Wort chiller advice

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imrook

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I recently moved up from a 12qt to a 40qt stock pot for my brew kettle. The 12qt fit in my sink and allowed me to use an ice bath to chill the wort. The 40qt is too big. I'm trying to decide between an immersion chiller and a plate chiller. I like the idea of the plate chiller a little more, but am concerned about clogging issues and cooling ability. I would definitely use a hop bag if I go with a plate chiller, but I also want to begin harvesting my yeast so it would be good to get the break material out as well. If I go with the IC, I can easily avoid the crud while siphoning. Something else I'm curious about is the type of tubing folks use for the hot side of the plate chiller. I was thinking an SS dishwasher supply line with quick disconnects would make for easy hookup and less burnt fingers :) It's also worth noting that my kettle doesn't have a spigot, so the plate chiller will require adding a weldless bulkhead, though I have no problem with that and will do it sooner or later anyhow.

So what should I do -- IC or plate chiller?
 

IffyG

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If you have the money for a pump and a plate chiller, that's the way to go. I have an immersion chiller (bought it for 40 bucks) and a prechiller (made it cheaply) and while it get's the job done its slow.

I've brewed with another member on the forum (1234) and his plate chiller/march pump combo drops his wort temp from boiling to 80ish in a heartbeat. Eventually, I'll be upgrading to something similar.
 

rcrabb22

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Either method is greatly affected by the ground water temperature. I live in the Chicago area and have city water. In the winter my tap water will be as cold as 48F but now in the summer my tap water is 73F. Any chiller will be affected by the temperature of the water used for the cooling engine.

Personally, I have used a counter flow and an IC chiller and prefer the IC. I have never used a plate chiller and wouldn't consider it since you need some sort of filter mechanism to ensure it doesn't clog with hop or trub debris.

I have had the best results with a whirlpool IC combo chiller. I rarely brew in the summer but yesterday worked out weather-wise and I did an extract beer. I was able to chill 11 gal to 76F in 40 min with my whirlpool/IC, then finish the job in my water bath fermentation tub. I was able to pitch my yeast in 66F wort 3 hours after flame out.
 

RugenBrau

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I'm on well water and use an immersion chiller and cool down my wort in no time at all. Since you are in Ann Arbor it is safe to assume that you are not on a well. As rcrabb22 stated it will depend on your water temp. If I was you I would go with the IC.

Before I made my IC I would use 2 soda bottles with frozen h20 (I sanitized the hell out of them) and they worked fine. Low tech but it worked.
 

mredge73

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Plate Chiller!
I have both, now I use the IC in a bucket of ice water to pre-chill my 85F ground water.
I can get a 5 gal batch to pitch temp in 5-7 minutes with my pump, closer to 10 minutes gravity fed. With the IC it took over 30 minutes and I had to stir it constantly. Use the plate chiller with hi temp silicone hoses, they are cheap at $2.50 per foot, if you take care of them they will last forever.

Note:
You will need a bulkhead valve on your stock pot. You can either wirlpool and use a side pickup, use a screen or false bottom to filter out the hops, or keep your hops in a bag. This will prevent clogging. Put a valve and temperature gauge at the output of the plate chiller if gravity feeding, you can regulate you flow and temp easy that way. After use, backfeed the chiller with water and/or soak in cleaning solution. Much easier than some people make them out to be.
 

Patirck

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I have a cheapy 25 ft. IC and it alone takes about 45 min to chill to 80ish. I recently made a whirlpool thingy out of some copper pipe and got a chugger pump - now it takes about 10 - 15 minutes with tap water in the mid 60s. I also have a super nice cone of crud that doesn't go in the fermenter.
 

BigTerp

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Like someone else said, the ground water temp. will greatly affect your cooling abilities. I have a well with REALLY cold water. I brewed last Saturday in about 96 degree temperatures. Using 25' of 1/2' copper IC and stirring my wort during cooling, I was <70 in 12 minutes.
 
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imrook

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Thanks everyone for the feedback. I have decided to build my own IC from copper tubing following the design here: https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/diy-interwoven-rib-cage-immersion-chiller-106415/. With the money I saved over the plate chiller (or buying a premade IC for that matter) I had enough funds over to get a Crank and Stein mill. I've got some plywood and screws laying around and should be able to make my own base and hopper for free. I got my inspiration for this here: http://www.slobrewer.com/howto/building-a-compact-crankandstein-mill-base-and-hopper/ This means I only need a cooler bulkhead and SS mesh and I'm ready to go all grain for real. :ban:
 

rcrabb22

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Thanks everyone for the feedback. I have decided to build my own IC from copper tubing following the design here: https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/diy-interwoven-rib-cage-immersion-chiller-106415/. With the money I saved over the plate chiller (or buying a premade IC for that matter) I had enough funds over to get a Crank and Stein mill. I've got some plywood and screws laying around and should be able to make my own base and hopper for free. I got my inspiration for this here: http://www.slobrewer.com/howto/building-a-compact-crankandstein-mill-base-and-hopper/ This means I only need a cooler bulkhead and SS mesh and I'm ready to go all grain for real. :ban:
IC is a good choice. I suggest you look into a whirlpool setup using a pump at some point in the future. I use one and do not have to spend time stirring or tending my cooling process.

I do need to circulate boiling wort through my pump, hoses and whirlpool arm during the last 15 minutes of the boil but I do not find that to be a big deal.

At flame out, I start the cooling water to the chiller and I can walk away and do other things like sanitize my 2 carboys or better bottles (I do 10 gal batches). The whirlpool circulation really helps reduce the cooling time and I do not need to manually circulate the wort.

In the winter with cold tap water I actually lost track of things and under-cooled my wort to 54F. Wish I had been doing a lager that day :)
 

HomebrewMTB

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I recently had the same issue getting a larger pot for full boils and my little IC that I just made a few months ago not cutting it anymore. There is a steal of a deal on 1/2" x 25' copper at Sears for like $16 each (link below). I bought two along with a few other bits from the hardware store for a 50' total IC. This wasn't much more than the 3/8" x 20' coil from HD/Lowes. I used T connectors at the top and bottom to make a parallel dual coil. It works great even on the ~6 gallons of hot wort.

http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_...25&sLevel=0&prop17=ut08025&PID=3925582&aff=cj
 
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imrook

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IC is a good choice. I suggest you look into a whirlpool setup using a pump at some point in the future. I use one and do not have to spend time stirring or tending my cooling process.
I have read about the whirlpool chillers, but as they require a food grade pump, it's not in the budget for now. When I am able to get the pump, I'll just re-shape the chiller into the standard IC shape and add the extra line for the wort feed.
 
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imrook

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I recently had the same issue getting a larger pot for full boils and my little IC that I just made a few months ago not cutting it anymore. There is a steal of a deal on 1/2" x 25' copper at Sears for like $16 each (link below). I bought two along with a few other bits from the hardware store for a 50' total IC. This wasn't much more than the 3/8" x 20' coil from HD/Lowes. I used T connectors at the top and bottom to make a parallel dual coil. It works great even on the ~6 gallons of hot wort.

http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_...25&sLevel=0&prop17=ut08025&PID=3925582&aff=cj
Thanks for the link HomebrewMTB! I actually already ordered 25' of 1/2", but at that price, I might as well do a 50'.
 

Golddiggie

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I started off using immersion chillers, making my own. After going from a 25' to a 50' and then trying to make a better 50' (failed) I decided to purchase a chiller. After looking at everything I could, I went with the ChillHog 4000, and RebelSmart from Rebel Brewer. I'm VERY glad that I did. I can chill about 6 gallons in about half the time of my best IC (and best time there) with the lid on the kettle. I now have a pump and look forward to seeing how chilling goes with that in the mix. I highly suspect it will be faster. Mostly due to depending on gravity feeding previously.

One of the benefits of a plate chiller is that it will chill the wort evenly (as it leaves the kettle). You do need a ball valve in the kettle (what makes it a kettle, not a pot) and high temp (silicon) tubing to feed it. Sanitizing it just as easy as an IC (if you have a pump) since you can run boiling wort through it (back into the kettle) for a few minutes before you turn on the chill water.

Had I known how a plate chiller would work, I never would have gone for the IC's.
 
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