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Old 07-13-2009, 01:25 PM   #1
hal2814
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Default No Chill Case Study

The No Chill threads have been interesting to me. It's the way I have brewed for years now. I never knew it to be controversial until reading the forums here. There are many questions about the process and its effects on the finished product.

While cleaning out my basement this weekend, I ran across an unopened bottle from an no chill IPA batch I bottled over a year and a half ago. It's been sitting in a cardboard box at room temperature in my basement since a Christmas party I went to back in 2007. I thought the entire box was empties but apparently there was the one bottle left. That's a lot older than any beer I've ever tried to drink but it has an Oxycap on it so I'm hoping I can at least get a flavor profile. I know some of the no chill questions specifically concerned bottled beer vs. kegged and the effects of no chill on long term storage so I thought this a good opportunity to explore those questions.

The plan is to gather a photo diary of the characteristics of the no chill beer. I want to get suggestions of what to look for since I'll only have one shot at this. Here is my proposed report layout (condensation will be wiped before each shot):

1. Basics of the batch from my notebook. This would include everything from recipe to bottling.
2. Photo of the bottle as it was found (at room temperature).
3. Photo of the unopened bottle at ~= 38F (my beer fridge temperature).
4. Photo of the initial pour.
5. Photo of the settled pour.
6. A brief description of the flavor profile. (If I should be looking for specific off flavors, this would be the place to point out what I'm looking for.)

It's important to note that I don't have a dog in this fight. My method of brewing is a no chill method and it works for me. I don't really care if the beer develops a chill haze and I don't really care if the beer has some off-flavor that developed between the time the beer was drinkable and a year-and-a-half later. I've never really paid attention to that sort of thing and have no plans to start doing so now. It also doesn't particularly bother me that my brew method isn't THE WAY.

I'll mention it in the official findings but it's also important to note that one study does constitute conclusive evidence, especially when there is no control group to compare to. I'm hoping the thread doesn't devolve to discussions on how the results are inconclusive. We already know that. I just don't want to miss out on a chance to study an aspect of the no chill method that is pretty hard (for me at least) to come by. I am typically a kegger and I sure don't typically have beer lying around too long after it is drinkable. And since there is a debate, I thought it a good idea to share my findings.

This evening I have a few obligations to attend to so Tuesday will be the earliest I can collect the results. Suggestions on what and how to report my findings to make them as useful as possible are welcome.

EDIT: Results are in!

1. Here's the recipe entry for the IPA in this study. I halved the Northern Brewer to 1oz and did the 1/2oz Cascade that is 1 minute in the recipe as a dry hop in primary on day 6 when I noticed the krausen fall. I put it on BeerTools back in 2003 and have brewed it 3 or 4 times. I rarely take an OG on a beer I've done before but the FG was 1.02. It was in primary for 10 days, cold crashed for 2 days at about 38F (my usual beer fridge temp), and then bottled. It hit FG at day 6 and stayed there until the cold crash.

As for the no chill-specific info, it was brewed October 13, 2007. I didn't note the outside temperature at the time, but according to the NWS archives, the high and low were 76 and 45, respectively, in my area. Brewing wrapped up some time after 9PM that night and the yeast was pitched from a 1.5 qt starter the next day some time in the afternoon.

2. 7/13/2009 12PM EST room temperature:

3. 7/14/2009 12PM EST 37F (according to meat thermometer in fridge):

4. 7/14/2009 9:30PM 38F (same thermometer):

5. There was nothing to settle. The beer was flatter than flat. Since I didn't experience flatness anywhere else in the batch, I assume I just didn't get a good enough seal. Or maybe the oxycap didn't do its job? But to fill out the profile, here's another pic after it "settled":

6. I took a swig of flat year-and-a-half old beer for the team. To paraphrase Clubber Lang, what did i expect from this beer? PAIN! It was all cardboard. I never really understood what was meant by "cardboard" until tonight. The hops were gone. The malt was gone. No creamed corn. Just cardboard.

So there you have it. My beer is old and has gone bad long ago. But there's no chill haze. The appearance-is-important crowd should be proud.

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Old 07-13-2009, 01:33 PM   #2
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Hal,

I look forward to your report! The question of stability is what I have been most interested in (not to change my process, but to more fully understand the mechanisms at work).

It's clear that no-chill works for many, but it just flies against so much brewing science knowledge that it has me thoroughly flummoxed.

Jason

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Old 07-13-2009, 02:06 PM   #3
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I don't doubt that it can work, but I have been reading through the threads and can't figure out what the advantages are. Is it just so you don't have to buy a chiller?

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Old 07-13-2009, 02:20 PM   #4
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I have a wort chiller. I made one of those copper tube and garden hose ones. One winter I figured leaving the wort sealed outside on a below-freezing night would be good enough. I had an older smack pack that didn't yield a good starter yet so I wasn't in a hurry. When spring rolled around, I decided to let the same process ride until it ruined a batch since it saved time and it let me get a starter going on brew day using the actual wort form my brew instead of days before using a separate starter wort. I'm still waiting for that ruined batch at least 5 years later. (The only reason I even know it's been at least 5 years is that I didn't have kids that first batch.)

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Old 07-13-2009, 02:24 PM   #5
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Okay so making a starter out of the same wort is the advantage? I suppose that is good if you aren't decanting your starters.

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Old 07-13-2009, 02:35 PM   #6
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I think more than using the same wort, I just really like that getting the yeast ready to pitch happens at the same time I get the wort ready to ferment but I don't think there's a single "the advantage." It's a process issue. I like letting the wort chill by itself given the rest of my brew schedule. Folks like The Pol in some of the other no chill threads may be better suited to discussing specific pros. I never really thought about it until I joined homebrewtalk. It made since in my process and still makes sense in my process so that's what I do.

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Old 07-13-2009, 03:09 PM   #7
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Yeah, fits some peoples systems and others not so much. Are you guys just putting these in better bottles and covering them with foil or what?

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Old 07-13-2009, 03:14 PM   #8
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I put the wort in an ale pail and hook up a blow-off tube into a sanitized water solution. You'll get contraction when it cools but not enough to suck water from a blow-off tube into the bucket. This method destroyed my stick-on thermometer after two or three batches (still there but doesn't work) but the pail itself has held up since my very first batch of beer. I think most of the other guys are using those sealed UN water jugs for cooling.

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Old 07-13-2009, 03:52 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tonedef131 View Post
Are you guys just putting these in better bottles and covering them with foil or what?
A better bottle will melt, so I've been told - I know they are only rated to 140 or so.

I use a 5 gallon HDPE "cube."
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Old 07-13-2009, 03:53 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bakins View Post
I use a 5 gallon HDPE "cube."
How much are they and where can you find them?
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