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Old 08-21-2012, 11:02 PM   #1
Chipster27
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Default Was told NOT to use a counter flow chiller

For many years I used an imersion chiller. It worked well, especially when I used hose water to cool my wort, then recirculated iced water. But it always took a little longer than I wanted and I was always concerned about the risk of infection so I bought a counter flow.

When I use my counter flow I start to recirculate wort through the cooler and back in to the kettle right after the boil. This is done to basically ensure the chiller/pump is steralized. After 5 minutes of this I start the typcial counter flow process and dump the wort in to my fermentor. Typically it comes out at high 70s to low 80s, not bad considering 5 seconds prior to that it was damn near 200!

Anyway, I talked to a brewer at a local microbrewery and he said to NOT use a counterflow and use an immersion chiller. It makes no sense to me as I can steralize my chiller/pump with hot wort and chill it very rapidly.

What are your thoughts?

BTW, when I'm done transfering my wort I rinse the chiller/pump, then recirculate heated PBW for 10 minutes or so to ensure all my equipment is clean.

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Old 08-21-2012, 11:06 PM   #2
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The only reason I can think that people dislike CFCs or plate chillers is that you're only chilling part of the batch, while the rest is still at high temperatures and (possibly) producing more DMS. With an IC, you're cooling everything all at once, bringing the entire batch down at the same time. There's also the question of whether you can really be sure your chiller is sterilized inside, but I think that's mostly paranoia. Another possible con is that your cold break isn't kept in the kettle, it forms in the chiller and is washed into the fermentor. I really don't think any of these arguments hold much water. I just got a simple plate chiller and I love it, even just gravity feeding it and running hose water through it (haven't worried about recirculating or anything like that, though I do have an old IC coil I put in-line that I use as a pre-chiller for the plate chiller water).

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Old 08-21-2012, 11:24 PM   #3
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See, I'll recirculate my plate chiller right back into the boil kettle for the first five minutes or so. If I run it full-blast, not throttled at all, I'm usually only getting the wort down to ~100° on the first pass. So, rather than throttle back, I just recirc back into the boil kettle. Adding 100° wort to the 200°+ wort that's still in there, I'm getting the whole mass below DMS temps at least as quickly as I would using an immersion chiller. Once I get the bulk of the heat knocked out of the wort, I'll start slowing down the output and get my 70°-wort into the fermenter. Start to finish, it's still somewhere between 10 and 15 minutes.

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Old 08-21-2012, 11:30 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by the_bird View Post
See, I'll recirculate my plate chiller right back into the boil kettle for the first five minutes or so. If I run it full-blast, not throttled at all, I'm usually only getting the wort down to ~100° on the first pass. So, rather than throttle back, I just recirc back into the boil kettle. Adding 100° wort to the 200°+ wort that's still in there, I'm getting the whole mass below DMS temps at least as quickly as I would using an immersion chiller. Once I get the bulk of the heat knocked out of the wort, I'll start slowing down the output and get my 70°-wort into the fermenter. Start to finish, it's still somewhere between 10 and 15 minutes.
I'll do that when (if) I get a pump. I just did an 8-gallon batch last Friday, I was gravity feeding through my Shirron 10-plate chiller at between 0.3 and 0.5gpm (slow, but not bad) and my groundwater was getting it down to 70F on the first pass, took 20 minutes for the whole batch. I figure I'm already whirlpooling for 15 minutes, so I gave up on worrying about DMS. (Though I also got a lot of good info from these forums to support my decision.)

Wait, what was this thread about again?
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Old 08-21-2012, 11:31 PM   #5
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My method, with a plate chiller, is pretty much the same as the_bird. Except I like my wort chilled a bit lower (closer to 55-60F) before I pitch my yeast. Most of the year, in MA, that's not an issue. I also chill about 7 gallons down to those temps in short order.

Next batch, I'll be using a 3/4" ID hose for the chill water. I'm looking forward to how fast that chills things down (compared with the smaller diameter hose).

BTW, I run boiling hot wort (with the burner still going) for 5-10 minutes before turning on the chill water. I figure that 5 minutes at those temps makes the clean chiller (and pump head and hoses) safe. I do adjust the pump outlet via a ball valve so that it flows without squealing on me.

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Old 08-21-2012, 11:36 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chipster27 View Post
For many years I used an imersion chiller. It worked well, especially when I used hose water to cool my wort, then recirculated iced water. But it always took a little longer than I wanted and I was always concerned about the risk of infection so I bought a counter flow.

When I use my counter flow I start to recirculate wort through the cooler and back in to the kettle right after the boil. This is done to basically ensure the chiller/pump is steralized. After 5 minutes of this I start the typcial counter flow process and dump the wort in to my fermentor. Typically it comes out at high 70s to low 80s, not bad considering 5 seconds prior to that it was damn near 200!

Anyway, I talked to a brewer at a local microbrewery and he said to NOT use a counterflow and use an immersion chiller. It makes no sense to me as I can steralize my chiller/pump with hot wort and chill it very rapidly.

What are your thoughts?

BTW, when I'm done transfering my wort I rinse the chiller/pump, then recirculate heated PBW for 10 minutes or so to ensure all my equipment is clean.
It would have been helpful for him to elaborate as to why CFC's are bad.

My guess is he's worried about sanitation issues.
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Old 08-22-2012, 02:01 PM   #7
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I think it was sanitation concerns, but I'm not sure how that can be when I run boiling wort through the CF/pump and back in to the kettle to sterilize everything.

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Old 08-22-2012, 02:05 PM   #8
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The local brewer was probably Jamil Z at Heretic, pushing his wonder-IC . I hear that thing rocks, never saw one myself. It's an IC but forces a whirlpool action with the return, thus creating the turbulence that is the limiting factor for ICs.

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Old 08-22-2012, 02:16 PM   #9
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The local brewer was probably Jamil Z at Heretic, pushing his wonder-IC . I hear that thing rocks, never saw one myself. It's an IC but forces a whirlpool action with the return, thus creating the turbulence that is the limiting factor for ICs.
I've never been able to wrap my head around why that would be any better than simply stirring the wort (gently) around the IC. That's what I used to do before I got the plate chiller, and it made a huge difference.

As to sanitation, that's a worry in the back of my mind for the plate chiller but wouldn't stress me in the least with a CFC. No reason you can't keep a CFC clean and sanitized, it doesn't have the crevices of a plate chiller where stuff could (theoretically) build up.
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Old 08-22-2012, 02:34 PM   #10
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I do something similar to what you do running a Chillius Maximus with TC fittings soldered on and have very good results on 10 gallon batches. The arguments for the IC are the mass cooling and the sanitation issues already discussed.

I feel that mass cooling is accomplished well by recirculating. Also, you can whirlpool at the same time to pull the break/hop material down below the outlet and clean the wort up.

As far as sanitation, a CFC has no crevices like a plate and you can sterilize it with hot BK wort as mentioned. I still run PBW through mine for 20 minutes afterwards and rinse with water just to be sure there are no bits sticking around.

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