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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > General Techniques > Wort chillers and temps
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Old 08-29-2011, 02:44 AM   #1
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Default Wort chillers and temps

Brewed 3 AG beers in 2 days with no problems until chilling. I have a Blichmann top tier setup and am using a Shirron plate chiller. The first batch, a honey wheat, would only get to 80 deg. I assumed this was what my water temp from the tap was, and after checking with a different thermometer found it to be true. I then put my carboy in an ice bath and had to pitch at 72 degrees. The next batch was a pumpkin ale. Again all is well until chilling this time I put approx. 2 ft of hose in an ice bath and choked the flow out of my brew pot way down and still could not get sub 80 deg. I used a conical this time and again had to do an ice bath and pitched at 75. Then today with a scotch ale same problem. This time I used an emersion chiller to chill down to approx 85 deg. Then I put my entire plate chiller in an ice bath for about an hour to get it good and cold. I restricted flow and could only get it to chill to 76. I went ahead and pitched anyway. My questions are this 1) what can I do differently to achieve a 68 deg pitching temp. 2) Is there a better way to change my setup. 3) Should I go with blichmanns plate chiller. 4) will my brews be ok since I pitched above 70? FWIW these are all ales and all 5 gallon batches. Thanks for the help in advance.

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Old 08-29-2011, 02:48 AM   #2
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I only use an immersion chiller in 5 gallon full boils. Here in the summer, I can only get down to about 80F, mabye 79 on a good day. I found that if I chill with just the IC to get to about 80F and then use a small aquarium pump to recirculate ice water through my IC, I get down to about 65F. I could probably have gotten lower, but I wanted to pitch at 65F.

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Old 08-29-2011, 04:31 PM   #3
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YOu are already using a plate chiller. I think the problem is the temp of the groundwater. if you used an ice water system to drop it from the first pass, you might do better. Can you describe your setup a little more?

Here is what I would try:

Chill using the the Shirron.
Place ice and water in a cooler or tub and recirc that through the chiller as you make a second pass (unless you recirc your wort, then it would require a second pump...)

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Old 08-29-2011, 05:00 PM   #4
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Yup, the tap water will only take you so far depending on the season you are brewing with. A pump and ice water will bring it down nicely, but that is some extra time and effort. My buddy has this setup, but I have no pump.

I recently got my wheat beer down to 67 with counter flow chiller run off of tap water. I also had the kettle in my sink with ice water and continual ice additions. It did take 20-30 minutes to go from 80 down to 67. Guess I forgot how good I had it last Feb/March when I first started using the chiller. MN tap water is pretty COLD then and I could bring it down to pitching in 12 minutes total.

Those pitch temps were a little high, but obviously you'll still make good beer. Did you bring the temps down further while it was fermenting? I had to use a water tub with bottles of ice to keep temps in the mid 60's for the first 3 days.

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Old 08-29-2011, 05:51 PM   #5
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You can get a pre-chiller, which is basically an immersion chiller in an ice bucket in-between your faucet and plate chiller to drop the temp of your tap water.

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Old 08-30-2011, 12:58 AM   #6
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Thanks for the help. I think the pre chiller is the trick. I used my emersion chiller and then sent the 100 deg. wort through my plate chiller. I see now I hadvit backwards.

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Old 08-30-2011, 01:02 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wlffmnnn View Post
Thanks for the help. I think the pre chiller is the trick. I used my emersion chiller and then sent the 100 deg. wort through my plate chiller. I see now I hadvit backwards.
Well, no you don't have it backwards. If your tap water is 80 degrees, there is no way to chill under 80 degrees with either a plate chiller or an immersion chiller.

What needs to happen is to have the chilling water under that temperature. What many people do is to set up the immersion chiller in a bucket of ice water and a pump so that the water is much colder than 80 degrees going into the chiller. Then, the wort can be chilled to less than 80 degrees. That's called a "prechiller".
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Old 08-30-2011, 04:58 AM   #8
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Sorry I didn't finish that statement. I had my plate chiller in a cooler in an ice bath so I used the emersion chiller in the wort then pumped the wort through the plate chiller that was in the ice bath. That is where I said I had it backwards. I will now put the emersion chiller in an ice bath, connect it to the plate chiller so that they low temp water runs through the plate chiller, then send my wort through.

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Old 08-30-2011, 10:43 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wlffmnnn View Post
I will now put the emersion chiller in an ice bath, connect it to the plate chiller so that they low temp water runs through the plate chiller, then send my wort through.
I think this will work just fine. If you want to use your ice most efficiently, cool with just the plate chiller at first, and then put the IC prechiller in line once you get down to sub-100F.

FWIW, I have only a copper IC and deal with this problem too. Rather than buy a second chiller, I get the wort down to the tapwater temp. and then throw the fermenter into my fermentation chamber (temp-controlled chest freezer). At that point I cool using the freezer. The advantage here is that if my starter isn't ready yet I'll hold the wort at ~34F until I'm ready to allow it to come up to pitching temp.
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Old 08-31-2011, 04:06 PM   #10
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So here is my very low-tech approach to chilling wort - cold water. And it worked great.

My son and I brewed our 3rd batch last night (IPA - he hates IPAs, but maybe he'll change his mind). The very first thing we did was put 3 gallons of spring water into the freezer, then started our brew process.

After the wort had steeped/brewed/boiled for the requisite time, we put about 1.5 gallons of the now ice cold water into the fermenter, added the wort, then topped off the bucket with the remaining ice cold water. After a quick stir, the wort was down very fast to about 90 degrees. We put the fermenter in the kitchen sink surrounded by ice water, and in less than 2 hours the wort was down to 73.

Worked well for us - your mileage may vary...

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