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rdann87 03-15-2011 05:13 PM

Plate Chiller Question
Hey guys,
So i am fairley new at this, only have about 2 batches under my belt (watched some friends brew in the past though).

I recently got offered a 30 Plate Heat Exchanger by a friend of a friend. Thing is in great condition, never used. I got it for around 80 dollars total, too good a deal to pass. I looked them up online and they generally are around the 120$ range (without shipping).

What i didnt think about was the fact that my brew kettle doesnt have a nozzle or spicket to get the hot wort flowing into the chiller.

What i was wondering is .. would it be okay to chill the wort first in an ice back (take it down to around 100), then put it into a bucket that i have that does have the spicket, then run that through the chiller?

My main concern is that i dont want to over chill it (if thats possible), and I'm also not sure if it would have any negative effects or even be worth my time.

Would it be worth it to look into getting some kind of a pump to get the wort flowing into the chiller without the use of the secondary bucket?

Any advice?

Thanks for the help

frankstoneline 03-15-2011 05:15 PM

Seems like an excessive process to transfer, but as long as it's sanitary i cant see any issues. it might be worth your time to just install a weldless valve on your kettle, I picked up a couple full stainless for 20 bucks a piece with valves etc at a local homebrew shop this weekend, and bargain-fittings will get you setup for about the same coin.

pekabrewery 03-15-2011 05:18 PM

Doing both sounds complicated and is probably not wort your time.

I would by a fitting and attach on your kettle. they go for around 25 bucks (bargainfittings.com) plus you need a drill bit big enough to make the hole. They are only 15 bucks. After that you should be good enough to gravity feed the hot wort thru the chiller.

Good luck with future brews!

samc 03-15-2011 05:22 PM

$80 is about what they go for, so you saved the shipping.

I do the valve as frankstoneline mentions. The point of the plate chiller is to make a fast and easy one pass chill, not to create a complex operation, possibly adding extra areas for picking up infections, etc. Generally you sanitize the chiller by running boiling wort through it during the last few minutes of the boil.

LandoLincoln 03-15-2011 05:38 PM

Plate chillers
From my limited experience so far:

1) Plate chillers clog easily. Be sure to get some kind of straining going on before you go into the chiller. Bobby M has a video for a stainless steel mesh straining bag that works really well - I built one and it works wonderfully (do a web search for "BobbyfromNJ" on youtube - he has many great videos).
2) My friends and I tried to use siphoning to go into the chiller, but that just did not work well at all. We eventually bit the bullet and got a stainless steel weldless valve kit (about $40). Also had to pick up a 7/8 step bit (about $35) to drill the hole in the side of the pot. Now we use gravity to do the pushing and we can drain 5 gallons through our chiller in about 10 minutes.
3) Up here in the cold north in January and February in an unheated garage, we did not have to run much water through the chiller to get the wort to the right temp. So yes, it's definitely possible to over-chill the wort as it's coming out - carefully regulate the flow of water going in to the chiller as you watch the thermometer monitoring the wort flowing into the fermentation container. We have not brewed anything in the summer yet, so it will be interesting to see if the chiller can do the job even at full blast when the water faucet temperature is much closer to normal room temperature.
4) Read up on cleaning them afterward. Obviously there are a lot of little nooks and crannies inside the plates for particulate matter to hide, so thorough flushing and sanitizing in both directions is a must.

rdann87 03-15-2011 06:55 PM

Thanks for the help guys... yea I think I'm just gonna bite the bullet and droip the extra 40 bucks on a 7/8 bit.

I figure that way if i move to a bigger kettle, i can attempt to take the same valve with me. From what i see it's a lot cheaper to get a kettle minus the valve.

wuertele 03-15-2011 09:45 PM

I used my Therminator in a gravity configuration for many brews and was quite happy with it. I use a pump now and I am even happier. If money is an issue, I would skip the pump.

frankstoneline 03-15-2011 11:50 PM


Originally Posted by rdann87 (Post 2739884)
Thanks for the help guys... yea I think I'm just gonna bite the bullet and droip the extra 40 bucks on a 7/8 bit.

I figure that way if i move to a bigger kettle, i can attempt to take the same valve with me. From what i see it's a lot cheaper to get a kettle minus the valve.

if you move up in size it will likely be to a keggle. I would look into a good quality hole saw. I got one at ace with a pilot bit for 15 bucks total this morning and drilled a couple kegs with it, no problems. took me MAYBE 15 minutes to blast through two and the bit shows little wear. Some people say its too hard to use, however if you go kind of slow and take your time you should be fine. total my conversion of two kegs to a mash tun and boil kettle both with outlet barbs and a screen has cost me 65 bucks, including the 15 dollar hole saw and the 40 dollars in valves/bulkheads.

weirdboy 03-15-2011 11:57 PM

I have used a plate chiller for a while and I haven't had any problems with clogging. Just use common sense. You want to keep hop debris from getting into the chiller so figure out a way to do that. I use hops bags.

You definitely want a valve on your kettle to use this thing effectively, and a pump if at all possible. It's not 100% necessary but it sure makes things easier IMO.

Run straight from the kettle through the chiller and into your fermenter. Don't bother waiting to cool it down or anything. Turn down the flow rate on the wort until it is at your target temp coming out of the chiller, keeping in mind that you cannot chill lower than your cooling water.

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