I fill up my sink with cold water and ice, it cools the wort down nicely in about 30 minutes. But even if it isnt fully rom temperature, I pour freezing cold water to the wort(so it is a full 5 gallons in my carboy) which will definitely bring down the temp enough to stabilize it for the yeast. Is this cheating and risky?
No, it’s not cheating. A lot of brewers do the same thing. The only way it would be risky would be if you used store-bought ice (or ice made my a fridge) to cool the water. That stuff can be teeming with bacteria.
During the winter, if I’m not brewing in the garage, I put my topping-off water in a sanitized bucket for a few hours before the brew session. Combined with the ice bath, it does the trick.
The only thing I can think of is a cold break issue. I brewed a beer a few weeks ago, had my water in the carboy outside for about an hour and I believe it caused a cold break as it had never happened before, but maybe I’m crazy.
I use very cold tap water (especially in Wisconsin winters) to top off my carboy and lower the temp, and I haven’t had any problems. I’ve even heard that yeast use some of the nutrients in the cold break, so it can be good to have it in your carboy.
I actually transfer the wort to my carboy, then us tubing I have hooked up to my sink to spray the water into the carboy to top up. I figured it helps to oxygenate the wort.
If you’re worried about it, boil the water a few days ahead of time then put them into sanitized one gallon jugs in the fridge. Use that to add/cool down. Pretty typical procedure for extract brewing.
ok, so basically if you have access to cold tap water ( i am in nj and the winter is very cold) then chilling the wort fully and investing in a wort chiller is a complete waste of time.
Thanks guys. shave 20 minutes of my brew day
I did that one time and I figured that the cold water would get me the rest of the way. Upon pouring in the water and waiting for the temp to change, i realized that i did it too soon and i was just above the temp i wanted to pitch at. It sucked trying to get the entire 5 gallon to drop those last few precious degrees. Other than this happening, i don’t see an issue.
Can you top off without ruining a batch? Sure. Will better brewers practice this? No. Besides adding chlorine and other nasties, topping off will also mess with your pH which is critical for us brew geeks.
Can you top off with chilled RO pH adjusted water? Perhaps… but that fools with hop utilization and will take longer to prep then to just use a chiller.
IMO - Best single improvement a brewer can make is full wort boils. This means wort chilled by chiller and NO topping off. If you are wondering why your beer doesn’t taste as good as your favorite, topping off is NOT helping.
I’m planning to start doing full boils, especially after reading this on John Palmer’s site
I just ordered a wort chiller, and I’m gonna see if my 12,000 BTU burner is up to the job. I suspect I’ll be buying a propane burner soon, too, though.
Winter in Iowa has been cold enough that topping off with tap water after chilling the wort in an ice bath down to 80 degrees, gets the wort down to pitching temp right away. Does my beer taste good? Yes! Sometimes great! But, I will go to full boils when I have the means. In the summer I use a swamp cooler to get it down to pitching temp.
I do the same every time. Never had an issue!