool and have now got some tips for you to do it the optimal way during your next brews.

It was quite a complicated word for such a simple process wasn’t it?

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