My current method of chilling is the Jaded Hydra immersion chiller. The Hydra has become a popular choice for home brewers wishing to stick with an immersion chiller over a plate of counterflow set up.
I’m not really reviewing the Jaded Hydra here just sharing my experiences with it. I have used the hydra for about 15 batches now mostly 6g and a few 12g. I have done both lagers and ales and on a whole I am pleased with the chiller.
I paid for my chiller and am not sponsored by or affiliated with Jaded. That being said the Jaded Hydra is super pricey for an immersion chiller. However, it is well built and comparable in price to any non immersion chiller option I was looking at.
I have been very satisfied with the chiller as an upgrade to my 50′ 3/8″ diy chiller. I find that I am at pitching temperatures of 66° in right around 12 minutes. I have gotten 12 gallons of lager down to 46° in under 18 minutes. This is significantly faster than my previous chiller cutting times almost in half. Especially for lagers, which I brew frequently.
Jaded will tell you on their site approximate chilling times based on flow rate and water temperature and they seem to be on to me. I am in sunny (hot as hell) Florida and my water rarely drops below 75°. Because of this and also because I like the planet I use hose water till 100° and then a recirculation ice bath the rest of the way.
Because you need to be running the hose at full stream to get the most out of the chiller I do find the amount of water the jaded uses a little disappointing. How I deal with this is I run the output directly into my washing machine 15 gallons which is a “super” load then I run the rest into a few bins and that goes into my vegetable garden. I easily use 40 gallons of water getting down to 100°.
As I mentioned once I hit 100° I switch to a ice bath. I use a submersible pump and about 20lbs of ice in a cooler. I run off most of the water in the cooler and once most of it is out I return the flow to the cooler.
Another factor in chilling time is wort movement. I run a whirlpool in my boil kettle with a chugger pump while chilling. If you don’t have a pump be ready to stir continuously to get the most out of any immersion chiller. At this years AHA Big Brew day my friend was using one of the little brown dc pumps that are popular on the forums and it did a great job of whirl pooling while he chilled. I think it cost him $25 or so.
One other consideration I had was the chiller is quite heavy and I didn’t want it sitting on my element so I built a stand for it to sit on.