Consider this. I had a thought, and as usual it may already have been thought of but I will throw it out there anyway. I used to go camping a fair amount and so I had purchased a 5 gallon soft side water container. It’s collapsible so it packs well. I thought, what would happen if I were to fill one of those with 90% isopropyl alcohol? It’s cheap and available at the drug store. Then take that and place it in the freezer for a couple days before brew day. I have a spare fridge in the garage and I can get that freezer to a few degrees below zero. Alcohol remains liquid up to like 70 below. So if I were to run that through an immersion chiller I would think the cooling ability would be dramatically better than even very cold water. I wonder if this would be worth it? The alcohol would be reclaimed after it’s journey through the chiller for the next use.
That being said, how fast does the chill need to be for a good cold break? For a good cold break how low does the temp need to go and how rapidly must it happen? Currently I use a plastic garbage barrel filled with ice water and I go from the boil down to 60 degrees in less than 20 minutes. Would that do the trick? Or do I need to be faster or colder? Does the cold break really make that big of an impact on the overall product?
Wow! I have a lot of questions in this post. Hope it’s not overbearing.
On second thought I will scratch this idea. Looks like 5 gallons of isopropyl alcohol will cost colse to 200 bucks. And also the search hits I get seem to often include meth lab references. So if I buy 5 gallons of the stuff I may get a visit from the feds. And with my luck it will be on a brew day and then I will have to go through the trouble of explaining to the nice people that I am only brewing beer. Maybe plain old supercooled antifreeze would be a better option.
Glad you thought it through. A visit is not what you want, regardless of your intended purpose or innocence.
In NY, isn’t your tap water this time of year ridiculously cold? Ours is, so I figured yours would be also.
With my Chillzilla, I recirc for 5 minutes and then basically drain the kettle, comes out at 70. A little longer in summer. Back when I had the 50 ft garden hose, it was even better. I’m not a huge fan of the Chillzilla, other than it looks cool.
Just in case you steer back towards your original idea. 5 gallons of isopropyl alcohol anywhere near the flame from the brew kettle. Please take a video because your insurance company will never believe how you torched your driveway and house while brewing beer.
I just don’t see it as practical. One trip through the chiller won’t be enough, but if you’re recirculating with a pump the alcohol would heat up too quickly. But that said, you wouldn’t need 5- gallons of 90% isopropyl you don’t need -70; you just want it to not freeze. Diluting it under 50% would also help prevent the pump from bursting into flame.
I just use a bucket of tap water, and regular ice. At one time I proposed using salt to further chill the ice water, like ice cream makers. I concluded the amount of salt needed would cost too much, and it would be too much effort to ensure the pump was cleaned well enough to prevent corrosion.
But I wonder if alcohol in the water would have the same effect as salt? I can easily source some 30% ethanol, (JD American Honey) and some 75.5% ethanol (Bicardi 151 rum) so a small scale experiment may be occurring this weekend… I might need to repeat the experiment a few times. Gotta have proper scientific method after all…
“Cold Break” refers to getting your wort under 100 degrees in less than 20 minutes. ‘No chill’ brewers, like the Aussies who can’t waste the water for chilling, have refuted the benefits of the cold break. Many brewers still feel it’s beneficial.
Under 100 in 20 minutes? That’s it? Wow! That’s great news because I get that rather easily. I have to say I am very happy about that piece of info.Makes me feel like I am actually (accidentally) doing something right.
I am in NC and run into problems during summer and early fall, before it starts getting chilly and cooling my tap water. In the middle of summer, my tap water is at roughly 90 degrees at it’s coolest.
I’ve also tossed around a couple of ideas. The best (and most cost efficient) idea I have come across is a pre-chiller. I’ll take my current immersion chiller, stick it in a bucket of ice water (you can add rock salt to make it even colder than freezing) and push my groundwater through the IC, into either another IC or a CFC with the wort. Doing this will probably bring me down to where I need to be super quick.
Last summer when I started this process I used my groundwater and my IC. Took over 45 minutes to bring it down to under 100. I gave up at that point with the IC and put it in an ice bath.
Well, right now I don’t even have an immersion chiller. I always do the ice bath and I go from boil to 60ish in 20 minutes. I spend a week before brew day making ice and storing it in my spare freezer. It gives me a really big ice bath. But now that I have been told that under 100 in 20 minutes is good I am a happy camper. No worries.
Big breweries have combination plate chillers. The one I use circulates water (50 degrees in the winter) on one side of the plates, and glycol (30 degrees) on the other. The glycol recirculates back into a chilling unit.
You could use glycol, but you would have to have a way to be continually chilling it in order to keep recirculating it. You could run it through a second immersion chiller that’s frozen in a bucket of ice. All of this seems like a hassle though.
I think it’s easier to pump ice water through a chiller after the ground water has done all it can. I have a submersible pump and recirculate ice water into a bucket to get down to pitching temps in the summer.
[quote=“S.Scoggin”]Big breweries have combination plate chillers. The one I use circulates water (50 degrees in the winter) on one side of the plates, and glycol (30 degrees) on the other. The glycol recirculates back into a chilling unit.
You could use glycol, but you would have to have a way to be continually chilling it in order to keep recirculating it. You could run it through a second immersion chiller that’s frozen in a bucket of ice. All of this seems like a hassle though.[/quote]
Seems expensive though? I made a post about cooling and pumps in another section. In looking for the cheapest alternative, considering equipment I already have, the pre-chiller was the best way for me to cool my brews during the summer months. I may even use it in winter just for faster cooling. The only piece I need to build now is another IC or CFC for my wort, and I’ll use my current IC as a pre-chiller for the water.
If I had the money, I’d run a pump and push it through a plate chiller or two and get real fancy with it.