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Old 04-06-2011, 09:41 PM   #1
poacher27
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Default Plate Chiller use with All-Grain

I've just started all-grain brewing and ordered a plate chiller. I've been reading everything I can find about plate chillers (PC) vs. immersion chillers (IC), and it seems like most people use an IC first then run the wort from the pot through the PC to the fermentor. (And I follow some of the reasons--DMS, wort still too hot out of PC, etc.)

My question is do I really need to use an IC first then a PC, or can I run the wort straight from the kettle, through the PC, into the carboy? I understand that, ideally, I'd use both, but what kind of problems am I looking at just going through the PC? And how serious are these problems?

Just in case it makes a difference, I'm brewing with a converted keg with a steel mesh screen (bazooka screen) and fermenting in glass carboys.

Thanks in advance any help.

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Old 04-06-2011, 09:51 PM   #2
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That all depends on the speed of flow through the chiller and what your ground water temp is. For most people it's fine to go from kettle to chiller to fermentor.

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Old 04-06-2011, 09:51 PM   #3
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Who's using both IC and PC? I got rid of my IC and made it a HERMs coil when I got my plate chiller. I think most people who have plate chillers use only the plate chiller.

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Old 04-06-2011, 09:52 PM   #4
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Depends entirely on the efficiency of your chiller and the output temp of the wort (which is influenced by the input temp of teh chill water).

Ideally, you want to go from the 200+ degrees of the boiled wort to pitch temp (yeast specific) before filling the fermenter. If you can do that in a single pass, awesome. Depending on the year and winter temps this is highly likely to occur.

But, Summer temps may prove challenging for Ales and impossible for lagers without more contact inside the chiller.

So, get a pump and recirculate until the volume is cooled enough for a single pass to pitch temp and then off to the fermenter.

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Old 04-06-2011, 09:57 PM   #5
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Personally I don't think it's about contact time in the chiller so much as flow rates (as previously mentioned) and cooling water temp.

In the summer you can't chill very well because the ground water is a lot warmer. Well, at least here it is.

So what I do is instead of connecting my "water in" line on the plate chiller directly to a hose or whatever, is that I fill up my MLT with ice water and use a submersible pump to push the water through the cooling side. I also dial back the flow rate on the wort side so my wort comes out pretty darn close to the cooling water temp.

In a single pass I am able to chill down to lager temps if necessary, but I also usually have to refill the water in my MLT before I get the fermenter filled up.

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Old 04-06-2011, 10:24 PM   #6
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Thanks for the fast replies. I've already ordered a plate chiller, so I'll try it out once or twice before thinking about getting an IC too. I've thought about using the sump pump in the bucket trick--we'll see about that.

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Old 04-06-2011, 10:27 PM   #7
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You can also use an IC as a prechiller by putting it in a bucket with ice water and salt. It would then flow from faucet to IC/prechiller to plate chiller and out. This is what people in warmer climates with higher ground water temps commonly use.

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Old 04-06-2011, 10:44 PM   #8
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Counterflow with ice water. It works quite well.

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Old 04-07-2011, 01:47 AM   #9
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I use my old IC as a pre-chiller for the warmer Houston ground water by putting it in an ice-water-filled small cooler.

My flow: Kettle -> March pump -> Plate Chiller -> Fermenter

Love it - boiling to pitching temp in less than 5 min, using only about 6 gallons of water, which I then use in my clean-up.

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Old 04-07-2011, 04:46 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by weirdboy View Post
Personally I don't think it's about contact time in the chiller so much as flow rates (as previously mentioned) and cooling water temp.

In the summer you can't chill very well because the ground water is a lot warmer. Well, at least here it is.

So what I do is instead of connecting my "water in" line on the plate chiller directly to a hose or whatever, is that I fill up my MLT with ice water and use a submersible pump to push the water through the cooling side. I also dial back the flow rate on the wort side so my wort comes out pretty darn close to the cooling water temp.

In a single pass I am able to chill down to lager temps if necessary, but I also usually have to refill the water in my MLT before I get the fermenter filled up.
What? Slowing the flow rate is the same as increasing the contact time in the chiller.

As the temp differential (between hot wort and chill water) decreases so does the efficiency of the system. Increasing the contact time, aka slowing the flow rate, counteracts said differential efficiency drop.

As to chill water temps well, that is pretty basic. Can't get any colder than the chill water lest you bring some additional physics into play.
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