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Chillers for Distilleries – Selecting the Proper Equipment

Chillers in Distilleries are used to cool a number of different distillation processes in the distillery.

Chillers are versatile pieces of refrigeration machinery that cool liquid – usually a glycol/water mix, which is circulated to regulate the temperature of many different processes: distillation columns, mash coolers, heat exchangers, fermentation tanks, etc. When controlling the temperature and timing of your process matters most, an industrial chiller will provide the constant supply of cooling fluid for the job.

Why Do I Need a Chiller for My Distillery?

Your chiller provides the cooling fluid to condense the vapors from your still, and cools mash down from the high temperatures of the cooking process. Historically, water was used to cool down the still – and in a few select distilleries, it’s done that way to this day. Most are now turning to chillers due to their rapid cooling capabilities as well as water conservation. Chillers allow the glycol/water mix to be run on a closed loop, meaning no waste. Additionally, the quicker the mash is cooled, the less potential there is for bacterial growth.

What Should I Look For When Purchasing a Chiller?

Chillers for Distilleries
Our 12-Ton Packaged Air Cooled Chiller can handle a heat load of 142,800 BTU/hr or 41.85 kW. This model is commonly used by the distilleries we work with.

First & foremost, make sure the chiller you’re being fit with has an adequate heat load. Also known as cooling capacity, the heat load is the rate at which a chiller can cool process fluid. We don’t expect you to know how many BTUs/hr or kW you’ll need to keep up (we’ll help you there), but not all chillers are made to withstand the extreme temperature fluctuations that are used in the distilling process. Quickly cooling 150°F mash down to 80°F before fermentation can cause strain on chillers that aren’t properly sized.

What Information Do I Need to Select the Proper Chiller?

Each distillery we work with is unique, and requires different production schedules, space requirements, and plans for future growth. As soon as you’ve decided on the size of your still(s) and mash cooker, we’ll be able to start helping you design your distillery cooling system.

Knowing when your equipment will be running will also play a big factor. For example, as your distillery grows, you may decide to increase production by adding a night shift – which would almost always call for a larger chiller than you originally purchased. Discussing your future growth plans with your process cooling technician could help save your distillery money long term, while easing potential strain on your chiller in the meantime.

Bluebird Distilling in Phoenixville, PA is one of many expanding distilleries to have their cooling processes managed by General Air Products chillers. Their Rye is the fan favorite in our office!  Photo: Street and Stripes

In a distillery, your chiller has multiple processes that need its constant support. As such, your cooling process should ideally be designed in with the rest of your distilling equipment and purchased at the same time you purchase your still. Discussing your cooling needs with engineers who know the distilling process is key to selecting the proper chiller. As one of the most versatile process cooling applications we serve (and one of our personal favorites!) we’re always here to hear your story, discuss your process, and fit you with the right chiller for your distillery. Give us a call, drop a comment below, or fill out a form on the right to speak with one of our process cooling techs today!