So over the weekend, I made my first 5 gallon all-grain recipe. I absolutely loved the process, using a mash tun and hot liquor tank... using a home made setup for an electric kettle (soon to be modified as well to make the boil less violent). It was a great time, and I can't wait to do more!
However, cooling it down was a bear. Having 5 gallons (full boil) of very hot liquid, it still took me close to an hour to cool the wort down using an immersion chiller. I shudder to think how long it would have taken with an ice bath! I am thinking about upgrading the chilling portion of my brew equipment. I looked into the counterflow or plate chillers, but seem to be confused on the whole thing...
It looks like, basically, that the wort is fed in one port and comes out another. Inside, the wort is separated by plates, and inside those pockets, cold water is being fed through. So basically, it is a heat exchanger (just like an immersion chiller), but it allows more surface area than an immersion chiller, thus chilling it faster. However, even though it says you can gravity feed it, it is recommended that you use a pump. This is where my confusion lies.
I brew indoors, in my basement. I have a small kitchen area down there, and I have a hose-fitting adapter on the sink. I have no issues hooking up a hose to connect the water-in with the sink, and the water-out to the drain. But how would I gravity feed wort? Would I use an auto-siphon, similar to when I want to bottle? Are those made to withstand near-boiling temp wort? Does that even seem practical from a speed perspective?
Basically, TL;DR... I want to buy a counterflow or plate chiller, but don't know how to use one. I also don't want to have to spend $300-400 just because I need to buy a pump too, so avoiding a pump would be ideal. Any help is appreciated