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Counterflow chiller opinions?

After two years of brewing small all grain batches in my kitchen I have a burner and a 15 gallon kettle on the way. I was pretty set on building a counterflow chiller to go with my new set up but then got thinking of the hassle cleaning it. I’ve read various cleaning regiments from " I just flush hot water through it" to detailed procedures usually involving pumping caustic solutions though which I cant do because I don’t have a pump and also would like to avoid anything that can burn a hole through my face, I like to have a beer or two while I brew.

Jamil’s whirlpool set up seems in appealing since I already have a IC, its just fast to chill and would save time flushing, sanitizing the counterflow chiller. The problem is I’m tapped out on $ after the upgrades I already made, another $160 on a pump would kill me or she might kill me. Either way no pump or I’ll die.

Any counterflow users that have been using it from awhile with no contamination have any suggestion of a cleaning/storing procedure? Any counterflow users hate your counterflow chiller? I’m looking for as many opinion as I can find before I make a decision. Thanks guys

I have a Therminator and really like it, certainly a some maintenance vs an immersion chiller but not too big of deal and really fast cooling performance. With the time saved cooling cleaning isn’t a big deal, I use PBW and use a pump to cycle it through while I clean the kettle.

If you’re planning on doing 10 gallon batches an immersion chiller can work fine but you may want to go to a 50’ one. If you don’t want to get a pump just stir the wort while it is cooling, will work as well as the whirlpool setup, just that you need to be there to stir rather than being able to walk away.

All I do with my CF is to make sure after use it is flushed well. On brew day dunk it in a bucket filled with a no rinse sanitizer like Star San or One Step. Before turning on the water let some boiling hot wort run through to double insure it has been sanitized.

Once in a while I dunk it in PBW and run one of the brushes that is really designed for a dip stick tube in from both ends. Some gunk still comes out but not much. Haven’t had an infection from it yet and I have had it at least 15 years.

If your ground water temp is low and you run the wort slowly they do a great job.

I’ve had mine for just over a year and love it. Initially for clean up I would take it upstairs to the kitchen and run hot tap water through it until it ran clean and then fill it with sanitizer and cap it for the next brew day. I gravity feed using platforms on my little giant ladder in the garage as I don’t have a pump. The past 5 or so brews, I have simply put my bucket of sanitizer in place of my BK as soon as I’m done chilling and flushed star san through it until it runs clear and then capped it off after a minute or so, keeping Star San in the chiller for storage. I probably should run some PBW through it at some point in the next few brews but this has worked very well for me so far.


As your batch size increases, it makes more and more sense to use a CFC or plate chiller, and I suspect a pump as well. It is not just the time to chill (though that is faster than using an immersion chiller), but also just does a better job with less water use. By adjusting the flow rates, you can hit your chill target exactly.

They are more difficult to clean, but I’m pretty sure the risk of infection is very low. I’ve been using a Therminator for about 5 years now, and just flushed it after use for the first three years, then sanitized with Star San before use. When I finally did a lye flush a couple years ago, I was amazed at how much junk I got out - but it never seemed to have affected the beer in any way, and I never got an infection. I now do that every few brews, just cause I don’t like the idea of dried bits of cold break from old batches possibly getting into the new one, but I don’t obsess about it.

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