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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Equipment/Sanitation > Chiller: Immersion vs Counterflow
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Old 02-21-2013, 06:20 PM   #1
kevstev
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Default Chiller: Immersion vs Counterflow

Hey all,
Chilling the wort is now the most tedious part of my brewday. I am going ot make a wort chiller of some sort.

Those with Counterflow chillers- Can you chill in one pass, without recirculating? I don't want to get a recirculating pump, and just want to use my auto-siphon. My water does peak out at around 80 degrees though in the summer. I guess if I had to use two passes, that wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.

I found an interesting article in the zymurgy archives (How long will it take to chill your wort, Bible; sep/oct 2004) which when plugging in calculations says it will take less than 4 minutes to cool my wort to pitching temps, in the cooler months when my tap is running around 50 degrees, and around 12 minutes in the peak of summer when it runs around 78 degrees. The spreadsheet will likely be useful to others, you can have a look at it here: http://www.jcbrewing.com/?p=128

If anyone has a sciency source on how effective immersion coolers are compared to counterflows, I would appreciate that. I would even take personal anecdotes.

My next series of questions are related to building a CFC:
I don't have a torch, but can I use a soldering iron to solder copper pipe? I haven't done that, only electronics soldering. I see there are no-solder builds out there- do those hold up over time?


I am trying to figure out if a CFC is worth the extra effort. I like the compactness and look of them. Though I just realized my auto siphon likely can't handle water at boiling temperatures. *sigh* Any other anecdotes to add for one or the other?

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Old 02-21-2013, 06:43 PM   #2
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If you have a pump, make a CFC because it saves time. Otherwise make an IC, because gravity feeding a CFC is a nightmare.

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Old 02-21-2013, 06:43 PM   #3
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I've never used immersion, but I recently picked up a Blichmann therminator and it cooled my 6gal of wort down in one pass to 78-80 degrees. I know these guys are pricey, but dang it worked good for me.

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Old 02-21-2013, 07:14 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alien View Post
If you have a pump, make a CFC because it saves time. Otherwise make an IC, because gravity feeding a CFC is a nightmare.
Oh yeah? Why is that? I don't want a pump of any sort. Aside from cost, I am really tight on storage space.
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Old 02-21-2013, 08:09 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wilserbrewer View Post
Try a "no-chill" batch
Do you mean just letting it sit out to cool overnight? I could... but to be honest by the point of cooling, I just want to be done with everything. Get the kitchen cleaned up and the beer in the fermenter.
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Old 02-21-2013, 08:30 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kevstev View Post
Oh yeah? Why is that? I don't want a pump of any sort. Aside from cost, I am really tight on storage space.
The aim is to drop the liquid from the BK through the CFC into the fermenter. This requires 18" of height between the bottom of the BK and the level of liquid in the fermenter to keep the siphon. You don't have a pump so your BK is at the bottom of a 3 tier system. So in practice this means lifting the BK full of 5+ gallons of boiling liquid several feet.

Which is a nightmare.
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Old 02-21-2013, 08:38 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alien View Post
The aim is to drop the liquid from the BK through the CFC into the fermenter. This requires 18" of height between the bottom of the BK and the level of liquid in the fermenter to keep the siphon. You don't have a pump so your BK is at the bottom of a 3 tier system. So in practice this means lifting the BK full of 5+ gallons of boiling liquid several feet.

Which is a nightmare.
Oh you guys and your fancy setups. I brew indoors on my stove, my fermenter would be on the floor. As it is, I already lift 5 gallons of scalding hot near boiling water up several feet, then across the kitchen into the sink. Putting the fermenter near the floor is much easier- in other words, getting flow going is not a problem.

I thought you might have meant that the pressure of water via gravity might not be able to overcome the clogging power of trub.
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Old 02-21-2013, 08:54 PM   #9
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I get it, you have already had to lift up the BK to put it on the stove. I don't do lifting generally but mostly I am jealous that you are allowed to brew in the kitchen

Clogging is more of an issue for plate chillers generally.

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Old 02-21-2013, 08:56 PM   #10
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If you are brewing 5 gallon batches you can't go wrong with an Immersion Chiller. When you hit 10 gallon batches either one works but a counter flow cools while you transfer so it saves time. When you hit 15+ gallons you want a counter flow chiller, an immersion would take way too long.

With a counter flow you really need a pump just to clean it properly, you want to be able to recirculate the cleaning solution.

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