Creating your own beer beverage at home can be a satisfying task but there are many important factors that go into creating the perfect brew. Skipping steps or using the wrong equipment can result in disappointing results and a beverage that ends up going down the drain.
Wort chillers are essential when it comes to brewing beer. During the brewing process, you need to cool the wort down to a temperature that is ideal when adding beer yeast. This is an important step to creating a delicious beer.
We have listed our top favorite wort chillers, each with an extensive review as well as their pros and cons. There are various styles of wort chillers on the market and if you are unfamiliar with the varying styles we have also included in-depth buyers guide to help you through the process.
|Northern Brewer Silver Serpent Immersion Wort ChillerEditor's Choice||Immersion||Stainless Steel|
|Home Brew Stuff WC-25 Copper Wort ChillerEditor's Choice||Immersion||Copper|
|NY Brew Supply W3850-CV Copper Wort Chiller||Immersion||Copper|
|Kegco's Stainless Steel Counterflow Chiller||Counterflow||Stainless Steel|
|NY Brew Supply Deluxe Counterflow Wort Chiller||Counterflow||Copper|
|NY Brew Supply Super Efficient 25' Counterflow Wort Chiller||Counterflow||Plastic|
This immersion chiller is a favorite among brewers and is considered a best in class product. With barbed fittings and a drop-angle, the Northern Brewer is considered the most sanitary brewer on the market.
The Silver Serpent can be used with any standard garden hose connection if you’d prefer to brew outside. When in need of a chilling water source, it can also be connected to a laundry sink faucet.
This stainless steel wort chiller comes fully assembled and has drop-angle connections to help prevent contamination. This ensures that any accidental leaks will remain outside of the kettle and away from the wort.
The drop-angle eliminates the problem of a kinking tube. The proprietary barb fittings ensure secure tubing. The tubing can easily hang without kinks, tension, or problems and provide maximum flow without the extra annoyances.
A super efficient immersion style wort chiller designed with 25-foot copper that keeps the coils elevated for optimal efficiency. The 3/8 inch copper coils are created to reduce contamination and environmental exposure. Copper is beneficial in imparting trace minerals to increase the benefits of the yeast in your beer.
The Home Brew Chiller is designed for 5-gallon batches of your favorite brew. Due to the size of the coil, your wort will be cooled in a matter of minutes through the efficiently balanced flow rate and heat transfer.
The chiller has a brass garden hose fitting for outside brewing. It has a 6-inch inlet and outlet hoses, a height of 16 inches, a width of 9 inches, and a weight of 4 lbs. Its length and width of copper tubing allow for quick cooling of your wort while reducing water waste.
The NY Brew Supply chiller is made from 50 feet of copper tubing. The 3/8 inch tubing will quickly cool your wort in a matter of minutes with a low-temperature rating of 1-degree Celsius. The immersion chiller is designed to be super efficient and is recommended for 5 to 15-gallon batches of your favorite brew.
The copper wort chiller comes with a continuous 12 feet of vinyl tubing so you can easily cut your desired lengths. It has a high-quality brass garden hose adaptor and stainless steel clamps.
The Kegco’s counterflow chiller is constructed of 12-inch by 5/8th-inch stainless steel tubing with an additional 7/8th-inch stainless steel for extra durability. The stainless steel construction ensures that you will be using a chiller that is more durable and easy to maintain.
The Kegco Chiller is approximately 10 and 1/4 inches high and 6 inches in diameter, with a coil that is approximately 6 inches in diameter. It has 1/2 inch tubing and hose clams as well as 3/4 inch male and female hose connections.
This deluxe counterflow wort chiller has 25 feet of 1/2 inch copper tubing that provides efficient heat transfer. It also has an outer coil that is a highly durable 3/4 inch hose and can maintain high temperatures without getting brittle.
The Deluxe Counterflow Chiller comes with heavy-duty brass fittings for connecting to a garden hose or other cold water source. The fittings are designed to be adjusted to the proper position and angle of the output and input hoses.
A super efficient 25-foot wort chiller with a 3/8th inch outside diameter of wort line. The chiller has a fast gravity flow and decreases temperatures quickly and efficiently. Its high-quality parts and fittings ensure that you will not encounter any issues.
Why You Need A Wort Chiller
A wort chiller can improve the quality of your beer in many ways. Cooling wort down to a prime temperature protects your beer from certain infections. If the wort is cooled too slowly it can be susceptible to oxidation damage. Using a wort chilling can decrease the chance of ruining a good product.
The key aspect in the production of wort is transforming insoluble malt compounds by means of enzymatic reactions. You must then chill the wort to lower the temperature of oxygenated air so that the beer yeast can work efficiently. This process also leads entrapped wort particles into the sediment.
Using a wort chiller can also prevent off-flavoring in your beer. It prevents the production of dimethyl sulfide, which is a bacterial contamination that can happen during the malt and brewing process. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dimethyl_sulfide I can also help reduce what is referred to as ‘chill haze’ which results in a cloudy beer. This happens when the wort is not cooled down sufficiently and does not generate enough cold break.
When brewing beer the aim is to get the wort below 80 degrees Fahrenheit otherwise you risk contaminating the product. Using a wort chiller can take care of this problem for you with ease.
Which Wort Chiller is The Best?
There are certain factors to consider when shopping around for a wort chiller. Do you want a counterflow or an immersion wort chiller? Do you want a wort chiller made of stainless steel or copper? Here we have laid out the differences between these types and how one may be more beneficial than the other.
Immersion Wort Chillers
These are the most commonly used types of wort chillers due to their usability. It is a copper coil tube that is usually 20 to 40 feet in length. The tubes have both inlet and outlet fittings, with a garden hose that is fixed to the inlet and another hose fitted to the outlet fitting.
The chiller is connected to a cold water source that is then immersed into the hot wort. The wort temperature decreases from 210 degrees Fahrenheit to 60 degrees Fahrenheit with a one hour maximum cooling time.
While this style of wort cooler has a longer cooling time, it is beneficial in its ease of use. Sanitation is easy and is done once it has been plunged into the hot wort.
Counterflow Wort Chillers
Counterflow chillers work quite differently than the immersion styles. They operate by inverse refrigeration and a kettle connection is necessary. They do not plug directly into the hot wort but rather the hot wort is pushed through the coils after entry.
Counterflow wort chillers have copper tubing that is surrounded by a plastic tube. Cold water runs through the outer plastic tubing which cools the wort from 210 degrees Fahrenheit to 60 degrees Fahrenheit in a matter of 15 to 20 minutes.
The advantage of a counterflow chiller is the speed of the cooling down period. It takes nearly one quarter the amount of time for cooldown compared to the immersion style chiller. However, the disadvantage of this type of chiller is the amount of maintenance it requires.
Copper VS Stainless Steel
Believe it or not, there is a difference between using a copper versus a stainless steel chiller. While it pretty much comes down to your own personal preference, there are some facts you should consider when trying to decided which type to purchase.
Copper Immersion Wort Chillers
This is actually the standard material that most manufacturers use in their product. Copper has the ability to transfer heat at a higher exchange rate. Copper and other trace minerals are also good for the yeast. Copper is easier to manipulate and can be welded, soldered, and brazed. Over time, copper develops a dull and stable oxide layer that resists corrosion in the wort. Less cleaning is required to remove wort protein, hop residue, and surface grime in a copper chiller.
Unfortunately, copper is not as rigid as its stainless steel counterpart. It also has the downfall of possibly developing Verdigris, which is a green-blue toxic oxide. Storing it in a dry environment can prevent the onset of Verdigris.
Stainless Steel Immersion Chillers
Due to rising copper costs, stainless steel has begun to grow in popularity. It is considered the gold standard when it comes to brewing equipment. Stainless steel has superb corrosion resistance and is very easy to keep clean. It is a rigid material that can last a lifetime when properly cared for.
There are a few disadvantages to stainless steel. It is hard to manipulate, which can make the set-up more difficult when you need to make some adjustments. It also does not leave behind any of the beneficial trace elements that are required for the yeast. Stainless steel is also not quite as efficient as copper which can cause some problems and lead to a weak cold break and a longer isomerization of hop alpha acids.
How Do You Use a Wort Chiller?
Using a wort chiller is a fairly straight forward process. The concept is to cool the wort down in a reasonable amount of time to a temperature below 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The copper or stainless steel tubing is generally 25 to 50 feet long and is formed into a coil that is then submerged into the wort to cool it down.
Once you have finished the boil you simply connect the chiller to a cold water source. Many brewers find that doing this process outside is most convenient and easy. You can simply connect the chiller to the garden hose. If you’re happier working indoors you can attach it to a laundry faucet.
You then run the water through the chiller until the wort has gotten to the optimal temperature to pitch the yeast. The thing to remember is to not cool the wort too much or it’ll take longer for fermentation to begin. You can refer to your chillers guide to determine which is the best temperature for that model.
Cleaning a Wort Chiller
Immersion chillers are the easiest ones to clean. With this style, you’ll only need to wash the exterior of the coils. This can be done by simply spraying them down with a hose, making sure to rinse off any of the gunk.
Counterflow chillers take a little more time and patience to sanitize. Cleaning of this type consists of doing a hot caustic flush through the tubing followed by a water flush. Using a manufacturer recommended sanitizer or cleaning solution is also recommended. This process should be done after each use.
Extra Tips and Advice
If you have poor water pressure then you may need to get yourself a water pump. This can also come in handy if you want to reticulated water. While there are various types of water pumps available on the market, many homebrewers opt for the basic pump that is commonly used in ponds and aquariums.
If your ground water is not quite as chilly as desired then it will not be sufficient in chilling the wort to the proper low temperature. If this is the case then you may need to create a cooling water pre-chiller set up. This can be done by placing a copper coil into a bucket of ice water. The ideal length of the copper coil should be 25 to 50 feet in length. Place this between the chiller and your water source, and allow the groundwater to be cooled in the pre-chiller before it enters the chiller.
Ready, Set, Brew!
When it comes to a wort chiller it’s pretty much personal preference. If you can’t decide between stainless steel or a copper chiller then you may want to consider the positive facts of the good old standby, copper. It not only offers ease of use with its flexibility and easy cleaning but the extra benefit of trace minerals it leaves behind for the yeast, and higher heat transfers.
If you are having some difficulty trying to decide whether to purchase a counterflow or immersion style chiller then we can give you a few recommendations. If time isn’t an issue for you then we’d recommend getting an immersion wort chiller. This type of chiller is easy to use and sanitation is a snap. If you don’t want to have to wait an hour during the cooling down time then we’d recommend getting the counterflow wort chiller. While this chiller requires a little more maintenance, it only takes approximately 15 to minutes during the cooling down time.
Now that you have all of the facts and information needed to make an educated purchase, it’s time to get yourself a wort chiller. You’ll be brewing and enjoying your favorite beer in no time.