Cooling Methods and Alternatives

What methods do you use to cool your wort? I simply use an ice bath. Last time I was able to cool about 2.75 gal to below 100 degrees F in 25 minutes. I stir the wort very very gently while submerged and continually add ice tot he bath water in the process. I was thinking of freezing a 1/2 gallon jug of water, and then submerging the jug into the wort (sanitized of course). Not sure if the plastic would be an issue. What else is being done out there besides a faucet wort chiller?

I do a 2 stage bath. I have 2 clean garbage pails that are for brewing only. The first one i just fill with water from the hose… The second one is filled with about 30 pounds of ice which I make in the week prior to brewing, or if necessary I buy a bag of ice. Once the boil is complete I put the pot in the first pail just to start the cooling. It sits in there for 5 minutes and I stir it a few times. Then it goes into the ice pail. Also, in the ice pail I have a small fountain pump that keeps the water circulating otherwise a pocket of warm water will collect around the pot. I am able to get a 5 gallon boil down to 60 deg F in less than 25 minutes with this method. In the winter this works really well since I leave the full pails out overnight to cool. Works well as long as it’s not so cold as to completely freeze the pails. And in withers like this past one, there was plenty of snow to use instead of making or buying ice.

I’ve never tried it but you could do a partial boil and then throw some ice or cold water in the cooling wort.

I guess I’m ‘old school’(and cheap). I’ve never bothered to get an IC. Over 3 years and 50+ batches and I still use a water bath in a swamp cooler bucket. Usually change the water 3 times, and this time of year there’s plenty of snow to add to the water. Water from the hose yesterday was 43*. Even in the summer it’s around 50*. Guess I’m lucky.

I use an immersion chiller and when it is winter or too cold to use the outside water I attach the IC to a submersible water pump and the pump sits in water and a few pounds of ice. Works really well.

I always partial boil and use about a gallon of sanitized ice. Cools very quickly and haven’t had a problem in 15 brews. If you are thinking of using an ice filled water jug, you might want to look at the cooling paddles that restaurants use to chill soup. They appear to be a lot more substantial than a water jug.

How do you sanatize ice?

I thoroughly wash out a Rubbermaid food storage container (which I use only for freezing water,so there isn’t much to clean), then soak lid and all in StarSan. Also, I only use store-bought bottled water for the eventual ice. I freeze it 2-3 days before I need to use it.

Fantastic idea.

Thanks. If you try this be sure to take the ice out to melt when you start the brew. Makes it easier to slip out of the container. Also have a good pair of tongs or sterile gloves because that block of ice can be very heavy when you try to lower it into the wort.

I’m cheap but not when it comes to making beer. I like to cool it as fast as possible and transfer the wort at the same time. I use two CFC’s in series. Below is a picture: I supply cold tap water and it tee’s off to both chillers. Wort goes into #1 at 212F out a second or two later at 80F, into #2 at 80F and out a second or two later at 50-64F. All 22 gallons of wort is chilled and transferred to two 15 gallon primary fermenters in less than 6 minutes.

Nice setup. All I have room for is ice. :wink:

I have a single counterflow chiller. I pump the wort through it and with this winter time ground water I can chill 5.5 gallons to 62 deg in 7 min or less. Once the ground water warms up I plan to use my HLT tank (filled with water and ice)and HERMS coil as a pre chiller for the wort before it goes through the CFC

Show offs :lol:

Torich, it sounds like you have a system that works. I used water baths too until I started to do full volume boils. As the wort volumes increase, a chiller becomes mandatory. And at volumes above 10 gallons, you really want a CFC or a plate chiller.

Probably the fastest thing you can do is chill by dumping sanitary ice (boil it before you freeze it) into your wort at the end of the boil. But that only works if you are doing partial volume boils.

My plan for my next brew is to build a CFC and use my current immersion chiller as a pre chiller. The IC will sit in a bucket of ice with the groundwater hose attached to it, then the ice cold water will come out of that into my CFC and I will recirculate the wort in the CFC until it’s cool enough. Ground water here in NC in the summer is usually in the high 80’s to low 90’s and doesn’t get any colder than that, so I’m not lucky enough to be able to just use straight ground water to cool.

+1. It simply works. My experience has been about 110 batches over 15 years. Of course, half those batches have been 3 gallons or less, which also helps.

I pump through a duda diesel 30 plate chiller and into the fermenter. Ground water in the low 50s year round chills it pretty quickly.

I use an immersion chiller I picked up on ebay for $50 delivered. For the top up water, I chill a 2.5 gallon distilled or spring water container (the kind with the spigot built in-around $2.50-$3.00 at the store) in the fridge (overnight) or freezer (a few hours before needed). In the winter, I leave it outside for a few hours. In the summer especially, this helps. My ground water is ~75F in the summer. Having chilled, sterile top up water means I only have to chill the wort to about 80-90F. I always spray the spigot with some Starsan before opening, too.

My water for chilling comes from a municipal water tower so its temperature varies with the seasons. I do about 6 gals of wort on my usual batch. I use a copper immersion chiller to get the temp down to about 85 F. Then I add sealed 16 oz bottles of frozen water from the freezer --with the bottles being dunked briefly in PBW solution-- and stir gently.

Since the melting water inside the bottles isn’t sanitary, I keep the bottles sealed and the contents don’t contact the wort.

So far it’s working, but I’m considering getting some sort of immersion pump so I could link it with an ice water and then run that through the immersion chiller.

Brew on!