Counterflow Wort Chiller

I know it’s been a while, but we’re still here!

The time has come to address cooling the wort to pitching temperature in a respectable time.  This also will ensure less use of water on brew day.  In researching what I needed to accomplish this, I decided to go with aCounterFlow Chiller (CFC).  I found one that would cost $97.98 delivered to my door and I almost ordered it until I put together a list detailing the cost of building it myself.

For the basic chiller, I used:

From Amazon:

Apex 8695-25 Commercial 5/8-Inch by 25-Feet All Rubber Hot Water Hose, Red – On Sale – $18.97
(Wait for this to be fulfilled by Amazon as it’s $39.58 when fulfilled by another vendor)
Mueller/ B&K UT06025 General-Purpose Utility Grade Copper Tubing Coil – $21.48 (Price + Shipping shown)
Precision Brand M6S Micro Seal, Miniature All Stainless Worm Gear Hose Clamp, 5/16″ – 7/8″ (Pack of 10) – $3.85

From Lowe’s:

1x Cerro 1/2″ x 2′ Type L Copper Pipe- $5.85
2x 1/2-in x 1/4-in Copper Slip Coupling Fitting – $3.36
2x 1/2-in x 1/2-in x 1/2-in Copper Slip Tee Fitting – $1.96

Add in the shipping from Lowe’s at $5.99

That’s a total of $55.47

THAT  is why I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to build it myself.  (Well, that and my proclivity for DIY).

All the parts are in.  READY TO GO!

I started with the copper fittings first:

I found what I thought to be good lengths and cut the tubing down.  I knew that I wanted to use two hose clamps for each hose connection, so I kept that in mind when determining how short to cut.

Then it was on to preparing the hose.Enter my trusty Craftsman Handi-Cut tool! I wanted the length to be long enough to give some play, but not too long as to kink.  I actually just used the anti-kink sleeve as a guide:

Mmmmm……copper….Straightened the length of copper as best I could:

This was the interesting part.  I was able to slide the copper tubing into the hose almost all the way.  It wasn’t until the last six feet that I had to resort to assistance .  Since I am doing this inside (it finally got cold this winter), I hung the assembly out the second-story window so that it was straight down.  Then I place a funnel in the end of the hose so that the copper came through the center:

Side shot.  As this was dangling out the window, I squirted a liberal about of dish soap into the funnel and followed it with warm water from a pitcher.  Once I saw the soapy water come out the other end, I poured a bit more water in and let it all run out.  I then pulled the assembly back inside, straightened it and was able to get the rest of the tubing through.

Instead of using a 5 gallon bucket to shape the chiller, I wanted something with a smaller footprint.  A 5 gallon corney key works great for this.  Stick one end of the copper tubing through the slot on the bottom of the keg to hold it in place:

Roll the keg the length of the hose:

I tried to keep it tight as I rolled, but that’s not really necessary at this point.

Here you can see the bit of tubing that was used to keep everything in place.

Rolled!  Yes, the hose is longer than the tubing and that’s fine.  It allows us to use the full length of the tubing and we can cut the hose to the length needed.

Next, to prepare the copper fittings for solder.  I have a tool that prepares the outside of the pipe and a brush for the inside of the fittings.  At the very least, you need to use sandpaper to prepare your copper:

The reducers have a ‘stop’  in them preventing the tubing from going all the way through.  I drilled that out with a 3/8″ drill bit.

Of course, a drill press makes this easier

Aside from my horrid soldering skills, it is water-tight


Here is how the end is put together:

Attach all the hose connections with hose clamps:

That’s it!  CFC for $55.47

Now, you know me.  I can’t just leave ANYTHING alone.  I wanted to be able to add Quick Disconnects to the CFC for wort transfer.To do that, I needed:

From Lowe’s:

2x 1/2-in x 1/2-in Copper Threaded Adapter Fitting – $4.76
2x 1/2-in x 1/4-in Copper Slip Coupling Fitting – $3.36
No shipping since these were ordered at the same time as the other fittings.  I cut from the same 1/2″ pipe for these ends.


2x 1/2″ STAINLESS Quick Disconnect – Male x 1/2″ NPT male – $18.98 (Includes $5.00 shipping)

From Amazon:

Gilmour 03V Brass Garden Hose Connector with Shut-Off Valve – $6.51

Soldered the reducer and the threaded adapters to the length of pipe.  Wrapped PTFE Tape 5 times around the QDs and tightened them on.

This brass valve will be used to regulate the flow of the water coming out of the chiller:

Wrapped with PTFE and tightened:

Voila!  Wire tie the beast together to add rigidity and stability and you’re done.

For an additional $33.61, I was able to add Quick Disconnects to the CFC.  This pushed the total project price to $89.08.

Now I just can’t wait to brew!  Oatmeal Stout is the next in line for this weekend…

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