Friday 9 February 2024

KegLand Counterflow Chiller with a BrewZilla 35L 3.1.1

We recently "upgraded" our wort cooling options by investing in a KegLand Counterflow Chiller  - or Braided Wort Heat Exchanger, as a way to hopefully reduce our cooling times and water usage that we have with our trusty stainless steel immersion chiller.

We got the kit that came with the push in fittings we needed, and we also got some extra bits and pieces like quick connects as well as a BSP t-piece so we could hook in a short probe thermometer to measure the temperature of the wort coming out.

For water in and out, we used the included BSP male threaded DuoTight connectors, and simply unscrewed the brass hose connector pieces from our immersion chiller and put them onto the new counterflow chiller.

Initial testing with some hot water saw us fixing up a few leaks with some thread tape, but it otherwise seemed to work OK. We did notice that the flow rate through the chiller when using the built-in pump of our BrewZilla 35L 3.1.1 wasn't great, but the wort managed to get through it nonetheless. We figured a slow wort flow rate probably wouldn't be such a big deal as it might help improve the cooling efficiency, hence why KegLand include a ball valve DuoTight connector in the kit to help slow the wort flow rate down if you need to.

Skip to our next brew day, boil is complete, everything is hooked up, turn on the pump to recirculate the boiling wort through the chiller, but nothing is coming out. Can hear the pump running, can see some wort in the clear hose between the top of the recirculation arm and the chiller input, but it doesn't seem to be moving.

Not sure if we had an air pocket or something but we could not get wort flowing through it. The pump wasn't clogged, but it just didn't seem to have enough force or pressure to get wort travelling through the chiller. We troubleshooted as best we could but was very mindful of boiling wort in the hoses, so we didn't want to go messing about disconnecting and reconnecting things any more than we absolutely had to.

After 5-10 minutes of troubleshooting we eventually gave up, grabbed our stainless immersion chiller that came with the BrewZilla, changed over the hose connections and chucked it in the wort and cooled everything down that way. Ran some water through the counter flow chiller to clean it out and it's been sitting packed up ever since.

Moving forward we have two options for this;

1. Pump the wort through the counterflow chiller using an external pump like the Spike Flow. This would almost certainly work but we'd have to raise the BrewZilla off the ground a little so we could hook up a hose from the BrewZilla tap to the Spike Flow pump input (since it's gravity fed). Or alternatively use the BrewZilla pump and recirculation arm and hose and connect that to the Spike Flow but that seems kind of weird using two separate pumps? There would also be more stuff to clean up at the end of the brew day with extra hoses and a pump with sticky wort in it? Perhaps we're being lazy worrying about that.

2. Get an upgraded immersion chiller. We do like the simplicity of an immersion chiller, and it's particularly useful when doing hop stands that require dropping the temperature of the wort from boiling to 80-85°C - which can't be done as quickly or as easily with a counterflow chiller. An upgrade to a copper based immersion chiller sure is tempting, though they are expensive, and we've already laid out a bit of money for the counter flow chiller with all the extra bits and pieces to connect it in.

We'd love to hear from anyone else who has used a counterflow chiller with a 35L BrewZilla using the factory pump - drop a comment below and let us know what your experience is.

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