How to Purchase Glycol Chillers, Part I

Using Glycol Chillers to Keep (Your Beer) Cool

By Jeremy Martin

Before you purchase a glycol chiller, let Kinnek do the hard part. Submit a free request for quotes and we'll get multiple manufacturers to provide you with offerings and pricing for whatever your supply needs - all in one place! 

Cooling in Brewing

While most people appreciate an ice cold beer, the actual brewing process requires several stages of heating and cooling. Due to the extreme changes in temperature needs, a glycol beer chiller can play a major part in keeping up the ideal flow of your brewery.  

There are five major points when the brewing process requires cooling:  

  1. Cooling a cold liquor tank (“CLTs”).  The name can be misleading in brewing because unlike some other alcohol productions, CLTs are buffer tanks that contain cold water, not liquor.  Before glycol beer chillers, a CLT could be a simple skin vessel that sat in a cold room.  However with glycol chillers, a CLT can be jacketed or fitted with an immersed cooling coil.   
  2. Cooling the wort after initial boiling process, if needed.
  3. Maintaining stable desired temperature in fermentation tanks and/or brite tanks (for help with purchasing for your brewhouse, click here).
  4. Crash cool, or cooling the beer after fermentation to final holding temperature (this is the most demanding application for cooling).
  5. Cooling a storage room facility.

How does a glycol chiller work?

propylene glycolA glycol chiller is tasked with cooling the propylene glycol used in brewing. Propylene glycol is a food grade antifreeze, which is required for cooling food products.  When considering what type of propylene glycol you should use, always make sure it has a USP grade in order to ensure it is recommended for food use.

How to use a glycol chiller in my brewery?

Chillers are essentially refrigerators. Like all refrigeration units, one of these chiller systems involves a compressor, evaporator, condenser and a pump.  Suppliers can either sell the chilling unit together with the buffer tank (sometimes called reservoir tanks) and pumps as a packaged system, or separately, to be used in a customized setup.

The buffer tanks work with the chilling unit to provide “buffer” capacity for the system to prevent excessive chiller cycling, unexpected temperature fluctuations, and erratic system operation. See Heat-Flo’s guide on calculating buffer tank capacity for more information.

While there are indoor and/or portable chillers, a substantial sized brewery will generally have the cooling unit of a chiller sit outside the facility. The chilled glycol coolant can then be pumped inside the facility where it can be used to regulate the cooling processes in whatever stage of brewing you desire.

Below is a diagram featuring a sample glycol system setup, courtesy of Advantage Engineering, Inc.  As you can see, the glycol system takes care of the cooling, and the liquid is then pumped to whatever vessel you want cooled.  

glycol chiller system setup from Advantage Engineering

If you have questions about how to set up your tanks, visit our Q&A page and field advice from the Kinnek Knowledge Team or, or ask our knowledgeable suppliers to start your research.  

Why do I need a glycol chiller?

A glycol beer chiller is necessary if you want reliable temperature control over your brewing process. Also remember, one benefit beyond using pure water as a coolant is that propylene glycol is an anti-freeze, so it can be cooled below freezing without damaging the system. If you have questions about exactly what the ideal solution is for your brewery, check out our Q&A on the topic!

Once you have decided on whether or not to use chillers in your brewing operations, complete a Kinnek request form which will allow you to quickly obtain a custom chiller quote from multiple suppliers without wasting valuable time tracking them all down on your own. For more information on specifications and buyer tips, check out Part II of this series

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