From the HBD Archive
Subject: Sterilizing counter-flow chillers
Date: 1992-06-22 14:45:00 GMT

>:Wort Chillers. OK, I am ready to take the step. The immersion
>variety seems more practical from a sanitation standpoint. I like the idea
>of keeping it clean, but sterilizing it just before use by inserting it into
>the boil for a few minutes before turning the water on.

Oh, well. Thought I'd do my part to dispel the ever-present notion
that counter-flow chillers are impractical or difficult to keep sterile.

When I finish using my counter flow chiller, I drain the chiller body
of water and siphon boiling hot water through the coils to cut the
malt sugars. I then follow with some of my clorox sterilant solution
and let it sit for about 30 minutes. Drain and store.

Before using the chiller for the next brewing session, I fill it with
sterilant again and let it sit for 30 minutes. As if this isn't
enough, before I actually start chilling the wort, I siphon the
boiling hot wort through the copper coils until the wort runs boiling
hot out the bottom. (If boiling hot wort is good enough to sterilize
immersion chillers, it's good enough to sterilize the counter-flow
chillers or else I'm missing something.) I then fill the chiller body
with water, return the collected wort back to the boiler and proceed
with the chilling procedure. I've used counter flow chillers for
eight years and have never had problems with contamination.

Add to this the fact that copper is used to sterilize swimming pools
because it has anti-bacterial properties (or so I'm told) and I've
never worried an iota about contamination with my chiller.

The following points are somewhat technical but I might add that
counter-flow chillers have several things in favor of them over
immersion chillers. (1) Shocking the wort cool produces better cold
break. (2) Since you can start siphoning immediately after finishing
the boil, it's a time saver. And finally (3) I'd argue that there is
less chance of bacterial infection with the counter-flow chiller
because any one drop of wort is going to go from boiling to pitching
temperature in about 6 seconds.

The down-side, of course, is that counter-flow chillers are both more
difficult to make and, if you buy one, are more expensive.

>From a purely technical point of view, I think counter-flow chillers
win out. But from an economic perspective, immersion chillers are the

But whatever the case, use one or the other. Wort-chillers are
essential to any homebrewery.

The AHA conference was indeed a blast. As mentioned by others, it was
great putting faces to email addresses. There must have been ten
times the number of online brewers at this conference compared to last
year so there's no way I can make disparaging comments about those I
met like I did last year. So count your blessings. :-)

Still I'd be remiss if I didn't say thanks to Martin Lodahl and Mike
Sharpe for their outstanding lambic beer tasting and the information
they provided to us regarding this most unusual of all beer styles. I
thought Mike's framboise was remarkably close to style. Thank you,
thank you, thank you for sharing that with us. It was nectar of the
gods as far as I was concerned and feel privileged to have gotten a
chance to taste some of it.

Cheers, ya'll.

Kinney Baughman | Beer is my business and | I'm late for work.

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