What is a wort chiller? Why do I need one? What are the differences between the different types?

A wort chiller is a device that allows the homebrewer to bring boiling wort down to yeast pitching temperature in a fraction of the time an ice bath takes.

Why is a wort chiller so important? Why do I need one?

It is very important to cool your wort to below 80 degrees as quickly as possible after the boil. This is the time that the wort is most susceptible to bacterial contamination. A wort chiller nearly negates any chance of infection. A wort chiller also helps to produce clearer beer, since it helps to facilitate cold break. Cold break is composed of protein and tannin complexes that become insoluble as the temperature of your wort drops. Good cold break means clearer beer. A wort chiller is probably the most time-saving, economical device a homebrewer can buy. It’s the one thing that we tell everybody buying a Midwest Homebrewing Equipment Kit that they should not be without. There are three basic types of wort chillers: immersion, counterflow, and plate. We’ll talk about the differences, advantages and disadvantages of each type.