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Old 10-12-2012, 07:31 PM   #1
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Default Wort Chillers

Two questions: are wort chillers (Immersion) worth the roughly $100 investment?

How quick should you cool your wort below 100 degrees right after the boil?

I ask this because after I did my second batch yesterday I realized how bad it sucks using a sink ice bath and constantly chilling the water.

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Old 10-12-2012, 07:34 PM   #2
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I loved my IC (actually 2 because I use one to pre-chill the water in an iced cooler and the second one in the kettle...works like a champ.

If filling my new HLT with ice water and using my HERMS coil as a chiller is successful, I will be selling both immersion chilers, though.

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Old 10-12-2012, 07:39 PM   #3
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I'd say that yes they are worth it. But, if you want to avoid it for now because of cost, another thing that has worked for me in the past has been using the bathtub instead of the sink. Way more water in there to transfer heat. Add $5 for a 20lb bag of ice and you'll get down there before you know it. Sometimes I would soak in the sink for that initial cool down and then transfer to the tube with ice so I don't melt everything right away. Whatever you are doing, just make sure you are clean and sterile.

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Old 10-12-2012, 07:40 PM   #4
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It depends on how you do things, how much you value your time, and how much ice you are using. If you are buying 20lb of ice every batch, you'll make up the cost of the IC within 5-6 batches. Then the IC isn't as much of a pain in the ass - drop it in, run water, and wait.

For me, the IC was a no brainer because the cost and benefits far outweighed the pain in the ass of an ice bath.

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Old 10-12-2012, 07:42 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MinnesnowtaBrew View Post
Two questions: are wort chillers (Immersion) worth the roughly $100 investment?

How quick should you cool your wort below 100 degrees right after the boil?

I ask this because after I did my second batch yesterday I realized how bad it sucks using a sink ice bath and constantly chilling the water.
Other people more experienced than me can tell you how quickly you need to cool the beer before it has issues, but I will tell you that an immersion chiller is a great investment. I did my first batch without one and it took a solid hour and all the ice in my freezer to get the beer down to 75 degrees. I went online immediately and bought a 3/8" x 50' wort chiller and love it. Even in the summer, when the water from the faucet I hook up to runs a little warmer, it gets the temp down in 20 minutes tops.
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Old 10-12-2012, 07:46 PM   #6
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I told my fiancée that's what I what I wanted for Xmas but I don't think I can wait that long. I'm going to just buy one.

What about the temps? How quick should you get your boil down for an optimal cool down?

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Old 10-12-2012, 07:48 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jwaldman11

Other people more experienced than me can tell you how quickly you need to cool the beer before it has issues, but I will tell you that an immersion chiller is a great investment. I did my first batch without one and it took a solid hour and all the ice in my freezer to get the beer down to 75 degrees. I went online immediately and bought a 3/8" x 50' wort chiller and love it. Even in the summer, when the water from the faucet I hook up to runs a little warmer, it gets the temp down in 20 minutes tops.
Sweet, I'm definitely going to bite the bullet and get one. Thanks for the feedback.
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Old 10-12-2012, 08:36 PM   #8
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I love mine. I got the copper tubing myself from Home Depot and made one by wrapping it around a keg. Whether you make your own or not... make sure to get snap fittings from the garden section so all you have to do is plug and unplug the hoses from the chiller. Their like $2 and make things incredibly effortless.

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Old 10-12-2012, 08:42 PM   #9
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I recommend buying a stainless one. They are available for the ~cost of the tubing from nybrewsupply, and a few other places as well. Stainless is now the same price, or cheaper, than copper. The stainless ones seem easier to keep clean, and have no issues with standard cleaners/sanitizers (oxyclean/star-san). The stainless tubing they use is much thinner than the copper tubing used for ICs, so the heat transfer ends up being better even though copper is a better conductor. Besides the beneficial effect of small amounts of copper as a yeast nutrient, which may or may not be necessary depending on your water, and can be added other ways easily enough; there are no real advantages to a copper chiller.

If you can find an extra lid for your pot, you can mount it in the lid for a better fit. Agitating the wort to improve transfer helps things- a lot. If you have a pump, this is done by simply recirc'ing. Without using a pump, if you mount it off center, you could spin/twist the lid back and forth without much exposure. This is only an idea, so it may/may not work, but moving it up/down has worked for me when not recirc'ing.

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Old 10-12-2012, 09:00 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NewBrewB View Post
I loved my IC (actually 2 because I use one to pre-chill the water in an iced cooler and the second one in the kettle...works like a champ.

If filling my new HLT with ice water and using my HERMS coil as a chiller is successful, I will be selling both immersion chilers, though.
I have heard the HERMS coils work, but need agitation in the HLT, which I assume you have a second pump for. One disadvantage of using the HERMS coil as the chiller is the increased ice usage, since all chilling needs to be done with ice. A more ice efficient strategy is using the HLT as the open ice bath for use with an IC (or recirc'ing plate chiller, CFC) after tap water has hit its limit.

Using a second IC as a prechiller is not as effective as doing an open ice batch recirc. Chilling with tap until ~20F temp diff, then switching to an ice bath recirc is the most common strategy. If you don't have a pump for recirc'ing to the ice bath, using a pre-chiller will help, but isn't really needed until the same ~20F diff has been reached. Until that point, it is just wasting ice for no meaningful benefit.

An IC as a prechiller is more suitable for use with a (non-recirc'ing) CFC when tap water is warmer than pitching temps, or higher flow is desired.
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