Author Topic: Counterflow chiller - slow throughput  (Read 1982 times)

Offline alikocho

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Counterflow chiller - slow throughput
« on: July 22, 2010, 03:39:24 PM »
I've just built myself a counterflow chiller - the hose within a hose type - but the wort throughput is very slow. Does anyone have any suggestions as to how I can speed this up?

I'm siphoning at the moment, as I haven't plucked up the courage to drill my kettle.
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Offline majorvices

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Re: Counterflow chiller - slow throughput
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2010, 03:54:25 PM »
Here's a couple things to consider: I used a CFC for several yeast before actually switching to an IC. I like the IC a hell of a lot better. First, it is way, way easier to sanitize (slip it in last 20 min of boil - DONE!) Second, you can cool while you are lettting hops and trub settle - otherwise, with the CFC you have to let it sit for 10-20 min. at close to boiling temps and you are utilizing hops, changing your BUs and - if you have the kettle covered - trapping SMM which converts to DMS. Which you don't want. With an IC, you can simply stir a few times and have your wort cooled past the "danger zone" of SMM and hop utilization usually within 2 - 5 min. depending on your water temp, maybe 10 minutes during dead of summer.

As for you CFC - you are going to probably need a pump to utilize it properly. But if you do have a pump you are better off recircing with an IC anyway. So, a CFC is (IMO) no where near as good as an IC anyway!  ;)
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Offline alikocho

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Re: Counterflow chiller - slow throughput
« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2010, 07:50:06 AM »
Thanks for the advice.  I went for the CFC as I was concerned about potential corrosion from an IC as my kettle is aluminum (I got this from John Palmer's book).  I guess I could switch to an IC if this wasn't a problem....
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Re: Counterflow chiller - slow throughput
« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2010, 08:37:10 AM »
I really don't think it's gonna be a problem for the length of time the chiller is in the kettle.
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Re: Counterflow chiller - slow throughput
« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2010, 11:32:49 AM »
I really don't think it's gonna be a problem for the length of time the chiller is in the kettle.
+1

I used a copper IC and an aluminum kettle for a good while with no problems.  You could just hook up a pump between your kettle and the CFC, with or without drilling.  That way you could also run the cooled wort back into the kettle, avoid the danger zone majorvices referred to, and whirlpool at the same time.  But again, pumps cost money.

Offline alikocho

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Re: Counterflow chiller - slow throughput
« Reply #5 on: July 26, 2010, 11:52:46 AM »
I hadn't really thought of the time factor with the corrosion not being a problem. Thanks for the pointer.

The pump option looks tempting, and would allow me to move other bits of the brew day about, but is a little more pricey than the cost of building an IC, which is well within my capabilities.
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Re: Counterflow chiller - slow throughput
« Reply #6 on: July 26, 2010, 04:29:56 PM »
How much of a height advantage do you have? I'd say you want the kettle 2-3' above the chiller and the chiller 2-3' above the fermenter to get decent flow.
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Offline narvin

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Re: Counterflow chiller - slow throughput
« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2010, 07:36:11 AM »
Here's a couple things to consider: I used a CFC for several yeast before actually switching to an IC. I like the IC a hell of a lot better. First, it is way, way easier to sanitize (slip it in last 20 min of boil - DONE!) Second, you can cool while you are lettting hops and trub settle - otherwise, with the CFC you have to let it sit for 10-20 min. at close to boiling temps and you are utilizing hops, changing your BUs and - if you have the kettle covered - trapping SMM which converts to DMS. Which you don't want. With an IC, you can simply stir a few times and have your wort cooled past the "danger zone" of SMM and hop utilization usually within 2 - 5 min. depending on your water temp, maybe 10 minutes during dead of summer.

As for you CFC - you are going to probably need a pump to utilize it properly. But if you do have a pump you are better off recircing with an IC anyway. So, a CFC is (IMO) no where near as good as an IC anyway!  ;)

I'm going to respectfully disagree  ;)

First of all, commercial brewers do a hot whirlpool for at least 30 minutes, so I think this whole "chill your wort right after flameout for best results" thing is bunk.  Not only does this not harm their beer, but some recent experiments have shown the importance of this hop "stand" for aroma and flavor in hoppy beers.  Search for hop "stand" for more info (or go here: http://forum.northernbrewer.com/viewtopic.php?f=28&t=76188).  Matt from Firestone Walker also mentions on the Jamil Show that they get significant aroma AND IBUs out of their whirpool addition, and they make a fantastic IPA.

As for the rest of your comments, it all depends on the logistics of your setup.  If you have a good height differential between your kettle and the fermenter below it, you can absolutely use your CFC without a pump.  If you have a pump, you can recirculate the hot wort to sanitize, but there's no reason you have to recirculate once you start chilling.  And you have to sanitize the pump anyway... it's free to sanitize the chiller at the same time.  I've upgraded to a plate chiller (a similar type of heat exchanger), and I get within 2 degrees of groundwater in one pass.  I prefer not to recirc, either, since it takes longer.

YMMV in terms of how easy/quick it is to sanitize and chill in your system, but there's no reason the immersion makes better beer.
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Re: Counterflow chiller - slow throughput
« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2010, 08:04:47 AM »
Here's a couple things to consider: I used a CFC for several yeast before actually switching to an IC. I like the IC a hell of a lot better. First, it is way, way easier to sanitize (slip it in last 20 min of boil - DONE!) Second, you can cool while you are lettting hops and trub settle - otherwise, with the CFC you have to let it sit for 10-20 min. at close to boiling temps and you are utilizing hops, changing your BUs and - if you have the kettle covered - trapping SMM which converts to DMS. Which you don't want. With an IC, you can simply stir a few times and have your wort cooled past the "danger zone" of SMM and hop utilization usually within 2 - 5 min. depending on your water temp, maybe 10 minutes during dead of summer.

As for you CFC - you are going to probably need a pump to utilize it properly. But if you do have a pump you are better off recircing with an IC anyway. So, a CFC is (IMO) no where near as good as an IC anyway!  ;)

I'm going to respectfully disagree  ;)

First of all, commercial brewers do a hot whirlpool for at least 30 minutes, so I think this whole "chill your wort right after flameout for best results" thing is bunk.  Not only does this not harm their beer, but some recent experiments have shown the importance of this hop "stand" for aroma and flavor in hoppy beers.  Search for hop "stand" for more info (or go here: http://forum.northernbrewer.com/viewtopic.php?f=28&t=76188).  Matt from Firestone Walker also mentions on the Jamil Show that they get significant aroma AND IBUs out of their whirpool addition, and they make a fantastic IPA.

As for the rest of your comments, it all depends on the logistics of your setup.  If you have a good height differential between your kettle and the fermenter below it, you can absolutely use your CFC without a pump.  If you have a pump, you can recirculate the hot wort to sanitize, but there's no reason you have to recirculate once you start chilling.  And you have to sanitize the pump anyway... it's free to sanitize the chiller at the same time.  I've upgraded to a plate chiller (a similar type of heat exchanger), and I get within 2 degrees of groundwater in one pass.  I prefer not to recirc, either, since it takes longer.

YMMV in terms of how easy/quick it is to sanitize and chill in your system, but there's no reason the immersion makes better beer.

Just because commercial brewers use something doesn't mean we can't have a better set up on a homebrew system.

IME a CFC is just a PITA unless you have a pump. And I had used one for several years before using an IC. The fact that you can begin cooling immediately, and the fact that you can WP while you are chilling, makes this a far better option IMO in the homebrew set-up.

That said, I know a lot of brewers disagree with me. Most of those because they spent all that time and energy (or money) either buying or constructing a CFC to the dismay to find out it doesn't work as well at an IC.  :P Seriously though, I do have a 200+ dollar all copper Chillzilla - but I *personally* far prefer my ugly, homemade IC. YMMV.  ;)
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Re: Counterflow chiller - slow throughput
« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2010, 08:13:27 AM »
I am getting ready to order a CFC for my brewstand.  I am currently using an IC which works fairly well for me but I want to chill faster so a CFC is the tool of choice.  I am hoping to chill 12 gallons of beer from boiling to 60 degrees or so in less than 10 minutes. My current setup using an IC chills the beer to 60F in 20 minutes.  My hope is to reduce the chilling time and the amount of water used plus I am hoping to make the process a little easier.
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Re: Counterflow chiller - slow throughput
« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2010, 08:22:54 AM »
I am getting ready to order a CFC for my brewstand.  I am currently using an IC which works fairly well for me but I want to chill faster so a CFC is the tool of choice.  I am hoping to chill 12 gallons of beer from boiling to 60 degrees or so in less than 10 minutes. My current setup using an IC chills the beer to 60F in 20 minutes.  My hope is to reduce the chilling time and the amount of water used plus I am hoping to make the process a little easier.

Using an IC and a pump to WP I can basically get down to this temp in less than 20 minutes depending on water temp - from the time I turn the flame off. IOW I don't have to let the hot wort sit aorund for 10-15 minutes before cooling - so technically the speed is about the same as a CFC. Of course, right now the water is 80 degrees - but I can still get under 140 degrees in 10 minutes using IC and pump to WP. You can also WP manually and achieve very similar results.
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Offline Matt B

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Re: Counterflow chiller - slow throughput
« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2010, 08:57:15 AM »
Back to alikocho's original post: I think all the obvious problems have been mentioned: kinks, height. Is it possible hop bits are getting stuck somewhere (quick disconnects, blocking your siphon tube in your kettle, etc?)

Also, faster isn't better.. unless you have a way to recirculate your wort, slow isn't bad, it's a good way to be sure that your wort has been cooled down to the temperature of the water you're using.

And Denny's right, the galvanic effect is almost nil for the amount of time you're chilling your wort.

I also wouldn't be afraid of drilling your kettle. Get a weld-less valve set up (or heck, put your own together from your local hardware store, it's nothing more than a 1/2" ball valve and yes brass is fine, a short 1/2" nipple, a 1/2" coupler and a couple of high temp o-rings), it's pretty darn handy and certainly safer than trying to siphon boiling wort.

With all of that said, without a pump, I think an immersion chiller is more efficient. You can whirlpool your break to the center so it doesn't go into your fermenter and clog up your pickup, and you can chill it the bulk of the way using tap water, and if you have relatively warm tap water like I do in the summer, you can take a pot full of ice water, set it above the in side of the IC, and run that through to chill it even more which you wouldn't be able to do with a CFC and multiple pumps, or multiple CFC's.

Me, personally, I use a CFC, the ability to do heat exchange is better than an IC. But I have two pumps, and I recirculate my wort and I get it well below the 80C mark for SMM->DMS breakdown within a couple of minutes. In order to sanitize it I run boiling wort through it for 15 minutes prior to chilling, and run caustic through it when I'm done, then sanitizer afterwards, then more sanitizer as I'm starting my brew day. But since you're not running wort through an IC and you can scrub the outside, it is inherently more sanitary. I also use the ice water method once I've gotten my wort down to the point of diminishing returns using tap water to get it the rest of the way down, even to lagering pitching temps. I also use my CFC as part of my HERMS, I use it to heat my mash using hot water from my HLT. I suppose you could do something similar with an immersion chiller but getting the coil around the thermowell and being able to stir it may be a problem.

Having a pump or two is a nice option, but until you have a better idea of how you want to use them in your system, I would hold off. As you can see there are many many opinions, and there's no right answer but the right answer that fits you, how you brew and the system you want to have. Get a few batches in with a valve on your kettle and using an IC (I do think this is your best option right now) and see how that goes, then see how crazy you want to get with the cheeze whiz.


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Re: Counterflow chiller - slow throughput
« Reply #12 on: July 28, 2010, 01:24:53 PM »
How much of a height advantage do you have? I'd say you want the kettle 2-3' above the chiller and the chiller 2-3' above the fermenter to get decent flow.
I'd agree.  I think you need the height advantage.  How small is the tubing you're going through?  There's a limit to how much flow you can get just using gravity.

My old system has 1/4" tubing inside a garden hose and takes quite a while to move through the line but I consider that time to water the garden and to get some good aeration before pitching.  (I did drill my kettle, and for the price of a case of homebrew got a pretty darn good welding job on the valve)
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Re: Counterflow chiller - slow throughput
« Reply #13 on: July 28, 2010, 01:46:45 PM »
I think an immersion chiller connected to a submersible pump is the simplest to use.  corrosion is not an issue for this short of time.  throw the submersible pump in a cooler full of water with bottles of ice in it.  this makes your cooling water 32 degrees and is a great heat sink.  just too simple and cheap to overlook
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Offline alikocho

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Re: Counterflow chiller - slow throughput
« Reply #14 on: July 28, 2010, 02:36:06 PM »
My height might have been an issue, particularly given I was getting liquid uphill with the siphon as well.  I probably only have 1.5' between kettle and chiller and chiller and fermenter.  I'm working with 8mm tubing (close to 3/4") inside 1/2' hose.

I think I might give the IC a whirl, as it'll be cheap to build, and from what people have said I'll drill my kettle and use a weldless valve.

Thanks to everyone for some great input!
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