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Revisiting the Hydra Wort Chiller

Posted by homebrewdad on 1/08/2015 at 11:00:46 AM

In late November, I got the chance to review a Hydra immersion wort chiller from JaDeD Brewing. Due to some issues with my setup (faucet located very far away, four distinct leaks in my hoses, issues connecting the chiller properly), I had less than optimal results - though, to be fair, the Hydra still easily outperformed my old chiller.

I had planned to revisit chilling with the Hydra, but the holidays grabbed hold, and I wasn't able to brew again until this past weekend.

Now, one might think that an intelligent person would do their best to rectify any known issues prior to using their chiller again. You would, of course, be correct... but I'm not claiming to be an intelligent person.

Indeed, I only thought about my past problems on the very morning of my brewday. Fortunately, my wife was getting ready to do the weekly grocery store/Target run, so I penciled in "duct tape" on the grocery list.

Go on, laugh. Call me names. My bright idea was to apply a bit of redneck engineering to the problem; as they say, if duct tape can't fix it, it's not worth fixing. Right?

Well, I got involved in my brew day, and had ambitiously planned also to grill (steaks, burgers, hot dogs, brats, polish sausage, corn) after brewing. Somewhere along the way, I forgot about my hose repairs in the midst of everything else going on, and only remembered close to dusk (near the time my boil was close to done). So, I found myself making repairs to my hoses by twilight.

After testing out the pressure (and re-fixing one fix that didn't do so well), I hooked the Hydra up. This time around, I was able to get my hose properly threaded onto the input fitting, and when I fired it up, I noticed a drastically better flow rate than last time - I was able to fill my six gallon HLT from the Hydra's outflow in one minute, three seconds. It's truly amazing what a difference having zero leaks did for me.

Now, for some stats. My ground water was 58 degrees F. This beer happened to be an IPA with a twenty minute flameout/whirlpool addition, so the beer was already down to 186 degrees F when I started chilling. This time around, I was able to properly follow JaDeD's recommendations and stir the pot as I chilled, and for good measure, I also moved the chiller around a time or two. I had almost six gallons of hot wort in my pot.  Do keep in mind that my faucet is quite far from my driveway - it requires two garden hoses to be hooked together to reach my kettle (in other words, I am not an ideal test case).

At four minutes flat, the wort was already down to 73.4 degrees F. Five minutes, thirty-eight seconds in, I killed the water, as my wort was down to 67 degrees F on the nose.

You read that right - using Alabama ground water, I was able to get six gallons below 70 degrees F in under six minutes.

Cleanup was a breeze, as I simply let the wort run off the chiller and back into the pot, then inverted it to let the water run out onto the ground. I then reused that hot water in my HLT to rinse the Hydra clean; all told, it might have taken two minutes.

I thought that I was impressed before, but now, I truly cannot sing the praises of this product loudly enough. If you're in the market for a super effective wort chiller, I'm not convinced that you can do any better than the Hydra from JaDeD Brewing.

Tags for this post: Hydra, wort, chiller, brewing, beer, homebrewing, JaDeD, immersion

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From what you and everyone else is saying about these things, I would really love to have one around. But that price tag is more than I can handle. I'm sure it's worth every penny, but getting those pennies is the hard part.

posted by tracebusta on 1/08/2015 at 11:20:52 AM

I know where you are coming from, tracebusta. I had one on my Christmas list, as I just couldn't bring myself to pay that... then JaDeD contacted me to see if I'd care to review one.

I don't think I cold send the enthusiastic response email quickly enough.

posted by homebrewadad on 1/10/2015 at 10:11:18 PM

Neat to see one of these things on the market finally. I made something similar back in 2009 that has been my workhorse ever since. I take 11 gallons from boiling to 65F in 8.5 minutes (I *do* use some recirc'ed ice water toward the end, especially since tap water in Tucson in the summertime can be over 90F).

It's a gorgeous piece, for sure. But I bet mine would still win in a race. ;) *drops gauntlet*

posted by bjswift on 9/13/2015 at 03:26:27 AM