Wort Chillers are devices for cooling wort down quickly after the boil has finished.
While not strictly a requirement, a wort chiller is extremely highly suggested.
Cooling wort quickly causes a cold break and helps stop the formation of DMS. Some brewers set their boil pot in a bathtub or sink full of ice and water to cool the wort, but this can take an hour or more to cool sufficiently.
There are three major types of wort chillers.
|An immersion chiller has a coil of copper or stainless steel tubing that is immersed in the wort while cool water flows through. These are the least expensive and easiest to use. To sanitize, simply place the chiller in the boiling wort about 10 minutes before the end of the boil.|
|A counterflow chiller has two coils, one inside the other. The wort is pumped through the inner coil while cool water is pumped the opposite direction through the outer coil. These are somewhat more complicated as they require a pump to move the wort through them, and tubing and fittings to attach everything. They also must be sanitized along with the tubing and fittings.|
|Plate chillers are similar in function to a counterflow chiller, but made up of a series of stacked plates instead of tubing. These have the same complications as the counterflow chillers, with the additional complication of needing to be disassembled every few uses for a thorough cleaning.|