I’ve been kicking around the idea of buying a plate chiller. Are they worth it over an immersion chiller? Is one brand/style superior in the plate chiller world? Suggestions appreciated.
Guess I found it really depends. For 5 gallons I was fine with my immersion chiller, moving to 10 gallons even a larger immersion chiller was slow. Also while you can use a plate chiller without a pump I find it a ton easier to use it now that I have a pump. Makes cleaning and transfer easier.
It does require some cleaning effort but it still saves me quite a bit of time with how fast I can chill, particularly right now with the really cold ground water. For cleaning I just cycle hot PBW through it while I’m using the same solution to scrub up my kettle, then I flush water through it both ways using a hose, followed by letting it sit in some StarSan while I’m finishing other cleaning. Sounds like a lot to keep it clean but it really goes pretty fast and it is happens while I’m doing other tasks.
I’ve got the Blichmann Therminator and I like it plenty, works well and has been issue free for the 3 years I’ve used it. Also will note stainless camlock connects make everything a lot easier too.
You’re going to get responses from all over the map on this one. I have a Duda Deisel 30 plate chiller and I love it. Cut my chill time in half from using the immersion chiller, even more on bigger batches.
It does take a bit more effort to prepare and clean than an IC. I pump boiling water through mine prior to use, then again after use(in both directions). Every 3-4 uses I’ll pump PBW through my system to clean everything well.
Lots of threads on here regarding plate chillers. Search for them and you’ll find all different opinions.
I see what you mean about responses all over the map. Wow.
I would say it depends on how much you brew (both how often and how much).
For me, I am good with my IC during the winter with the cold ground water, but during the summer I am not so I am going to build a CFC and use my IC as a pre-chiller.
If I brewed larger than 5 gallon batches and brewed more often, I’d probably want a pump and a plate chiller setup to get things moving faster.
I will add a vote for loving my plate chiller!
I live in San Francisco so we’ve got a combo of ongoing draught as well as a lack of space for a big tank to hold spent water for reuse watering a garden etc. so I have an interest in conservation.
I have the Therminator and I clean it after use by recirculating oxi-clean/TSP followed by hot water and draining. I have observed the “bits” that you can see coming out even after washing, however I put both my chiller and in-line aerator in the pressure cooker (I think it’s a 5qt model - not a big one) for 30 min before use to remove any doubt. I did not notice any contamination issues before using the pressure cooker, but it added an extra level of assurance and it gets sterilized while the mash is happening. Using the plate chiller allows near-boiling wort to run through the kettle valve and pump, possibly reducing contamination worries about those areas provided they are in-general clean.
“Are they worth the money” depends on your situation. If you brew small batches (< 10 gallons) and you don’t worry about how much water you use or the total time to chill, an immersion chiller might be your best bet. Also, a lot of people get paranoid about what might get stuck in a plate chiller, and if something does stick it is very hard to get it out. Plus there is extra effort involved in routine cleaning.
But for big batches and fast chilling, they can’t be beat.
I think of it as a process question. IMO they are not inherently “better” than an IC, but in some brewery configurations, they are MUCH better. On the other hand, if you’re pouring your wort from your BK into your fermenter, you’re going to find it tough to use a plate chiller! :cheers: