Author Topic: New to Plate Chiller - Should I Recirculate  (Read 19638 times)

Offline landsg

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New to Plate Chiller - Should I Recirculate
« on: November 24, 2013, 09:34:55 PM »
Hello All:

I have been brewing all grain for the last year or so, and recently bought a plate chiller (20 plate from Duda Diesel) to cool wort after boiling.  Previously I was using an immersion chiller with recirculating ice water.  The allure of getting the boiling wort to pitching temp was enough to get me to try it.  I use a hop spider to get most of the pellet hops filtered out, so clogging things up isn't a worry. 

Recently I have read how some brewers recirculate through their plate chiller first to get to pitching temp, and at the same time whirlpool to settle out the break material.  Can anyone post a pic or two of how they do the whirlpool assembly?  I would love to try this before my next brew day.  Thanks in advance for any help you can offer.  Cheers.

Offline jomebrew

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Re: New to Plate Chiller - Should I Recirculate
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2013, 09:15:30 AM »
I usually recirculate using tubing clipped to the side of my kettle and submerged just under the surface.   This creates a decent whirlpool.  I drop in my flameout hops and let it whirlpool until I am ready to transfer to the carboy.  I collect the initial hot water from the plate chiller out for cleaning.  I like to clean out the mashtun during this time and use the out water from the chiller to rinse.   Some times it is a couple minutes, some times 20 minutes, and sometimes I go straight to the carboy.   The flow rate of the input cold water and the water temperature makes a huge difference when trying to go from boil to pitching temp. 

High volume, cold water is what you need for a single pass.   In the summer, I use my immersion chiller to prechill with ice water.  In the winter, I just use ground water only.   Either way, I can go from boiling to pitching by adjusting the flow rate into the kettle.

I use the collected hot water with PBW to recirculate and clean my plate chiller.  I usually recirc an hour or so while getting the wort ready for fermentation and while cleaning up.

Cheers!
Joe

Offline RiverBrewer

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Re: New to Plate Chiller - Should I Recirculate
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2013, 09:18:17 AM »
You don't want to recirculate through your plate chiller. Your just asking for trouble! I have two ball valves on my boil pot: 1) standard drain 2) whirlpool inlet. Whirlpool from the drain>March pump>whirlpool inlet. I also use a hop blocker to protect the pump. Before I start the pump I start the whirlpool by stirring quite aggressively.
 
Keep in mind it takes commercial brewers more than an hour to cool their wort. Only home brewers can cool quickly. My last whirlpool was 50 minutes with a 10 minute settle. The wort went from 212 degrees to 170 degrees in that time.

When masking lagers I have done a two pass method where I do a quick pass through the plate chiller to my SANITIZED hot liquor tank ending up about 90 degrees and then cycling again using ice water recirculating in my plate chiller to the carboys at 45 degrees.

I now love my plate chiller now that I know how to use it. Believe me I wanted to drag it behind my truck on more than one occasion. When your chilling remember that the internal channels of the cooler have to deal with particulate matter from the boil and the cold break material created by cooling. Pumping wort into a carboy that is at pitching temperature is your target. So pump slowly! You have to jockey the wort speed with the chilling water volume & temperature going through the chiller to get the desired temp. That's the fun part, Good Luck!

 
« Last Edit: November 25, 2013, 09:21:47 AM by RiverBrewer »
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Offline landsg

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Re: New to Plate Chiller - Should I Recirculate
« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2013, 04:13:33 PM »
OK, thanks for the comments thus far.  One additional question. I thought recirculating through the chiller plate was good since it would force the cold break material back into the kettle where it would settle out while whirlpooling.  If you go straight into fermenter in a single pass, won't that force the break/trub into it?  In other words, if you cool all in one pass, the break forms inside the plate chiller and contributes to haze.  Correct?

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Re: New to Plate Chiller - Should I Recirculate
« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2013, 04:53:39 PM »
I always chill direct to my fermenter and put it in the fridge and just wait til the cold break drops, rack the next day, then pitch.  I use a copper cfc but its the same idea as a plate chiller.  Tried the recirculation back to the kettle but the wort stays at elevated temps for quite a while in the kettle when your chilling 13 or so gallons.  Then the wait after that for everything to settle...I do all that at cold temps. 

Offline RiverBrewer

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Re: New to Plate Chiller - Should I Recirculate
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2013, 07:13:37 PM »
I thought recirculating through the chiller plate was good since it would force the cold break material back into the kettle where it would settle out while whirlpooling.  If you go straight into fermenter in a single pass, won't that force the break/trub into it?  In other words, if you cool all in one pass, the break forms inside the plate chiller and contributes to haze.  Correct?

Yes the cold break goes into the carboy. Initially I might have 2-3 inches of it in the bottom. You might want to ask Brewfun what happens to it, but it is gone in a couple of days and you are left with dense trub and yeast in an 1 inch layer. The yeast must devour it. Cold break is very fluid and doesn't initially settle well. I haven't been able to physically filter it out either. I don't know if it react to Irish Mosss the way hot break does.
Well maybe I need to open How to Brew again!

Again you can't vigorously pump through a plate chiller because it will clog with trub, so you aren't going to cool down your wort very fast. A large diameter 30 gallon whirlpooled boil pot sure helps keep the trub pile in the center away from the drain. Making low hopped beers would help too, but the faster you pump the more apt you are to start sucking undesirables.

I know there is somebody out there that will tell you they do it all the time and have never clogged the plate chiller. Don't overthink the possibilities of the process right now. Get ready to experience a real brewing poltergeist as you wrestle with your plate chiller. It took me 9 months/14 thirteen gallon batches to tame my devious 50 plate chiller.

Post when you clog it!
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Offline landsg

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Re: New to Plate Chiller - Should I Recirculate
« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2013, 08:49:03 PM »
Thanks for all the replies, much appreciated!  I think I will just try to regulate the amount of wort I'm pumping through the plate chiller to get it down to the right temp, then go direct into the fermenter for now and see what happens.

Cheers!

Offline philm63

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Re: New to Plate Chiller - Should I Recirculate
« Reply #7 on: November 28, 2013, 08:10:47 AM »
Now y'all got me wondering; does anyone use a Blichmann Hop Rocket in-line with their pump and plate chiller?

The way I see it, independent of whether or not you want to use it in the traditional way (stuffed full of whole hop cones), the Hop Rocket can be stuffed with a couple of large paint-strainer bags (I used to use these for mashing when I did partial-mash and have a bunch in stock) - this would/should provide a filter medium to be used after the pump and before the plate chiller, no?

This methods seems like it should trap the hop material pretty well, and if you recirculate until you've reached your desired pitching temperature, this filter would also be catching most if not all of the cold break material giving a fairly clear wort transfer to the fermenter.

I too just installed another valve near the top of my boil kettle and have a pump all set up and ready to go for my next brew. For now, I am just going to use it to recirculate the wort while I chill using my present immersion chiller set-up, but eventually I want to try a plate chiller. I have no problem running hop material through the pump, but I don't think I want to try and stuff all that junk through a plate chiller 'cause that just sounds like you're asking for trouble.

Anyone use a Hop Rocket as a filter in this manner? Does this sound like it would work without too much risk of clogging?
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Offline RiverBrewer

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Re: New to Plate Chiller - Should I Recirculate
« Reply #8 on: November 28, 2013, 09:40:44 AM »
I have using the HopRocket for the last year as a filter. I did start with hops and hop bags, but didn't like to clean the bags. Never got much effect on the beer from hop backing, so I switched to whirlpooling. A BN'er came up with the idea of using fish filter floss. Did some research about polyester fiber. Melting point is around 400 degrees F.
Once I knew I could sanitize with boiling water, I ran with it. No more filter problems! I found out that all polyester isn't the same, some of it is kind of chopped short fibers. The short fibers aren't as good for packing in the HopRocket. The Morning Glory Premium polyester Fiberfil 20 oz (green trim on the bag), works best (UPC code #26541 18820). A few bucks at Walmart for at least dozen batches. It's in the Home Craft & Sewing Dept., not the Pet Department!
When your done, in the garbage the fiber goes. You can still throw some hops in there, too! It took some experimenting to learn to pack it. You still need to stir a whirlpool by spoon or pump to get the majority of the trub to settle in the center of the boil pot. I sanitize with boiling water from extra water stash in my HLT while boiling the wort.
   
When just reread the previous post, I don't recirculate to remove cold break with the hoprocket. I just use it for protecting the chiller before the wort goes into the carboy. I really don't know what happens when the cold break comes back into the hotter solution? The cold break is very fluid. It would be a real hassle to bleed the air out of the system to get a good draw by putting another hoprocket on the outlet to try. KernelCrush has the best approach, if cold break is a concern.
« Last Edit: November 28, 2013, 09:29:32 PM by RiverBrewer »
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Offline brewfun

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Re: New to Plate Chiller - Should I Recirculate
« Reply #9 on: November 28, 2013, 11:13:14 AM »
Beer Appreciation is the space between pints.

Offline philm63

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Re: New to Plate Chiller - Should I Recirculate
« Reply #10 on: November 28, 2013, 12:16:59 PM »
using fish filter floss.

LIKE!

Yeah, I had to Google that one... interesting stuff learned on this forum, no doubt.
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Offline RiverBrewer

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Re: New to Plate Chiller - Should I Recirculate
« Reply #11 on: November 28, 2013, 12:44:04 PM »
Actually it is teddy bear stuffing!

Packing is easy, remove the rubber ring gasket from the screen/dome assembly, you don't need it.
Start with a ~10 inch raggedly torn circle a couple of inches thick. Center poly over HopRocket opening.
Push the screen/dome assembly back into it's normal location. Tuck excess around the perforated dome.
Add another chunk of poly to fill in the back plus a little to compress when installing the end cover.
I tried several packing options but this one worked best.
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« Last Edit: December 07, 2013, 11:11:39 AM by RiverBrewer »
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