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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > General Beer Discussion > Chilling time
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Old 07-23-2012, 05:48 PM   #1
agentEhrman
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Default Chilling time

At what point in time is chilling before pitching taking too long? Is there a general rule of thumb, like "chill within 30 minutes or less for the best beer"?

I keep reading about people who are able to get their wort chilled in 20 minutes. I know that the quicker the better, but I can't seem to get mine chilled anywhere close to that fast.

I built an immersion chiller/pre-chiller out of 50 of 3/8 copper last winter. It's about 30 ft immersion and 20 ft pre-chiller. I usually wait to put ice water in the bucket with the pre-chiller until I get below 120 degrees. This is because that is when the temp drops really slow down for me from using tap water only. With this effort, it's taking about an hour to get to 75 degrees. In the winter, it was a little better and I could get it down to 65 at least. I guess I am a little stingy with the ice since I have to buy it, but my method seems solid.

I am planning to get one the huge tubs to sit the kettle in and fill with more ice, which will cost more money. But I can only imagine that cutting the chilling time from 60 minutes, to 20 or 30 would improve the taste of my beer.

Should I bother changing my current method, given that I'm usually satisfied with my beer currently? Is there a standard time to shoot for? What do you recommend?

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Old 07-23-2012, 08:04 PM   #2
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That's a good question.

Personally, I'll chill for about an hour and when I'm under triple digits I pitch. Only one beer have I ever got chilled to 75 and that was because my dog tried eating the neighbors dog and I had to help with that for an extra hour. Might try the prechill method,

I can go from boil to 120 in like 15 minutes, it's the 120 to 90 that takes forever it seems.

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Old 07-23-2012, 08:11 PM   #3
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Glad I live in New England. In the middle of summer (hottest month(s)) I can chill to pitching temps in about 15 minutes with my plate chiller. In the cooler/cold months it's even faster. It's only impacted by the temp of the chill water. My normal target temp is under 65 (normally 60 or less). That's only an issue in the hot months. Still, with the right gear, it's pretty easy to get there for me.

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Old 07-23-2012, 08:23 PM   #4
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Using my immersion chiller I also have trouble chilling down in less than an hour, particularly right now when the tap water is 80° or higher. I'm planning on buying a pond pump to do the second stage of chilling from a bucket of ice water to try to knock it down quicker. I'll use tap water down to 120° and then switch over to the pump. I'm hoping that helps significantly from where I'm at now.

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Old 07-23-2012, 08:32 PM   #5
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I have well water and it's ice cold coming out of the hose which is great. I can get my wort from boiling to 70 in about 20 to 25 minutes. Before I started using the immersion cooler it would take somewhere between an hour and an hour and a half. My beer always tasted fine though. As I understand quicker cooling leads to clearer beer and less chance of infection since it's exposed to the air for less time. I don't think the flavor will be affected much as long as you're not pitching your yeast into too hot wort.

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Old 07-23-2012, 10:21 PM   #6
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I use a plate chiller and live in the North. If I open the spigot all the way, it takes 7 minutes to drain and chill 5 gallons. 80F is the warmest and 62F is the coldest I've noticed with a wide open spigot.

I have to remember to slow the drainage in the summer to get around 72F in 15 minutes.

If it's higher than 68F, I'll put it in the fridge for a time determined by Newton's Law of Cooling!

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Old 07-23-2012, 11:09 PM   #7
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I have an immersion chiller also, and if I want to chill fast I grab the IC and move it up and down in the wort...this results in an immediate temp. drop of a few degrees and it keeps dropping as long as I keep agitating the wort.

I learnt this technique from a thread on here recently and have been sold on the results.

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Old 07-24-2012, 01:17 AM   #8
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Well it's good to know I'm not the only one, I guess. I do start stirring the kettle when cooling slows down, but that is the same time I prefer to keep the lid on to keep the nasties out. I am going to try more ice in the pre-chiller next time to see if that helps..

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Old 07-24-2012, 02:49 AM   #9
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There are tons of threads and website discussions about this topic. The majority of people have learned that bacteria like wort temps of betweem 130 and 80 degrees, so you want to chill your beer to 65-72(yeast loving pitching temp) as quickly as possible and then pitch. Basically give the bacteria less time to grow and give the yeast the best chance for success. This avoids infection, chill haze, off flavors etc. From as much as I can tell this makes logical sense.

But i think it has a little bit more to do with bragging rights. Im sure an hour or even two of cooling is fine, but it makes you sound more like a pro if you can do it in 15 minutes! Hell Im all for it, competition works well for steaks, bbq, and chili, might as well do it for beer!

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Old 07-24-2012, 02:36 PM   #10
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There is not one rule for everyone. It depends on individual brewer process, care and attention, the recipe, fining agents, conditioning time/gravity, cold crashing, racking procedure, etc.

I have had crystal clear beers, free of infection, with the following methods:

1) Cool in sink with ice bath for one hour down to 65 F
2) Place kettle in large container with outdoor hose spraying cold water on kettle for 20 minutes down to 65 F
3) Cool with wort chiller to 160 F quickly, add hops for warm aroma steep, cool to 65 F with ice bath in 30 minutes
4) Cool with wort chiller very quickly down to 65 F

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