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Favorite immersion wort chiller (5 gallon batches)?

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TsunamiMike

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So I’m looking at cooling my wort quicker as an ice bath takes about 2 hours with wort agitation.

First off i see two clear differences, stainless steel or copper, I get copper is a better conductor but SS seems like the best for cleaning. Thoughts?

as far as the method goes my plan is to use a submersible pump in a cooler full of frozen two liters to yield the best results.

The
 

VikeMan

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First off i see two clear differences, stainless steel or copper, I get copper is a better conductor but SS seems like the best for cleaning. Thoughts?
As you stated, copper is more efficient, but stainless is easier to clean. Also, if you want to avoid copper in your system (a LODO brewing technique), stainless would be the way to go.

as far as the method goes my plan is to use a submersible pump in a cooler full of frozen two liters to yield the best results.
Pumping ice water through in immersion chiller is a great way to either accelerate the cooling or to be able to reach temps below the temp of the ground water. I find the best way to do this is to flow ground water until the rate of change in temperature slows noticeably, then switch over to ice water. Also, I think you'll find that using actual ice water (i.e. water with smaller pieces of ice in it) is somewhat more effective than frozen water bottles.
 

mirthfuldragon

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Overthinking it. Buy a Jaded Hydra and call it a day. It will chill to within a couple of degrees of incoming water in less than 10 minutes, so unless you live in the Southern US or other place with warm tap water, it is more than sufficient. It's also built like a tank.
 

VikeMan

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Overthinking it. Buy a Jaded Hydra and call it a day. It will chill to within a couple of degrees of incoming water in less than 10 minutes, so unless you live in the Southern US or other place with warm tap water, it is more than sufficient. It's also built like a tank.
A key point you mentioned is tap water temperature. I live in PA (not the Southern US, though we are sometimes confused with Kentucky). In the late spring, the summer, and the early fall, no chiller (without ice water) would be able to get my worts down to lager pitching temps, or sometimes even low-ish ale pitching temps.

OTOH, in the dead of winter I have to be careful not to overshoot my target temps, even without ice.

Where are you, and does your Jaded Hydra get you down to lager pitching temps year round?
 

micraftbeer

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I did a comparison of different wort chilling equipment types a couple years back (link below). One thing I found while doing that, was reading time info from a company's website, or someone's post on HBT needs to be taken with a footnote that says "Your results may vary". The effect of cooling water temp mentioned above, the flow rate of cooling water, and the amount of wort movement/agitation, all vary, and all affect time to get wort to your desired temperature.

So I got a bunch of gear of different types and then did some experiments to try to keep as many factors the same as possible, but you can see in my data that cooling water flow rate is nearly impossible to keep the same. "Two turns on my faucet tap" doesn't give the same flow rate. The flow rate will be governed by the restriction of the chiller (smaller channels, longer length of cooling coils, tighter bends of cooling coils, all decrease flow rate). Since I couldn't control that, I just captured it in my data.

Amongst the methods, there are various other considerations as well. So depending on your particular situation, some might rule themselves out. For example, counterflow and plate chillers are for sure faster than immersion- but you need a pump and they require more effort to clean after. Immersion chillers don't require a pump and are super easy to clean- but they take longer, and I personally find the bobbing up & down of them during cooling to be unbearable annoying.

 

ravhawk2000

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I agree along the lines of mirthfuldragon, I think you're thinking it too much. The longer you have your wort off boil and not in a sealed fermenter, the more likely you are going to get airborne bacteria into your final product that can cause of number of problems and off flavors. 2 hrs is just way too long to keep that off boil and not in a fermenter. Using a simple immersion chiller should drop you to proper temps within about 15 -20 minutes. I usually stir it while I chill it to increase the surface contact with the chiller. The ideal option is to have it go through a counter flow chiller with a pump and into the fermenter. However, that is obviously a larger cost to just get started.
 

Teufelhunde

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So I’m looking at cooling my wort quicker as an ice bath takes about 2 hours with wort agitation.
How big are your batches? I do five gallon extract partial boil, and 20 minutes in my sink in an ice water bath and its ready to pitch........are you using ice only? or putting in water to make it an ice water bath?
 

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There are so many different types and ways to chill so I will just say how I do it. Speed is my main concern, thats my thing. I chill 11 g of wort in under 10 minutes or whatever it is by shaking the wort chiller up and down as fast as I can. Others buy something like the hydra which requires less physical effort and chills at a similar speed. I would buy one but my shake job with the 40 dollar chiller works.
 
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TsunamiMike

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@Teufelhunde I am doing 5 gallon batches, and was doing an "ice water batch" not ice only.

I ended up biting on a JockeyBox SS Immersion Wort Chiller, $44 bucks and took my brew from 220 degrees to 70 in 15 minutes...
 

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I realize I’m riding the coattails of the OP, so first I’ll do my part to help answer THEIR question and then ask my own. I think a copper immersion chiller is the way to go, as long as you’re stirring. Stirring helps the coils get covered in the hot liquid, to more rapidly cool the wort. Cleaning an immersion is much easier than cleaning a counter-flow or a plate chiller. Why copper? Copper is a beneficial nutrient for yeast growth, so I find that makes it slightly better than steel. I have read that most people just give their copper chiller a rinse after use, and put it in the wort for the last 10-15 minutes of boil to sanitize it. Personally, after using I place mine in a bucket of StarSan. The StarSan will have been used for other things in my brew day, and probably passed its hour of usefulness, but it still gives the copper a good soak. Then I rinse in the sink later that day (or the next, shhhhhh) with hot water. The next brew, I just put it in for the last 15 minutes of boil.

Now, my own problems.... for anyone who feels like giving advice haha. I’ve been having trouble with my last few batches: AG, 5 gallons. Cooling to below 80 has been taking 45 mins to an hour. John Palmer would b-slap me!

Equipment:
Brewer’s Edge Mash and Boil
Blichmann Riptide Pump, circulating while cooling
25’ (3/8”) copper immersion chiller, stirring
12.5’ (3/8”) copper pre-chiller, in cooler with ice water

Of course my Mash and Boil’s heat is turned off after boiling, but I get that since the heating element is still right there under the beer, it’ll add some time to cooling. I have a water hose hooked up to the pre-chiller. The output vinyl tubing of the pre-chiller has a male quick disconnect (304 steel) attached via 1/2” barb, and it’s connected to the vinyl tubing of my immersion chiller with a female QD. I have a long “tail” of tubing connected to the immersion chiller output, also with QD’s, and the tail goes to my yard outside the garage. I can water my wife’s somewhat-pretty flowers with the runoff.

Now, the problem: Ft Worth summer.
Brewing in the garage, my water temp is NOT helping cool down my wort. The 25’ chiller gets my wort from boiling to 100 in less than 10 mins, but even with the iced pre-chiller it gets stuck at 85-90 degrees for over half an hour! I’m sitting there stirring and praying and cursing, just waiting for John Palmer’s big ol’ meaty hand to slap my teeth outta my mouth and into the dang wort. How’s that for contamination?

I once thought about getting a 50’ immersion chiller with 1/2” diameter, but the measurements tell me that the top coils will stick out of my wort. Therefore, (1) they wouldn’t get sanitized at the end of the boil and (2) they would be wasted while I’m chilling. I’m thinking I should upgrade to a 50’ (3/8”) wort chiller, and put my 25’ in the ice water... OR, should I hail Hydra? That Hydra looks wicked, and I’m sure it does an excellent job!

Cheers,
Jackson
 

VikeMan

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Now, the problem: Ft Worth summer.
Brewing in the garage, my water temp is NOT helping cool down my wort. The 25’ chiller gets my wort from boiling to 100 in less than 10 mins, but even with the iced pre-chiller it gets stuck at 85-90 degrees for over half an hour! I’m sitting there stirring and praying and cursing, just waiting for John Palmer’s big ol’ meaty hand to slap my teeth outta my mouth and into the dang wort. How’s that for contamination?

I once thought about getting a 50’ immersion chiller with 1/2” diameter, but the measurements tell me that the top coils will stick out of my wort. Therefore, (1) they wouldn’t get sanitized at the end of the boil and (2) they would be wasted while I’m chilling. I’m thinking I should upgrade to a 50’ (3/8”) wort chiller, and put my 25’ in the ice water... OR, should I hail Hydra? That Hydra looks wicked, and I’m sure it does an excellent job!
No chiller, not even the hydra, can change the laws of physics. If your groundwater is warmer than your target temperature, you won't get there without additional chilling. That can come from a pre-chiller or from pumping ice water. The latter is a lot faster.
 

Razorback_Jack

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No chiller, not even the hydra, can change the laws of physics. If your groundwater is warmer than your target temperature, you won't get there without additional chilling. That can come from a pre-chiller or from pumping ice water. The latter is a lot faster.
I will use a pre-chiller, no matter what I end up doing. My thought is with the 25’ in ice water, the water going into my actual wort chiller will be cool enough to make some difference.

So, right now I’ve got 12.5’ chiller in ice water, connected to 25’ chiller in wort. It’s not getting it done fast enough. With 25’ of coil in the ice water, maybe a second 25’ chiller in the wort would do it. A 50’ might do it faster.
 

InspectorJon

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The StarSan will have been used for other things in my brew day, and probably passed its hour of usefulness, but it still gives the copper a good soak.
This is not quite on subject but I don’t think time has anything to do with StarSan’s useful life expectancy. As far as I understand it’s efficacy is based on pH which doesn’t change simply due to time. If there is some documentation saying this is wrong I would like to know. I keep mine around for months and it seems to be working fine. I dump it if it gets dirty or has more than a tiny amount of particles in it.
 

VikeMan

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So, right now I’ve got 12.5’ chiller in ice water, connected to 25’ chiller in wort. It’s not getting it done fast enough. With 25’ of coil in the ice water, maybe a second 25’ chiller in the wort would do it. A 50’ might do it faster.
Either should be an improvement. But I can't stress enough how much faster ice water pumped through a single immersion chiller using a cheap pond pump is than using pre-chillers. Personally, I would add a pump before I would buy yet another chiller. It's cheaper, too.
 

Razorback_Jack

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This is not quite on subject but I don’t think time has anything to do with StarSan’s useful life expectancy. As far as I understand it’s efficacy is based on pH which doesn’t change simply due to time. If there is some documentation saying this is wrong I would like to know. I keep mine around for months and it seems to be working fine. I dump it if it gets dirty or has more than a tiny amount of particles in it.
I thought this too, until I heard someone say differently. I reached out to Five Star about it and they responded:

“Jackson,
Thank you for reaching out to Five Star!

When using the starsan the starsan needs to be used right away once its diluted after an hour the solution will need to be disposed of.

We do not recommend leaving the parts in the solution to soak longer then 5 minutes.

If it is two weeks before you use them again you will need to sanitize them right before you go to use the equipment.

Thanks,
Courtney Fredrich

Customer Service Representative
Five Star Chemicals & Supply, Inc.
Office: 303-287-0186
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Of course, they could be just wanting me to buy more product. However, that’s not the attitude I get from them in other questions they’ve answered.
 

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Jtvann

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Your question was about the best immersion chiller. That answer is hands down a jaded hydra. I hear they may be making a stainless version now. Your choice, either way, you cant go wrong. Copper is faster, stainless is easier to clean.

I use copper, and dont find it hard to clean at all. Take the time to look up jadeds whirlybird accessory. They will mount it for you if bought at the same time. Pump from brew kettle through the whirlybird and you dont have to stir. It works amazingly well.

You cant get cooler than your ground temp water without aid of something else. Whether that be ice water as a prechiller, or pumping ice water. Either option, and you can argue however you want, will work wonders with a jaded hydra in a 5 gallon batch.
 

balrog

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I will use a pre-chiller, no matter what I end up doing. My thought is with the 25’ in ice water, the water going into my actual wort chiller will be cool enough to make some difference.

So, right now I’ve got 12.5’ chiller in ice water, connected to 25’ chiller in wort. It’s not getting it done fast enough. With 25’ of coil in the ice water, maybe a second 25’ chiller in the wort would do it. A 50’ might do it faster.
I prefer not to use pre chiller coil. It is one more heat transfer that saps efficiency.
Run ground water until you hit 100.
Now get a pond pump, drop in a cooler w ice, and pump THAT through the chiller in the wort.
As ever, agitation in the wort is paramount. Like really Really REALLY important.
 

AJinJacksonville

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I live in NE FL, where the typical tap temperature is about 104 degrees (okay, not that warm, but feels like it). I bought some copper tubing, a pipe bending coil, and used a paint can to fashion it to the height of my kettle. Is it the most efficient? No. Is it a cheaper option? A bit. I made it, I love it, it's easy to clean and after four or five beers I lose track of time and haven't had a ruined beer because it took over 25 minutes to drop to pitching temp.

All that said, I personally chose to invest what I could spend on a CFC or Hydra on some other upgrade to my process (although I can't recall what I upgraded...but I did upgrade something!). I'm pretty conscious about not wasting water, so I don't add ice and salvage the runoff water to use in the yard. Sure it takes longer, but I feel good after it's ready for the yeast.
 

FloppyKnockers

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Cleaning an immersion is much easier than cleaning a counter-flow or a plate chiller.
I thought the same thing until I bought a SS counterflow and actually cleaned it. I hated cleaning the immersion chiller. After soaking it for a day (or more) in OxyClean I had to get all up in the coils with a sponge. No matter how well I think I did, there was more gunk somewhere. With the counterflow, I just put the cleaner in the kettle and turn the pump on and let it do its thing. Come back later to rinse and call it a day.

As far as chilling sub-100°, I would entertain the 'no chill' method after it bottoms out and pitch the next day. This might limit your menu to only certain styles, but it's cheaper than what a glycol chiller would cost ya.
 

VikeMan

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Counterflow and Plate chillers do have an "advantage" in that you can't see the gunk that doesn't come off. Like wearing peril sensitive sunglasses.
 

FloppyKnockers

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That's why I would never get a copper counterflow. OxyClean will only loosen the gunk to make it easier to wipe off. Nothing seems to stick to SS. I ran a brush through the inside of my coil last time I cleaned it to see if there was any gunk. Bristles can out as clean as they went in.
 

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I live in NC and last tuesday (my brew day) the ambient temp was 97 and heat index was 108. Ground water temps was in mid-high 80s. So this was a good test of my chilling processes.
So I have the Cuss Brewing All in one immersion chiller using it in a 10.5g anvil foundry and I have a spin cycle overboard whirlpool arm from brew hardware.com to use for recirculating/agitation when chilling. I also have a $40 submersible pump to use after the initial chilling with tap water and had two 5gallon buckets 3/4 full of ice and added the tap water to it resulting in two 34 degrees slush buckets.

From a boil:
1) Started chilling into the immersion chiller with the tap water hose: took 10 minutes to get wort from boiling to ~103 degrees as measured on the anvil foundry.
2) unhooked tap water hose from inlet of chiller and hooked up the submersible pump to the chiller inlet. It pushes water fast through the chiller! Went through two buckets of the ice slush and when the pump was in the second bucket I refilled with tap water and remaining ice and repeated two more buckets. Sounds like a lot but the pump whipped through 4 ice buckets in 6 minutes and got the wort from 103 to 68!

So without any "prechiller" and using the ice buckets with submersible pump to get the wort below ground temps, it took me ~17 minutes to get the wort from boiling to 68 degrees here in the heat of the summer in north carolina. Thats a winner for me!
 

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So now after everyone’s advice, I’m going to get a pond pump and recirculate ice water after dropping below 100. Looking at pumps on Amazon... is the Vivosun 2600 GPH pump overkill? The immersion chiller is 1/2” diameter, and 50’ long. Maybe the Vivosun 800 GPH is enough, or the Simple Deluxe 1056 GPH? I really don’t know which speed/power would best work. There’s about 4-5 feet of lift to the top of my wort chiller. Would 2600 GPH be so much that I risk damaging the hoses, or the copper chiller? Thanks, once again, for the advice.
Jackson
 

VikeMan

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So now after everyone’s advice, I’m going to get a pond pump and recirculate ice water after dropping below 100. Looking at pumps on Amazon... is the Vivosun 2600 GPH pump overkill? The immersion chiller is 1/2” diameter, and 50’ long. Maybe the Vivosun 800 GPH is enough, or the Simple Deluxe 1056 GPH? I really don’t know which speed/power would best work. There’s about 4-5 feet of lift to the top of my wort chiller. Would 2600 GPH be so much that I risk damaging the hoses, or the copper chiller?
Here's the one I have been using for the last 8 years or so. I only have about 2 feet to lift to my chiller, which is 50 ft, with a 6 ft hose on each end. I think it has been discontinued, but you can see the specs on the linked page...

ETA: Faster is better than slower, and I don't think a pond pump rated at 2600 GPH would damage any immersion chiller setup.
 
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Mark3885

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I’m in wny state with a 158’ well, my water is at 52F into my immersion cooler , cooling 12 gals down to 75F takes 15 min.
 

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I’m in wny state with a 158’ well, my water is at 52F into my immersion cooler , cooling 12 gals down to 75F takes 15 min.
wow thats damn nice! Those water temps are my winter water temps lol.
 
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