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Old 06-04-2009, 10:14 AM   #1
MattHollingsworth
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Default argue benefits of different chilling methods

I know I'm new here. And I'm asking a lot of questions. But that's not because I'm new. I've done a helluva lot of brewing in the past. But it's been seven years. So basically, what I've been doing is reevaluating all of my old beliefs, rethinking my old techniques and just kind of going ovwe everything. I'm faced with an entirely new brewing environment in Zagreb than I had in Portland, so it's partially that. But it's also that I don't want to get stuck in my ways when some things could possibly work better.

Anyway, so onto it. I currently have an old counterflow chiller. But it's been sitting there for seven years. And I'm wondering how possible it is to even get it clean. Sure it must be possible. But it made me think and I've been reading a lot and listening to BrewStrong and just soaking up info.

Here are my thoughts currently on the various cooling methods (and not cooling methods). Please feel free to add your thoughts. That's what this thread is for.

1. Immersion Chiller.

I used one long ago and was just never happy with how long it took to cool the wort. So long ago, that I don't remember how long it took, but I switched to a counterflow chiller.

But my thinking now is that this might actually be the best way to go. If it takes 45 minutes to an hour to chill, so what? The benefit I see is mainly that I can really clean this and SEE that it's clean. I can scrub the hell out of it, I can entirely immerse it in boiling water or wort. It's simple. And it's possible to truly get it clean and know it's clean. Also during chilling, I can get a cold break in the kettle that I can partially rack off of when I rack off the hotbreak. Seems like this might be the best one for me now.

2. Counterflow chiller.

Like I said, I used one. A lot. Maybe 60 batches with one. And it was quicker than an immersion chiller. But that seems to be it's main draw. Cleaning it internally requires much more chemicals and many more rinses. And I now live in an area with immensely hard water. Vinegar rinse may do it, sure. But it seems like this option involves more work and worries, possibly.

3. Plate heat exchanger.

This one is appealing to me partially because it's a new gadget. And I like new gadgets. And it may require far less water to chill the beer, which is good. But, those little crevices can clog. Maybe they won't. But if you use hop pellets, which I want to do, then I'd really have to be anal and take extra care about removing those pellets. I live somewhere were it's hard to get hops, so gotta use mail order. So thinking pellets. They store better. Anyway, seems like cleaning this would be similar to a CFC, but with the benefit that you can throw it in a pot and boil it, you can bake it to kill everything etc. Seems the main concern is clogging.

4. No chill.

Seen a few posts about this but don't think I will be doing this. See if you can sway me if you're so inclined.

Anyway, as it goes, the one that with my current thinking involves perhaps the least amount of work and worry is the immersion chiller. So that's what I'm leaning towards. Please share your thoughts and add any methods I may not have considered. Ice baths aren't an option for me. I don't have a bath tub.

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Old 06-04-2009, 10:38 AM   #2
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Well, you're definitely applying some good reasoning to this!

I've been using a counterflow chiller for years, and it's always worked very well for me. Chill times vary depending on the temperature of the water-- during the summer I usually use a pre-chiller to get the temp down, other times it's not necessary. My average time to chill the wort down to ~65 deg. F. is around 45 min. or an hour, and that seems to give me a good cold break. The temperature drop is most likely not linear, so the fastest cooling is taking place at the beginning.

All that said, I am considering moving up to a Therminator (plate chiller) or something similar, because 45 minutes is still 45 minutes, and I'm always looking for ways to decrease the length of my brew day. I haven't thought too much about the hops/clogging issue, but I would guess that a filter in the brew pot would keep most, if not all, of it out of the plate chiller. From what I understand, the plate chillers are designed so that the internal pathway is smooth with no sharp corners or bends that would tend to trap materials-- they should be easy to clean.

But for now, I'm very happy with the immersion chiller, and it was cheap and easy to make.

-Steve

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Old 06-04-2009, 11:05 AM   #3
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There's a thread here on plate heat exchangers, BTW. And from the sounds of it, people using the paint strainer bags *and* hop pellets can use them okay.

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f11/i-ha...hiller-115640/

Thanks for the input, Steve. For me, that quick chilling on these make them a draw. So, still thinking and considering.

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Old 06-04-2009, 11:17 AM   #4
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Also for stainless plate heat exchangers, how do you guys passivate the interior stainless? The brewstrong guys said that aerated water can work for that, but wondering what works for you guys? Need to get air on the SS, right?

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Old 06-04-2009, 11:21 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MattHollingsworth View Post
1. Immersion Chiller. . . If it takes 45 minutes to an hour to chill, so what? The benefit I see is mainly that I can really clean this and SEE that it's clean. I can scrub the hell out of it, I can entirely immerse it in boiling water or wort.
I didn't see that you mentioned batch size or the size of your IC, but with a 50' x 3/8" diameter IC I can chill six gallons from boiling to 65 degrees in less than a half hour. In the winter when the tap water is colder, it's much less. Personally, I like the idea of chilling the entire batch uniformly.

My opinion is bias because I don't have experience with the other two methods.
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Old 06-04-2009, 11:24 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnOldUR View Post
I didn't see that you mentioned batch size or the size of your IC, but with a 50' x 3/8" diameter IC I can chill six gallons from boiling to 65 degrees in less than a half hour. In the winter when the tap water is colder, it's much less. Personally, I like the idea of chilling the entire batch uniformly.

My opinion is bias because I don't have experience with the other two methods.
Cool. Don't remember it going that fast. I should have somewhere around 6 gallons of wort at the end of the boil.

Thanks for the info.
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Old 06-04-2009, 12:30 PM   #7
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Quote:
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Don't remember it going that fast.
Disclaimer:

When I’m in a hurry here’s the environmentally unfriendly (but fast) IC method.

Bucket with pond pump, ice in bucket with steady flow of cold tap water into bucket. No recirculation. Gently stir wort with one hand and ice bucket water with other.

I don't add the ice to the bucket until the wort hits about 150, so a single batch from the refridgerators ice maker will last to the end of chilling.

Edit:
Never checked, but guess this method wastes 20-30 gallons of water.


If I'm not rushed, I'll recirculate after the initial temperature drop, but it adds 15-30 minutes and requires using frozen water bottles in the bucket along with ice.


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Old 06-04-2009, 12:53 PM   #8
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the immersion chiller should get you down to pitching temps in 15-20 minutes if you stir the wort while running the IC. I have a CFC and it works well. I run boiling wort through it to sanitize, then rinse with water and then star-san after I'm done brewing, rinsing again before starting. If my setup would allow IC use I might even go back to that.

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Old 06-04-2009, 01:27 PM   #9
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My CFC seems to be a pain to clean sometimes but only because I bolt it on my frame and have to take it off to clean. All I do is flush it with tap water and then put it in my sanitizer bucket after I pull my other hardware out to dry. Then I take the CFC out after 10 minutes to an hour and let it dry while moving it around to spiral out the sanitizer. After a day or two when I think it is mostly dry I cap the ends until next brew day where I dunk it again in sanitizer prior to use.

I have yet to have an infected batch even when I used an IC but I really like the peace of mind I get from chilling and transferring directly to my fermentor in a closed enviroment.

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Old 06-04-2009, 01:44 PM   #10
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The discussion about cooling times with any method always need to include what the user's tap water temperature range is.

You could argue that if your tap water ever gets warmer than 80F, you'll need some kind of ice solution at some time. In that case, one of the most practical setups is the IC with icewater pump. In seasons of cold tap water, you can use it directly. When it warms up, you can pump Icewater. The big benefit to the IC is that you can continue cooling until you decide to stop. External exchangers require a bit of juggling to get the output temp just right. Of course, you CAN recirculate the wort back into the kettle to get the same effect but that's not really how they were meant to be used. This is really why I say that no matter what pro/con you list for a chilling method, someone will point out a workaround.

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