Gear Test: Small-Scale Chillers | Craft Beer & Brewing

Gear Test: Small-Scale Chillers

Homebrewers have more temperature-control options at their fingertips than ever before, and these compact glycol chillers bring professional-level control and speed to even the smallest of setups.

Craft Beer and Brewing 3 months ago

Gear Test: Small-Scale Chillers Primary Image

The Stasis by Craft a Brew

$599, kickstarter.com (active until August 10, 2019)

PROS: The Stasis offers the most compact and aesthetically pleasing design for the space-constrained brewer. At a very reasonable price point, The Stasis not only includes the chilled reservoir, but has built the pumps and controllers right into the unit. The controllers are simple to operate—set your desired vessel temp and forget it. The much smaller glycol reservoir makes the unit lighter and more portable.

stasis-chiller

CONS: The Stasis is purpose-built to chill one or two smaller vessels (less than 10 gallons) at a time. With its compact design and built-in controllers/pumps, it doesn’t offer the flexibility or the power of the chillers with 10-gallon-plus glycol reservoirs. The unit tested was a pre-production sample, and we’ve been assured that the final will be quieter, but this chiller was significantly louder than the others tested.

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THE VERDICT: The Stasis is designed and constructed for the 5-gallon homebrewer who never has more than two batches fermenting/crashing at a time. If that’s you, this is the chiller for you. With a very reasonable price point, consistent functionality, and strong portability, The Stasis is a winner.

Ss Brewtech Glycol Chiller 3/8HP

$1,295, ssbrewtech.com

PROS: We put the Ss Glycol Chiller 3/8 HP through the ringer. With ambient temperatures over 90°F, it had no problem keeping five 14-gallon Unitanks cold-crashed at 35°F with its 10-gallon reservoir. The glycol ports are built into the lid for easy plumbing with a latched lid for simple access to the reservoir (with a very thoughtful reservoir-fill gauge). The unit operates very quietly, especially when considering the performance. Solid construction, with handles (and casters) that support the weight of the unit plus the liquid weight, shows the thoughtfulness of the design.

ss-chiller

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CONS: The chiller does not come with the pumps or controllers necessary to move the glycol through your fermentor, so you will need to purchase those (additional $100+ per controller). The aesthetic is more industrial with exposed components.

THE VERDICT: The Ss Glycol Chiller 3/8 HP is worth every penny if you’re chilling more than one or two vessels. With simple operation and setup, it provided extremely reliable and accurate temperature control of every vessel we hooked it up to. Plus, it uses 110V power, so electrical is easy.

Icemaster Glycol Chiller

$799.99, morebeer.com

PROS: The quietest unit we tested, the Icemaster Chiller operates at a similar decibel level to that of a kitchen refrigerator. With its 10-gallon reservoir, it provides an ample volume of chilled glycol to cold-crash three or four 14-gallon Unitanks in modest ambient temperatures (70–80°F). At less than $800, the price point is affordable for brewers.

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icemaster

CONS: The unit didn’t pack nearly the power of some of the other units. When ambient temperatures in our test garage rose to over 90°F, it had trouble keeping the reservoir below cold-crashing temperatures. The chiller does not come with the pumps or controllers necessary to move the glycol through your fermentor, so you will need to purchase those (additional $100+ per controller). Construction on this unit was not as sturdy as that of the other units tested.

THE VERDICT: For the more budget-conscious brewer who is keeping a few vessels chilled at a time, this chiller is great. It’s quiet enough that it can operate in any room of the house and efficient enough to get the job done for most brewers. It doesn’t have some of the bells and whistles, but it will keep your beer chilled.

Test Attempt: G&D Chillers 1.5H Nano Chill

gdchillers.com

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THE EXPLANATION: We embarked on a mission to test all of the chillers that a small-scale brewer (0.5 BBL or less) might consider investing in. When we made the call to manufacturers, G&D Chillers offered this as their smallest unit and acknowledged that it might be overkill based on our testing conditions. They were right. We were not equipped to reasonably test this unit with six 14-gallon fermentors. What we can say is that the unit is well-built, aesthetically pleasing, and comes with fantastic customer support and shipping coordination. The team at G&D Chillers went as far as to build out custom manifolds to help us perform the tests, and they supported us through our attempts to compare it to the other chilling units.

gd-chiller

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