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Question for counterflow cooler users

Ok, I use a Blichman Therminator. The only problem I have with the thing is how hard it is to get ALL the “particles” (that don’t end up in the pile in the middle of the kettle after whirling) back out of it when cleaning after use. I quit using the “hopblocker” as it is a PITA and doesnt seem to help. It may actually make it worse due to interfering with a smooth whirl. What/how do you guys deal with this problem. I have considered getting some stainless wool and cramming a lil bit under the pick-up tube. So far that seems to be the only option.

Other ideas??

Barry

I have the same setup, a whirlpool kettle and a Therminator. No filter in kettle. I bought an inline filter canister from Brewers Hardware but it clogged immediately and I never found a way to make it work. After trying about 5 times I gave up and run the whirlpool for about 15 minutes then let it settle a bit before pumping through the chillers.

That said it take a lot of work to get the chillers clean. Even after backflushing with hot PBW and a good pressure rinse, I got a glob of nastiness come out at the end of this last brew session that must have been in there for weeks and survived the cleaning and backflush. Yuck, but I ran boiling water through the chillers before using it, so at least I hope the glob was a dead glob when the beer was running past it :wink:

My previous kettle had a false bottom and that really reduced the debris going to the chillers but it could also have a problem with slow flow. A load of whole hops and some recirculation before running wort to the chillers actually had me running some really clear wort to the chillers.

I have yet to find the best of both worlds with the plate chillers and my current system. I’m thinking maybe a counterflow is in my future :slight_smile:

I run a stainless steel braid around the perimeter of my kettle (with a copper wire inside to keep it in place). That keeps all the big particles from getting into the Therminator, but the braid itself can clog if I’m not careful. I’ve found that if I use leaf hops and do a good whirlpool before draining, I don’t have problems with flow. I still get cold break getting into the chiller, and it still takes some time and effort to get it clean at the end of the brew day, but I still love the contraption. 5 minute chilling makes for very good beer.

Well at least I am not the only one trying to figure this out.

Barry

I love the plate chillers, but I think sacrificing a bit of chilling efficiency/speed for a counterflow chiller to be able to pump whatever debris through the system and let whatever gets into the fermenter settle there might be the best thing. I’ve got a big badass pump that can pump the gunk, so that might be my solution rather than continuing with the plate chiller for my specific rig.

The problem lies in the hobbyist plate chiller design where the chiller cannot be taken apart (like commercial ones), as the flow seems to be fine even with the gunk. I’m usually pumping 10-15 gallons through the plate chillers per session, but I’m guessing maybe two or three brews in a row might start to clog them if not backflushed between. At least that is what it looks like with all the crap that comes out when flushing them.

Then again I’ve never had any contamination from the debris left, even the gross globs, and for the awesome chilling the backflush work is still minor and only annoying at best.

Agreed it does a great job and I have not had a contamination issue from it either, just would love to reduce/eliminate all of it that is possible. I have considered putting a braid on the pickup tube, but the steel wool crammed under it might work better. With either the concern is plugging and then what the devil would I do with a plugged outlet and 10-20 gallons of around 200 degree liquid. I had not considered making a round dam out of the braid. HMMM.

Barry

I’ve actually been there and done it with braids, bazooka screens, and false bottoms. All seemed to have a way they tend to clog, and some work well in many cases. The false bottom was the best setup when I used keg kettles. Their drawback was that whole hops were needed for larger loads, and when pellets were used in larger percentages the bottom would tend to clog and actually trap the boil and create a void of steam between the kettle bottom and under the false bottom. I’ve had to scrape it apart with a paddle to clear it and get the flow going. That said, it was very consistent and I once used for a while I never had issues. The Bazooka screens and braids all clogged with any amount of pellet and also had that steam void happen. When the screens and braids clog they are a real PITA.

I just use this hop spider: http://www.stainlessbrewing.com/Hop-Spi … p_158.html Makes it really easy to keep the therminator clean since all the hops are held back. Once I’m done brewing I run cycle hot PBW through the therminator backwards while I do other tasks (also use the hot PBW to clean up the boil kettle) and then flush the therminator with water both direction with an adapter hooked up to a hose. I’ve got it all down to such a routine it doesn’t take much time and cooling 11 gallons of wort so quickly saves a lot of time.

[quote=“Vulkin’”]Well at least I am not the only one trying to figure this out.

Barry[/quote]

I’m also glad to hear the same thing.

For the record, I use a hop spider, backflush with pbw, try to sterilize it with boiling water on brew day, and try not to sweat the “gunk.” So far, I haven’t had a contamination issue. I will be picking up a hose adapter contraption for $12 to blast super-hot tap water through it, too… just for peace of mind really, and $12 seems reasonable for that.

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