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Old 02-18-2013, 01:50 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by fafrd View Post

PLEATE CHILLER + IN-LINE FILTER PROS FOR MASH RECIRCULATION (VERUS CFC):
-very compact (highest ration of heat transfer surface to volume)
YES

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-minimum volume means highest responsiveness and minimum dead volume in heat exchange
Easily overcome by using gravity, you can drain just as much out when done.

Quote:
-all metal so no concerns handling temperature on either chilling water or wort paths (no possibility of chemical leakage, even at boiling temperatures)
Get a GOOD CFC, all copper!

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-can be baked in oven to 'bake off' any materials caught in the chiller (this sounds like a PITA, but at least it is an option, where with CFC it is not).
this will not get the permanently stuck crap out of it. You will have to sanitize in oven or pressure cooker just before brewing. Chemicals are not as effective at sanitizing these.

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-price performance ($/m^2 of heat exchange surface area) - plate chillers seem to leave all competing technologies in the dust in this department...
Is this part of our concern?

Quote:
PLEATE CHILLER + IN-LINE FILTER CONS FOR MASH RECIRCULATION (VERUS CFC):
-trouble / complexity of cleaning (though this needs to be considered when a good filter in in place before the plate chiller - less clear there is a significant difference in this case)
Your pre-filter will clog regularly. This is also a real PITA

Quote:
-possibility to get clogged (this seems to be the big negative versus CFC, but if a good filter can take the possibility of clogging off of the table, it seems like the plate chiller would be the better option).
More efficient, less effective for practical brewing IMHO.

All of these statements are my opinion take it for what it is. I'm not here to make universal statements about how to brew. What I have learned, and I have bought and tried almost every piece of home brew equipment you can imagine, is make the brew day a simple and effective process and you will love brewing. Don't over complicate it! Great beer is made from simple recipes on simple equipment more times than visa-verse. Don't sweat small details. Its more about sanitizing than exacting temperature control down to a 10th of a degree or cooling your wort in 10 minutes or having e-stop buttons and flashing lights on your controller. You give me a stove and a big pot and some barley and I will make you beer. I have run the full gambit of starting simple to full electric build with bells and buzzers and back again.

Relax and have a home brew.


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Old 02-18-2013, 01:54 PM   #12
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In the end; if I was going to buy one or the other it would be an all copper CFC. You can use it to raise the temp of your mash or cool down your wort with the least problems.



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Old 02-18-2013, 02:20 PM   #13
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I've been shopping too. I need something big as I brew up to 15 gallons. I'm currently doing no-chill but it has its own issues (for another post perhaps). Anyhow, what do you all think of this CFC from JaDeD Brewing? Although not compact, it looks very good for cooling or heating and especially cleaning. If anyone has a used one they want to sell..PM me please!

http://jadedbrewing.com/products/jaded-counterflow-chiller-cfc

Also, I'd like to hear thoughts on recirculating chilled wort to the brew kettle until the entire batch is cool...to use the BK screen to catch cold break...any value in that step? Thanks.



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Old 02-18-2013, 06:43 PM   #14
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All of these statements are my opinion take it for what it is. I'm not here to make universal statements about how to brew. What I have learned, and I have bought and tried almost every piece of home brew equipment you can imagine, is make the brew day a simple and effective process and you will love brewing. Don't over complicate it! Great beer is made from simple recipes on simple equipment more times than visa-verse. Don't sweat small details. Its more about sanitizing than exacting temperature control down to a 10th of a degree or cooling your wort in 10 minutes or having e-stop buttons and flashing lights on your controller. You give me a stove and a big pot and some barley and I will make you beer. I have run the full gambit of starting simple to full electric build with bells and buzzers and back again.
I really appreciate your taking the time to share your opinions on these equipment trade-offs, wadefisher. And don't worry, I'm not into flashing lights and complicated computer programs. I was heavy into all-grain in the early 80's the 'old-fashioned' way, so I also know how to make great beer with nothing but a big pot, some barley and a stove :-)

I stopped brewing for a couple reasons - the most significant being getting a job in Italy (though I did manage to brew one batch over there ) but the others included the time involved (dawn to dusk) and the stress of temperature control (wanting it to come out right after all of that effort). And of course the other factor was the increasing availability of good craft brew and the growing microbrewing industry.

My goals for getting back into brewing now are to experiment with step mashes and explore a wider variety of beer styles than I brewed in the past. And from my experience turning all-night barbequed brisket smokes into much more enjoyable and stress-free sessions by adding a bit of temperature control technology (Barbeque Guru - PID), one of my main goals with my new rig will be to use the same basic technology to take the burden of minute-by-minute heat management off of my shoulders... And the other main goal will be to reduce the total time needed to devote to a brew session. Compared to the 'old days', I have a family now and do not want to take control of the entire kitchen for a full day whenever I decide to brew.

So as close as I can come to 'set-it-and-forget-it' when it comes to mash temperatures, etc... and time efficiency are my two goals.

Also, I have never had a bad batch, so no need to remind me of the importance of sanitation in brewing :-)

I have used a copper-in-hose CFC but have no experience with mash recirculation. Since I am putting the new rig together from the ground up, I have complete freedom in equipment choices and configuration.

Your opinion on HERMS coil versus CFC versus plate chiller is helpful to me, so I will comment below on your feedback:


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Easily overcome by using gravity, you can drain just as much out when done.
I'm sure you are right, but there are no positives from extra volume of liquid in the chiller. A 50' 1/2" HERMS coil will have 2 quarts in it and a 25' CFC will have a quart. If a plate chiller with only a cup of mash liquor can be made to work well, that reduced mash liquor volume is a plus. Aside from mash efficiencies and dead space (where gravity and proper draining can make up the difference, as you say), reduced heat exchanger volume is going to make the entire mash system more responsive to whatever heating source is used for step mashing. Probably not a big deal overall, but an advantage for the plate chiller all the same...

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Originally Posted by wadefisher View Post
Get a GOOD CFC, all copper!
As I already said, I have a DIY copper CFC. I've seen the discoloration that can happen if the chiller is not used frequently and properly kept clean. I think for someone who brews regularly or who is willing to go through a full vinegar wash sanitation cycle whenever the copper CFC has not been used in a while, copper is great. For my own beer-brewing style (sporadic), I am concerned that copper is not the right solution for me and would want to go stainless. If I end up abandoning the plate chiller idea, the choices I will consider would be SS HERMS coil, SS+PEX DIY CFC, or the SS-in-SS CFC sold by Williams Brewing (http://www.williamsbrewing.com/STAINLESS-CONVOLUTED-COUNTERFLOW-CHILLER-P3152.aspx).

Any comments you have on your own experience cleaning your copper CFC would be helpful. What is the longest you have ever let it sit between brew sessions? Have you ever had to clean with vinegar? Any concerns at all about keeping the inside of the copper coil clean?

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this will not get the permanently stuck crap out of it. You will have to sanitize in oven or pressure cooker just before brewing. Chemicals are not as effective at sanitizing these.
This is really the central question. If you are correct and even with an expensive in-line filter in front of the plate chiller it will not be possible to keep the crap out of it and it will get clogged, you will be right, I will be wrong, and I will have an expensive paperweight and move to a HERMS coil or a CFC. The folks who have used the Northern Brewer in-line filter in front of their plate chillers claim that a hot water rinse cycle becomes enough to keep the plate chiller clean.

If I end up having to do a full oven-bake + chemical rinse cleaning cycle before every brew session, that will probably end up being a deal-killer for me. But if it is only something I will need to do once a year or so as part of a maintenance cycle, I could live with that.

The only way to know for sure will be to give it a try, so I think I may sign up to be another guinea pig on this and give it a go. If the plate chiller offered no advantages, the initiative would be silly, but I believe I see enough positives that it is worth testing how well it performs...

And one nice thing in terms of rig configuration is that a plate chiller and a CFC perform exactly the same function, so one can be swapped out for the other with little/no impact on overall system design.

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Is this part of our concern?
Having the best heat exchange efficiency is not part of my concern. Within limits, the $s I am spending on brewing equipment is not a major concern either. On the other hand, I don't like to waste money needlessly, and I want a system that is practical and easy to use. If I can make a system work well with a single heat-exchange solution (rather than a HERMS coil + a CFC or IC for wort chilling), it is one less thing to clean and for the same $s, I can invest in one higher-performance heat exchange solution rather than two of lesser performance.

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Your pre-filter will clog regularly. This is also a real PITA
Completely agree that filter clog would be a real PITA and the first time I get a pre-filter clog in the middle of a mash cycle (or a wort chilling cycle), I will probably abandon this approach and fall back to a CFC. The brewers who are experimenting with the Brewer's Hardware in-line filter are reporting pretty good results. Do you have any reason to doubt those claims?

Another option I am considering is to bypass the filter+chiller out of the recirculation loop until the wort has cleared. My vulnerability is that I have no experience with mash recirculation, but from what I have read and seen, it seems like keeping the filter from clogging should be possible...


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Originally Posted by wadefisher View Post
More efficient, less effective for practical brewing IMHO.
Again, I really appreciate YHO :-) And I remain open to changing direction. From what I've read and understood, though, it seems like the potential advantages of an effective filter+plate chiller combination outweigh the risks of discovering that you are right and that this is not effective for practical brewing.

I am a practical enough person that if regular cleaning is a PITA or I get even a single clogged filter or chiller, I will admit that your more experienced judgment was correct and my naïve initiative was a mistake. On the other hand, I hope you will agree that the practicality of this configuration can only really be understood through trial-and-error (which is at least pat of the joy of brewing for all of us, right? )

-fafrd
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Old 02-19-2013, 02:22 PM   #15
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OK...sorry, it's starting to feel like I'm pimping for JaDeD Brewing, but it sure looks like this contraption, altho a little pricey at $285, would be extremely convenient for HERMS and then, if you wanted, fill it with ice water and use it to chill wort. 50' of 3/8" copper, 15 gallon aluminium kettle so meanwhile it's a pretty big HLT too..



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Old 02-19-2013, 10:43 PM   #16
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fafrd; Keeping it quick, I've already had a couple.
The inside of a plate chiller is COPPER, same corrosion issue.
Siphoning effect... you will not have 2 quarts of wort left in CFC. Nor will you have the available space in a plate chiller full if you set it up using gravity effectively. My true belief is get BOTH, just know their strengths and weaknesses.

And I use both. Get Both. use accordingly. My nano brewery uses an over sized plate chiller the same has home brewers, but it is a constant battle to keep the pre filter from clogging because we will never put wort through it that is not filtered because we know that is worse.
Just don't want everyone thinking the plate chiller is the clear winner.
Good old school stuff still has it's merit.
That is why we are here. We want to hear everyone's 2.5 cents...

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Old 02-20-2013, 12:30 AM   #17
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The inside of a plate chiller is COPPER, same corrosion issue.
I had not realized this - if a plate chiller has all of the same concerns regarding inaccessible copper cooling/heating surface as a copper coil, this would kill one of the most significant advantages for me. The Dudadeisal website says: "Stainless Steel Copper Brazed Plate Heat Exchangers" and I assumed this meant a stainless outer contact layer sandwiching an inner copper heat exchange layer. If that is not what it meant and these plate chillers have all of the same concerns of a copper coil chiller, this could be a deal-killer for me...

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My nano brewery uses an over sized plate chiller the same has home brewers, but it is a constant battle to keep the pre filter from clogging because we will never put wort through it that is not filtered because we know that is worse.
What kind of filter do you use? If this is for wort chilling, are you also whirlpooling?

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Just don't want everyone thinking the plate chiller is the clear winner.
Totally agree with you on that. In terms of heat exchange capacity per $, nothing beats them, but there are other important factors including ease of cleaning and potential for clogging that may outweigh that advantage.

Here is the link to the new in-line filter from Brewer's Hardware - if you think this is nothing new and is unlikely to make a plate chiller any easier to keep free of clogs, I'd appreciate any inputs you can provide:

http://www.brewershardware.com/FILTER1.html

-fafrd
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Old 02-20-2013, 01:14 AM   #18
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The inside of a plate chiller is COPPER, same corrosion issue.
I did a bit of research and it looks like "Stainless Steel Copper Brazed Plate Heat Exchangers" means that the heat exchange plates are manufactured out of stainless steel but the plates are brazed together using copper as the brazing filler: http://www.alfalaval.com/solution-finder/products/cb/Documents/AXP10_ERC00262EN.pdf

So there is still some copper which is probably coming into contact with the wort, which is a concern, but it is probably only a tiny fraction of the overall heat exchange surface area and only a thin layer between plates around the outer edge.

Anyway, something to ask Brian about because if there is any copper that can corrode or discolor, I want to know it before I finalize my design, not after...

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Old 02-20-2013, 10:20 PM   #19
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fafrd,
You seem to be limiting your choices of available solutions that might fit your requirements better. I don't know if it's because of an unhealthy fascination with plate chillers, some equally disturbing obsession with price/performance/meter maximization, or with thinking the only other solution is to hard plumb a HERMS coils into your HLT. There are other options.

Just to lay out some basics:
You don't have to hard plumb the HERMS coil into the pot. You can leave it loose, or plumb it into the lid. Either way, they can double as an IC, and are clean by the time you are done chilling. Maximize that! Also, using the hard plumbed HERMS for ice bath chillers, like some tout, is a less than ideal chilling method, even if you have access to unlimited ice.

IC vs. CFC vs. PC- if your water isn't cold enough for an IC, chances are it isn't cold enough for the others either, at least with any meaningful flow. If you have to add ice to perform a chill, it's a lot easier to hit temps with an IC, especially if you don't recirc back to the kettle when using the CFC or PC. The IC is also a no brainer to sanitize- just stick it in the boil; and to clean- just spray it off.

Stainless tubing used for ICs (or a CFC) is much thinner (.02") than the copper tubing used/appropriate for either ICs or CFCs. The performance of .002" wall SS is at least as good as the thicker copper tubing of equal ID, even though copper is a better conductor. Check out nybrewsupply. Their SS ICs are cheaper than the equivalent in copper, and he will make any size, shape, or tubing ID for about the cost of the raw tubing.

The mash IS the liquid that is being recirculated in a HERMS/RIMS. As you mentioned, you do not want to have the heat bath temps much higher (a few degrees) than your desired mash temp, or step temp when stepping. This was the impetus behind the HERMS. Many thought there was localized heating (much greater than mash temps) with the RIMS tube/element, especially when stepping.

With that out of the way, and since you seem to want to minimize your brew day length and variables, there are also whole new brewing methods, like Brew In A Bag (BIAB), and Mash In A Bag (MIAB). These simplify the mashing process, especially compared to fly sparging. There is a small loss of efficiency, but nothing a $2 worth of grain won't fix for the average 5 gal batch. The efficiencies can approach/equal batch sparging, and like batch sparging, your numbers are much more predictable, since the sparge process if a fixed game.

With BIAB, the HERMS system can be thrown on its head, and the HEX coil submerged into the mash, since it is a very thin mash. The residual wort lost is only limited by how long you want to wait for the last drip, same goes for when chilling. The main advantages of BIAB/MIAB are simplicity, predictability, less total time, and less equipment (which also means less to cleaning time). Adding either style of HERMS to BIAB does mean an extra pot, but it can be a small one, even electric with only a 110V element.

You might start a new thread seeking input for your new system. I am sure if you lay down some basic requirements/goals you will get plenty of responses. There are a lot of recent innovations, and more all the time, to lessen brew day hassles.

From these selected requirements from just one of your posts, it seems like in practice that ease of use, reduced brew day length, versatility, and predictability are your most important goals, regardless how painful your unrequited love for the fair chill-zilla may be.

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Originally Posted by fafrd View Post
I stopped brewing for a couple reasons - the others included the time involved (dawn to dusk) and the stress of temperature control (wanting it to come out right after all of that effort).

My goals for getting back into brewing now are to experiment with step mashes
And the other main goal will be to reduce the total time needed to devote to a brew session. Compared to the 'old days', I have a family now and do not want to take control of the entire kitchen for a full day whenever I decide to brew.

So as close as I can come to 'set-it-and-forget-it' when it comes to mash temperatures, etc... and time efficiency are my two goals.

Since I am putting the new rig together from the ground up, I have complete freedom in equipment choices and configuration.

Your opinion on HERMS coil versus CFC versus plate chiller is helpful to me, so I will comment below on your feedback:

For my own beer-brewing style (sporadic), I am concerned that copper is not the right solution for me and would want to go stainless.
If I can make a system work well with a single heat-exchange solution (rather than a HERMS coil + a CFC or IC for wort chilling), it is one less thing to clean and for the same $s, I can invest in one higher-performance heat exchange solution rather than two of lesser performance.
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Old 02-21-2013, 12:03 AM   #20
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fafrd,
You seem to be limiting your choices of available solutions that might fit your requirements better. I don't know if it's because of an unhealthy fascination with plate chillers, some equally disturbing obsession with price/performance/meter maximization, or with thinking the only other solution is to hard plumb a HERMS coils into your HLT. There are other options.

Just to lay out some basics:
You don't have to hard plumb the HERMS coil into the pot. You can leave it loose, or plumb it into the lid. Either way, they can double as an IC, and are clean by the time you are done chilling. Maximize that! Also, using the hard plumbed HERMS for ice bath chillers, like some tout, is a less than ideal chilling method, even if you have access to unlimited ice.

IC vs. CFC vs. PC- if your water isn't cold enough for an IC, chances are it isn't cold enough for the others either, at least with any meaningful flow. If you have to add ice to perform a chill, it's a lot easier to hit temps with an IC, especially if you don't recirc back to the kettle when using the CFC or PC. The IC is also a no brainer to sanitize- just stick it in the boil; and to clean- just spray it off.

Stainless tubing used for ICs (or a CFC) is much thinner (.002") than the copper tubing used/appropriate for either ICs or CFCs. The performance of .002" wall SS is at least as good as the thicker copper tubing of equal ID, even though copper is a better conductor. Check out nybrewsupply. Their SS ICs are cheaper than the equivalent in copper, and he will make any size, shape, or tubing ID for about the cost of the raw tubing.

The mash IS the liquid that is being recirculated in a HERMS/RIMS. As you mentioned, you do not want to have the heat bath temps much higher (a few degrees) than your desired mash temp, or step temp when stepping. This was the impetus behind the HERMS. Many thought there was localized heating (much greater than mash temps) with the RIMS tube/element, especially when stepping.

With that out of the way, and since you seem to want to minimize your brew day length and variables, there are also whole new brewing methods, like Brew In A Bag (BIAB), and Mash In A Bag (MIAB). These simplify the mashing process, especially compared to fly sparging. There is a small loss of efficiency, but nothing a $2 worth of grain won't fix for the average 5 gal batch. The efficiencies can approach/equal batch sparging, and like batch sparging, your numbers are much more predictable, since the sparge process if a fixed game.

With BIAB, the HERMS system can be thrown on its head, and the HEX coil submerged into the mash, since it is a very thin mash. The residual wort lost is only limited by how long you want to wait for the last drip, same goes for when chilling. The main advantages of BIAB/MIAB are simplicity, predictability, less total time, and less equipment (which also means less to cleaning time). Adding either style of HERMS to BIAB does mean an extra pot, but it can be a small one, even electric with only a 110V element.

You might start a new thread seeking input for your new system. I am sure if you lay down some basic requirements/goals you will get plenty of responses. There are a lot of recent innovations, and more all the time, to lessen brew day hassles.

From these selected requirements from just one of your posts, it seems like in practice that ease of use, reduced brew day length, versatility, and predictability are your most important goals, regardless how painful your unrequited love for the fair chill-zilla may be.
cwi,

thanks for your thoughtful post (which also cracked me up )

You raise a number of valid points and I think I am going to take you up on your suggestion to start a dedicated thread seeking input for my new system...

-fafrd

p.s. I have no unrequited love for the fair chill-zilla, but I am an engineer and do admit to a certain weakness for determining and acquiring the 'best' solution (where the devil is then in the details of 'best for what'?).


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