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Old 02-27-2011, 03:16 PM   #1
BMan1029
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Default Time to upgrade my chilling method

It's time to upgrade from my 25' immersion coil, and I'm really stuck on what to do next. Counter flow coil setup? Plate chiller (gravity fed), plate chiller with pump, whirlpool immersion chiller? I've read that people have some gripes about cleaning plate chillers. What are you using? What do you like about it? What don't you like about it.



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Old 02-27-2011, 03:21 PM   #2
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I'm curious on the answer to this one. I too use an immersion chiller. Just wondering, are you upgrading because you feel you can't cool it fast enough, or do you just want a cooler setup?



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Old 02-27-2011, 03:44 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Newgene
I'm curious on the answer to this one. I too use an immersion chiller. Just wondering, are you upgrading because you feel you can't cool it fast enough, or do you just want a cooler setup?
The faster the better. The immersion chiller does an ok job, but also seems to use a boat load of water. I'm doing 5 gallon batches now with 10 gallon on the horizon, it feels like time for an upgrade. And yes, I also want a cooler setup.
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Old 02-27-2011, 03:49 PM   #4
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I have a Shirron plate chiller. It cools the 200 degree wort to 68 degrees, single pass at a flow rate of about a gallon/min of wort and commercial water at 52 degrees. I control the rate of wort flow at the inlet to my conical.

Cleaning? I back flush the plate chiller with hot caustic (PBW) then flush with clear hot water to rinse. Prior to use it sits in my sterilant bucket (StarSan).

This set up does require a pump and brewery hose!

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Old 02-27-2011, 04:15 PM   #5
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This is a complex question as there are many variables to factor in before the best solution is found for your situation.

To answer your question, I'm going to assume that you are making 5 gallon batches... I started very similar to you, with a 25' 3/8" immersion chiller. With full boils I found the chilling power of this method to be lacking, so I moved to a 50' 1/2" immersion chiller and added a pump to whirlpool. This worked great as I moved up to 10 gallon batches and to some extent up to 15 gallons. Now I have a counterflow and I wish I would have moved to one sooner... I was spending 15 to sometimes 45 minutes to get my temps down with the WIC (depending on ground water temp and sometimes switching to ice) plus the time to pump to the fermenter, where now with the CFC I am done in the time it takes to pump to the fermenter. If you are going to stick with 5 gallon batches, the easiest to use is going to be the WIC assuming you have (or want to have) a pump. However, IMO if you plan on getting bigger in the future then just go with the CFC now and then upgrading size wise won't be a big issue as far as cooling equipment is concerned.

Of course, the biggest factor is cooling is cooling water temp, in PA you probably have pretty cold water in the winter months, which is going to perform well irregardless of which system you go with. However in Louisiana your tap temp is probably much warmer year round so you would need to look at a very efficient system like a CFC or plate or build pre-chillers or pump ice water to use with an IC. Here in Ohio we have pretty cold water in the winter (42F right now) and pretty warm (mid 70s) in the summer, so my chilling strategy changes with the seasons.

Hopefully you see that there is no quick answer (and more importantly no wrong answer) here because you can make any cooling equipment work with the right strategy. Maybe if you give us some more information about your system we could make a more informed recommendation for you.

Biggest questions are finished batch size, boil kettle max volume, do you want to use a pump/already have a pump, chilling water temp, do you filter hops/trub, do you have a spare vessel for ice water/pre-chilling, how much are you willing to spend?

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Old 02-27-2011, 04:41 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RiverCityBrewer View Post
This is a complex question as there are many variables to factor in before the best solution is found for your situation.

To answer your question, I'm going to assume that you are making 5 gallon batches... I started very similar to you, with a 25' 3/8" immersion chiller. With full boils I found the chilling power of this method to be lacking, so I moved to a 50' 1/2" immersion chiller and added a pump to whirlpool. This worked great as I moved up to 10 gallon batches and to some extent up to 15 gallons. Now I have a counterflow and I wish I would have moved to one sooner... I was spending 15 to sometimes 45 minutes to get my temps down with the WIC (depending on ground water temp and sometimes switching to ice) plus the time to pump to the fermenter, where now with the CFC I am done in the time it takes to pump to the fermenter. If you are going to stick with 5 gallon batches, the easiest to use is going to be the WIC assuming you have (or want to have) a pump. However, IMO if you plan on getting bigger in the future then just go with the CFC now and then upgrading size wise won't be a big issue as far as cooling equipment is concerned.

Of course, the biggest factor is cooling is cooling water temp, in PA you probably have pretty cold water in the winter months, which is going to perform well irregardless of which system you go with. However in Louisiana your tap temp is probably much warmer year round so you would need to look at a very efficient system like a CFC or plate or build pre-chillers or pump ice water to use with an IC. Here in Ohio we have pretty cold water in the winter (42F right now) and pretty warm (mid 70s) in the summer, so my chilling strategy changes with the seasons.

Hopefully you see that there is no quick answer (and more importantly no wrong answer) here because you can make any cooling equipment work with the right strategy. Maybe if you give us some more information about your system we could make a more informed recommendation for you.

Biggest questions are finished batch size, boil kettle max volume, do you want to use a pump/already have a pump, chilling water temp, do you filter hops/trub, do you have a spare vessel for ice water/pre-chilling, how much are you willing to spend?
Right now I am doing 5 gallon batches. I just got a shiny new 15.5 gallon kettle so I will be looking to do 10 gallon batches going forward. I dont currently have a pump, however that is something that I think would be a wise decision to have. I currently run the wort through a strainer on its way into my fermenter to capture hop/trub. Since I do have a new kettle, my old 7 gallon kettle could be used as the spare vessel you mention. As far as how much I am willing to spend, I would say $200. I dont want to sacrifice quality or efficiency to save a few bucks though.

Edit- Water temp right now is about 46 degrees. Summer time will be 60-70
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Old 02-27-2011, 05:11 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RiverCityBrewer View Post
This is a complex question as there are many variables to factor in before the best solution is found for your situation.

To answer your question, I'm going to assume that you are making 5 gallon batches... I started very similar to you, with a 25' 3/8" immersion chiller. With full boils I found the chilling power of this method to be lacking, so I moved to a 50' 1/2" immersion chiller and added a pump to whirlpool. This worked great as I moved up to 10 gallon batches and to some extent up to 15 gallons. Now I have a counterflow and I wish I would have moved to one sooner... I was spending 15 to sometimes 45 minutes to get my temps down with the WIC (depending on ground water temp and sometimes switching to ice) plus the time to pump to the fermenter, where now with the CFC I am done in the time it takes to pump to the fermenter. If you are going to stick with 5 gallon batches, the easiest to use is going to be the WIC assuming you have (or want to have) a pump. However, IMO if you plan on getting bigger in the future then just go with the CFC now and then upgrading size wise won't be a big issue as far as cooling equipment is concerned.

Of course, the biggest factor is cooling is cooling water temp, in PA you probably have pretty cold water in the winter months, which is going to perform well irregardless of which system you go with. However in Louisiana your tap temp is probably much warmer year round so you would need to look at a very efficient system like a CFC or plate or build pre-chillers or pump ice water to use with an IC. Here in Ohio we have pretty cold water in the winter (42F right now) and pretty warm (mid 70s) in the summer, so my chilling strategy changes with the seasons.

Hopefully you see that there is no quick answer (and more importantly no wrong answer) here because you can make any cooling equipment work with the right strategy. Maybe if you give us some more information about your system we could make a more informed recommendation for you.

Biggest questions are finished batch size, boil kettle max volume, do you want to use a pump/already have a pump, chilling water temp, do you filter hops/trub, do you have a spare vessel for ice water/pre-chilling, how much are you willing to spend?
Good points. For now, my 25' IC seems to be doing the job for all I know. I plan to add an ice bucket on the front end to cool the water during the summer months. Right now, I am using the garage sink as an ice bath with the IC running inside the pot. I usually have to add extra ice. If not, my ice runs out, and then I am only approaching the temperature of the supply water instead of the ice bath that's just above freezing. I also have to set the ice in gently to avoid splashing water into the wort. A counterflow chiller would be cool, though.
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Old 02-27-2011, 06:07 PM   #8
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All of River's points are key...

I had a similar decision to make with my system, and my constraints were money, and the fact that I already had a 25' IC. I found a 50' high temp hose cheap at a restaurant supply store, plus a few dollars for fittings, found another 25' IC on CL cheap, and whatever I sell the second counterflow for will make up a chunk of the cost for converting mine.

25' of counterflow works great with my gravity fed system and colorado tap temps for 10G, in the time it takes to drain into the fermenter with no filtering other than a hop spider. I do end up with 2 full kegs of water, which get used for cleanup and then the remainder into a couple loads of laundry the next day. Come spring, they'll go straight to the garden. Rationalizing it that way, that's 100% water efficiency.

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In Primary: all-grain ESB
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25+ batches 10+ years ago and back into it with 10G all-grain beers and annual meads. Equipment: DIY cooler mash tun with slotted copper, DIY keggle and keg-HLT over propane, DIY counterflow chiller, Mini-Brew conical fermenter, 4 Party Pigs. 1999 AHA Nationals- 1st Place Herb and Spice Mead "Szechuan Peppercorn Mead".

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Old 02-27-2011, 06:34 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BMan1029 View Post
Right now I am doing 5 gallon batches. I just got a shiny new 15.5 gallon kettle so I will be looking to do 10 gallon batches going forward. I dont currently have a pump, however that is something that I think would be a wise decision to have. I currently run the wort through a strainer on its way into my fermenter to capture hop/trub. Since I do have a new kettle, my old 7 gallon kettle could be used as the spare vessel you mention. As far as how much I am willing to spend, I would say $200. I dont want to sacrifice quality or efficiency to save a few bucks though.

Edit- Water temp right now is about 46 degrees. Summer time will be 60-70
In your scenario, your best bet might be to get a 50' immersion chiller and whirlpool with a pump, which should be fine in the winter, but in the summer use your 25' as your prechiller and put it in your old kettle with ice water and salt. If you moved to a CFC you would need a way to separate your hops in the kettle before it got to the chiller and risk clogging it. Either way, I think you can purchase a pump and build an IC or a CFC for under your $200 limit. If you had 2 pumps then you could recirculate your wort and circulate ice water through your chiller to get the best of both worlds, but that would put you over your budget... but something to think about. Pumps are one of the best purchases I have made for the brewery and I have never regretted adding them.


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