Wort Chiller

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by ScorseseZoe, Feb 12, 2013.

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  1. ScorseseZoe

    ScorseseZoe Initiate (179) Jun 1, 2008 California
    Beer Trader

    So I've been doing a lot of research on purchasing a wort chiller but still can't discern how much of a difference a 50' would make compared to a 25'? Is it worth the extra $30 or so for the few minutes of time I might save brewing my five gallon batches, or are there more significant reasons why I should go for the 50'?
  2. inchrisin

    inchrisin Defender (654) Sep 25, 2008 Indiana

    Go big or go home. If 50 will fit in your kettle get that one. You're hearing if from the guy who's on his 3rd chiller. The time difference is noticeable and usually by about hour 3 or 4, I just want to finish up for the day.
    Naugled, jsullivan02130 and MMAJYK like this.
  3. geocool

    geocool Initiate (175) Jun 21, 2006 Massachusetts

    The inner diameter is also important (some say more important). If you're doing partial-boil, a 3/8" ID 25' chiller is fine. If you're doing full boils why not upgrade to 50'? And while you're doing that, also upgrade your ID to 1/2" to make real short work of it and allow you to upgrade to 10-15 gallon batches in the future if you ever so decide.
  4. ericj551

    ericj551 Initiate (0) Apr 29, 2004 Alberta (Canada)

    I bought a 50 foot chiller and I'm really happy with it. Wort goes from boiling to 65 degrees in 10 minutes or so (in the winter). They are pretty simple to build, but I was glad to have bought one that was professionally made. I've seen a lot of homemade ones that look it, and I would be the person to kink the copper and break it.

    If you think about the 10 or 15 minutes you save with a bigger chiller, times maybe 100 batches, that 15-20 hours saved.
  5. JimSmetana

    JimSmetana Initiate (0) May 11, 2012 Illinois

    BTW. Of all the home made brewing things you could make this is the easiest.
    Search for making your own plans on here. Wait for a sale on copper coil at Menards or somewhere and then make it.
  6. mikehartigan

    mikehartigan Aspirant (290) Apr 9, 2007 Illinois

    1/2" Copper coil is on sale at Menard's, even as I type this. $99 for 60' (not really a bargain, IMO). You're probably better off watching Craigslist or ebay, though you'll need some patience. I picked up 60' x 1/2" on ebay a few years ago for around $30. $50 with shipping.

    Edit: http://www.ebay.com/itm/HOMEWERKS-C...440?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5652b01b18

    99 cents for 60' + $24.95 shipping (assuming nobody else bids ;))

    FYI, this is type L, so it uses standard 1/2" couplers, elbows, etc. Many you'll find on ebay are refrigeration, so you may need to finesse the connections a bit. Somebody could probably fill in the details better than I can.
  7. ScorseseZoe

    ScorseseZoe Initiate (179) Jun 1, 2008 California
    Beer Trader

    Thanks for all the advice! Im not particularly handy so I think I'm gonna go with the 50' from NY Brew Supply. Anyone purchased from them before?
  8. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Defender (658) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    If your water temp is under 60*F you should be fine for 5 gal batches with a 25'er (and much easier to stir/whirlpool your wort with it)
  9. cates1tg

    cates1tg Initiate (0) Jul 18, 2010 Michigan

    I made my own wort chiller a few weeks back out of 25 feet of 3/8" ID copper. It works pretty well for me and using my kitchen faucet it got 5 gallons from boiling down to 65 degrees in a little over 15 minutes. Ideally, I'd like to have around 40 feet or so for my 7.5 gallon kettle, but what I have now works great. When everything was said and done mine cost about the same price as a prefabricated one at the homebrew shops around me, but I don't think that many of the prefab'd wort chillers are this diameter.
  10. mattclough

    mattclough Initiate (0) Jan 31, 2013 Virginia

    My buddy and I got a 50' copper immersion coil a while ago. The first time we used it, it still took forever to cool down our keggle. We made a few adjustments and essentially turned it into a counterflow chiller, and the difference is insane. Our last brew the beer came out of the chiller at 45 degrees so we cut the hose off about half way through. Took about 15 minutes. So, if you end up going counterflow, you don't need nearly as much it seems.
  11. geocool

    geocool Initiate (175) Jun 21, 2006 Massachusetts

    Yes, I purchased this one a few years ago and have been quite happy with it. I brew 10 gallon batches.
  12. mikehartigan

    mikehartigan Aspirant (290) Apr 9, 2007 Illinois

    45 degrees in Baltimore? What's the source of your chilling water?
    You can get roughly the same efficiency from an immersion chiller with the addition of a whirlpool attachment. Mine will chill 10 gallons from boiling to pitching temp in about 10 minutes if the chilling water is cold enough (nowhere near 45)
  13. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,223) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    Yes, just got 10 gallons down to 65 F in 15 minutes last Thursday. 50 ft 1/2 inch tubing with the whirlpool return.
  14. MLucky

    MLucky Initiate (0) Jul 31, 2010 California

    You should see the one I tried to re-shape. It's pretty ghetto-looking now! My kettle is very wide and flat on the bottom, so I thought maybe the chiller would work better if I widened out the coils. Not only did not improve performance, now it looks like something you'd find at the dump. Oh well.

    BTW, the thing that improves chiller performance the most in my experience is getting a good whirlpool going, either with a pump or by using elbow grease.
  15. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,223) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    You want to have the water flowing at >1 liter minute, the higher the better. The wort should be moving, or you will get stratified temperature gradients, and the wort moving around the chiller helps heat transfer.

    The big parameters are surface area, Delta T, and flow rates.
  16. ericj551

    ericj551 Initiate (0) Apr 29, 2004 Alberta (Canada)

    Agreed. Like most of my brewing, I chose the low tech approach, I sit there and stir to achieve the whirlpool. As the wort gets cool I'll let it splash a bit and figure it's getting a little aeration too.
  17. mattclough

    mattclough Initiate (0) Jan 31, 2013 Virginia

    Yeah, I must say, I do appreciate doing most of the brewing low-tech. Last Saturday as my brewing partner and I were hoisting the keggle up to carefully pour it off into the lauter tun, I thought, "This would be so much less fun if I had some kind of giant mash pump." Same for recirculation pumps and the like; I really enjoy vigorously stirring the wort while heating up to rest temperatures.
  18. PortLargo

    PortLargo Devotee (454) Oct 19, 2012 Florida

    I offer a few observations:

    Your brew kettle geometry sometimes will determine the size. When I went from a 6 gal kettle to 8 gal, the height did not increase (just the diameter). My 25' chiller went to the surface on the small pot, same as the new and bigger pot. If you go bigger, make sure you don't have a portion of the chiller above the surface (duh!).

    Chillers really are easy to build. I had never seen one in person and made my own. The only thing required is about 5 bucks for a pipe bender and some time. I did not use garden hose connectors, rather flexible tubing connected to a submersible pump (Amazon), because my water supply is always warm. (The pump sits in a cooler filled with ice)

    Who says a chiller must be 25' or 50'? Study your brew kettle dimensions . . . maybe you want a 40' chiller (or ? ?). This is easy if you build your own.

    Knowing what I know now, I would use the 1/2" diameter tubing.
  19. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Savant (976) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    Hit your local forums and homebrew clubs. I got in touch with a local brewer who stopped using his immersion chiller because he went with a plate chiller. After talking I wound up trading him a couple of bombers for his chiller sans fittings and vinyl tubing. All in all I wound up with 30$ in beer and 4$ in hardware for a 50' immersion chiller. As far as equipment goes that has been my best investment and has lead to the quality of my brews making a huge jump in the rightdirection. Prior to this all my brews had an oxidized note to them, and now I don't get that "homebrew twang".
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