Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com

Brewing question

I am new to this hobby and wanted to get your opinion. I have not yet brewed my own beer but I have watched a couple people do it.

From what I have learned, after you have steeped your grains, added the hops and boiled your wort, you need to cool it down to 70 degrees to add your yeast when you put it in the fermenting bucket. I know there are a few methods to cool it down such as sticking the kettle in an ice bath or using a wort chiller. Well I’ve got another idea on how to chill it and its probably one that has been shot down before but I wanted to get your opinion.

After you get it down to 70 degrees you transfer the wort to a the fermenting bucket. Well if your wort is 3 gallons then you have to add water to it in order to get the wort up to 5 gallons. I asked someone why you would not just put ice in the wort and they mentioned that it would most likely not be sanitary, which made sense. However, how do you know the water you are adding is sanitary?

I’ve got a heavy duty carbon block water filter that sends purified water to my refrigerator & ice maker so I can have purified water & ice all the time. Its an external filter, not the cheap ones that are built into the refrigerator. Now if it is fine to take that purified water from my filter to bring the wort up from 3 gallons to 5 gallons then why can’t I just add the purified ice to chill my wort to 70 degrees and get it up to 5 gallons?

What’s the difference? Its the exact same water, just in a different form. The carbon block filter I use is from Sears and consumer reports rates it as one of the best you can buy. Here is a link to it.

http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_12605_04234377000P?keyword=4234377&viewType=gal&sLevel=0&prop17=4234377&PDP_REDIRECT=false&s_tnt=39869:4:0

I can’t say whether or not to use ice, but when I used to do partial boils and the ice bath method, I would add cold water to top off. I would get my wort to say 100, then top off with cold water.

Some people say you can assume the water out of the tap is sanitary. I have used straight tap water and been fine. For a while I boiled my water before hand and let it cool. Then I’d sanitize a gallon just, add the water, then stick it in the fridge. Kind of a pain, but it made sense to me for a while.

I think you’re water coming out of the filter should be good. Someone else can comment on any pros or cons to using straight ice.

If you are really worried, boil and cool a few gallons of water. Pour the boiled and cooled water into milk jugs. Freeze and on brew day slightly cool your wort and dump ice chunks in. Used to do it back in the day.

A friend of mine fills gallon jugs & puts them in freezer on morning of brew day. He lets them get just to the point of freezing, but not solid. He then shakes it up and adds ice cold water to top up. If you use ice chunks, it may be difficult to add an exact amount. You also don’t have to chill the wort much because the super cold water will bring it down to pitching temps. I did the ice bath with extracts, now an imm. chiller with full boil & all grain. Never looking back!! :slight_smile:

The actual ice maker may not be sanitary would be my only worry and why some tell you not to use ice. When I did partial boils I did what the others have said fill milk jugs on brew day and put them in the freezer.

I have topped off with tap water for years. We do have our own well. Our water is 48° from the tap so I never considered using ice. Sanitize the containers you will make your ice blocks in and you should be okay.

I have done quite a lot of batches where I would take bottled water (the 1 gal jugs, already sealed) and when there is about 45 min or so left in the boil toss 1-2 gal of them into the freezer. about the time the wort is done and ready for chilling, I had 2 gallons of slushy yet not frozen water. into the ice bath by pot when, I would spray the top of the jug with san star (not sure if I had to, but I did to be safe) and into the wort it went. would take the temp from 200 or so down to about 120-130 instantly. then let the ice bath do the rest, usually took about 15 min BUT I have a huge utility sink that the water would be almost to the top rim of the pot.

Never ran into issues that way.

After buying water, cleaning jugs, adding water, freezing them, ice bath, adding ice to the wort…

Might be cheaper and more efficient to get a wort chiller. I have both a IC and a CFC and wouldn’t brew without them. I don’t use them at the same time unless I am dropping wort to lagering ferment temps that I will use the IC in a bucket filled with ice and then into the CFC to cool the wort to 45*.

edited to add the use of both.

Loopie has an excellent point. Do the arithmetic and decide which is most cost effective.

Also, consider the risk involved in using water that may not be sterile. So, what’s the risk if you get a few hostile bacteria in your beer? If you adjust your pH, pitch lots of healthy yeast and oxygenate well there’s not much chance of the bacteria staging a coup. The yeast will (generally) overpower the bacteria. They may decrease the shelf life of the beer; that means you have to drink it sooner - life’s difficult sometimes.

I followed a similar thread on another forum that got quite heated. It became a contest between the purists and the casual brewers. Tempers flared and both sides let emotions take them to illogical extremes.

In the real world you can’t have sterile wort. The most rigorously brewed and most casually brewed beer both have bacteria in them. You get to decide how much effort you’re willing to exert and how much risk you’re willing to accept.

Try both approaches and see which method you prefer. Then relax, don’t worry, have a home brew.

I agree with Old Dawg. Here is my advice: try your ice method for two batches of different styles of beer. Do they taste similar? If so, there is likely a problem with your water source.

They used to say if your water is safe to drink, it is safe to brew with. That is kind of true but the problem is not the water, it is the equipment used to freeze it. Sure boiling it then freezing is good insurance as long as the container is sanitary. Kind of a PIA though. Your fridges ice maker may or may not be safe.

A long time ago I would save soda bottles, fill them with water and freeze. After the boil dunk them in no-rinse sanitizer then into the wort. It helped drive down the temp in a somewhat safe fashion. Another PIA though.

My advice is also if you intend to keep brewing, invest in a chiller. It will be one of the beat brew toys you ever buy. Keep it clean then dunk (immersion) into your boiling wort or run the boiling wort through (counter flow) before turning on the water.

[quote=“HD4Mark”]

My advice is also if you intend to keep brewing, invest in a chiller. It will be one of the beat brew toys you ever buy. Keep it clean then dunk (immersion) into your boiling wort or run the boiling wort through (counter flow) before turning on the water.[/quote]

One thing with this hobby is there is always SOMETHING else you could buy, and you have to be careful you don’t end up just getting every gadget there is. BUT having said that - HDMark is 100% correct on this one. a wort chiller is a life saver. I did 15-20+ batches with ice baths, topping off with chilled water etc and while it worked, it was such a pain. Our ice maker does not crank out that much ice, so I would spend days collecting enough for the ice bath, then I would have to deal with the chilling of the water etc.

Again, I know it is so easy to come on here and hear about just one more thing to buy, but in this case for me a $70 chiller from NB made all the difference. there are also 100 threads and youtube videeos about making your own, I just didn’t have the time or felt like it, but that is also an option.

Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com