If you buy something through a link in our posts, we may get a small share of the sale.
The key to a crystal clear beer is a meticulous chilling process, which the traditional and time-consuming method of placing your wort in a sink filled with ice water won’t provide you with. The right way to chill your wort is by using the best wort chillers you can find on the market.
- My Top Wort Chillers
- Features to Consider for Best Wort Chillers
- Frequently Asked Questions
My Top Wort Chillers
If you are a homebrewer, investing in a wort chiller is one of the best ways to cool your wort with no time or effort wasted. Wort chillers come in different types, with different features and costs. To make the choice easier for you, I have compiled information for my pick of the top four best wort chillers.
The Blichmann Therminator wort chiller is widely considered the best plate chiller for homebrewing, but of course, nothing less can be expected from Blichmann. The major difference between it and the Exchilerator, Kegco and Northern Brewers, is that it is a plate chiller while the others aren’t.
It has a width of 7.4 inches, a depth of 4 inches, and a height of 3 inches and can be considered a smaller version of the chillers used in breweries. It is also smaller when compared to the Kegco and Exchilerator Chillers.
Despite its small size, it is very efficient. It is made of 316 stainless steel plates fitted together with oxygen-free copper, with a half-inch 316 stainless steel fitting for wort in and out and garden hose thread for water in and water out.
The Blichmann Therminator could bring down 10 gallons of wort from boiling point to pitching temperature in less than five minutes. This chiller comes with a Blichmann Therminator Back Flush Hose Assembly to facilitate easy cleaning.
Finally, this Therminator can work just fine without gravity or a pump. If it falls within your range for home brewing equipment, you should waste no time purchasing it.
- Highly efficient, making wort chilling seamless
- Swift, saving you lots of time
- Small-sized and portable, allowing for easy transportation and storage
- Might require extra cleaning because of the small area between plates
- Small size allows for chilling only a limited quantity
- Blichmann Therminator Stainless Wort Chiller
- Plate chiller
- Easy clean up
Kegco Stainless Steel Counterflow Wort Chiller
The Kegco Stainless Counterflow Chiller will chill your wort twice as fast as most immersion or plate chillers. Both the inner tubing, used to feed hot wort, and its outer tubing, used to feed cold water, are entirely made of 304-grade stainless steel, a significant difference between it and the Northern Brewer Copperhead made of copper.
The Kegco Stainless Steel Counterflow wort chiller has 12 feet of ⅝ inches inner tubings and ⅞ inches outer tubings. Its compact design guarantees optimum performance, and thanks to this design, it does not have to be immersed in the wort, unlike the Northern Brewer Copperhead chiller, and can be used with brew kettles of any size. Also, the stainless steel body guarantees easy cleaning.
Down to its measurements, this chiller is 10-¼ inches high and 6 inches in diameter. It uses half-inch tubing to connect the wort in and wort out and ¾ inches hose lines for water in and out. It works best with a pump. In cases where a pump is absent, gravity can be used, but only if your kettle has a ball verve and can be placed in a position that is higher than the chiller.
- All stainless steel design, implying durability
- Easy to clean, indicating easy maintenance
- Excellent design which improves efficiency
- Compact size, making it easy to handle
- Best used with a pump, which implies you might need to spend extra on one
- Might require extra cleaning because of the small plates
- COUNTERFLOW CHILLER: This Kegco's Stainless Steel Counterflow chiller can rapidly chill your wort...
- STAINLESS STEEL CONSTRUCTION: This chiller is constructed in 12' of 5/8" stainless steel with an...
- PROCESS PERFORMANCE: The counterflow chiller pumps hot wort and cold water in the opposite...
Northern Brewer Copperhead Immersion Wort Chiller
If you are looking for a non-expensive yet quick and easy way to chill your wort to pitching temperatures, then the Northern Brewer Immersion wort chiller is worthy of consideration. This chiller comes assembled and ready for use, requiring little to no setup.
All you have to do is sanitize the equipment, submerge it into your kettle a few minutes before boiling is over, and begin the cold-water flow. This method is quite different from counterflow chillers, such as the Exchilerator wort chiller.
The Copperhead, as the name implies, is made of copper, which is a great temperature conductor. This guarantees fast cooling for your wort. It comes with a standard garden hose that can connect to a sink or outdoor tap as a chilling water source.
It has a drop angle design that keeps any surprise leaks right out of your kettle. This immersion chiller will cool 5 gallons of wort from boiling point to chilling temperatures in 20 minutes. While this is slower than the Blichmann Therminator, it is still better than many other immersion wort chillers.
- Easy to use, making it great for beginners
- Requires no setup, so it can be used on the go
- Drop angle design prevents leaks from getting into your kettle
- Pretty challenging to clean because of the plates
- Piping is susceptible to leaks
- The copper brother to our customer favorite Silver Serpent, the sleek Copperhead 25-foot copper...
- Simply drop your clean chiller into the kettle a few minutes before the end of the boil and it will...
- Brew with peace of mind like never before. Drop-angle connections keep surprise leaks outside your...
Exchilerator Maxx Counterflow Wort Chiller
The Exchilerator Maxx Counterflow Chiller can be considered the best wort chiller in the market, and that is why it has a special mention from me. It is made of 25 feet tall copper tubings with a diameter of ⅜ inches and has an outer tube made of PEX plastic. Unlike the Kegco Counterflow, it comes with an in-thermometer to monitor the heat level as it drops. This chiller will not give you clogging issues and can be used efficiently with or without a pump.
This chiller has a valve system that enables you to adjust the flow, making it easier to use. Its brass fittings are fully soldered, leaving no room for bacteria to hide and preventing leakages. The Exchilerator Maxx Counterflow will take only less than five minutes to chill 5 gallons of boiling water to pitching temperature, a speed that is only slightly comparable to the Blichmann Therminator plate chiller. This wort chiller can easily be considered to be the fastest, most efficient, safest, and best-featured wort chiller available.
- Sturdy build which guarantees durability
- Built-in thermometer to measure temperature, allowing you to easily monitor temperature changes
- Speedy, reducing chilling time
- Made of copper, which chills faster than stainless steel
- For best efficiency, you might need a pump implying extra cost
- Could be difficult to clean because of the small plates
- EASY TO USE - FAST CLEAN UP. The Maxx is for a brewer with pump, without pumps or with warm chilling...
- USES FDA COMPLIANT copper, PEX, stainless collars, lead free solder and lead free brass fittings....
- READY TO BREW MANIFOLD INCLUDED temp gauge, 1/2" s/steel tee, 1/2" s/steel close nipple, 1/2"...
Features to Consider for Best Wort Chillers
As a result of the variety of wort chillers on the market today, choosing one that would meet your specific brewing needs might be a little confusing. Here are the essential things to pay attention to when shopping for a wort chiller:
|Blichmann Therminator||Kegco Stainless Steel Counterflow Chiller||Copperhead Immersion Chiller||Exchilerator Counterflow Chiller|
|Material||Stainless steel||Stainless steel||Copper||Copper and PEX|
|Type||Plate chiller||Counterflow chiller||Immersion chiller||Counterflow chiller|
|Thermometer||No thermometer||No thermometer||No thermometer||Has a built-in thermometer|
The best material for a wort chiller is copper because it is a good conductor of heat. If you are getting an immersion or counterflow chiller, you should go for one made of copper. Stainless steel is usually used more for plate chillers, like the Blichmann Therminator, because it is more durable and corrosion-resistant; however, it is less efficient than copper.
A wort chiller is a long-term investment and so should be of high quality to ensure its durability. The fittings should be tight, preferably brass or Camlock, as they are less likely to leak. For immersion chillers, ensure that the hose is strong to avoid leakages.
Ensure that whatever chiller you get is compatible with accessories such as pumps, extra fittings, tubings, etc.
Size of Brew
The size of wort you usually brew should determine the kind of chiller you get. For instance, immersion chillers like the Copperhead are great with small batches but could be really time-wasting with larger batches.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions that you might have concerning wort chillers.
What Are the Types of Wort Chillers?
For homebrewing, there are three common types of wort chillers. Read on to discover their unique peculiarities, mode of use, and pros and cons.
Immersion chillers are the most common wort chillers used by homebrewers. This is mainly because they are less expensive than the other types, straightforward to use, and do not require other equipment such as pumps to function efficiently. They are typically made of 20 to 25 feet of tightly coiled copper or stainless steel tubing that is immersed straight into your brew pot or kettle.
Immersion chillers come with a tube -mostly a garden hose- connecting to a water source. This tube runs water through the immersed coils, which then goes on to chill your wort. As a rule, the longer the coils, the more efficient the chilling. Sanitizing immersion chillers is easy. All you have to do is place them inside your brew kettle for about fifteen minutes before boiling is over. You could simply hose it down and keep it in storage for the next batch when chilling is over.
On the downside, immersion chillers are quite slower than the other types of chillers, taking about fifteen minutes longer to chill 5 to 10 gallons of wort. Also, you might encounter some difficulties if you are making use of an electric brew kettle. And finally, immersion chillers make use of a whole lot of water.
A plate chiller is shaped like a brick and is the preferred choice for many brewing factories. This is because it chills very swiftly, can handle both small or large batches effectively, and is compact-sized. They come with a series of thin copper or metal plates with small gaps within them. To use it, pump your hot wort in one direction, and pump cold water in the other direction. As they pass against each other, the water cools down the wort. You could either use a pump or gravity to run your wort through.
One advantage of plate chillers is that they work very fast to chill your wort and make use of less water than the immersion chiller. Also, you do not have to worry about their sizes since they will not be going into your kettle.
The first disadvantage of plate chillers is how expensive they are to purchase. Also, because the wort goes right through them, they could get clogged up with hops and could be very difficult to clean up or inspect. To help, you could filter your wort before putting them in for chilling. Also, you could simply boil your plate chiller in water to sterilize it.
Counterflow chillers can be described as a combination of features of both immersion and plate chillers. They run chill water and hot wort right past each other, like plate chillers but have the coiled tube design of immersion chillers. Their designs consist of a coiled copper tubing housed inside another tube, usually, a hose made of PEX -like the Exchilerator or rubber. The inner tubing is fed hot wort in one direction, while the outer tubing is fed cold water in the opposite direction.
You could either use a pump to feed wort into the tube or use gravity by placing the chiller underneath the kettle. They function very similarly to a plate chiller, with the only difference being that they are bigger, reduce the risk of clogging, and are easier to clean. They cool very swiftly and use less water.
On the flip side, they are quite expensive and take longer to clean than immersion chillers. Also, they are bulkier in size than plate chillers and take up more space.
What Happens if My Water Is Too Warm to Chill My Wort?
If you are in a warmer climate, the temperature of your groundwater might be too warm to chill your wort. If this happens, you will need to cool your water using a pre-chiller. All you have to do is immerse a copper coil flowing with your groundwater into a bucket of iced water.
The iced water chills your groundwater before it enters into your chiller, making it cold enough to chill your wort.
Wort chillers are essential equipment for homebrewing because they make your brewing process easier and faster. We hope that we have narrowed down the choices of wort chillers for you. Whatever chiller you eventually decide to go with, make sure that it meets your specific homebrewing needs.