Cheap alternative to pumps

So I know the cheapest way would be to let gravity do it’s thing :wink:

But, I guess what I am looking for now is a better/faster cooling method. Right now in my region of the country, the ground water is cold but still not THAT cold. For my last brew, it took about 25 minutes using my hose (in the ground) and my IC to bring my beer to pitching temps. That kinda stinks.

Now, I am a little handy, so if there’s something I can throw together without breaking the bank, I’d love to do that. I’m sure there are old posts out there, but looking for more recent experience and maybe more recent price figures too. Not really interested in spending hundreds of dollars on a pump and plate chiller combo right now.

If I’m just stuck dealing with it (or giving the kettle an ice bath), then so be it :slight_smile: I’ll just start saving! Thanks in advance for the suggestions!

Sounds like you want a counterflow chiller. I know people who have made their own and said it wasn’t too hard. You basically need to string a copper tube through a rubber hose, coil it up and add a few fittings at the ends. Somebody out there has got to have procedure/plans for this well established. Look it up “counterflow”.

There’s a great thread over at HBT for building a home-made counterflow chiller. I made one last fall, works great! If you can solder copper pipe, or are willing to figure it out, it’s actually a really nice build. It cost me around $40 in supplies for a 20’ chiller.


That idea looks good, although I suppose the limiting factor would still be my water temperature. For example, my ground water is in the low 90’s during the summer. Eek…

Doing a little bit more research and found that basically the issue is that I won’t be able to get my wort any lower than what my water temperature is using a CFC or an IC.

Some places recommend a pre-chiller, so running my ground water into a coil in an ice bucket then into my IC in my kettle. Sounds good, but I would need to build the coil for the ice bucket. Shouldn’t be TOO difficult so this is definitely a viable option.

Saw one guy recommend just running the hot wort through my IC that is in a bucket full of ice and water and then into the carboy (or recirculate until its cold enough). That would mean I have to buy zero equipment, since I already have an IC. This one has me curious, but I am interested to see how fast (or slow) the wort flows through the IC with just gravity… :? Also concerned about santizing and ensuring the inside of the IC is clean.

That sounds like a lot of work to clean. Here are two options. Go get some copper tubing in a roll from lowes and a couple fittings. Basically another chiller one goes in an ice bath one in the wort. It’s a two stage. Cost you about 30$. Or go to lowes and get one of those drill pumps and stick your pot in the ice bath and re circulate the ice water through your chiller. Those little pumps cost about $10.

Just get the Hydra and call it a day…

I tried the fountain pump in the cool with ice and it’s a PITA and did not even work that well.

How cold are you getting the wort for pitching? 25 min is not that bad really.

When I use my IC I will drop the temp as low as the water temp will allow me. I then fill a bucket of ice and a little water. I use a UTILITY pump that I bought for about $40.00 and hook it up to the IC. Your only out about $45 and you can use the pump for other things.

Note I said utility pump as small pond pumps just don’t move enough water for this.

Edited to add: best thing you can do too is keep the wort in motion as much as you can to encourage cooling.

Stir the wort with a santized spoon, or do what I do sometimes and just swirl the IC around in the kettle.

The 25 min was only during my last brew. I got lucky because I decided to brew on a weekend where we had a few solid days of 30 degree temps prior to brew day. 25 minutes to 65 degrees isn’t bad but I don’t get lucky consistently.

If I brew in the summer I am stuck. My ground water doesn’t go much below 90 degrees during summer if I am lucky. I think the lowest I registered last year was 85. I first tried my IC with that water (about 85) and in 35 minutes the wort was still at about 100. I gave up using the IC and put it in an ice bath (which took long enough too).

The hydra looks good and all that, but I’ll still be limited by the temperature of my ground water. I am pretty sure I am going to need a pre-chiller of some sort, especially during the summer. And it’s over $150… No thanks.

If you put together a CFC, you can always use your existing IC as a pre-chiller in a bucket of ice water to get your ground water as cold as possible before it enters the CFC. That should knock the temperature down pretty quickly.

That’s what I am thinking might be my best (cheapest) solution right now.

I found this site which kinda shows it: … e-brewing/

Depending on your price range, I bought This CFC

two years ago. Depending on the cost of materials in your area, I decided I was lazy and just bought this rather than putting one together myself and have been very happy with it.


You are absolutely right that the temperature of your ground water is the limiting factor, and no piece of equipment is going to get around that unless you can get the cooling water colder. The cheapest option for you would be to buy a second immersion chiller, and hook that up in series with your current chiller so that you have:

Tap - hose - chiller in bucket of ice water - hose - chiller in kettle - hose to the drain.

For a bit more money, you can replace that last chiller with a CFC or plate chiller, and there is no need to use a pump as long as your kettle is higher up than wherever you are putting the chilled wort. I use a plate chiller with no pump, and drain my kettle in less than 10 minutes. A bit longer in the summer when the tap water is warm (60F), but less in the winter when I have to throttle back the 40F tap water so the wort doesn’t go below pitching temp.

I made my own cfc from my immersion chiller. You just need to solder some pieces on the end and use an old hose. Just google diy counter flow chiller. Dirt cheap an easy. I use gravity for mine. Cooled it from boiling to 62 degrees using garden hose water. Too easy.