Santa Brings a Therminator!

On December 28, 2009, in Homebrew Gadgets, Homebrewing, by Mark Ranes

My new Therminator!

Woohoo!  Santa brought the Lazy Brewer a new Therminator!

I’ve been an immersion chiller kinda brewer since I first starting brewing.  I’ve always liked the fact that by using an immersion chiller, most of the cold break stays in my brew kettle.  I also have really enjoyed the 15 seconds it takes to spray off my copper coil chiller.  What I haven’t liked is waiting for 45-75 minutes (depending on the current groundwater temperature) for my wort to cool.  It just leaves the wort in the potentially dangerous temperature range, susceptible to  contamination, for too long.

I have been very hesitant to use either a counter flow or plate chiller because of cleaning and sanitation concerns.  I’ve seen sheets of beerstone that have flowed out of Stephen’s counterflow chiller and it chilled me to the bone. He’s never had a batch get contaminated, so I do believe his anal retentive cleaning and sanitation methods work – it just creeped me out when I saw the beerstone exiting the chiller.  Additionally, I’ve known several of my brew club buddies that regularly use plate chillers – and read the forum posts about cleaning and sanitizing them.  Steve started with a Shirron plate chiller, and promptly moved up to the Therminator.  He has a cleaning and sanitizing routine for the Therminator where he instantly pumps PBW through both his March pump and Therminator for several minutes, then pumps clean water through both, followed by StarSan to sanitize the equipment.  Like Stephen’s cleaning regime, I’m convinced Steve has covered all the bases to make sure he doesn’t infect a batch of ale.

Steve managing the Therminator connections

In the long run, I don’t see the Therminator actually saving me any time on brew day because of the need to meticulously clean the plate chiller after use, but it will allow me to avoid putting my wort at risk during the actual chilling phase.  This is obviously a good thing.

I still need to pick up some cheap quick disconnects for my water hose connections, additional tubing for wort, as well as a sump pump for moving the various liquids necessary for cleaning and sanitizing.

I’m a creature of habit.  After 95 batches, I have my brew day processes down pat.  Integrating the Therminator into my brewing process will throw me out of sorts for a while.  Steve has suggested I do a dry run with water, learning to manage the various hose swaps necessary for both chilling and cleaning/sanitizing. This sounds like a good idea…

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