Tips and tricks for plate chillers

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hoppyscotty

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So I've taken the plunge and got a plate chiller. Some initial testing with water have been really successful...from boiling to pitching temp in one pass so I'm quite excited about the saving of 40+ minutes on a brew day, saving of water.

Now for the downsides...the cleaning of them. I realise that the best way to reduce cleaning of them and problems is to prevent crap from getting in there in the first place. So I'll be busting out the hop spider for the in-boil additions and have a hop missile to use as a hop back for the flame out/whirlpool/hopstand additions. But I know despite keeping the hop matter out there is all sorts of other fine debris from the malt that inevitably gets through that could get into the plate chiller and could built up and cause a blockage.

I was watching a YouTube video recently featuring a pro brewery and noticed they had a Y-strainer in line before their plate chiller so wondered about utilising one of these. Anyone with any experience of this or something similar to filter the wort before the plate chiller?

Also any other hints, tips and tricks for using a plate chiller would be welcome.

Thanks.
 

RoomWithABrew

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I hope that the hop missile will act as a pretty good filter. I just received my hop missile to use before the counter flow chiller. Might use it after chill and whirlpool during transfer as a final filter of the wort with some oat hulls in.
Trouble is the bottom of the cylinder edge was knife sharp all the way round ( I could cut paper with it !! ) and also the bit that fitted onto it held by a clamp was sharp as well. So it's been returned. Although the company said file the edge down the supplier not happy with that attitude at all and asked for it back to investigate and exchange.
I've asked on several channels about how to clean the plate chillers and saw the moaning about the ongoing crud that came out ( flora brewing springs to mind ) this put me off getting a plate chiller and so I went for the coolossus.
I'll wait to hear your outcomes.
 

Hazelwood Brewery

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Filtering is good, you want to minimise anything getting into your plate chiller - but some fine debris will always get through. After a brew-day I always flush mine through with hot water until the water runs clear and then recirculate clean hot water through it for a few minutes using my pump. Finally I give it a good shake to get out as much water as I can.

Every few brews I soak it, submerged, in a strong and very hot sodium percarbonate solution. Rinse out by pumping clean water through and shake out any water as above.
 

hoppyscotty

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Good point on the hop missile acting as a filter...especially since I'll be using it with pellet hops in a hop sock with rice hulls.

Yes seems to be alot of hate of plate chillers out there but yet they are still used prodomenatnly in the trade...I know much larger volumes etc, but they obviously don't have the same issues as home brewers so hoping a strict post brewery schedule of cleaning with some efforts to filter before the plate chiller will keep issues at bay. I do go a bit overboard with the cleaning of equipment post brew day anyway so incorporating the plate chiller into that shouldn't be too much of a chore.

I was thinking initially of a flush and back flush with water, then fill with PBW overnight, flush with water then fill with star san until next brew day. This is what I do with fermentors and kegs so works well for them as they are always squeaky clean with no organic matter building up.
 

RoomWithABrew

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seems like a good starting point. The solution to pollution is dilution, well at least that's what we say when we operate. But it's not brewing!
 

dcbrookes

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For my last two brews I have been using the helical coil filter from AliExpress on the pump inlet of my Brew Monk. I have been amazed at how little hop material there was in the plate chiller when flushed afterwards (i.e. no hint of green in the water coming out). I have used several immersion chillers, several plate chillers and the Coolossus over the years and I have come to the conclusion that nothing but nothing beats a good big plate chiller, so finding a method of minimising hop material transfer is a big plus.
 

hoppyscotty

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Used it for the first time last weekend and all went very well. It cleaned up nicely with no sign of debris when I flushed and back flushed the chiller. I did use a hop spider and pump the wort through it during the boil to get the fine matter out (guess this is malt dust from the mash) but not sure if this matter would cause a blockage as its pretty fine and probably is suspended nice and evenly in the wort so would probably just flow through the chiller no problem, but best to not have it in there in the first place of course. And used the spider for the small amount of bettering hops...there I upped the hops in the hop stand from 50g to 150g using the hop missile and everything worked like a charm. Pitched form 80 degrees to 23 in one pass through the hop missile. Looking forward to trying the beer now.
 

RoomWithABrew

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@hoppyscotty
Assume the hop missile before the plate chiller?
Just got my hop missile back after they had to file the sharp edges down. Must have been a batch problem as they couldn't send me a replacement.
Using mine this weekend for a double batch.
 

hoppyscotty

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Just had my first batch of beer out that I used the hop missile on. I used the hop missile as a hop back instead of usual whirlpool steep and increases hop amounts by 50% vs the recipe in both hop back and dry hop and I finally got that fresh hop aroma I’ve been chasing. Not sure what contribution is the hop missile be increase in hop amounts but think I’m on the right track. Using the hop missile takes the 15 to 20 minute steep time out of the brew day and the plate chiller reduces cooling times from about 40 mins with my immersion coil to about 10 mins with the plate chiller so a good hour or so out of the brew day.
 

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