This our heat exchanger. He is the troll that lives under our brew deck. He exacts the toll of thermal energy from passing wort. He protects the yeast in our fermenters from death by scalding.
When we’re done boiling wort in the brew kettle, we have to get it to the fermenter. This is called ‘knockout’ and it has to happen at the proper temperature. If it doesn’t, we could shock or even kill our yeast. We knock out ales at sixty-eight to seventy-two degrees, and lagers around fifty.
On Christmas Eve of 1999, after unsuccessfully trying to get a job in radio, I got hired waiting tables at a new restaurant that had just opened in Warrenville. The only thing I knew about Rock Bottom was that it was in front of a movie theater and hadn’t opened yet.
I quickly learned that this restaurant had its own working brewery on full display, and that the only beer they served was brewed in-house. I had been legally of age to drink beverage alcohol for only six months but even then I knew my tastes were more sophisticated than the average beer drinker. I had already moved beyond “lite” beer and was routinely drinking Miller Genuine Draft (and, if I was going to be encountering a need for intelligent nightlife, Zima.)