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Plate chiller

I’ve been using the same old immersion chiller for about 16 years now and it’s finally just so bent up and nasty that I think I’ll replace it. The question is whether to buy a new immersion chiller, a counter flo chiller, or a plate chiller. I really like the simplicity of a immersion chiller but the plate type really appeals to me too. Do any of you guys have the Shirron? How do you like it. It seems like a lot of bang for the buck. :?

I used both of those plate chillers plus the counter flow chiller and went back to an IC by a new one.

Thanks Chuck. That’s sort of my thinking too. Here in Maine, if it’s not july or august my well water is icee cold so an IC really works pretty well. What were your issues with the other types?

I had been using an IC since I started brewing (couple years now) and just recently picked up a plate chiller (therminator). Biggest thing for me is how fast I can cool, pretty big time saver on 10 or 15 gallon batches. I was concerned with the extra effort it’d take to clean but back flushing and soaking it in some star san doesn’t take much time at all. Also quick connects make fast work of hooking it up. Hasn’t changed my beer at all and it does require that I keep hops from getting sucked in to it but I’m pleased with the time saved.

I like the plate chiller. It was the first thing I used for all grain brewing and recently used a immersion chiller for the first time. The first thing that struck me was how long it took and how much more water it used compared to the plate chiller. It seemed kind of wasteful for a hobby that already uses a lot of water. Plate chiller is easy, quick and small making for easy storage.

I have a Shirron and I like it a lot. I’m sure I’m the exception, but for me the standard copper 25’ immersion chiller never cooled at all quickly with tap water in the range of 64 to maybe 72F. If I didn’t continually stir my wort to keep the temp distribution in the cooling wort uniform, it would take >1 hr to go from boiling down to maybe 70-75ish.

With continual stirring I think I got it down to 45 min or so, but that meant I had to have the lid off my kettle for the entire 45 min. Never liked that at all, especially the tedium of having to continually stir for that long, all the while trying to be extremely careful about possible contamination, like breathing or spent cooling water accidentally splashing into the wort.

In the past I was very worried about potential contamination issues from an imperfectly cleaned plate or counterflow chiller, but I’ve not experienced any problem yet with just basic maintenance (long, hard flush immediately after use, then soaking in Oxyclean) and sanitation.

Just my opinion, but I rank the Shirron as one of my best purchases ever.

Drain cleaner, 100% lye, will scrub your plate chiller clean. Every 4-5 batches.

http://www.truevalue.com/product/1-lb-1 ... /14320.uts

[quote=“Nighthawk”]Drain cleaner, 100% lye, will scrub your plate chiller clean. Every 4-5 batches.

http://www.truevalue.com/product/1-lb-1 ... /14320.uts[/quote]

Interesting…I’ll have to keep that in mind. For now, given that my initial fears of several years ago have never come to be, I’ll probably keep with my current routine.

Of course, now I’m afraid I may have jinxed myself by talking smack about how I’ve never had an issue :?

I would agree with this. I really like mine. It’s compact, cools great, and I’ve never had an issue keeping it “infection” free by running hot PBW through as part of my clean-up and then baking it in the over to dry it out and kill any last pieces left. I would definitely by another if something would happen to mine.

I personally think the fears about plate chillers are a little extreme.

I bought this plate chiller a couple years ago and I love it:

http://www.kegcowboy.com/index.php?dispatch=products.view&product_id=201

Only change to my brewing process is that I use a hop spider now. After each use I just blast it with hot tap water in both directions. I also sanitize (iodophore) before each use. I’ll never go back to an IC.

Close to 10 years with this Chill Wizzard. My friend can say also that no beer has been bad because of his previous cleaning process.

Back flush, circulate PBW water, flush. Brewday, heat mash out water to boiling and circulate boiling water for 30 minutes.

But, during the 30 minute sanitizing boil, chunks would come out.

[quote=“Nighthawk”]Close to 10 years with this Chill Wizzard. My friend can say also that no beer has been bad because of his previous cleaning process.

Back flush, circulate PBW water, flush. Brewday, heat mash out water to boiling and circulate boiling water for 30 minutes.

But, during the 30 minute sanitizing boil, chunks would come out.[/quote]

To clean take and break off a piece of sponge and flush it through you will be surprised how much crud comes out.

[quote=“chuck”]
To clean take and break off a piece of sponge and flush it through you will be surprised how much crud comes out.[/quote]

Try some lye and see what comes out after your sponge. :wink:

Dudadiesel sells the least expensive plate chillers out there. Might as well get the most bang for your buck.

I use an IC and whirlpool myself. Lets me leave most of the trub in the kettle which is nice when it comes time to harvest yeast. Less trub also means a quart to a half gallon more of finished beer in a fermentor. Neither of which is a huge deal of course.

There is no difference in water usage between the various chillers if you’re using them right. With an IC that means good circulation arouns the coil and setting the chill water flow so it comes out really hot at first. For the PC you just have to run the chill water fast enough so your wort comes out cool.

Any of the chiller types will work, they all have little advantages and disadvantages. I think the plate chillers are nice when space is an issue and they look cool on a brew rig.

[quote=“tom sawyer”]Dudadiesel sells the least expensive plate chillers out there. Might as well get the most bang for your buck.

I use an IC and whirlpool myself. Lets me leave most of the trub in the kettle which is nice when it comes time to harvest yeast. Less trub also means a quart to a half gallon more of finished beer in a fermentor. Neither of which is a huge deal of course.

There is no difference in water usage between the various chillers if you’re using them right. With an IC that means good circulation arouns the coil and setting the chill water flow so it comes out really hot at first. For the PC you just have to run the chill water fast enough so your wort comes out cool.

Any of the chiller types will work, they all have little advantages and disadvantages. I think the plate chillers are nice when space is an issue and they look cool on a brew rig.[/quote]
You’re likely right that a plate chiller and IC use similar water amounts. I never compared but it sounds right. One big difference that I’ve found, however, is that my plate chiller cools the wort a heckuva lot quicker: 10 min vs. 45 min. That I did compare. I do have to take a little more care with plate chiller sanitation but I do that during the boil or whirlpool so it doesn’t add to my brew time.

Plate chillers are much more efficient in their water usage. They use less water than immersion chillers for the same deed.

Here’s an article by Jamil that contradicts your contention.

http://www.mrmalty.com/chiller.php

First, here is Blichmann’s data showing otherwise (albeit a manufacturer): http://www.blichmannengineering.com/the … nator.html check the “competition” tab

Here’s Jamil Z’s other opinions on wort chillers:

"A: There are several additional benefits:

Improved hop aroma.
Reduced DMS.
Reduced cold break in the fermenter
Ability to control the final temperature more precisely.

JZ The first three are based on the fact that you’re chilling the entire wort at one time. With a counter flow or plate chiller, you let the bulk of the wort sit at near boiling temperatures while you chill a small amount. Sitting at near boiling will continue to isomerize the hop acids and drive off the volatile oils that good hop aroma and flavor depend upon. A number of folks have noticed that hop aroma decreases on switching from an immersion chiller to a counter flow. This is the reason. By contrast the whirlpool immersion chiller knocks enough heat off of the entire wort in the first minute or two to retain that beautiful hop character. If you’re going to use a counter flow or plate chiller, better buy yourself a hopback."

TG A plate chiller will chill the whole batch more quickly than an immersion chiller, so it may actually be better with hop aroma. There are some who believe a longer “hop stand” at high temperatures increases the hop aroma viewtopic.php?f=28&t=76188 . Nevertheless I haven’t had any problem with hop aroma.

JZ “The same thing applies to DMS( Dimethyl Sulfide). DMS is often described as a cooked corn aroma that often plagues lager brewers. The thing is, the lighter pilsner malts contain more SMM (S-Methylmethionine), which gets hydrolyzed to DMS during the boil. Yes, this gets driven off, but unless you’re doing 100 minute or longer boils, there is still some SMM left behind. The neat thing is, if you can get the temperature of the wort below 140F (60C), then SMM will not be converted to DMS. The whirlpool immersion chiller will drop the temp of the wort below 140F (60C) very quickly, resulting in far less DMS in the finished beer. On the other hand, counter flow and plate chillers continue to hydrolyze SMM into DMS while sitting there at near boiling.”

TG DMS is only a consideration in very pale malts like pilsner malts and it can boiled away with a 90 minute boil. Another theoretical problem I have with the whirlpool technique is the extended time in the “bacterial contamination temperature danger range” of 140F to 80F.

JZ “The other benefits are that you can control the temperature more precisely with this chiller. Brewing a Belgian and want a warmer temp? Just watch the thermometer and stop when it gets there. Want to get to lager temps? Recirculate some ice water and you can get there too. I could never get very precise control with the counter flow chillers I’ve tried. This is really easy by comparison. In addition, if you get the temp down to pitching temperature, you can leave all your cold break in the kettle. A real bonus for lager brewers.”

TG I have a thermometer on the output of my plate chiller and valves on my water flow and wort flow so I can dial in the exact temperature I want within 1degF. I can and do use an ice water bucket when necessary to attain wort temperatures below ground temperature. I haven’t tried a whirlpool chilling technique, but I have heard that the cold break doesn’t settle very well. Cold break isn’t a problem for a fermentation anyway except maybe for light lagers. The amount of cold break is also increased by not only the temperature, but also the rate at which it is chilled. Since plate chillers chill a small amount at a time, the rate of chilling is much faster thus producing more cold break.

Another theoretical problem with the whirlpool technique is :shock: hot side aeration (a scientifically proven fact, but maybe not relevant in homebrewing - but I still do my best to prevent it).

You pays your money and you takes your chances. :cheers:

Here’s an article by Jamil that contradicts your contention.

http://www.mrmalty.com/chiller.php[/quote]

Any such comparison is ONLY valid when talking about the particular chillers used in that comparison/experiment. In Jamil’s case, he is using a very well built, super-efficient IC. That is certainly not what I used. I just made an IC out of 25’ of 3/8 copper tubing I bought at Home Depot. My plate chiller now is a LOT faster at cooling wort when compared to MY previous, poorly built IC (not vs. all ICs because I did not compare against all ICs).

One cannot make a sweeping statement such as plate chillers are more (or less) efficient than ICs. In my case only, the plate chiller chills my wort faster. If I had the IC that Jamil used, perhaps my observations would be different.

Regarding water use, I have no idea how they compare. I never measured/compared water used.

Beer-wise, I am seeing little differences (plate vs. immersion chiller). Perhaps a little less hop aroma because I use a hop spider and remove the hops as soon as the boil is over, but I’m not 100% sure. I’m not a hop head so I don’t really worry about if there is, or is not, a difference.

I definitely agree that you have to compare individual components and then you have to operate them in certain ways to be able to compare. I suppose its safe to say that if you have the same surface area for an IC and a plate chiller, then apply your chilling water at the same rate, they would perform identically.

I made a new 50’ 3/8" IC for my 20gal kettle and it does a good job on 15gal of wort. I haven’t been running the water as fast as it should to get the fastest cooling, but I catch about 10gal of very hot water first and use that for cleaning. Then I bump the flow rate and finish chilling. It only takes maybe 15min to get it below 100F.

I may end up getting a plate chiller just to try it out. You can never have too much brewing stuff after all.

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