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Cooling wort

I have only done 2 batches and I cool the wort by an ice bath in the basement sink. Since it takes a while to cool down I was wondering what would the repercussions be if you added a block of ice into the wort-filled kettle? It would certainly speed up the cooling process and would substitute for some of the 2+ gallons of water I would be adding to the fermenter to make up the 5 gallon batch. Anybody know the downside to this?

Ice isn’t always sanitary and this can pose an infection risk. It will certainly help bring the wort temp down while topping off. I’m sure people have been doing it for years with nothing to worry about though. Do you have plans on bumping up to full boils? if so, an Immersion Chiller might be something to look into.

I did it many times in the early days with no problems. I would fill my bottling bucket with ice and dump the hot wort right over the top. Then stir and top off with cool water.

Make your ice blocks in sanitized plastic bags. When needed sanitize the outside of the bag and cut to remove ice block.

[quote=“flars”]Make your ice blocks in sanitized plastic bags. When needed sanitize the outside of the bag and cut to remove ice block.[/quote]That’s a good idea Flars.

I have added ice to my last few batches as well and achieved fermentation temps in a few minutes as oppossed to the 30-90 minutes an ice bath requires. Since I use tap water for my boil and my top-off anyway I am not at all concerned about ice infecting my beer. I feel the risk of infection or off-flavors will develop while waiting for the wort to cool in an icebath or getting impatient and pitching into hot wort vice using ice as cooling/top-off. :cheers:

Many thanks for all your suggestions and advice.

I am new to brewing but this got me thinking . What if you freeze old soda bottles with water inside and stickers and adhesive removed. Pull from freezer dip in sans for two minutes and then put wort after cooled enough from ice bath. At what temp would you be able to this with out melting plastic or imparting flavor from plastic. I am not a huge fan of anything plastic so could you use some type of metal, remove from freezer to san to wort without imparting some type of flavor? would it be beneficial to dip ice blocks in sans to eliminate risk of contamination ? What about stone or rocks ? I haven’t researched this yet so I imagine these are all things people have already tried ,Probably just easier to buy a wort chiller I suppose.

So, I think you’ve just run us back through the logic circle. You’re suggesting to use something metal to keep ice from diluting/contaminating the wort? Use the metal of the the pot itself in an ice bath, or get an immersion chiller.

BTW, if you used a frozen water bottle, the outer edge of the bottle would melt, and actually start to insulate the ice in the bottle from the wort.

So, I think you’ve just run us back through the logic circle. You’re suggesting to use something metal to keep ice from diluting/contaminating the wort? Use the metal of the the pot itself in an ice bath, or get an immersion chiller.

BTW, if you used a frozen water bottle, the outer edge of the bottle would melt, and actually start to insulate the ice in the bottle from the wort.[/quote]
I was talking in addition to the ice water . They suggested using ice cubes but my experience with ice is it can absorb odors. I would think that could put an off flavor into your beer. As far as the metal I was talking about immersion it in star sans and then into cooling wort. An example that I was thinking of is I used to have a stainless steel travel mug with a screw on lid. Unfortunately the lid was plastic but if I could find a metal plug why couldn’t I fill it with water and freeze it. then while the wort was in the ice bath remove the stainless steel from freezer into starz san and then into the cooling wort. Would this not speed up cooling ? Is this not similar to a wort cooler ? I don’t know everything about the wort cooler because again I am new to this but the only difference I see is the wort cooler carriers the heat away. I am not a scientist so there might be something I am missing that has to do with evaporation or surface area. As far as the plastic I realize you cannot place the plastic into boiling water. I was referring to as the wort is cooling is their a safe temperature that you could use this to speed the cooling up a little.If this is even possible I would not use it because I am trying to eliminate as much plastic from my life as possible. I was thinking of those brewers on a budget.

What I was getting at, and this is all just personal opinion, is that what you are suggesting would have marginal benefit at best. If you want to cool with ice put the pot in an ice bath and be done with it. I don’t see how a passive cooler like a lump of metal can ultimately save time. It would take a minute or two off the chilling time but would add it all back in the sanitizing & cleanup time.

Using ice instead of water to top-off extract brews is VERY efficient at chilling wort, but has all the risks already noted. Before my immersion chiller, I did that to lots of batches and never got infections or off-flavors, but there was undeniably increased risk. Alton Brown of Food Network put the ice in his fermenter bucket, and just poured the hot wort on top. (Home brewers gave him a lot of grief over that episode)

If you’re on a budget the options in my order of recommendation are: stick with ice bath, BYO immersion chiller, add ice to the wort, or go no-chill.

[quote=“JMcK”]What I was getting at, and this is all just personal opinion, is that what you are suggesting would have marginal benefit at best. If you want to cool with ice put the pot in an ice bath and be done with it. I don’t see how a passive cooler like a lump of metal can ultimately save time. It would take a minute or two off the chilling time but would add it all back in the sanitizing & cleanup time.

Using ice instead of water to top-off extract brews is VERY efficient at chilling wort, but has all the risks already noted. Before my immersion chiller, I did that to lots of batches and never got infections or off-flavors, but there was undeniably increased risk. Alton Brown of Food Network put the ice in his fermenter bucket, and just poured the hot wort on top. (Home brewers gave him a lot of grief over that episode)

If you’re on a budget the options in my order of recommendation are: stick with ice bath, BYO immersion chiller, add ice to the wort, or go no-chill.[/quote]
Thanks for your input.

Last year I bought a cooling paddle to try moving up from an ice water bath. It’s a large heavy duty plastic item used in many commercial kitchens to cool down soup at the end of the day. I brew three gallon batches and thought the 64 oz. one would work; I was wrong. I was able to get a three gallon pot of 200f water only down into the 160s. I then went to my LHBS (Bader Brewing) and bought a 20’ x 3/8" IC. It took my last batch (pilsner) down to 55f in 20 minutes. I used the cooling paddle to get it down a couple more, put it in the cooler for an hour and pitched the yeast at 52f.
I wish I’d bought an I C years ago.

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