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New and More Efficient Wort Chilling Method?

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by BrewerB, Jun 20, 2012.

  1. BrewerB

    BrewerB Savant (445) Florida Mar 5, 2008

    Has anyone ever tried an alternate method of wort chilling by which you pump your hot wort through an immersion chiller that is sitting in a bucket of cold or ice cold water? This seems more efficient to me than the typical method of pumping hose water through an immersion chiller sitting in the hot wort.

    I'm considering switching to this method but was wondering:

    A) Has anyone tried this yet and if so, does it work?
    B) Are there things I should be concerned with in implementing this method of chilling?

    It goes without saying that I'd need to properly, thoroughly clean and sanitize my chiller prior to each use for this method.

    Why am I considering this?

    The standard immersion chilling method involves exposing a large volume of hot wort to a much smaller volume of colder copper coils. In the other scenario, we're reversing the tables and pumping a small volume of hot wort through a potentially much larger volume of cold (or ice cold) water. It seems to me that exposing a smaller portion of hot wort to a much larger volume of cold water would be far more efficient at cooling down the hot wort.

    One of the issues I've always had with my immersion chillers is the amount of water it takes to cool things down to pitching temp. Typically, I'm running 15+ gallons of water through the chiller to cool down my 6 or so gallons of hot wort. If I'm using a pre-chiller, this can easily take over 20 gallons. Even so, I usually don't get the wort down to ale pitching temps (under 70F) without using far more than 20 gallons and spending a lot of time in the process. On my last ale batch, I stopped the cooling with the wort at around 80F and let the fridge finish the rest of the job (which took another 5 hours).

    While I can find ways to use some of this extra water (plants, doing dishes, flushing toilets, etc), it has always felt rather wasteful and I always end up dumping 5+ gallons down the drain. I think that with just 5 gallons of ice cold water I could easily cool down an entire carboy of hot wort but would like to hear what the fellow homebrewing community thinks.
     
  2. Google "counter flow chiller."
     
    meatballj626j likes this.
  3. VikeMan

    VikeMan Champion (820) Pennsylvania Jul 12, 2009

    What you're describing could either be considered 1/2 of a counterflow chiller, or as a jockey box. Jockey boxes are great for chilling beer down to serving temperature a few ounces at a time, but wouldn't be particularly efficient at rapid chilling of wort. Look at counterflow chillers, plate chillers, pre-chillers, or recirculating chillers for better options.
     
  4. telejunkie

    telejunkie Savant (365) Vermont Sep 14, 2007

    would definitely work, you just need to be sure that you keep the ice bath in constant motion and well stocked with ice. Not sure what your kettle looks like, but you would need to have a outlet valve and I would recommend a return/whirlpool inlet valve.
     
  5. leedorham

    leedorham Champion (835) Washington Apr 27, 2006

    If you use a sump pump, you don't need the second copper coil. You could do this:
    -Fill garbage can with ice
    -Run hose water on to top of ice (using a sprayer/sprinkler to disperse would help)
    -pump water from the bottom of the garbage can into the wort chiller

    From there you could either recirculate some/all of the water or just drain as usual, depending on how your water temps are.

    I have a rig that could do this (Link) but our groundwater is so cold that it isn't really an issue. In the winter I do use it to recirculate chilling water through an ice bath and it works well. The reason for using it in the winter is because my outside water needs to be shut off in the winter to avoid freezing.
     
  6. With the equipment you are describing and a small pond pump, you could recirculate your water through the immersion chiller in a bucket with ice water. A chiller set up with ice cold water will knock the temp down to pitching temp in no time. Sanitizing all of that copper tubing on the inside will be more time consuming than cleaning the outside of it and just dropping it in the wort for a few minutes at the end of the boil. I use a counter flow chiller and I would recommend having a flow control for water and for wort along with a temp monitor for the chilled wort. You want your wort to be at pitching temp when you fill the fermentor. Nothing is worse than knowing you can not pitch yeast because the wort is too hot or cold.
     
  7. rocdoc1

    rocdoc1 Savant (425) New Mexico Jan 13, 2006

    My groundwater is around 75F in the winter 85 in the summer. I use an immersion chiller to get the wort to around 100F, then I circulate the wort(with a pump) through an old immersion chiller sitting in an ice bath, back to the kettle. hen the wort gets to around 70F I start pumping to the fermenter, but slowly so it spends more time in the ice bath. Using this method I get 11 gallons down to the high 60's in about 30 minutes.
    When I'm finished pumping the wort I pump about 3 or 4 gallons of boiling water through the system to clean any wort and hop debris out. Then when I'm ready to brew the next batch I pump a Starsan solution into the pump and old immersion chiller and let it sit. The acid cleans the copper nicely and sanitizes. 25 or 30 batches with this setup and I've never had an infected beer.