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General Category => Equipment and Software => Topic started by: Teetsy on January 10, 2014, 12:15:24 PM

Title: Plate Chiller and Hops
Post by: Teetsy on January 10, 2014, 12:15:24 PM
I have been brewing for a couple years now and I finally stepped my game up and bought a plate chiller. My question is how do you guys that have one filter your hops out to go through the chiller. I do use the pellet hops any information you guys can give me would be greatly appreciated.
Title: Re: Plate Chiller and Hops
Post by: majorvices on January 10, 2014, 01:20:38 PM
Welcome to the forum!

The simple answer (and this will create some debate, to be sure) is that IME, having used a IC, CFC and plate chiller all at different times of the game nothing really beats an IC. First off, it can't be easier to clean and sanitize. You can inspect visually to see if it is clean, or to see if any patina needs removed with an acid (vinegar works) soak. And you plop it in your BK last 20 minutes to sanitize. If you have a pump you can recirc your wort back into itself to create a whirlpool like the pros do and chill rapidly.

Plate chillers have a tendency to clog. You have to boil them or bake them in your over to really be sure they are sanitary - and gosh they are expensive. And IMO an inferior option.

That said, you could bag your hops (and suffer utilization losses) or construct a diverter plate in front of your pick up to minimize clogging.
Title: Re: Plate Chiller and Hops
Post by: jeffy on January 10, 2014, 01:22:10 PM
I have been brewing for a couple years now and I finally stepped my game up and bought a plate chiller. My question is how do you guys that have one filter your hops out to go through the chiller. I do use the pellet hops any information you guys can give me would be greatly appreciated.

I have been having issues with this as well.  Last brew I used a hop spider and although I don't think I get the same utilization as "free" hops, at least the chiller didn't clog.
I am going to make a grant.  The hot wort gets drained through a colander into the grant and then pumped from the bottom through the chiller and back to the kettle.
Title: Re: Plate Chiller and Hops
Post by: HoosierBrew on January 10, 2014, 01:23:36 PM
+1 to the IC.
Title: Re: Plate Chiller and Hops
Post by: cornershot on January 10, 2014, 01:32:56 PM
I have been brewing for a couple years now and I finally stepped my game up and bought a plate chiller. My question is how do you guys that have one filter your hops out to go through the chiller. I do use the pellet hops any information you guys can give me would be greatly appreciated.
What size batches do you brew? 10 gallons or less and I'd say keep it simple and stick with the IC.

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Title: Re: Plate Chiller and Hops
Post by: hopfenundmalz on January 10, 2014, 01:47:50 PM
I have been brewing for a couple years now and I finally stepped my game up and bought a plate chiller. My question is how do you guys that have one filter your hops out to go through the chiller. I do use the pellet hops any information you guys can give me would be greatly appreciated.

I have been having issues with this as well.  Last brew I used a hop spider and although I don't think I get the same utilization as "free" hops, at least the chiller didn't clog.
I am going to make a grant.  The hot wort gets drained through a colander into the grant and then pumped from the bottom through the chiller and back to the kettle.

I now have a grant. The main use is to break the vacuum that can be on the false bottom when pumping. I also will try having the grant on a burner, so that I can heat when transferring to the kettle and get to the boil faster. I also will use it to bump temperatures in a step mash.


You just gave me a boil/post boil application, Jeff.
Title: Re: Plate Chiller and Hops
Post by: redzim on January 10, 2014, 01:58:05 PM
First off, it can't be easier to clean and sanitize. You can inspect visually to see if it is clean, or to see if any patina needs removed with an acid (vinegar works) soak.

I use 50' of 1/2" ID copper as an IC; I can get 11 gallons from boiling to 60F in about 7 minutes right now (my groundwater temp is 46F here in the Hudson Valley). [Takes longer in the summer, of course]

Anyway I love the IC for the reasons Major mentioned but I do have trouble with cleaning it. After 6-8 batches the copper does pick up a brownish patina from all the boiling, and so far I have been soaking it in a PBW solution for a few hours, which removes most of that BUT then the PBW leaves a chalky residue which I have found very difficult to remove, I basically have to manually scrub the entire coil with an abrasive green 3M scratchy pad thing. PITA of course.  Very interested if vinegar is going to do a better job. Would you soak in pure 5% vinegar? Or dilute? And hot, or cold? Any info appreciated.

-red
Title: Re: Plate Chiller and Hops
Post by: BP79 on January 10, 2014, 02:46:33 PM
I'm in the same boat as you - I picked up a Therminator for Christmas after using an IC for about 3 years/15 brews.  Given I don't plan on going back to an IC any time soon since I just dropped a lot of coin, I ended up using hops bags from Northern Brewer for my first brew and had no issues with clogging whatsoever.  In fact, I overchilled my wort to about 57 degrees in 5 minutes.  You can also wrap a small screen/filter around the valve inside the kettle to catch any additional floaters. 

 
Title: Re: Plate Chiller and Hops
Post by: hopfenundmalz on January 10, 2014, 03:15:58 PM
First off, it can't be easier to clean and sanitize. You can inspect visually to see if it is clean, or to see if any patina needs removed with an acid (vinegar works) soak.

I use 50' of 1/2" ID copper as an IC; I can get 11 gallons from boiling to 60F in about 7 minutes right now (my groundwater temp is 46F here in the Hudson Valley). [Takes longer in the summer, of course]

Anyway I love the IC for the reasons Major mentioned but I do have trouble with cleaning it. After 6-8 batches the copper does pick up a brownish patina from all the boiling, and so far I have been soaking it in a PBW solution for a few hours, which removes most of that BUT then the PBW leaves a chalky residue which I have found very difficult to remove, I basically have to manually scrub the entire coil with an abrasive green 3M scratchy pad thing. PITA of course.  Very interested if vinegar is going to do a better job. Would you soak in pure 5% vinegar? Or dilute? And hot, or cold? Any info appreciated.

-red
Red, PBW will remove organics, use acids such as vinegar or a Star San solution to remove the dark patina and make it shiny new.
Title: Re: Plate Chiller and Hops
Post by: Pinski on January 10, 2014, 03:27:11 PM
Like most tools I think each type of common chiller has it's place and folks are going to have their own preferences and application of technique.
IC- elegant simplicity and ease of use. I mostly use mine to pre-chill my tap water that runs through my counterflow. Super easy to clean and sanitize.
Counterflow coil- This is my workhorse year-round as it is effective and not prone to clogging. Relatively easy to clean with a little backflush after transfers are complete. Pellet hops i'll just toss in, whole hops i'll either bag or use a false bottom in the BK.
Plate Chiller- Most efficient use of chilling water because it has the greatest surface area for heat exchange. Also the most time consuming to clean and can clog if you don't take measures to prevent it. Mostly use mine to when I make lagers in the summer. I'll add it as a second stage after the counterflow chiller and recirculate ice water from a bucket.  Very effective but not much fun to set up and take down. Pellets and whole hops go in socks when I use the plate chiller.
Title: Re: Plate Chiller and Hops
Post by: HoosierBrew on January 10, 2014, 03:28:01 PM
+1 to vinegar for the IC coils.
Title: Re: Plate Chiller and Hops
Post by: morticaixavier on January 10, 2014, 04:15:21 PM
First off, it can't be easier to clean and sanitize. You can inspect visually to see if it is clean, or to see if any patina needs removed with an acid (vinegar works) soak.

I use 50' of 1/2" ID copper as an IC; I can get 11 gallons from boiling to 60F in about 7 minutes right now (my groundwater temp is 46F here in the Hudson Valley). [Takes longer in the summer, of course]

Anyway I love the IC for the reasons Major mentioned but I do have trouble with cleaning it. After 6-8 batches the copper does pick up a brownish patina from all the boiling, and so far I have been soaking it in a PBW solution for a few hours, which removes most of that BUT then the PBW leaves a chalky residue which I have found very difficult to remove, I basically have to manually scrub the entire coil with an abrasive green 3M scratchy pad thing. PITA of course.  Very interested if vinegar is going to do a better job. Would you soak in pure 5% vinegar? Or dilute? And hot, or cold? Any info appreciated.

-red

I don't bother for the most part. I spray off the large chunks with a hose, go at it quickly with a cotton or nylon hops bag and call it good. I figure it prevents too much leaching of copper into the wort that way. like passivation of your boil kettle
Title: Re: Plate Chiller and Hops
Post by: sparkleberry on January 10, 2014, 04:24:04 PM
yesterday i brewed at my buddy's place. he has a plate chiller. we haven't brewed in a couple months and even though he sent hot water and pbw through the system last brew day, lots of gunk came out after running more hot water. he has a heck of a time cleaning it. but, it does seem to work pretty well with his system.

i use a 50' ½" dia ic. i love it.

i mix my star san with distilled water so i have a 5 gallon bucket full for a few brew days. instead of boiling to sanitize i just leave it in the star san for 10 minutes and then drop into the boil kettle. after chilling i spray with a hose and scrub with a little sponge with soapy water. it still shines to this day.

Title: Re: Plate Chiller and Hops
Post by: Slowbrew on January 10, 2014, 04:37:04 PM
I haven't ever felt the need to go with a plate chiller so I'm help there.

I will give my 50' IC a 15 minute soak in my bucket of StarSan just before I throw out the current mix and make new.  This is maybe twice a year.  Other than that, I only rinse off the coils after each use.  The soak in StarSan does produce a less than nice flavor/aroma so I don't think I would go straight into a beer with it.

Paul
Title: Re: Plate Chiller and Hops
Post by: factory on January 10, 2014, 05:04:59 PM
I have a Blichmann Therminator plate chiller.  It works very well for me as I can cool wort down much more quickly than I could with the IC.  I put a bazooka screen in the boil kettle to keep a large majority of the gunk out of the plate chiller.  After use I immediately run PBW through the plate chiller for about 15 minutes and then back back flush with PBW for another 15.  Then I repeat the process with hot water and then run sanitizer through it.

I read somewhere recommendations for baking the plate chiller in 350F oven for an hour and then flushing and back flushing if you start to get build-up.  So far, I haven't had to do this with my set-up as it stays clean with the cleaning process that I use.
Title: Re: Plate Chiller and Hops
Post by: Teetsy on January 10, 2014, 05:12:04 PM
Wow I wasn't expecting so much help! I'm using an IC at this time but it's taking me 25 to 30 mins. plus alot of water to chill it to pitching temps. So I thought I would try a plate chiller to save time and water. I brew 5, 10, 15 gallon batches just depends on what i'm brewing. Could anyone tell me if I did use hop bags how much hop utilization would I lose? Can I compensate for hop loss? I really appreciate the input I'm getting! 
Title: Re: Plate Chiller and Hops
Post by: yso191 on January 10, 2014, 05:37:59 PM
My experience is not in line with others' apparently.  I had an IC for a while and hated it - I found it cumbersome and inefficient.

I love my plate chiller.  It is much quicker and with just a couple of flushes of clear water it is clean.  I then pump a little sanitizer through it both after a brew and before I use it the next time.  Additionally with a plate chiller one doesn't have cool beer exposed to the air, potentially gathering airborne yeast & bacteria.  I know it doesn't happen much, but I like to eliminate every avenue of potential infection.  My wort goes from ~200* to 70* in an enclosed system.

I will say however that if one is just dumping hop (or other material) in the BK even in a sock, there would be problems.  I use a stainless filter for everything that goes in the boil (http://utahbiodieselsupply.com/brewingfilters.php), so I never get any vegetal material coming through.
Title: Re: Plate Chiller and Hops
Post by: cornershot on January 10, 2014, 06:20:27 PM
Wow I wasn't expecting so much help! I'm using an IC at this time but it's taking me 25 to 30 mins. plus alot of water to chill it to pitching temps. So I thought I would try a plate chiller to save time and water. I brew 5, 10, 15 gallon batches just depends on what i'm brewing. Could anyone tell me if I did use hop bags how much hop utilization would I lose? Can I compensate for hop loss? I really appreciate the input I'm getting!
What size IC? Do you stir or otherwise agitate the wort while chilling?

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Title: Re: Plate Chiller and Hops
Post by: Teetsy on January 10, 2014, 06:40:41 PM
Big Al I use a 3/8 dia. 50' and I do stir it.
Title: Re: Plate Chiller and Hops
Post by: Teetsy on January 10, 2014, 06:44:03 PM
Steve that looks like it will do the job. A little pricey but if it keeps the hop out of the chiller it's money well spent. Thanks!
Title: Re: Plate Chiller and Hops
Post by: brewpotamus on January 10, 2014, 06:54:32 PM
I have been brewing for a couple years now and I finally stepped my game up and bought a plate chiller. My question is how do you guys that have one filter your hops out to go through the chiller. I do use the pellet hops any information you guys can give me would be greatly appreciated.

I have both, and IC and a PC. the Plate chiller is simply awesome but, to get it dialed in, I used 12' of copper tubing running through a chill bath to pre chill the water. I used this same pre chill setup with my immersiion chiller with good results. I agree with the other post about batch size, 5gal is find with an immersion shiller but big batches go great with the plate.  As far as cleaning.. it's just part of the drill. I back/front/back wash my plate chiller with Carlson cleanser, then Star San and HOT water. both before and after a batch. I also let it soak in sanitizer for a day or so after... So far, so good.
Title: Re: Plate Chiller and Hops
Post by: philm63 on January 12, 2014, 01:25:38 AM
I use a stainless filter for everything that goes in the boil (http://utahbiodieselsupply.com/brewingfilters.php), so I never get any vegetal material coming through.

Question: Do you use pellet hops, or whole leaf hops with this filter?

Like the OP; I've been researching filtering systems that would work for a "plate chiller w/pellet hops" set-up, and the one referenced in your post was a nice looking option until I learned they were designed to work with whole leaf hops and while it may work as well for pellet hops, what I read was that "if using pellet hops, some material will pass through this filter".

The Hop-Stopper, however, http://www.theelectricbrewery.com/hop-stopper (http://www.theelectricbrewery.com/hop-stopper) will work with pellet hops. When I went straight to the manufacturer (Innovative Homebrew Solutions) they said, and I quote the manufacturer: "As for performance, the Hop Stopper will work great with your plate chiller. Plate chillers are the most efficient products for chilling available to homebrewers, but, as you well know, their Achilles heel is that even the smallest piece of debris will clog them. The Hop Stopper is designed to effectively filter any debris that might clog your plate chiller, even pellet hops."

These guys did an experiment with a BUTT-LOAD of pellet hops and even when the Hop-Stopper had a couple of inches of hop-sludge on it, it still managed to allow almost all of the wort to be pulled from the kettle.

When I start using my new plate chiller; I'll likely go with the Hop Stopper so I can run straight to the fermenter instead of recirculating (with my IC) like I do now.

Title: Re: Plate Chiller and Hops
Post by: yso191 on January 12, 2014, 02:19:34 AM
I use a stainless filter for everything that goes in the boil (http://utahbiodieselsupply.com/brewingfilters.php), so I never get any vegetal material coming through.

Question: Do you use pellet hops, or whole leaf hops with this filter?

Like the OP; I've been researching filtering systems that would work for a "plate chiller w/pellet hops" set-up, and the one referenced in your post was a nice looking option until I learned they were designed to work with whole leaf hops and while it may work as well for pellet hops, what I read was that "if using pellet hops, some material will pass through this filter".

The Hop-Stopper, however, http://www.theelectricbrewery.com/hop-stopper (http://www.theelectricbrewery.com/hop-stopper) will work with pellet hops. When I went straight to the manufacturer (Innovative Homebrew Solutions) they said, and I quote the manufacturer: "As for performance, the Hop Stopper will work great with your plate chiller. Plate chillers are the most efficient products for chilling available to homebrewers, but, as you well know, their Achilles heel is that even the smallest piece of debris will clog them. The Hop Stopper is designed to effectively filter any debris that might clog your plate chiller, even pellet hops."

These guys did an experiment with a BUTT-LOAD of pellet hops and even when the Hop-Stopper had a couple of inches of hop-sludge on it, it still managed to allow almost all of the wort to be pulled from the kettle.

When I start using my new plate chiller; I'll likely go with the Hop Stopper so I can run straight to the fermenter instead of recirculating (with my IC) like I do now.

I use hop pellets.  And with my IPAs that means when the hops expand they basically fill the filter.  I have to drop the filter down to hang on the lip of the keggle opening at that point to get all the hops in the wort.  That is at a little over half a pound of hops.  I've been very impressed with the filter.  There are no discernible hop particles in the wort.
Title: Re: Plate Chiller and Hops
Post by: dkfick on January 12, 2014, 02:33:58 AM
I've been using a duda diesel plate chiller for a little over a year now and about 30 batches.  It's never clogged on me.  I do use a stainless hop spider for in my kettle.  I typically use pellet hops, but not always.  I have not had to redo any of my recipes I seem to be getting the same hop utilization as I had been with my IC.  I actually run my pump from the mash kettle through the plate chiller for the entire boil.  At the end of the brew day I run hot water through each way for about 5 mins.  Every 5 or 6 batches I'll recirc hot PBW through.. Usually don't see too much from it... but I did the first few times (probably because I wasn't rinsing it very well when I first got it).

I will still use my IC sometimes if I'm brewing indoors and don't feel like setting up the pump etc.. or I have a moment of stupidity and dump my hops in the kettle and forget to use my hop spider lol.  But really being able to chill my wort in a single pass as fast as I can pump it into the fermenter is such a relief for me.  Time savers are my favorite homebrew equipment upgrages and my plate chiller has been just that. 
Title: Re: Plate Chiller and Hops
Post by: philm63 on January 19, 2014, 07:01:27 PM
I use hop pellets.  And with my IPAs that means when the hops expand they basically fill the filter.  I have to drop the filter down to hang on the lip of the keggle opening at that point to get all the hops in the wort.  That is at a little over half a pound of hops.  I've been very impressed with the filter.  There are no discernible hop particles in the wort.

That is comforting because I really liked the design of that stainless hop-spider; looks pretty simple to clean when compared to the Hop-Stopper, and <@ dfkfick>; if you're seeing pretty much the same hop utilization with it vs. without, I'm sold!
Title: Re: Plate Chiller and Hops
Post by: dkfick on January 19, 2014, 07:14:09 PM
Yeah I have one of those big stainless ones that just hang in the middle of your kettle.  It's pretty much containing the majority of the kettle volume within it anyways.  I have the 8" version of this:
http://www.stainlessbrewing.com/Hop-Spider-with-seam-welds_p_158.html
Title: Re: Plate Chiller and Hops
Post by: Jeff M on January 19, 2014, 07:34:37 PM
Yeah I have one of those big stainless ones that just hang in the middle of your kettle.  It's pretty much containing the majority of the kettle volume within it anyways.  I have the 8" version of this:
http://www.stainlessbrewing.com/Hop-Spider-with-seam-welds_p_158.html

+1  I love Zachs Spider. works great, and i have the jumbo version and never have utilization problems that i can tell.  They are also very easy to trim if it happens to be a bit to long:)
Title: Re: Plate Chiller and Hops
Post by: yso191 on January 19, 2014, 10:24:06 PM
I use hop pellets.  And with my IPAs that means when the hops expand they basically fill the filter.  I have to drop the filter down to hang on the lip of the keggle opening at that point to get all the hops in the wort.  That is at a little over half a pound of hops.  I've been very impressed with the filter.  There are no discernible hop particles in the wort.

That is comforting because I really liked the design of that stainless hop-spider; looks pretty simple to clean when compared to the Hop-Stopper, and <@ dfkfick>; if you're seeing pretty much the same hop utilization with it vs. without, I'm sold!

I can't tell the difference (pre/post), so I assume my utilization is the same.  And yes it is very easy to clean - just hose it off.  I think I have had to take a scrubber to it only once.

I also use it during my runoff from the Mash Tun.  I never vorlauf.  I just put the hose inside the filter and open the valve all the way.  The filter catches all the grain which I just dump back into the MT then hose the filter off, and put it in the Boil Kettle.  It works great!
Title: Re: Plate Chiller and Hops
Post by: In The Sand on January 20, 2014, 06:13:21 PM
I use a Blichmann Therminator and made a hop stopper with some mesh I purchased from McMaster Carr. I've never had any issues with my chiller clogging. I don't really like my hop stopper because I can tell it is going to have a shelf life. I was toying with the idea of using a false bottom type design with a small enough mesh size to catch pellets. I use a keggle and I thought maybe I could cut the mesh round and then down the middle and add hinges so I could squeeze it down into the keggle. If my imagination works right, I may be able to rest it down in the beveled out part of the keggle that sits a good 8" or so above the keggle bottom. This would give me the most possible surface area. What do y'all think?
Title: Re: Plate Chiller and Hops
Post by: deathlylost on March 12, 2014, 07:52:19 AM
I've been using a plate chiller for about a year now and it's great. Prior to using, I run hot water through it and soak it in some sanitizer. On top of using mesh bags for my hop additions, I run my wort through a clean and sanitized mesh bag just before running throughout the plate chiller. After cooling the wort, I immediately run clean water though the chiller until it comes out clean. This works really well to keep the chiller clean as well as prevent clogging.


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Title: Re: Plate Chiller and Hops
Post by: james on March 12, 2014, 08:13:30 AM
I would be leary about just using sanitizer in the homebrew plate chillers.  IMO heat is the only way to make sure they are sanitized.  Even after an extensive cleaning I still see chunks come out and I am immediately backward and forward flushing with hot water, recirc with PBW and acid.
Title: Re: Plate Chiller and Hops
Post by: wsoublo on March 12, 2014, 01:49:56 PM
I've used a 30 plate Duda Diesel chiller for close to two years and never had a clogged chiller.  However, I whirlpool and pump wort through the chiller.  I even leave pellet hops free and only use a hop bag when I use whole leaf hops.

I recommend recircing through your plate chiller during the last 15 minutes of your boil to santize it properly.  Also, using an autosiphon to back flush afteruse is an easy way to clean it, but I will admit that you'll always have some debris in the chiller, no matter how well you clean it.