Counterflow chiller, tips on how to use it

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schmurf

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I bought an CFC not so long ago but we haven't really become on speaking terms with each other yet, although I've only used 2 times so I'm guessing it's a learning curve. I've had the impression a CFC would cool my wort pretty quickly but so far I've been struggling to get it down to a reasonable temperature. Last time I ended up with 30C wort in the fermenter and had to wait some hours for it to get to pitching temp.

The CFC is this one, from kegland. My tap water is cold, I haven't measured it but certainly sub 10C. I do connect the hoses so I actually have a counter flow between wort and cold water. I do have a ball valves to regulate the wort flow in and chilling water out. If i regulate the wort to a rather slow flow through the CFC the temperature of the wort on the outflow end might be somethinge like 35-40C, and the used chilling water isn't particulary hot. To get down to a temperature of 20C I need to have the wort ball valve barely open to a mere dripping on the outflow. I've read somewhere that ideally, if the counterflow works optimally, the wort out should be about the temperature as the cooling water in, and the cooling water out should have the same temperature as the wort in. I'm pretty far from that.

Is there a trick I'm not aware of or is this to be expected? Any help and any tips appreciated!
 

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I circulate wort back into the kettle until it drops in temp about 20-30 degrees (F) before moving it to the fermenter. Usually comes out right at pitching temp. Wort flow is pretty sluggish. Using Grainfather pump and CFC.

*By "sluggish" I mean in comparison to the flow of cooling water. Just a slow but continuous stream of wort.
 
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Tobor_8thMan

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After my HLT is done being used for mashing. I allow the HLT to cool (will automatically happen by the time I need to chill the wort) and fill the HLT with cold water and ice. Then I quickly pass the very cold water from the HLT thru the counterflow chiller while the hot wort slowly passed thru the counterflow chiller. I add water and ice as needed to the HLT. Using this method I'm able to take the wort from boiling temps to yeast pitching temps in a matter of minutes in a single pass.

I collect the hot water out from the counterflow chiller and use for clean-up or allow the water to cool and use for other things (water hops, etc).

Concern with multiple cooling passes is introducing oxygen at the wrong time.
 

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I bought an CFC not so long ago but we haven't really become on speaking terms with each other yet, although I've only used 2 times so I'm guessing it's a learning curve. I've had the impression a CFC would cool my wort pretty quickly but so far I've been struggling to get it down to a reasonable temperature. Last time I ended up with 30C wort in the fermenter and had to wait some hours for it to get to pitching temp.

The CFC is this one, from kegland. My tap water is cold, I haven't measured it but certainly sub 10C. I do connect the hoses so I actually have a counter flow between wort and cold water. I do have a ball valves to regulate the wort flow in and chilling water out. If i regulate the wort to a rather slow flow through the CFC the temperature of the wort on the outflow end might be somethinge like 35-40C, and the used chilling water isn't particulary hot. To get down to a temperature of 20C I need to have the wort ball valve barely open to a mere dripping on the outflow. I've read somewhere that ideally, if the counterflow works optimally, the wort out should be about the temperature as the cooling water in, and the cooling water out should have the same temperature as the wort in. I'm pretty far from that.

Is there a trick I'm not aware of or is this to be expected? Any help and any tips appreciated!
I always run my CCFC with the cooling water valve wide open, using the wort valve to slow down the flow of wort through the cooler. In winter when the tap water is cold this cools the wort down to pitching temperature fairly quickly. In summer when the tap water is at or near pitching temperature I use a chest freezer to cool the wort in the fermentor down to pitching temperature.
 
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schmurf

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You both mention slow... how slow is slow for you? Like dripping wort into the fermenter? @Tobor_8thMan you say you collect the hot water from the CFC, but at the rate my wort flows, my water on the out end is not hot, barely warm... almost cold.
 
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Are you using a pump, or gravity? Are you recirculating back into the boil kettle, or going straight into the fermenter?

I used to use a DIY copper/rubber hose CFC with gravity directly into my fermenter. That used to take about an hour to cool a 10 gallon batch. I did a major upgrade to my system, and now use a stainless steel CFC with a pump, recirculating back into the boil kettle. It takes about 15 minutes to cool down to pitching temp now. Both the wort flow and water flow are wide open.

As far as the outflow water temp, I've never had it get very hot. It's warm initially, but not hot. I don't know the outflow wort temp with the new system, but the old one would be at pitching temp going into the fermenter. I had to throttle back the cooling water flow to achieve that. The wort flow was restricted by the size if the copper tube, hence the hour long cool time.
 
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schmurf

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I'm using a pump and I was hoping it would be possible to go directly to the fermenter without a couple of passes to the kettle!
 

eric19312

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I do recirc back to my kettle initially during the hop stand. I like to get the BK down to about 185 then shut off cooling water add my whirlpool hops, and let it rest for 30 minutes. I will continue pumping through the CFC back to the kettle first 15 min of this and then kill the pump and let the hops settle for 15 min. Kettle will still be about 175 when I start chilling. I then go single pass through the chiller into the fermentor. The cooling water is wide open and I regulate flow of wort through chiller to try to get close to pitching temps but still have decent flow. Typically in Fall/winter/spring I am 45 min or less to chill 18 gallons.

One question for @schmurf ... do you have the cooling water flowing opposite direction from the wort? The chilling water should be entering the CFC at the same end of the CFC that is heading to the fermentor. Your issue sounds a lot like you might have the flow set up other way.
 

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I'm using a pump and I was hoping it would be possible to go directly to the fermenter without a couple of passes to the kettle!
If your pumping hot wort into your CFC without restricting flow there won't be enough contact time to notice much of a difference, Do you have a valve on the outlet of your pump? Use it to slow the flow rate, Why not try measuring the temperature of boiling water exiting your CFC, then reduce the flow in steps as you do this you should be able to determine how much cooling your getting.
 

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You both mention slow... how slow is slow for you? Like dripping wort into the fermenter? @Tobor_8thMan you say you collect the hot water from the CFC, but at the rate my wort flows, my water on the out end is not hot, barely warm... almost cold.
At the start and flowing wide open, the return water flowing back into the sink drain is easily hot enough to burn your hands. In winter, as the wort cools to pitching temperature the water returning to the drain is also at pitching temperature.
 

Brewski_59

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At the start and flowing wide open, the return water flowing back into the sink drain is easily hot enough to burn your hands. In winter, as the wort cools to pitching temperature the water returning to the drain is also at pitching temperature.
The cooling water flow rate must have a lot to do with this, at the rate mine flows out of the hose, it never gets as hot as you described. But then whats really important is how cold the wort is. So as long as that's effective, I don't concern myself with the cooling water change.
 

ScrewyBrewer

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The cooling water flow rate must have a lot to do with this, at the rate mine flows out of the hose, it never gets as hot as you described. But then whats really important is how cold the wort is. So as long as that's effective, I don't concern myself with the cooling water change.
Yes, the way I see it the cooling water flow rate and the cooling efficiency of the CCFC have everything to do with how long it takes and how much water is needed to cool the wort down to pitching temperature.
 

Brewski_59

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Yes, the way I see it the cooling water flow rate and the cooling efficiency of the CCFC have everything to do with how long it takes and how much water is needed to cool the wort down to pitching temperature.
Here in Florida, My ground water doesn't get cold enough to effectively cool wort alone. So I resort to pumping ice water through the CFC after pre chilling with groundwater. I certainly don't want the return line into my cooler hot enough to melt all my ice before the batch is completed. Again, My concern is wort temp, so slowing the wort flow to achieve maximum cooling is my focus. cooling water full tilt results in cooler outflow with no detrimental effect of wort cooling.
 
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schmurf

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I do recirc back to my kettle initially during the hop stand. I like to get the BK down to about 185 then shut off cooling water add my whirlpool hops, and let it rest for 30 minutes. I will continue pumping through the CFC back to the kettle first 15 min of this and then kill the pump and let the hops settle for 15 min. Kettle will still be about 175 when I start chilling. I then go single pass through the chiller into the fermentor. The cooling water is wide open and I regulate flow of wort through chiller to try to get close to pitching temps but still have decent flow. Typically in Fall/winter/spring I am 45 min or less to chill 18 gallons.

One question for @schmurf ... do you have the cooling water flowing opposite direction from the wort? The chilling water should be entering the CFC at the same end of the CFC that is heading to the fermentor. Your issue sounds a lot like you might have the flow set up other way.
I think I have set it up correctly, the flow is in the opposite direction of each other.

If your pumping hot wort into your CFC without restricting flow there won't be enough contact time to notice much of a difference, Do you have a valve on the outlet of your pump? Use it to slow the flow rate, Why not try measuring the temperature of boiling water exiting your CFC, then reduce the flow in steps as you do this you should be able to determine how much cooling your getting.
Yes I do have a valve restricting the wort flow. If I set it to barely pass through I get it down to 20C/68F.... but that means dripping wort into the fermenter and huge waste of water...
 

Tobor_8thMan

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You both mention slow... how slow is slow for you? Like dripping wort into the fermenter? @Tobor_8thMan you say you collect the hot water from the CFC, but at the rate my wort flows, my water on the out end is not hot, barely warm... almost cold.
If out water is barely warm, then something isn't working correctly. Are you running both liquids (wort and cold water) in the same direction? A counterflow chiller is designed for the liquids to run in opposite directions. For example, top of chiller: Hot wort in, hot water out. Bottom of chiller: Chilled water in, chilled wort out.

Adjust the wort speed to achieve the desired wort out temp (you do have a temp gauge at the wort out. Correct?)
 

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@schmurf
I've got the same bad boy as you. Only used it about 4 times maybe five.

I attach the cold hose in to the bottom at 90 degree to tubing connector and water out to the top 90 degree connector.

Wort is pumped in from the guten ( like grainfather, brewzilla ) 70 litre apparently a fairly powerful pump via the top staight in and then I recirculate back into the kettle via the out tap with my conversion on the inside of this to make a whirlpool. The whirlpool bit is about 8mm tube. So I suppose there is flow restriction via the tap and the tube for whirlpool. Seems to make a pretty good whirlpool even after going thru the coolossus.
Our water about 16 at the moment and the chill to whirlpool temps and then from there down seems quick enough.

I do have the water in at a fairly high speed and can water the plants in the garden with the pressure coming out or spray down the malt pipe and other stuff with tepid water.

I have the coolossus on a box so gravity helps the flow of wort ie no pushing uphill for it.
I would like to put a three way ball valve on the up pipe to the recirc tube so that the wort didn't have to go up before going down but not made that mod yet.

I think grainfather have something called a wortometer that can read the temp inline and I think David Heath uses his to check the temp before putting it into the fermenter.

I do find that I have to carefully prop the coolossus up to get it to drain well but do manage to get it dry each time.
 
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schmurf

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Yes I've got it connected as you have @DuncB regarding the water in/out. I'm fairly confident I've set it up correctly but can't figure out how to get it working correctly, or more like ... how I thought it would be working. I might have had, as often, too high expectations, thinking I could run the wort directly to the fermenter.

@Tobor_8thMan yes I have a thermometer at the wort out side.
 
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schmurf

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Pump between kettle and CFC wort in and directly from water tap to CFC water in, it's a pretty good pressure from tap.
 

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I’ll give you a single data point to compare.
Winter ground water here in Florida was 68*F.
Tap full blast, chugger pump wide open too.
It took 20 minutes to pump 16 gallons of wort into the fermenter.
Wort was at 84*F when the transfer was done.
I managed to use about 40 gallons of water.

My chiller has a smaller wort ID (10mm) and is longer ( 31’).
I’d say your in a better position than I with your ground water temp.
Compare my flow rates to yours.
Adjust accordingly and see what you get.
 

WESBREW

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The cooling water flow rate must have a lot to do with this, at the rate mine flows out of the hose, it never gets as hot as you described. But then whats really important is how cold the wort is. So as long as that's effective, I don't concern myself with the cooling water change.
It should be a concern because that is the heat being removed from your wort. If the cooling water doesn’t come out burning hot, you’re not doing something right or the hoses aren’t hooked up right. Maybe you have directions correct but have cool and wort on the wrong lines ?
Be sure you are restricting the wort flow on the outlet side, not the inlet
 

BarryBrews

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For reference my old plate chiller (Therminator) worked great at running wort into the fermentor at pitching temperature, but during warmer water times of the year the tap water was first passed through a 3/4 inch copper coil immersed in a bucket of ice water prior to the plate chiller. BTW a plate chiller is over twice as effective as a tubular CFC.

When I upgraded my system and started using a wort pump I would recirculate the wort back to the kettle and cool the whole batch to pitching temperature. This was a big fat failure! The hops cleanup with the plate chiller was insane. Especially with high hop beers like NEIPA's and performing whirlpool hop additions.

So I bought a Kegco CFC which is like yours OP. Cleanup is a non-issue now. Additionally, cooling is handled differently now. The wort is cooled to about 80F by recirculating back into the kettle with just tap water and then allowed to settle overnight for wort clarity purposes. Then in the morning using either a submersible pump in a bucket of ice water or directly using hot water (for kveik) through the CFC, the wort flow is adjusted to a rate that gives the correct pitching temperature into the fermentor. Extra work, but allows the perfect temperature to pitch right away and the wort is crystal clear from settling overnight.

Bottom line, you would be much better off temperature wise with a plate chiller for direct fermentor filling, but then would have a potential cleanup nightmare if you recirculated. I suggest adding a wort pump (great idea no matter what) to recirculate your wort from CFC to kettle, then use a submersible pump in an ice bath to chill the rest of the way after allowing time to settle the wort. Amazon sells a great submersible pump for about $50, which is also fantastic for Clean In Place (CIP) setups, kegs, fermentors and brew cart plumbing. Recommend the Superior Pump 91250 1/4 HP Thermoplastic Utility Pump, which also handles PBW fine.

BTW, I gravity feed through the RIMS to elevate the temperature for the Kveik beers, hot water would be wasteful.

RIMS-Pump_system.jpg
 

BarryBrews

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Be sure you are restricting the wort flow on the outlet side, not the inlet
This statement made me think.....the outside / the inside.....is it possible with the OP CFC that the wort is being feed into the outside water jacket instead of the inner tube? No way, that would be too funny.
 

Brewski_59

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It should be a concern because that is the heat being removed from your wort. If the cooling water doesn’t come out burning hot, you’re not doing something right or the hoses aren’t hooked up right. Maybe you have directions correct but have cool and wort on the wrong lines ?
Be sure you are restricting the wort flow on the outlet side, not the inlet
Actually the telling point is the actual temperature of the wort as it exits. I don't care how hot the cooling water is at the outlet. Sure if I slow it down it will get hotter, but I have no valve on my water pump outlet. The wort comes out at pitching temps or below. So that's all I care about.
 

WESBREW

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Actually the telling point is the actual temperature of the wort as it exits. I don't care how hot the cooling water is at the outlet. Sure if I slow it down it will get hotter, but I have no valve on my water pump outlet. The wort comes out at pitching temps or below. So that's all I care about.
sure, wort temp obviously, but OP is having a problem with that. cooling water from the tap should come out fairly hot or you've got super cold tap and drawing some heat out by putting the chiller in an ice bath. pulling out 130degrees in a single pass has to go somewhere. No one should be restricting the wort flow into the chiller
 
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schmurf

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This statement made me think.....the outside / the inside.....is it possible with the OP CFC that the wort is being feed into the outside water jacket instead of the inner tube? No way, that would be too funny.
No I've got that right at least! But the post you quoted made me think too.... restricting the wort on the outlet? I have the ball valve after the pump, that is before the CFC. Is that my mistake?
 

BarryBrews

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restricting the wort on the outlet? I have the ball valve after the pump, that is before the CFC. Is that my mistake?
Short answer, No, not a problem. You can slow the flow till you have your required temperature. Likewise slow your cold water flow also for water efficiency, if you can. The heat takes time to equilibrate between the two different flows.

Again, from my experience a plate chiller is almost required for high temperature to pitching temperature. I currently use a CFC for in situ kettle cooling.
 

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sure, wort temp obviously, but OP is having a problem with that. cooling water from the tap should come out fairly hot or you've got super cold tap and drawing some heat out by putting the chiller in an ice bath. pulling out 130degrees in a single pass has to go somewhere. No one should be restricting the wort flow into the chiller
As I read this your recomending slowing the cooling water to be more effective, and letting the wort go full speed that the pump will deliver? That makes no sense. The wort needs contact time to transfer the heat to the cooling water. Short of adding additional length to the tubing, the only way to provide adequate contact time is to regulate the flow rate.
 

eric19312

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Again, from my experience a plate chiller is almost required for high temperature to pitching temperature. I currently use a CFC for in situ kettle cooling.
I disagree. I use a CFC to go from high temp to pitching temp in single pass and have heard plenty of others doing the same. I have never considered switching to plate chiller due to my concerns around cleaning and sanitization issues.
 

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If you have an old immersion chiller, you could add that back to the system and put it in a pot with water and ice. That will get your water supply down to a nice much cooler temp before going into the counter flow chiller.
 

WESBREW

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As I read this your recomending slowing the cooling water to be more effective, and letting the wort go full speed that the pump will deliver? That makes no sense. The wort needs contact time to transfer the heat to the cooling water. Short of adding additional length to the tubing, the only way to provide adequate contact time is to regulate the flow rate.
[/QUOTE
thats not what i'm trying to say. The coolant water should be unrestricted. the wort has to be slowed down, as you said for more contact time. the valve to restrict it should be on the outlet end of the chiller. it might work both ways but its better on the outlet to let full wort volume flow into the chiller and slow its exit. i think there is better contact and heat removal inside the chiller.
 

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I completely agree with WESBREW, the cold water flow should be able to be unrestricted and slow down the wort, I have a CFC that I made from my old immersion chiller and food grade hose, although I do agree with the cold water flow being unrestricted I dont believe that it should flow "wide open", I found that with mine I slow the slow of the wort to about a third of my valve open, I am using three piece valves with a Mark II wort pump, I don't run the cold water wide open because the flow can be too fast and prevent the thermal transfer from wort to water just because of how fast it is flowing, all faucets are different but I would try slowing the chilling water flow little bits at a time until you can get the hot water out that your looking for, with my set-up I do 10 gallon batches and start recirculating through the chiller with no water running to sanitize for about the last 15 min, then with my recipe I kill the boil have a 10 min hop stand and then turn on the chilling water, but at that point I am coming out of my chiller at about 73 degrees and go straight into my fermenter from the kettle. Getting the flows for both just right is kind of a pain but just as long as the hoses are connected correctly youll just have to play with the flow rates.

Good Luck.....................CHEERS
 

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thats not what i'm trying to say. The coolant water should be unrestricted. the wort has to be slowed down, as you said for more contact time. the valve to restrict it should be on the outlet end of the chiller. it might work both ways but its better on the outlet to let full wort volume flow into the chiller and slow its exit. i think there is better contact and heat removal inside the chiller.
I agree if water conservation is not an issue your chiller will work better with unrestricted flow of the coolant water.

I disagree that it matters whether the valve restricting flow of the wort through the chiller is before the chiller or after the chiller. You can't possibly flow more wort into the chiller than is exiting the chiller unless you got a chiller designed by Mary Poppins or Dr Who.
 

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I struggle with post-boil cooling with fairly warm ground water here in southern AZ. I've been using a CF chiller, but 80-ish water in the summer led to very long cooling times and a lot of water used.

So, I decided to try something new/better and bought a Exchillerator Maxx. First time using it last weekend, the wort went from near boiling to 82F (with 78F garden hose water) in ONE PASS. I was astounded--grabbed my fermentor and filled it within minutes of ending the boil. I used so much less water than my previous CF or immersion chillers. Well worth the $$$s spent.
 

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@schmurf
I'm brewing this weekend and will be using the coolossus. I'll set it up after the whirlpool phase and see how the temp drops. Rate, cooling water temp etc and get some pictures see whether I can achieve the boiler to fermentor step. Will also have a look at it recirculating back into the boiler and see how the temp drops with that.
 

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"recirculating back into the boiler" Was the wort filtered leaving the boiler (brew kettle)? If so, recirculating isn't helping as you're putting filtered wort back into unfiltered wort.

If really want to do, I'd recommend putting into a different clean and sanitized kettle (in other words not back into the boiler.
 
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DuncB

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Well it's recirculating thru the cooler whilst whirlpooling, so the trub trapper is catching the cone in the middle so I suppose it's part of the "filtering".
Then when whirlpool finished and it's doing final settle the wort is normally just above pitching temp and then I disconnect the cooling circuit and clean it. Then just pump from the kettle into the fermenter, oxygenate and pitch the yeast.
 

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