The Benefits of Using a Plate Chiller for Homebrewing

Plate chillers are a popular choice among homebrewers for their efficiency and effectiveness in cooling wort. Unlike immersion chillers, which cool the entire batch of wort at once, plate chillers only cool the wort that flows through them. This can be advantageous in terms of saving time and , but it also comes with its own set of considerations.

One potential concern with plate chillers is the possibility of increased bitterness in the final . Since the rest of the wort remains in the kettle at near boiling temperatures while only a portion is being chilled, there is a chance for continued isomerization of alpha acids, which could result in a more brew. However, this is a matter of personal preference, and some brewers may actually prefer the added bitterness.

In terms of maintenance, plate chillers require regular cleaning to remove any deposits that may accumulate over time. One recommended method is to soak the chiller in a suitable cleaner, such as Brewer's Edge Cleanser, for about four hours and then flush it thoroughly. It is also important to let the chiller dry between uses after it has been flushed.

Flushing the plate chiller is best done with a Water Flush Hose, which can be found at supply stores. This allows for a thorough and efficient cleaning process. Alternatively, the chiller can also be boiled to sanitize and clean it effectively.

One disadvantage of using a plate chiller is that it can be more challenging to maintain accurate temperature control. If your groundwater is too warm, you may need to pre-chill it, pump ice-water, or cool the fermenter separately to achieve the desired pitching temperature. This extra step can add complexity to the brewing process.

Another consideration is that the cold break, which is the clumpy material that forms during the cooling process, gets carried over to the fermenter with a plate chiller. This can potentially affect the clarity and appearance of the final beer. However, some brewers may not be too concerned about this as it does not affect the taste or quality of the beer.

Plate chillers offer a more efficient and water-saving option for cooling wort compared to immersion chillers. However, they require regular cleaning and maintenance to prevent any buildup of deposits. Temperature control can be more challenging, especially if your groundwater is warm, and the cold break may end up in the fermenter. Ultimately, the decision to use a plate chiller depends on personal preferences and the specific brewing setup and goals of the homebrewer.

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What Is The Difference Between Plate Chiller And Immersion Chiller?

Plate chillers and immersion chillers are two common methods used by homebrewers to cool down their wort after the boiling process. While both types of chillers serve the same purpose, there are some key differences between them.

1. Cooling Method:
– Immersion chillers are coils of tubing that are immersed directly into the wort. Cold water is circulated through the coils, rapidly cooling the wort as it flows past them.
– Plate chillers, on the other hand, consist of a series of metal plates with small channels running between them. The wort flows through one set of channels, while cold water flows through the other set, allowing for heat exchange and cooling.

2. Efficiency:
– Plate chillers are known for their high efficiency in cooling wort. The large surface area of the plates allows for a greater contact area between the wort and the cold water, resulting in faster cooling times.
– Immersion chillers, while effective, may take slightly longer to cool the wort due to the limited contact area between the coils and the wort.

3. Wort Quality:
– One potential drawback of plate chillers is that they only cool the wort that is flowing through them, leaving the rest of the wort in the kettle at near-boiling temperatures. This prolonged exposure to heat can potentially increase bitterness in the beer due to continued isomerization of alpha acids. However, this effect is usually minimal and can be mitigated by reducing the chilling time or using a hop stand technique.
– Immersion chillers, on the other hand, cool the entire batch of wort at the same time. This reduces the risk of increased bitterness and allows for more consistent flavor profiles in the beer.

4. Cleaning and Maintenance:
– Plate chillers can be more challenging to clean compared to immersion chillers. The small channels between the plates can trap debris and require thorough cleaning to avoid contamination.
– Immersion chillers, being a simple coil of tubing, are relatively easy to clean and maintain. They can be easily disassembled and rinsed after use.

Plate chillers offer faster and more efficient cooling but may require additional steps to avoid increased bitterness. Immersion chillers cool the entire batch at once and are easier to clean. The choice between the two ultimately depends on personal preference and brewing requirements.

How Do You Unclog A Plate Chiller?

To unclog a plate chiller, you can follow these steps:

1. Prepare a suitable cleaner: Use a cleaner specifically designed for removing deposits from brewing equipment, such as Brewer's Edge Cleanser. Make sure to read and follow the instructions on the cleaner packaging.

2. Soak the plate chiller: Submerge the plate chiller in the cleaner solution and let it soak for at least 4 hours. This will help dissolve and loosen any deposits or clogs that may have formed inside the chiller.

3. Flush the chiller: After the soaking period, flush the plate chiller thoroughly with clean water. You can use a water flush hose, such as the one available at (item L13), for the best results. The force of the water will help dislodge any remaining deposits and ensure a thorough cleaning.

4. Dry between uses: Once the plate chiller is clean and free of clogs, it is important to let it dry completely before using it again. This will prevent any moisture from promoting the growth of bacteria or other contaminants.

5. Optional: Boil for additional cleaning/sanitization: If desired, you can further clean and sanitize the plate chiller by boiling it. Boiling helps kill any remaining bacteria or microbes that may be present. Simply submerge the chiller in boiling water for a period of time, typically around 15 minutes, and then remove it and let it cool before use.

By following these steps, you should be able to effectively unclog and clean your plate chiller, ensuring optimal performance and preventing any off-flavors or contamination in your brewing process.


A plate chiller is a highly efficient and effective method for chilling wort during the brewing process. Unlike immersion chillers, plate chillers only cool the wort that is flowing through it, leaving the rest of the batch to sit at near boiling temperatures. While this may raise concerns about increased bitterness due to continued isomerization of alpha acids, proper cleaning and maintenance can mitigate any negative effects.

To remove deposits and ensure optimal performance, it is recommended to soak the plate chiller in a suitable cleaner like Brewer's Edge Cleanser for at least 4 hours. Afterward, a thorough flush is necessary to remove any remaining residue. Allowing the chiller to dry between uses is also important to prevent any potential contamination.

Flushing the plate chiller can be achieved using a Water Flush Hose, which is the most effective method. Additionally, boiling the chiller can also be used to clean and sanitize it. The versatility of the plate chiller allows for gravity to be used as a means of feeding the wort through it.

It is important to note that plate chillers do have a few disadvantages. Accurate temperature control can be more challenging compared to immersion chillers. If your ground water is too warm, additional steps such as pre-chilling or using ice-water may be required. Furthermore, the cold break, which consists of proteins and other particles, can be carried over to the fermenter, potentially impacting the clarity and overall quality of the final product.

Despite these drawbacks, plate chillers remain a popular choice among brewers for their efficiency and ability to rapidly cool wort. With proper cleaning and maintenance, plate chillers can be a valuable tool in the brewing process, helping to achieve consistent and high-quality results.

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Thomas Ashford

Thomas Ashford is a highly educated brewer with years of experience in the industry. He has a Bachelor Degree in Chemistry and a Master Degree in Brewing Science. He is also BJCP Certified Beer Judge. Tom has worked hard to become one of the most experienced brewers in the industry. He has experience monitoring brewhouse and cellaring operations, coordinating brewhouse projects, and optimizing brewery operations for maximum efficiency. He is also familiar mixology and an experienced sommelier. Tom is an expert organizer of beer festivals, wine tastings, and brewery tours.