Counterflow Chiller Methods

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Pehlman17

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Fairly recently I got myself an Exchilerator Maxx CFC but have yet to use it. I've exclusively used immersion chillers so far but I think I'm finally ready to try out the CFC on my next batch. I have a question for those of you with experience using counterflow. It appears to me that some people recirculate through the CFC for a while before directing the wort to their fermenter. While others just do a single pass through the chiller, straight into the fermenter. Other than sanitizing the CFC with near-boiling wort, is there reason to recirculate? I live in Southern California and would love a way to waste less water when I brew. I suspect the single pass through the chiller would ultimately use less water than recirculating. I don't mind if my wort isn't at pitching temp immediately as I can always let it finish cooling in my fermentation chamber, but I'd like to be close enough that I can reach pitching temp within a couple hours. How cool could I likely get my wort on a single pass through the CFC with ground water temps in the mid 70's Fahrenheit? (I suppose I could repurpose my old IC as a pre-chiller in an ice bath.) Am I better off recirculating for a while first?

Cheers! :bigmug:
 
I'm not entirely sure on the water usage. I have the Exchillerator Maxx as well, and my process(for chilling) is this:
at 25 mins left in the boil, I re-circulate through the CFC with no cooling to sanitize the pump, hoses, and CFC.
at flame-out(element off), I continue to re-circulate while adding cooling with groundwater(~60F)not at full blast, I run this until the wort reaches ~80 coming out of the chiller, then move the output of the CFC into my fermentor. This varies a little as sometimes I will keep a whirlpool at ~170 for a while etc..

The cooling water from the CFC comes out very hot at first. I collect this in my HLT, often getting ~14 gallons before transferring it into the sink(usually much cooler water at that point. If I had a top-loading washer I would put it there. When done, I use the water from the HLT for the majority of the cleanup.
As I ran a separate line for cooling water/ steamslayer like contraption, I can't do the pre-chiller, though I suppose I could use the HLT for that.

Wide open, I know that I can get to ~70 in a single pass easily with my groundwater, but I have to have the water on full bore and the wort flowing slower. I don't think that is the most efficient use of water though. I also only have limited control as all the valves are ball valves.

I would be interested to see the difference in water use between re-circ and not. I suppose there is also the challenge of getting to optimum heat transfer.

I'll also do a no-chill depending on style, which fermentor I'm using etc.. Only things I've found is I need to adapt for the longer hop exposure or I get beer that is too bitter for the style, and that wort volume shrinks as it cools, and will form a vacuum.
 
^ Everything he said. Where I am the ground temp is 58° so I can do single pass, but in the mid 70's where you are, if you want a single pass you'll definitely want to use your IC-in-ice inline.
 
Thanks for the tips! I was thinking I would set it up to where the wort goes straight in from my kettle valve to the CFC, and then hits the pump on the way out. That way I could control the flow at the kettle so its just enough to prime the pump but hopefully slow enough to cool somewhat efficiently. My current setup has me recirculating at flameout into a whirlpool arm and I don't typically turn on my water source to the IC until I get below 180F. Perhaps I'll do the same with the CFC in order to sanitize it before I get any water flowing. I'm thinking a pre-chiller and some recirculating might still be the way to go.
 
The cooling water from the CFC comes out very hot at first. I collect this in my HLT, often getting ~14 gallons before transferring it into the sink(usually much cooler water at that point. If I had a top-loading washer I would put it there. When done, I use the water from the HLT for the majority of the cleanup.
As I ran a separate line for cooling water/ steamslayer like contraption, I can't do the pre-chiller, though I suppose I could use the HLT for that.
I do something similar. I have an old 10-gallon cooler mash tun that now I use as a wastewater collector. Usually I can fill that thing almost full with water around 110-120F coming out of my IC. Then I use that water to do a PBW and rinse of my gear.
 
At flame out I start the whirlpool recirc for 10 min to sanitize, then turn on the water to chill. I take it down to 70* because that's when cold break happens and I can't dump trub from my fermenters. For a 6 gal batch I can fill my washer and 2 buckets for cleaning the brewery,that's about 25 gal. If i had a conical I could dump from I would go from sanitizing whirlpool straight to fermenter.
 
Here is what I do. In the winter, I do not have running water in my shop where I brew. I use a 35 gallon garbage can filled with water, I also freeze 2 liter soda bottles in my freezer. The Using a small irrigation pump I purchased from Harbor Freight, I circulate the ice cold water to chill a ten gallon batch, collecting the for five gallons of hot water for clean up of my system. I keep the Garbage can filled with a small amount of bleach to stop any unwanted growth. I have been using this system for about 6 years. Cheers
 
I was thinking I would set it up to where the wort goes straight in from my kettle valve to the CFC, and then hits the pump on the way out.
You always want to control flow with a valve after the pump. You would be choking your pump doing it this way.

" That way I could control the flow at the kettle so its just enough to prime the pump but hopefully slow enough to cool somewhat efficiently. "
Edit: couldn't fix the way I originally quoted so it is what it is. +1 on Immersion Chiller inline in a bucket of ice water.
 
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Here is what I do. In the winter, I do not have running water in my shop where I brew. I use a 35 gallon garbage can filled with water, I also freeze 2 liter soda bottles in my freezer. The Using a small irrigation pump I purchased from Harbor Freight, I circulate the ice cold water to chill a ten gallon batch, collecting the for five gallons of hot water for clean up of my system. I keep the Garbage can filled with a small amount of bleach to stop any unwanted growth. I have been using this system for about 6 years. Cheers

I use a similar method, though I brew in my kitchen. I fill my sink with water and re-usable ice packs and use a submersible pump. I let the faucet run at the same rate as the pump so there is always a supply of cold water. I have the hot water return back down the drain (I modified the drain plug so the cold water doesn't run down as well) but you could collect it for clean-up as well. I brew in my kitchen with a Grainfather 30 but clean everything in my basement.
 
Cooling water temp is the primary factor, though with a whirlpool arm on the kettle, an additional advantage of recirc is building a cone to keep trub out of your fermenter.

With ground water temps in the 70s-80s and half barrel batch sizes, recirc is a must for me, but I throttle water to something like 2 gpm. I bring it to 90 then let fermentation temp control bring it down to pitch.
 
Here's my setup. I used to run water from the tap through a bed of ice "forever". Now I use a submersible pump to recirculate ice water through the coil into the reservoir and through the chiller. Has cut time, but most importantly water waste down the drain. Low budget, efficient and effective.
20221203_160322.jpg
 

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