Cheap Plate Chiller

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Postby aleguy » Thu May 26, 2011 12:46 pm

That sure didn't look like anything I would want to put beer through.
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Postby Imakewort » Thu May 26, 2011 1:48 pm

not sure of the internal differences between a Blichmanns and the one in the picture, but i use a Blichmann and back flush and recirculate with hot water and PBW using a march pump, then flush with clean water and recirculate with starsan immediately after use, and have never had a infection problem
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Postby thebuddrik » Thu May 26, 2011 1:52 pm

I would like to hear the story behind that thing. I find it hard to believe that it can get that bad if you clean it good after each use. I think that if I had gunk like that chillin there it would stink to high heaven and have bugs and critters all around it.
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Postby GuitarLord5000 » Thu May 26, 2011 8:32 pm

You know, before I pulled the trigger on buying this plate chiller, I read through a ton of information about them. The one thing that most people had to say that was negative about these devices is that they can't be taken apart, and thus cannot be properly sanitized. What nobody hit upon is that they are small and robust enough to be run through a pressure cooker, and so can be operated in near sterile conditions. That's tough to do with just about any other type of chiller. I believe that if you start with a good hopstopper/hop screen, have an adequate cleaning regime, and sterilize before use, that a plate chiller is tough to beat as far as infections are concerned.
I'm not saying that I don't think that a homebrew plate chiller doesn't get some schmutz on the inside of it. Only that the schmutz can be made to be 'clean' and infection free. I doubt, however, that the average homebrew chiller gets quite as dirty as the large commercial one in the photo. Since that type of chiller can be opened and cleaned, it's doubtful that the brewer who owns that chiller is much concerned with keeping the hop garbage and trub out of it in the first place.
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Postby aleguy » Fri May 27, 2011 8:17 am

Regular use of caustic will keep the inside sparkling clean. The major culprit is beer stone which builds up on everything. It won't support the growth of bacteria, but it will gradually decrease the effectiveness of the chiller. Autoclaving will not remove it. For myself, I will stick with my good old-fashioned immersion chiller. It's very easy to clean, and after 10 minutes in the boil kettle, it is every bit as sanitary as my wort.
BTW, hop stoppers don't catch everything. There will be numerous particles that are small enough to pass through the screen. And you WILL get some cold break in there too. Again, you MUST use caustic to properly clean the inside of a plate chiller.
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Postby GuitarLord5000 » Fri May 27, 2011 1:35 pm

Caustic should take care of the cleaning. Starsan (acid) should take care of the beer stone?? I use cream of tartar and hot water to remove the beer stone on the bottom of my aluminum pot, and it works pretty well.

aleguy wrote:@Guitarlord, what's holding up your stand? If you need help with parts or welding or something let us know. We've built many stands from scratch and, so far, have been able to overcome just about any problem.


Thanks, but right now it's just a money problem. My wife quit her job at the end of last year so that she could go to college. Between that and a slow first quarter at work, I just don't have the extra dough for non necessary beer expenses right now. Things are picking up, though, so it shouldn't be too long before I'm able to buy the rest of the hardware I need for the stand.

As for the welding...well, I was sorta hoping that when it came time to build the stand, that I could get you and a few other experienced club members together to give me a hand. I have zero welding experience, and I'm not too keen on getting electrocuted, either. :lol:
In extreme circumstances, the assailants can be stopped by removing the head or destroying the brain. I will repeat that: by removing the head or destroying the brain. - News Anchor, Shaun of the Dead
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Postby aleguy » Fri May 27, 2011 3:24 pm

Say the word. I'm willing to help build. You may have to arrange the loan of Yeasty's welder, though. (And buy some welding wire.) I can't speak for anyone else, but I'm sure someone will be interested in watching if nothing else.
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Postby Imakewort » Sat May 28, 2011 12:16 am

if your purpose is to remove scale and beer stone then I would use 5 stars acid cleaner #5 as it highly recommended by professional brewers for removal of beer stone. But you do not need to use it for every cleaning maybe every 10th or when you notice a build up of beer stone. a regular regime of cleaning with heated PBW to 130 F to 180F recirculated will clean most anything a home brew needs safely.
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Postby aleguy » Wed Jun 01, 2011 1:44 pm

I recently attempted to remove the beer stone from my BK with #5 acid cleanser. No effect. Caustic took it all off in about two hours. I then used the #5 acid cleanser to passivate my kettle, which is actually what it is meant to be used for other than as a straight sanitizer. It does require rinsing however.
I had initially tried Star san to remove the beer stone. No effect after a full week. Don't screw around with parts you can't get at to clean! The experts recommend a 90 minute soak in caustic (3% solution of Sodium Hydroxide) after EVERY use for plate chillers. Sure you can get by with less. I used One step as a sanitizer for more than a year and had no infections. Wort stability tests showed no infection after two weeks.
You can do less and probably get away with it most of the time, but sooner or later it may catch up with you.
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