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Alternative to CLT?

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  • Alternative to CLT?

    Just curious...has anyone used a glycol-chilled plate HEX inline with a charcoal filter in place of a CLT? Sort of an on-demand cold water supply?

  • #2
    It's done all the time. Sans water filter. That component should be on the water side of your utilities and not specific to Cold Liquor. Normally a two-stage exchanger is used to extract maximum heat for your HLT in the first stage, and then chill to pitching temperature using glycol and the second stage. Although it's used all the time, I advocate against this strategy. It's a massive hit to glycol in the < 1 hour knockout time. Refrigeration works best when it works against a constant load. Cheaper kits will use massive glycol reservoirs to deal with this. See it frequently in kits from China. This requires a large glycol tank, which besides cost (plus cost of glycol) and space issues has efficiency issues with insulation on larger surface area and still just spreads a massive heat load across several hours, besides warming glycol more than is desired. Many German kits solve this issue with ice banks. The glycol reservoir is allowed to substantially freeze so that the massive heat hit melts the ice at a constant temperature, thereby keeping the glycol cooling other tanks at a constant glycol temperature. Again, refrigeration is spread across several hours to lessen the instant load on cooling. Better than this IMO is a CLT. Although most have glycol jackets, this too is inefficient. Refrigerating glycol and pumping it to jackets is equipment-intensive, expensive to install, energy-inefficient, and prone to failure. So the better option is a dedicated condenser unit with a freon/water heat exchanger on your CLT recirculation loop. Run it before the brew day. Cool down will be faster, all other things equal. It is much more efficient with much less space, less maintenance, less up-front cost, and will not impact glycol temperatures at all. And you don't need a jacketed tank, so the CLT is much cheaper. Even better than this is to have smaller jackets on your CLT for direct freon cooling. This will not require energy input in the form of a recirculation pump, so even more efficient. But my favorite option is not to need icy pitching temperatures in the first place. Hot, tropical climates have a harder time with this, but for most is a viable option. Even for lagers, pitching at a higher initial fermentation temperature gets the yeast off to a nice reproductive start. By the time the yeast get to the fermentative stage, the fermenter will have gently cooled. Resulting flavor profiles don't change, IMO. It does still use the less efficient heat transfer of glycol cooling, but it saves all manner of equipment. Everybody has their favorite techniques, but I like to keep it as simple as possible. Less utility cost, less equipment cost, less maintenance cost, less space, higher reliability with proper wort and yeast handling can yield better bottom line and better nightly sleep.
    Phillip Kelm--Palau Brewing Company Manager--