Chilling wort after the boil is a crucial step in the brewing process. Cooling the wort from boiling to yeast-pitching temperature is important - pitching yeast either too warm or too cool can adversely affect fermentation. Chilling wort quickly also helps minimize the possibility of contamination by spoilage organisms that thrive in warm temperatures. Many beginning brewers will chill their kettles in an ice bath, but as your boil size increases, immersion or plate chillers become more important.
All wort chillers work by using a cool water source passing through copper or steel; as the cool water passes through the chiller, it absorbs heat from the wort. Because of this, it is important to be aware that a wort chiller will only be able to cool wort down to the temperature of its source water. If you live in a warm climate with 80 degree tap water, your chiller will be capable of chilling to 80 degrees.
We carry two different types of chillers: immersion chillers and plate/counterflow chillers. Immersion chillers are placed directly in the kettle and chill the wort from inside the kettle. These chillers work very well for 5 gallon batches, and are very easy to use and clean. Plate and counterflow chillers work by passing the wort through the inside of the chiller, in the opposite direction of the cool water flow. The wort is drained from the kettle, through the chiller, and into the fermenter. These chillers are more expensive but they have the benefit of being more efficient. The chilling contact area is higher than with an immersion chiller and for this reason, they are capable of chilling larger batches (10+ gallons) very quickly.