After our last brew day, we realized the next addition to our homebrew setup needed to be a wort chiller.

When you’re sitting around for hours watching a batch of wort drop at what feels like a degree every hour…you realize how very necessary one of these babies is. The saying should really be “a watched pot never cools.”

When we started looking at wort chillers, I just assumed we would buy a copper immersion one since the majority of the coiled wort chillers out there are copper. In fact, until this little guy came through on Homebrew Finds, I was dead set on copper.

After seeing a stainless steel version, it was all I could think about. Stainless steel is the Cadillac of most brewing equipment so why not for a wort chiller? And so my quest began…

Stainless Steel Immersion Wort Chillers vs. Copper Immersion Wort Chillers

Based on my research (googling and reading other homebrewers’ opinions), it seems there are two sides when it comes to stainless steel versus copper:

  1. Stainless steel is easier to maintain
  2. Copper is better at cooling

Copper is more prone to oxidation, which means your wort chiller could possibly affect the taste of your beer if not cleaned properly. Not to mention, copper just looks less appealing once it oxidizes. On the flip side, copper is a better medium for heat transfer in general. So one would assume that copper should cool your wort down faster.

At the end of the day, most everyone that had used a stainless steel immersion chiller noted in their reviews that the differences in cooling time for small batches (5-15 gallons) were insignificant.

So it really comes down to a personal preference and, of course, price. Right now, the prices aren’t too different, but I could see there being a big difference if the price of copper or stainless steel fluctuated one way or the other seeing as you are looking at 25 to 50 feet of pipe.

For us, the answer was clear…

  • insignificant differences on cooling our small batches?
  • less maintenance?
  • and a more aesthetically pleasing chiller?

Stainless steel please!

We plan on trying it out on our next batch, and we will let you know what the final verdict is. Now, the big decision…what kind of beer will we be brewing when we get to try it out?

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