Author Topic: Which counterflow chiller should I get?  (Read 3035 times)

Offline chrisinestes

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Which counterflow chiller should I get?
« on: April 26, 2010, 03:36:02 PM »
I'm upgrading my brewery this year. One of the two "big" things on the list is a counterflow chiller.  Something easy to clean & sanitize is at the top of my feature list. Which is the best to get?

Also, I've heard you need high temp hoses to handle the hot wort... what do I want to look for?

Thanks,
Chris
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Offline mthogan1997

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Re: Which counterflow chiller should I get?
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2010, 04:10:37 PM »
I made one with a garden hose and copper tubing for less than $30 and bought a shirron for $95. They both perform the same; the one I  bought is better looking. 

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Re: Which counterflow chiller should I get?
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2010, 10:45:21 PM »
I too made mine from a garden hose & copper tubing.  To sanitize, I run boiling wort through it before I turn on the cooling water (then I return the wort to the kettle).
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Offline IHBHS

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Re: Which counterflow chiller should I get?
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2010, 09:30:26 PM »
The one I made is  3/8 Copper tubing with the flare fittings going through the wall of a 5 gallon bucket.  There is a half inch valve in the bottom of the bucket is for the cooling water drain off.  It has a hose that hooks up to it to run it off elsewhere.  Gravity fed I can do 10 gallons in 20 minutes with running just a normal garden hose into the top of the bucket.  Cleaning it isn't that hard if you do it right after you right after you run wort through it after rinsing out your brew kettle of any plan matter.
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Re: Which counterflow chiller should I get?
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2010, 07:39:37 AM »
I'm upgrading my brewery this year. One of the two "big" things on the list is a counterflow chiller.  Something easy to clean & sanitize is at the top of my feature list. Which is the best to get?

Also, I've heard you need high temp hoses to handle the hot wort... what do I want to look for?

Thanks,
Chris

I hardly consider going to a CFC an "upgrade" from an IC for several reasons:

• A CFC is not easier to clean than a IC. With an IC you simply hose it off and plop it in the kettle 10-15 min. before the end of the boil. You can soak it in a vinegar solution to remove patina or a cleanser solution to remove trub/stone. Who the hell knows if the inside of a CFC is clean?

• Using an IC you can start cooling immediately after the boil is over. With the CFC you really need to wait at least 10-15 minutes before cooling to let break/hops settle. During this time SMM, the precursor to DMS can still being formed at hot temps but can;t be driven off. Also, hop utilization is still taking place, loosing aroma and gaining bitterness.

• With an IC you can leave most of the hot AND cold break behind in the kettle.

• With a CFC you can sometimes have a clog in the copper due to the length of tubing, depending on the ID.

I used a CFC for years and I prefer an IC much better. Way easier all around and big benefits on the quality of beer IMO. If you really want to upgrade consider getting a pump (you will need one for your CFC to work properly anyway) and try using Jamil's Whirlpool Chiller - http://www.mrmalty.com/chiller.php Or, simply keep a sanitzied spoon handy and Whirlpool it yourself from time to time. But personally I wouldn't recommend a CFC over an IC.
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Offline tom

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Re: Which counterflow chiller should I get?
« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2010, 08:41:43 AM »
I hardly consider going to a CFC an "upgrade" from an IC for several reasons:

• A CFC is not easier to clean than a IC. With an IC you simply hose it off and plop it in the kettle 10-15 min. before the end of the boil. You can soak it in a vinegar solution to remove patina or a cleanser solution to remove trub/stone. Who the hell knows if the inside of a CFC is clean?

• Using an IC you can start cooling immediately after the boil is over. With the CFC you really need to wait at least 10-15 minutes before cooling to let break/hops settle. During this time SMM, the precursor to DMS can still being formed at hot temps but can;t be driven off. Also, hop utilization is still taking place, loosing aroma and gaining bitterness.

• With an IC you can leave most of the hot AND cold break behind in the kettle.

• With a CFC you can sometimes have a clog in the copper due to the length of tubing, depending on the ID.

I used a CFC for years and I prefer an IC much better. Way easier all around and big benefits on the quality of beer IMO. If you really want to upgrade consider getting a pump (you will need one for your CFC to work properly anyway) and try using Jamil's Whirlpool Chiller - http://www.mrmalty.com/chiller.php Or, simply keep a sanitzied spoon handy and Whirlpool it yourself from time to time. But personally I wouldn't recommend a CFC over an IC.
For another opinion,
1. SMM/DMS is only an issue with pale-colored malts like pilsner and a good 90+ minute boil will take care of that.
2. cold break into the fermenter is not a big issue. And since the CFC chills more quickly you get more cold break (which is a good thing)

IMHO, for 5 gallon batches of ale, an IC is fine. For lagers or in places south (like Alabama?) the CFC chills more efficiently.
I agree that a pump or more burners would be in the running, but I am not a big fan of the recirculating chilling.

P.S. I love my plate chiller

YMMV
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Re: Which counterflow chiller should I get?
« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2010, 09:12:21 AM »
True about SMM issue being a Pils related deal and a 90 minute boil will handle most of the SMM. I use Pils malt a hell of a lot. The hops issue is still an issue though.

During the dea heat of summer (here in alabama) I can get my wort down under 140 degree (12 gallons of it) in under 15 minutes. I do have an issue getting it cooler than 80 degrees.

On my 1bbl system I am using a CFC (NB's Chillzilla) in conjunction with a pump and WP it back into the kettle. But if the OP already has an IC I would not personally consider going to a CFC an "upgrade". I used a CFC for around 10 years before discovering the simple joys of an IC.  ;)
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Offline chrisinestes

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Re: Which counterflow chiller should I get?
« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2010, 09:29:14 AM »
Some good info I hadn't really thought through, yet. Which is why I asked the question here.

I like the recirculating IC idea. I'll get going on that. I might try to use my 3/8 tubing version and add a recirculator to that. I also need to work on my hop filtering system. There's just plain too much tubing in there, and it plugs up because it makes several coils in the bottom of the kettle. I figure I can "tune" the recirculation tube to whirlpool the trub away from the side of the kettle, and drain my wort from along the edge.

Thanks guys!

Chris
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Offline dak0415

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Re: Which counterflow chiller should I get?
« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2010, 09:53:41 AM »
+10 for recirculation
I built a CFC about a year ago after I went to 12 gallon batches (25ft of 1/2" OD copper in a 3/4" hose).  Wasn't real happy with the cooling time (also tried recirculating the wort back to the kettle).  I added a recirc tube to my small IC (50 ft 3/8" in 2 concentric coils) WOW 6 gal down to 120 in 10 minutes.  Bigger is better right (size matters)?  I then built the "monster" - 50ft of 5/8" OD copper around a 12" diameter with a recirc tube, for my 20 gal kettle. Now 12gal down to 120 in 5 minutes - no DMS for me!

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Offline twocansam

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Re: Which counterflow chiller should I get?
« Reply #9 on: April 29, 2010, 10:40:41 AM »
When we went to 10gal batches we invested in the Sabco Chill wizard, which is based off of the therminator.  We have put over 500 gallons of wort through it and haven't had a problem.  We usually backflush for cleaning and once in a while run some pbw through it.  It is handy to be able to chill and oxygenate at the same time wieht the built in stone. 

In winter when the water is colder it takes less than 10 minutes to chill 10 gallons to 70 degrees, and in summer it takes about 15 minutes.   It is spendy but if you are making a bunch of beer it is definitely handy.
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Offline tom

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Re: Which counterflow chiller should I get?
« Reply #10 on: April 29, 2010, 02:20:55 PM »
Yeah, in the winter they are scary efficient.
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Offline The Professor

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Re: Which counterflow chiller should I get?
« Reply #11 on: April 29, 2010, 07:55:57 PM »
I too made mine from a garden hose & copper tubing.  To sanitize, I run boiling wort through it before I turn on the cooling water (then I return the wort to the kettle).

+1...boiling wort at the beginning of the process and boiling water at the end are all you need to sanitize the thing, whichever one you choose.  Been doing it that way for 24 years with no chemicals, and no issues.
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Offline IHBHS

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Re: Which counterflow chiller should I get?
« Reply #12 on: May 03, 2010, 09:37:11 PM »
Ok i still havent been able to get pictures to work here, but oh well here is a link to my CFC.
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=1085780&id=1014415261
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=1085786&id=1014415261
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Re: Which counterflow chiller should I get?
« Reply #13 on: May 04, 2010, 08:15:41 AM »
On my 1bbl system I am using a CFC (NB's Chillzilla) in conjunction with a pump and WP it back into the kettle.

I just recently started doing this (once I got a pump) and I think it's the best of both worlds. Rapid chilling (I see about 10°C/min over the first few minutes) eliminates the SMM and hop utilization issues, and it allows you to run a closed system the entire time the wort is below boiling.

I'm just using a homemade garden hose CFC though. A Chillzilla is on the wish list, but a long way off.
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Offline marklrob

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Re: Which counterflow chiller should I get?
« Reply #14 on: May 09, 2010, 12:01:17 AM »
I'm guessing you have an IC right now.  Get a plate chiller and use it in tandem with your current IC.  Put your IC in a bucket of ice water and then have the out connect into the plate chiller in.  This way you can get your city water under 40 degrees before it ever hits the wort.

You can save the first hot waste water coming out of the chiller for clean up or even pasta water.  You might be hungry after brewing and drinking for a few hours...