What is the best configuration where you can decrease your chilling time/increase efficiency.

I know this is a bit loaded so let me clarify.

I have the standard issue 20' copper 3/8'' garden hose counter flow chiller. Works great but I want to get the most out of it and shorten my brew day. I currently get 10 gallons down to 70 F using 58 F water (hose 1/2 way open) in about 25 minutes.

I know there are different setups and operations that may improve the efficiency of the CFC. I am curious as to any incite anyone might have. For example:

  • Is it more efficient to pump your wort rather than using gravity?
  • Is it more efficient run your wort through the bottom CFC Wort in and have it exit from the top to avoid channeling where the wort might not get in complete contact with the copper?
  • Should you run the hose water full bast and regulate the wort flow or vise versa?

I am just looking to change any variable except swapping out the CFC for something else.

1 Answer 1


25 min is not too bad, you can reduce flow rate, to increase transfer time but this adds time to your brew day. Or you can use colder water if you get your counter-flow water down to 40F then you will either be able to increase the flow rate or reduce the temperature of your wort.

You don't want to pump the wort for 2 reasons: 1. will likely increase flow rate and reduce the efficiency; 2. you will introduce sheer forces into the wort, which spoil the long term flavour stability of your brew.

It is likely more efficient to run wort from bottom to top for the reasons you mention. so long as you can tip it at the end to save all your precious wort.

The more flow you have from your cooling water the more the cooling effect should be as it has more capacity to carry heat away, but it will be less efficient in terms of quantity of cooling water consumed.

I heartily recommend getting a plate chiller, far more efficient that hose and pipe due to the massive surface area to volume ratios: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Beer-Wort-Chiller-Stainless-Steel-Heat-Exchanger-Brewing-Homebrew-Cooler-Water-/351194183525

  • 2
    "2. you will introduce sheer forces into the wort, which spoil the long term flavour stability of your brew." Can you elaborate/corroborate this claim?
    – jsled
    Dec 10, 2015 at 1:40
  • Also, note that plate chilller and counterflow chillers often have very comparable surface areas at the same cost. Immersion chillers do, as well, but the lack of having any sort of active way to move the wort around, which impacts efficiency of the chiller.
    – jsled
    Dec 10, 2015 at 1:43
  • 1
    Section 10.8 of Brewing: New Technologies Edited by C. Bamforth p 225 They speak of the Hot break particles being held together weakly and it being important to minimize shear forces. Also recall this being mentioned in Charles W. Bamforth - Standards of Brewing. Plate chillers are a form of counterflow chiller, they may have a similar surface area to hose in hose CFC but tend to have far superior SA/Vol ratios, therefore improved efficiency. As the surface area for heat transfer per unit volume is great increased.
    – Mr_road
    Dec 10, 2015 at 14:20

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