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Boil Volume Vs. Cooling time

Hello, everyone. I posted this question in a forum about wort cooling, but I believe it got lost in the discussion, and I haven’t had any responses. So, I am asking again as a new topic.

I am brewing 5 gallon batch extract kits. I have a propane burner and boil kettle that allows me to start at near full volume leaving me with only ~.5 to 1 gallon top-off.

I try to start with maximum volume because the advice I’ve seen offered in this forum led me to believe that I would get a better final product. My question is, which is better, bigger volume with longer cool times but less top-off, or smaller volumes with quicker cool times but more top-off :?:

I’ve only brewed 2 batches and haven’t decided on which type of wort chiller to invest in, so I use a giant cooler full of cold water and frozen water bottles bath method for now. I cooled my last 4 gallons of wort from boiling to ~ 85° in about 25 minutes. I topped it with cold water, and waited until it was down to 68° to pitch. Which has the most influence on my beer, the higher volume or quicker cool time? Does it make that much of a difference or am I picking the fly poop out of the pepper? :smiley:

This question has been bothering me, too. As a compromise, I’ve been in the habit of adding at least a gallon to the “2.5 gallons” called for in the recipe but that does take quite a bit longer to cool. During the summer, that time will be even longer.

So, yeah, what’s more better, higher volume or better crash?

This shouldn’t be a one or the other.

Boil full volume, use a decent wort chiller to chill quickly. Doing both is what should be done. Find a way to do it.

With a plate chiller or immersion chiller you can recirculate ice water to speed up chilling times.

I’m a pretty huge proponent of no-chill (so I may be a little biased) but I’d say full boil is more important, as I’ve noticed no difference in my chilled vs. no-chilled batches. I have a good chiller, but I haven’t used it in probably two years. Cold break is a function of temperature, not time, so you’ll get a good break whether it occurs in 5 minutes or overnight.

I’m sure that is the subject of much debate. I assume the argument against the no-chill method is higher risk of contamination. What else is at stake in the additional 10-15 minutes that it takes me to cool my wort? Once it gets cool enough to avoid shattering my glass carboy, I pour it in, cap it off, and let it cool to pitching temp. My thinking is, getting it in the sanitary carboy and capping it mitigates contamination risk until I pitch.

I’m just a hobby guy, not an enthusiast, or obsessed. Due to time, space, and monetary constraints, I’m good with brewing extract kits and enjoying the process and product. So, I understand the muddywater_grant statement that the perfect scenario would be full volume and rapid wort chilling. I’m just trying to get a better understanding of why cooling wort in 10 minutes is better than cooling it in 20-25 minutes. I’m not in a hurry to spend > $100 on a plate chiller, and an immersion chiller seems only slightly better than the cold-water bath method.

I’m sure that is the subject of much debate. I assume the argument against the no-chill method is higher risk of contamination. What else is at stake in the additional 10-15 minutes that it takes me to cool my wort? Once it gets cool enough to avoid shattering my glass carboy, I pour it in, cap it off, and let it cool to pitching temp. My thinking is, getting it in the sanitary carboy and capping it mitigates contamination risk until I pitch.

I’m just a hobby guy, not an enthusiast, or obsessed. Due to time, space, and monetary constraints, I’m good with brewing extract kits and enjoying the process and product. So, I understand the muddywater_grant statement that the perfect scenario would be full volume and rapid wort chilling. I’m just trying to get a better understanding of why cooling wort in 10 minutes is better than cooling it in 20-25 minutes. I’m not in a hurry to spend > $100 on a plate chiller, and an immersion chiller seems only slightly better than the cold-water bath method.[/quote]

Contamination is the first thing people think of with no-chill, but it’s actually the other way around. No-chill involves pasteurization in a sealed container, so actually has a lower contamination risk than chilling and then transferring room temperature wort, as you’re only handling and transferring wort while it’s still above the temp for contamination risk.

Back to your question though, what’s at stake in the additional 10-15 minutes is just that; contamination. Pasteurization occurs at about 160 degrees, so once you drop it below that you want to chill it down to pitching temps as fast as possible to avoid how much you’re handling wort while it’s open to contamination. There are other issues that others I’m sure will chime in on, like DMS, hop utilization, etc, but since this is a hobby and not an obsession for you, your main concern is contamination.

Why is contamination a risk? I understand that the wort should not be covered during the boil but once the temp of the wort comes down to 185 degrees or so I would think you could cover it without the risk of the sulfur compounds collecting in the wort. And at 185 I think we are still sterile right? So if I chill down to 185 then cover the pot and allow to cool the rest of the way shouldn’t that eliminate the risk of contamination? By the way, I have come up with a pretty nice chill method. I bought a small fountain pump that suction cups to the side of my kitchen sink. I fill the sink with ice water and turn on the pump, then put the boil pot in there. The movement of the water makes for a much faster cool down than just still water. I am doing a batch this Saturday and I will post the cooling time afterwards.

I’m a huge fan of fast chilling. It gives me bright clear beer. A counterflow chiller is a huge timesaver too as you cool while you are transferring to the fermenter. I chill 22 gallons and transfer to primary fermenters in 6 minutes via a pump and twin CFC’s with full 1/2" bores.

Because if you are using an immersion chiller, the only way it works is if you stir the wort. Otherwise it just keeps cooling the same little bit of wort that is immediately touching the chiller. Sure contamination is a risk at the point. It’s also a big risk at a lot of other stages in the process as well. I find just not worrying about it helps the beer taste better :slight_smile:

More volume in boil gives you less crosslinking/caramelization/darkening of the wort. If you can get things chilled in 30min you won’t see much of an effect on late hop additions. I don’t think formation of DMS is really a big deal, especially for extract.

+1

I would continue with the large boil volumes. a 30 minute chill time is not bad at all and will produce good results. This will allow you to continue making some delicious beer, while contemplating how to build your system and what type of chiller you want.

PS:
I am a large beliver in DIY, and any style chiller can be made relatively easily, and far cheaper then store bought.

I agree that the benefits of a full or larger volume boil far outweigh any risks associated with slower cool down times. You just get better beer from a larger volume boil.

I also agree that if done correctly, no-chill poses no more contamination risk than chilling. Could even be less risk. So I see the main issue with no-chill to be hop-utilization. I’ve figured out what works for me, but I have yet to see an easy cheat-sheet for adjusting a hop bill for no-chill. It was a process of trial and error for me, and not everyone wants to do that.

That being said, I usually use my chiller. Mostly because I want to brew my beer, chill the wort, and clean up all on the same day.

I’m sure that is the subject of much debate. I assume the argument against the no-chill method is higher risk of contamination. What else is at stake in the additional 10-15 minutes that it takes me to cool my wort? Once it gets cool enough to avoid shattering my glass carboy, I pour it in, cap it off, and let it cool to pitching temp. My thinking is, getting it in the sanitary carboy and capping it mitigates contamination risk until I pitch.

I’m just a hobby guy, not an enthusiast, or obsessed. Due to time, space, and monetary constraints, I’m good with brewing extract kits and enjoying the process and product. So, I understand the muddywater_grant statement that the perfect scenario would be full volume and rapid wort chilling. I’m just trying to get a better understanding of why cooling wort in 10 minutes is better than cooling it in 20-25 minutes. I’m not in a hurry to spend > $100 on a plate chiller, and an immersion chiller seems only slightly better than the cold-water bath method.[/quote]

A cold water bath even with ice, will take a while, especially if talking full volume. An immersion chiller along with stirring ( use a wine degasser ) can cool your wort down in 10-15min. I used ice baths before I bought a chiller and it took much, much longer. Sometimes well over an hour.

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