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Brewing your own beer can be a rich experience. But it also calls for the use of the right kind of equipment so that the end result is a tasty, wholesome brew. Wort chiller is important equipment in the process of brewing beer.
What is a Wort Chiller?
Simply put a wort chiller is a piece of equipment that cools the wort quickly for pitching the yeast. Why hurry? Delayed cooling can cause bacteria formation in the wort and also affect the final taste of the beer due to production of the chemical dimethyl sulfide which can significantly alter the taste of beer.
Types of Wort Chillers
Wort chillers can be classified into three types. immersion chillers, counterflow chillers and plate chillers.
Immersion chillers are just what the name suggests. An immersion chiller consists of copper or stainless steel tightly coiled tubes which are immersed in the wort. Coldwater passes through the tubes thus cooling the wort. Immersion chillers are easy to use and most suitable for amateur brewers. Some users prefer copper immersion chillers due to its durability and heat conductivity. Some others argue that stainless steel is a better material due to ease of cleaning and zero risk of patina formation.
As with any product, there are plenty of pros and cons of immersion chillers. Some of them are discussed below.
Pros of Immersion Chillers
- Simple mechanism. Easy to use. All you need to do is fit the hose into the sink and immerse the unit into the wort.
- Quick sanitisation and cleanup. A simple process of immersing the chillers in the wort for the last 15 minutes of the boil is sufficient to sanitise this chiller. Cleanup after use is also easy. Just submerge the chiller in a cleaning solution after use.
- Economical. Immersion chillers are available at affordable prices from under $40 to a higher range of around $200 suited to various budgets.
- Flexible. Immersion chillers can be purchased depending on the batches brewed. 25-foot immersion chillers are available which are suitable for smaller gallons. Those wanting larger batches can purchase 50-foot coils.
- No risk of clogging. Since only water passes through the tubes they remain free of any clogs or residues for years.
Cons of Immersion Chillers
- Bulky. Takes up lots of storage space due to its design
- Extensive use of water. Immersion chillers require lots of water and this can be a problem depending on where you live,
- Slow. Compared to plate chillers, immersion chillers work slowly.
Counterflow chiller as the name suggests uses two tubes one inside another to cool the wort. The hot wort passes through the inner coil and cold water passes through the outer coil in the opposite direction and this action cools the wort. Let’s look at the pros and cons of counterflow chillers.
Pros of Counterflow Chillers
- They are faster than immersion chillers
- They are easy to clean
- They can be used with any size of kettles or pots since they do not need to be immersed in the wort.
Cons Of Counterflow Chillers
- They are expensive as compared to immersion chillers.
- They are not compact and occupy significant storage space.
- The tube inside the tube design makes them vulnerable to clogging.
Plate chillers contain stacked up plates bound by copper wires with pathways for the passage of wort and water. Water and wort flow in separate directions between the wide plates. The wort flows in one direction and water flows in the opposite direction and the wide plates allow faster dispensation of heat. The use of a pump can increase the efficiency of the plate chiller.
Pros of Plate Chillers
- They are compact. They can be easily stored and transported, unlike the bulky immersion wort chillers.
- They are faster. Compared to immersion chillers and counterflow chillers, plate chillers cool large gallons quickly.
- They are long-lasting.
- Less use of water.
Cons of Plate Chillers
- Expensive. In comparison to immersion chillers and counterflow chillers, plate chillers are expensive.
- Difficult to clean. The complex design makes cleaning the plate chillers an extremely cumbersome affair. They need to be backflushed with a cleaning solution, water and sterilizing solution in both directions.
- Risk of contamination. The plate chillers can never be dismantled fully. And hence there is always the risk of the residues causing contamination in fresh batches.
- Risk of clogging. It is advisable to use a hop spider before the wort goes to the chiller to avoid the risk of clogging.
Now that we’ve covered the 3 types of wort chillers, let’s have a look at some of the popular immersion chillers available in the market.
Best Immersion Wort Chiller Reviews
1. NY Brew Supply W3850-CV Super Efficient Copper Wort Chiller
- Material Type: Copper, Vinyl, Brass
- Included Components: Wort Chiller, Tubing, Garden Hose Fitting
Made in the USA this NY Brew W3850-CV is available at an affordable price and is perfect for those handling 5 to 15-gallon batches of brew. This unit is equipped with 50 feet of the 3/8 inch copper coil which promises efficient cooling. The 12 feet of vinyl tubing and high-quality brass hose adapter is easy to use and durable.
2. Kegco Copper Immersion Chiller
- IMMERSION CHILLER: This Kegco's Immersion Chiller will help you speed of your chilling process for you to avoid the inhabitant of yeast and bacteria.
- COPPER CONSTRUCTION: This chiller is constructed in 50' of 1/2" copper tubing and wounded into a tight stack of coils. Copper is known to have higher thermal conductivity of heat than stainless steel, allowing you to cool the wort faster.
- PROCESS PERFORMANCE: The Immersion Chiller pumps cold water in and out of the chiller while placing the chiller in the hot wort cooling it as fast as 20 minutes.
Kegco manufactures both copper as well as stainless steel immersion chillers. Kegco’s copper immersion chiller is made of 1/2″ copper tubes tightly coiled into a stack of 12″ diameter which is perfect for cooling large batches of 14 to 30 gallons. This unit is equipped with two garden hose thread (GHT) fitting which is capable of being attached to both garden hose faucets and utility sinks.
3. Northern Brewer Copperhead Immersion Wort Chiller
- We’ve taken our Copperhead Immersion Wort Chiller and added even more cooling power. 50’ of copper tubing combined with proprietary barbed fittings and our innovative drop-angle design, perfect for 10 - 15-gallon batches.
- Simply drop your clean chiller into the kettle a few minutes before the end of the boil and it will be ready to go.
- Brew with peace of mind like never before. Drop-angle connections keep surprise leaks outside your kettle and away from cooling wort.
This is a copper specimen of the popular Northern Brewer immersion coils. Coming from the house of the reputable Northern Brewer this immersion wort chiller come fully fabricated with clamps, tubing and barbed fittings making it easy to use. This unit is fitted with drop angle connections which eliminate worries about leakage and contamination.
4. Home Brew Stuff WC-25 Copper Wort Chiller
- Made in USA
- 3/8" copper, 25' length
- 6" inlet and outlet hoses
This economical Home Brew Stuff wort chiller with a 25 foot, 3/8 inch thick adjustable copper coil is intended for those brewing small batches of around 5 gallons. The unique design of the chiller keeps the coils uplifted which increases its efficiency and minimises chances of contamination from outside sources.
Now let’s take a look at some of the popular counterflow chillers in the market.
Best Counterflow Wort Chiller Reviews
1. Kegco Stainless Steel Counterflow Chiller
- COUNTERFLOW CHILLER: This Kegco's Stainless Steel Counterflow chiller can rapidly chill your wort twice as fast as a standard immersion wort chiller and does not need to be submerge in the wort, making it usable for any size brew pots or kettles.
- STAINLESS STEEL CONSTRUCTION: This chiller is constructed in 12' of 5/8" stainless steel with an addition of 7/8" stainless steel for durability. Stainless steel is known to be more durable towards wear and tear and easier to clean than copper, the cost is usually cheaper as well.
- PROCESS PERFORMANCE: The counterflow chiller pumps hot wort and cold water in the opposite directions to make the entire process more efficient and quicker. The inner tube is used to feed the hot wort, while cold water runs though the outer tube in the opposite direction.
Only stainless steel is used in the manufacturing of this durable Kego counterflow chiller. Designed like a tank the inner tube is made of 5/8 inch stainless steel and the outer tube is made of 7/8 inch stainless steel which increases its durability. Buyers are also provided with 1/2 inch tubing, hose clamps and male and female hose connectors.
2. NY Brew Supply 25 Counterflow Wort Chiller
This stylish looking NY Brew Supply counterflow chiller features an inner copper tubing and outer black hose. The outer black hose is made of high-quality rubber designed to withstand high temperatures. The adjustable premium brass fittings increase the utility of this unit.
3. Exchilerator Counterflow Chiller
- EASY TO USE - FAST CLEAN UP. The Maxx is for a brewer with pump, without pumps or with warm chilling water.
- USES FDA COMPLIANT copper, PEX, stainless collars, lead free solder and lead free brass fittings. Unlike garden hose designs with so called adjustable nut and ferrule fittings, the Exchilerator is skillfully soldered the full length of the fittings this leaves no place for infections to hide! (see cross sectional photo)
- READY TO BREW MANIFOLD INCLUDED temp gauge, 1/2" s/steel tee, 1/2" s/steel close nipple, 1/2" s/steel ball valve,brass garden hose adapters and a roll of Teflon tape comes standard on the Maxx.( see photo of parts included)
This counterflow chiller from Exchilerator boasts of an inner copper tubing, stainless collars and lead-free fittings which sort of justifies its slightly higher price. This ready to use unit does not require any assembling effort on the part of the user. The inner copper tubing ensures quick cooling of the wort.
4. Northern Brewer Stainless Steel Counterflow Wort Chiller
- Chill your wort like the professionals do!
- A full 18' of contact area for your wort! The tube-within-a-tube design allows for hot wort to flow through the chiller in one direction, while cooling water flows the opposite direction in a cooling jacket surrounding the wort.
- Threaded Stainless Steel Fittings for ALL Connections (unlike units from other manufacturers). No Brass Connections and No flimsy tubing clamps required.
The 5/8 ‘ outer tube and the 3/8″ inner tube of this unit is manufactured with 304 grade stainless steel making this chiller extremely durable. This Northern Brewer counterflow wort chiller can be used with a pump to improve its efficiency. The use of stainless steel makes this unit easy to clean and reduces the risk of corrosion.
Lastly, some of the highly-rated plate chillers are mentioned below.
Best Plate Wort Chiller Reviews
1. HFS Homebrew Beer Wort Chiller
- 304 Stainless with 99.9% Copper Brazing
- 2.9"W x 7.5"L x 30 Plates (3.5"H) --- 1/2"NPT Wort Fitting x 3/4" NPT Water Fitting
- -321F to 392F Temperature Range - Max PSI 145
This economical chiller falls in the lower range of plate chillers. This chiller has a 304 stainless steel body and gives buyers the option of choosing from 20 or 30 plate models. The plates are bound by 99.9 percent copper wires. This unit does not leak and cools wort quickly.
2. BestEquip 60 Plate Heat Exchanger Wort Chiller
- High Thermal Efficiency: Turbulent-flow design moves the two media in opposite directions and creates strong turbulences for superior heat transfer rates and efficiency. Our heat exchanger series have been certificated by CE.
- Energy Optimized: This heat exchanger stainless can heat water to the preset temperature, which is super energy-saving with no electricity consumption and no oxygen consumption.
- Robust Construction: This 60 plate heat exchanger features 316L stainless steel sheets, which are brazed together at the edges and the matrix of contact points for a reliable and rugged part to form a durable, integral piece that can withstand high pressure and temperature. Four thickened 1" MNPT ports for your easier installation.
This premium 60 plate wort chiller from BestEquip is made of thicker gauge 316L stainless steel and is hydraulic powered. This compact unit targeted at experienced brewers is suitable for cooling large gallons of brew quickly.
3. Blichmann Therminator
- Blichmann Therminator Stainless Wort Chiller
- Plate chiller
- Easy clean up
Blichmann Therminator has a functional design and contains 40 stainless steel plates held together with copper wires which increase its efficiency. This unit is accompanied with heavy gauge stainless mounting bracket and back-flush hose assembly. The male NPT fittings available with this unit fit all types of hose connectors.
4. Duda Energy 40 Plate Wort Chiller
- 304 Stainless Steel Plates with 99.9+% Copper Brazing, Design Pressure: 3.0 Mpa (435 psi)
- B3-36A Model Refrigeration Capacity: 4-15KW (17,000-61,200 BTU/hour)
- Recommended Max Water Flow Rate: 18.5 gpm, Design Temperature: -195°C to +220°C (-319°F to 430°F)
As the name suggests this Duda Energy wort chiller is equipped with 40 plates manufactured using food grade steel which makes it extremely safe to use. This unit is perfect for cooling 10 to 20 gallons of brew. Use of a pump increases the efficiency of this unit.
In the end, it would be sufficient to say that the decision to purchase a wort chiller has to be made taking into account the brewer`s budget, the gallon capacity and water supply among other factors. A compatible wort chiller makes the process of brewing beer a memorable affair. So pick the best wort chiller from above by the type you need and your brewing preferences.