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Old 09-06-2012, 09:26 PM   #1
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Default Whirlpooling, plate chiller, how long to settle, HELP

Ugh. So I am basically just confusing myself at this point after reading on all of the different techniques out there. Let me explain my current set up and hopefully someone can direct me on how to proceed.

So first off, like most, chilling the wort has been my least favorite part about brewing. Recently I purchased the shirron plate chiller in hopes that it makes this process less painful. Here is my intention. Gravity feed my wort to the plate chiller and into my carboy. I also have a submersible pump that I was going to put in a cooler with ice water. I was going to pump the ice water into the plate chiller, and then recirculate the water back into the cooler. In addition, I should note that I have a hop bag/ hop spider and I use hop pellets for the most part. Also, prior to this I used an IC and then would transfer my wort by dumping it through a double mesh strainer. I now have a blichmann and transfer via the ballvalve.

As for my confusion, I thought it was the goal to chill the wort as quickly as possible. So after flame out, I was going to get the plate chiller running immediately. Now I am reading that I should whirlpool the wort and then let it settle prior to starting the chill. How long of a process is this? I also can’t seem to find any videos on youtube showing this technique. I am knee deep in new brewing equipment and new techniques, so any advice would be appreciated.

Sorry for the novel

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Old 09-06-2012, 09:36 PM   #2
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If you grok the purpose behind each of these notions, it becomes a little more straight forward.

Whirlpooling your wort for 5 minutes and then letting it settle for another 15 lets you get more wort into your fermentor while keeping more of the break and hop solids out. Whether this is important to you depends on the nature of your system and, ultimately, preference. Some claim that keeping the trub out is better for flavor, some claim it doesn't make a difference. In any case, it's a subtle point.

More important than chilling quickly is chilling consistently. Many big breweries do a half hour hot whirlpool before chilling, and there's nothing inherently bad about this. It will, however, impact your hop profile somewhat. One way isn't better or worse than the other, but as you learn your system you'll develop recipes and intuitions that work for however you're doing it. I'd rather wait 20 minutes to chill everytime than wait 0 minutes sometimes and 20 minutes other times.

Gravity usually works fine for plate chillers, though I suspect you'll be disappointed with the results from using ice in a cooler. The water coming out of there is going to be very hot, and you'll go through ridiculous quantities of ice this way. Far better just to use tap. If your tap water is too warm, plan on buying ridiculous quantities of ice.

Welcome to the club! Speak up if there's any other help you need.

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Old 09-06-2012, 10:02 PM   #3
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Great info. Thanks Malfet.
I will have to rethink the ice water strategy. I wanted to go this route because i was wasting so much water with the IC. I guess the process of switching to the plate chiller will reduce the waste.

As far as letting it settle after flame out, should i put a lid on top of the wort?

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Old 09-06-2012, 10:30 PM   #4
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Great info. Thanks Malfet.
I will have to rethink the ice water strategy. I wanted to go this route because i was wasting so much water with the IC. I guess the process of switching to the plate chiller will reduce the waste.

As far as letting it settle after flame out, should i put a lid on top of the wort?
At temps above 200ºF, it doesn't make a huge difference. I heard once that you can still burn off DMS in a hot whirlpool, so I don't use one. But, I wouldn't put too much brain energy into it one way or the other.

If you're brewing in an unprotected area outside or in the presence of acrobatic cats/children, that's a different story...
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Old 09-08-2012, 02:59 AM   #5
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I'm in the same boat as the OP. I'm on the fence about buying a plate chiller. My plan is to get a pump, so I won't be doing a gravity feed.

I use an IC and it works, but it's slow. I like the idea of quickly cooling my wort, but it seems like the cleanup and maintenance that comes with a plate chiller kinda balances out the positives.

Can anyone elaborate on this? I've sat staring at my shopping cart at Rebel about a dozen times, but I can't commit. I'm looking for some positives that are going to make me pull the trigger.

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Old 09-08-2012, 03:07 AM   #6
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Why not get the pump first? Do a whirlpool chiller with your immersion coil, and if it's still slow then consider a new chiller.

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Old 09-08-2012, 03:12 AM   #7
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I love my plate chiller (Therminator). I've brewed for years using ice baths and thought a plate chiller would only save me a few minutes. Sick of ice baths, I finally broke down and bought a chiller. Now I run the wort at 200°F from the kettle through the chiller, using 65°F tap water, and into the fermenter where it arrives at 70°F. I love physics!

Cleaning is easy: I flush it both directions with water and let it dry. Blichmann suggests soaking it in PBW (or equivalent) too for 30 minutes and flushing again but I don't always do that and mine seems fine.

I don't understand the worry about water use. Water is 1 cent/gallon or so (and it's a renewable resource), why worry about 20-30 cents when it's saving you an hour of time and your beer? I feed the output of the chiller to my plants too.

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Old 09-08-2012, 03:16 AM   #8
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I currently have a pre-chiller that I immerse in an ice bucket and an IC in the kettle. it works, but during the summer it takes me close to an hour to get my temps down to 70F. I'm OK, but I'm always looking for ways to cut down my brew time. I usually do 2 batches per brew day, so cutting down on the cooling time would make a huge difference.

My concerns are the cleanup, the sanitization, and the potential clogging issues that I've read about. Are these real concerns, or am I blowing them out of proportion?

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Old 09-08-2012, 03:18 AM   #9
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I currently have a pre-chiller that I immerse in an ice bucket and an IC in the kettle. it works, but during the summer it takes me close to an hour to get my temps down to 70F. I'm OK, but I'm always looking for ways to cut down my brew time. I usually do 2 batches per brew day, so cutting down on the cooling time would make a huge difference.
Right...that's why I'm suggesting that you get the pump first: to see if you actually need a new chiller. I use a pump to recirculate across my immersion chiller, and I get from 212ºF to pitching temps in about 10-12 minutes.

I have a plate chiller, too, and it is equally quick. They're both fine options.
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Old 09-08-2012, 03:24 AM   #10
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Right...that's why I'm suggesting that you get the pump first: to see if you actually need a new chiller. I use a pump to recirculate across my immersion chiller, and I get from 212ºF to pitching temps in about 10-12 minutes.

I have a plate chiller, too, and it is equally quick. They're both fine options.
Are we talking about the same pump? I'm talking about a March pump to pump the wort through a plate chiller. It sounds like you're talking about an immersible pump running water through an icewater bath to the IC. Am I confused?
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