Duda Diesel Plate Chiller Review
I've used an immersion chiller since I started brewing regularly 7 years ago. Prior to that I used an ice bath, so at the time thought it was quite an upgrade. The immersion chiller worked well enough for my purposes, especially when I used to do partial boils, so I thought that a CFC or plate chiller was just overkill. When I started doing 10 gallon batches, I added a pond pump and a whirlpool arm to my chiller so to improve my chilling efficiency, and it worked pretty well. I never wanted to upgrade because I assumed a plate chiller wouldn't improve my chilling process enough to justify the expense and additional cleaning required by such a device.
However, the cooling segment has always been one of the most stressful and least enjoyable parts of my brew process. I always felt like a chicken with my head cut off from about 5 minutes left in the boil until I racked the wort to the fermenter. It was barely manageable when brewing with a buddy and almost impossible when brewing by myself; in large part due to the fact that I work hard to conserve water during this stage.
I finally decided to take a chance on a plate chiller to see if it would help this chicken find his head. After a fair amount of research and consideration I decided to go with the long plate Duda Diesel (B3-36A) over the Blichmann Thermonator or a Shirron because I read that the longer plates cool more efficiently (longer plates are better than more plates for cooling efficiency, for example).
I couldn't be happier. The chiller makes a world of difference to the final stage of my brewing process. I cool my beer faster (I estimate that I’m cooling a 5G batch to ale pitching temps in well under 5 minutes) and I use less water than ever before. Best of all, I can set it and forget it: after I get the hoses hooked up and the flow rate dialed I can focus on water management. I think I've added about two years back to my life by eliminating one of the only stressful stages in this otherwise peaceful hobby.
I'm also very happy with my choice of the Duda. It's very well constructed, crazy efficient and looks bad-ass. It's easy to sanitize (I just pump hot wort through it for a couple minutes before chiling) I've had not issues with clogging (I use a hop spider) and clean up is a breeze (I back-flush). Shipping from Duda was reasonable, but I later discovered that my LHBS carries Duda for the same price so I should have bought it there. For what it's worth, I used angle ties from Home Depot to mount it to my stand, with wing nuts so I can remove for cleaning.
Image at the top care of Duda Diesel. We do not own the image but display it here for illustrative purposes.