Whirlpool while chilling?

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Sep 17, 2015
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/Hi all,
I normally use a hop spider but have been reading how it can affect flavour, and it would be nice to be able to skip that step if possible.

My normal setup:
Electric 16 gal kettle (doing 5 gallon batches)
homemade counterflow chiller (1/4"or 3/8" copper, 25 feet)
stainless pump.

A typical brew day for me has me start recirculating boiling wort through the counterflow chiller (with the counterflows cooling loop pump not running) for the last 30 minutes of the boil. This sterilizes the pump and counterflow chiller. It returns to the kettle and discharged from a hose into the hop spider. When I reach end of boil, I just shut off the heat, and turn on the cooling loop pump, with the wort still recirculating back into the kettle.
Depending on the time of year, this chills down to pitching temp within around 20-30 minutes (I have a 55 gallon drum of water as a cooling reservoir). I've never done any sort of whirlpooling, I use irish moss to try and help clarity, and the hop spider to keep most of the hops bits contained. I rely on cold crashing my fermzilla in a fridge to clarify.

However a video I watched today suggested the pump should be able to handle hops without clogging. He was using a plate chiller, so had to bypass that chiller until after whirlpool or it would clog.
So now I'm thinking, can I just get a whirlpool arm and add that to the return from my counterflow, and have it in place all during the boil? Then once boil ends, cooling begins, the whirlpool is going already. Once pitch temp is reached, I can turn off the pump to let the whirlpool finish up, then drain via the side valve?

Does that sound like it will work? My main concern would be the counterflow clogging, but if the hops are making it through the 1/2" hoses and pump, is the 1/4 (or 3/8 I don't remember what I used) pipe going to likely be a problem?
Also I imagine whole hops will be more likely to cause an issue. I grow some varieties so some batches will use those. Otherwise I'm using pellets.

Thanks in advance


Senior Member
HBT Supporter
Mar 6, 2011
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You can do it like that, I have. However you need a lot of pump output to overcome the resistance of the counterflow. My March pump was not enough to get a proper whirlpool going.


Supporting Member
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Jan 3, 2020
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I use a hop spider on my electrical keggle, have a whirlpool port, and use a plate chiller.

I think it is unnecessary to sterilize for 30 minutes. I think contact is near sufficient at boiling temperatures. I connect my plate chiller at 15 minutes or under. I just upgraded to a Riptide but it was fine to whirlpool through the port with the hop spider using a March 809 with or without having the plate chiller inline. There's some thoughts that potentially there's a reduction in hop intensity with the spider, but you can adjust for that when fine tuning your recipes.

Now as far as your CFC, perhaps there's more resistance vs a PC. What I would say there is to set up a quick disconnect if the flow impedance is too much in your opinion. So sterilize the CFC in the last few minutes, drop to whirlpool temperature, switch the line back to the return port, and whirlpool. This would keep the bits out of your CFC. You'll likely have QDs anyway so just make them compatible with different configurations of hose lays.

Options exist to replace the hop spider with screens over the drain port pickup tube. Small bazooka style/size I don't think are big enough but there are larger pillow shaped screens that I've seen posted. They are somewhat pricey as compared to a hop spider.

I think the main issue though is that you are thinking you need to sterilize for too long. I didn't even used to run the hot wort through but I clean in place after ever brew and immediately sanitize the plate chiller. Plate chillers like to hold little bits though so I feel better running the hot wort through for a few minutes. I'd say your CFC is much less inclined to hold onto small bits.


Supporting Member
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Jun 23, 2011
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You can make a "whirlpool arm" out of copper fittings and pipe. You just get a few elbows and make it so the end in the kettle has an elbow facing correct for the whirlpool direction, You make a big "U" where the it hangs on the kettle. We use QDs and just have silicone tubing between the wort Output of the cfc and the "in" of the Arm.

I would place a trub filter before any plate chiller or pump. We had a pump clog one time with hops. It was a real issue to fix.

We have never had an issue with a pump not giving sufficient flow thru a CFC. We have a modified herms system where we pump the mash thru the inner tube of a Chillzilla and Hot water in the outer tube.

We use a Plate Chiller for cooling and always whirlpool thru the Plate chiller with just tap water for cooling. Once the Wort gets down to 120F with tap water, we whirlpool to Pitch temp with chilled water. We shut the Whirlpool, stop cooling water, and let settle. After the settle peroid, we turn on cooling water and start transfer to the fermenter.
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