Author Topic: Counterflow chiller questions  (Read 857 times)

Offline yeastmaster

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Counterflow chiller questions
« on: December 09, 2013, 12:46:04 AM »
I'm thinking about making or buying a counterflow chiller.  I currently do 5 gallon batches in a 10 gallon kettle (although next year I may move up to a 10 gallon system).  I am currently using a 25 foot immersion chiller and can get the temp to drop pretty quickly if I agitate the chiller as it sits in the wort.

A couple of questions about counterflow chillers.  Is 20-25 feet of copper tubing enough?  How do you separate out the cold break?  Theoretically I am leaving my cold break behind in my kettle when I am using an immersion chiller but it seems to me the break is forming as you chill in the counterflow chiller and will just go into the fermenter.  Is that a problem?

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Re: Counterflow chiller questions
« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2013, 05:19:53 AM »
I honestly prefer the immersion chiller method for a number of reasons. 1: it's easier to sanitize. Just drop it in 20 minutes before flame out. 2: it's easier to inspect and clean. 3: you don't need a pump and 4: manually whirl pooling helps drop trub into cone anyway so just stir to keep wort moving to cool faster. Or better yet add a pump and recirc the wort back into kettle.
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Offline philm63

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Re: Counterflow chiller questions
« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2013, 12:40:32 PM »
...better yet add a pump and recirc the wort back into kettle.
I too was getting tired of sloshing my IC about in the kettle to get the temps down faster, so I just added a pump and modified my 10-G kettle for this very purpose - recirc the wort while chilling with an IC - but I'm thinking of also adding my Hop Rocket as a filter to trap the hop sludge and cold break - should clear the wort while it chills. Anyone see any potential issues with this?
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Re: Counterflow chiller questions
« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2013, 12:57:20 PM »
I have a counterflow chiller and keep thinking about buying an immersion chiller. It's just easier to sanitize.

What size is enough depends a lot of flow rate and water temperature. My CFC is really convenient when the water is 60F, difficult when it's 85F. Of course, the same is true with an immersion chiller. But at least with immersion you have the option of leaving it in longer. I sometimes have the wort slowed down to a trickle and it's still not enough.
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Offline philm63

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Re: Counterflow chiller questions
« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2013, 01:08:57 PM »
If you are using a counter-flow chiller - can't you still just recirc it back to the BK until it's at pitching temp?
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Re: Counterflow chiller questions
« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2013, 01:16:21 PM »
If you are using a counter-flow chiller - can't you still just recirc it back to the BK until it's at pitching temp?
Not without a pump. Guess which guy doesn't have a pump.
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Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Counterflow chiller questions
« Reply #6 on: December 09, 2013, 01:26:17 PM »
If you are using a counter-flow chiller - can't you still just recirc it back to the BK until it's at pitching temp?
Not without a pump. Guess which guy doesn't have a pump.

I've got two thumbs... but no pump  :(
« Last Edit: December 09, 2013, 02:10:03 PM by morticaixavier »
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Re: Counterflow chiller questions
« Reply #7 on: December 09, 2013, 01:26:41 PM »
If you are using a counter-flow chiller - can't you still just recirc it back to the BK until it's at pitching temp?

I started putting a few gallons of sani in the BK while I'm mashing, recirc that, then pump it into a nearby bucket and cover everything with aluminum foil. Ready and waiting for when I need it
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Re: Counterflow chiller questions
« Reply #8 on: December 09, 2013, 02:36:23 PM »
I have a home made garden hose/copper tube CFC at 25' and it works well.

IMO there is no issue with the cd break going into the primary, the beer is still great and crystal clear when packaged.

I have no pump either and the CFC is faster when the ground water is colder obviously.

As for cleaning and sanitizing, when done chilling I flush with boiling water, use an air gun to blow out the moisture and cap the ends.

Prior to chilling I spray star San in it. When ready to chill I hook it up, let some of the boiling wort pass through into a separate vessel, then turn on the cold water and go to primary. I lose maybe a cup or two of wort but this method has served me well with no issues or infections
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Offline BrewArk

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Re: Counterflow chiller questions
« Reply #9 on: December 10, 2013, 01:16:43 PM »
I have a home made garden hose/copper tube CFC at 25' and it works well.

IMO there is no issue with the cd break going into the primary, the beer is still great and crystal clear when packaged.

I have no pump either and the CFC is faster when the ground water is colder obviously.

As for cleaning and sanitizing, when done chilling I flush with boiling water, use an air gun to blow out the moisture and cap the ends.

Prior to chilling I spray star San in it. When ready to chill I hook it up, let some of the boiling wort pass through into a separate vessel, then turn on the cold water and go to primary. I lose maybe a cup or two of wort but this method has served me well with no issues or infections
I do mostly the same.  Except I don't bother capping the ends between batches - just let it drain.  Sanitize w/hot wort before the cooling water is turned on.  That wort gets collected & goes back into the kettle.

Don't need a pump, the tubing is long enough that it goes from boiling to pitchable temperature as it drains.  I go straight from the kettle through the CFC into the fermenter.  (My ambient water is in the 50's pretty much year round.)
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Re: Counterflow chiller questions
« Reply #10 on: December 10, 2013, 03:25:14 PM »
Interesting to read everyone's comments.  My ground water is probably around 40 degrees so I can cool a 5 gallon batch down to 68 degrees fairly quickly (maybe 20-25 minutes).  I usually go agitate my IC every 5 minutes or so.  I wonder if adding some sort of motorized stirrer would work.  Has anyone ever built one?  Is hot side aeration an issue if trying to do something like this.  It would be nice to have something to get a whirlpool in my kettle to try and get some of the trub from getting out into the fermenter.

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Counterflow chiller questions
« Reply #11 on: December 10, 2013, 03:28:43 PM »
Interesting to read everyone's comments.  My ground water is probably around 40 degrees so I can cool a 5 gallon batch down to 68 degrees fairly quickly (maybe 20-25 minutes).  I usually go agitate my IC every 5 minutes or so.  I wonder if adding some sort of motorized stirrer would work.  Has anyone ever built one?  Is hot side aeration an issue if trying to do something like this.  It would be nice to have something to get a whirlpool in my kettle to try and get some of the trub from getting out into the fermenter.

there has been discussion for sure. the HSA issue can go on and on but the short answer seems to be not a problem in this case. agitating every 5 minutes is better than not agitating at all but constant is better because the temperature gradation between right up against the chiller and further away happens very very quickly.
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Re: Counterflow chiller questions
« Reply #12 on: December 10, 2013, 03:38:33 PM »
Interesting to read everyone's comments.  My ground water is probably around 40 degrees so I can cool a 5 gallon batch down to 68 degrees fairly quickly (maybe 20-25 minutes).  I usually go agitate my IC every 5 minutes or so.  I wonder if adding some sort of motorized stirrer would work.  Has anyone ever built one?  Is hot side aeration an issue if trying to do something like this.  It would be nice to have something to get a whirlpool in my kettle to try and get some of the trub from getting out into the fermenter.

I wouldn't worry about HSA too much in this instance. And adding a pump would surely be a lot cheaper and easier than adding a motorized stirrer.

Here's Jamil's article on the Whirlpool chiller set up. It's easy to do and works well. You can use a CFC or IC, up to you. You may get better trub pile with CFC, but IME both work.
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Counterflow chiller questions
« Reply #13 on: December 10, 2013, 09:04:54 PM »
Interesting to read everyone's comments.  My ground water is probably around 40 degrees so I can cool a 5 gallon batch down to 68 degrees fairly quickly (maybe 20-25 minutes).  I usually go agitate my IC every 5 minutes or so.  I wonder if adding some sort of motorized stirrer would work.  Has anyone ever built one?  Is hot side aeration an issue if trying to do something like this.  It would be nice to have something to get a whirlpool in my kettle to try and get some of the trub from getting out into the fermenter.

I wouldn't worry about HSA too much in this instance. And adding a pump would surely be a lot cheaper and easier than adding a motorized stirrer.

Here's Jamil's article on the Whirlpool chiller set up. It's easy to do and works well. You can use a CFC or IC, up to you. You may get better trub pile with CFC, but IME both work.
http://www.mrmalty.com/chiller.php
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Re: Counterflow chiller questions
« Reply #14 on: December 10, 2013, 09:34:50 PM »
I'm jealous of 40 degree chilling water.
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