What tools or tricks is everyone using to cool their wort down after the boil? How long does it take you to get down below 70 degrees? I am using an older copper wort chiller (hooks up to a garden hose) that a friend of mine made and has worked okay in the past but its getting kind of beat up and losing its nice coil shape so I was thinking of an upgrade. In the Michigan winter I am able to get our wort down below 70 in about 20 minutes and in the summer about 30 minutes. Any advice or tips would be much appreciated.
I've used the bathtub method, a home made immersion chiller (IC) and a counterflow chiller (CFC). My beer improved by a great leap when I switched to the CFC. I have not timed it, however I estimate it takes me around 20 minutes to chill 10 gallons of wort.
During the summer in this part of Texas the ground water is about 82º making it pretty much impossible to get a good chill. To augment my CFC I will run the cooling water through an immersion chiller submerged in an ice bath.
My next project is to set up a whirlpool immersion chiller
The immersion chiller acts normally and the hot wort is circulated out of the kettle drain and returned to the inside of the chiller. An IC is somewhat inefficient because only the wort surrounding it gets the benefit of chilling. Moving the chiller around (or the wort around the chiller) speeds up the process. A whirlpool speeds up the process tremendously. To use this method you need a pump.
I have left my brewing spoon in the hot wort at flameout. Then as the chill progresses I can stir it around abit to get the cold wort away from the chiller and the hot wort in contact with the chiller.
I have also picked up the chiller by the cold inlet tube and swirled the whole thing around a few times. That seems to work well too.
So, you can manually move the wort around a bit if you don't have a pump.
I have a 50' 1/2" copper IC, FWIW.
I have an older 25' 3/8" copper IC, that I use as a prechiller in the summer.
Second that on the Therminator. Unmatched chilling ability. I have been using it for a couple of years without any of the issues some users have mentioned with crud inside but I always backflush it with hot water and recently have been including it in my CIP with PBW.
I am capturing the hot water from the output and using it to clean up my mash-tun.