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Old 04-16-2011, 12:13 AM   #1
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Default Chilling Wort in Arizona

I'm just looking for some tips and tricks from Arizona brewers (and others who brew in hot climates) to get wort down to pitching temperature now that we're getting into the hot months.

I just brewed an ESB on Tuesday after work and had a hard time getting it down below 74F using hose water through a 3/8", 50' copper IC and 25' of copper in an ice bath as a pre-chiller for the water. Ambient temp outside was probably around 85F. I had to transfer it to the fermenter and then put that in an ice bath to get it down into the 60s.

I've got an old refrigerator set up as a fermentation chamber and trying to keep the brewing going as long as possible.

Thanks for any tips!

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Old 04-16-2011, 01:04 AM   #2
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I use a 900GPH pump , and recirculate ice water through my chiller. I have a 70qt coleman xtreme cooler, I place the pump in, dump a 20 lb bag of ice in, fill it with just enough cold water to make it slushy, then after running tap water through the chiller to get the temps down to about +/-100°f, I hook up the pump and recirc the ice water while stirring my chiller constantly, I have yet to get a march pump set up, so I don't have the ability to whirlpool yet, but that is the next item on my gadget list, now that I have just completed my fermentation chamber.

Anyhow, I have to use more ice in the heat of the summer, up to 40lbs, but when the temps are in the 80's I can get away with a single 20 lb bag when brewing 5 gallons, 10 gallons is a whole different story!

I would suggest getting an inexpensive pump from harbor freight to recirculate ice water, it is more efficeint than a pre chiller, or you could recirc ice water through the pre chiller too, and dubbel-up, uh, dubbel-up, uh! (beer humor)

At least this is my method...

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Old 04-16-2011, 01:18 AM   #3
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Fill 8-12 Gatorade bottles and sanitize the outside of them. Place them in your freezer until brew day. Drop them in to your wort one to two at a time. Replace as they melt. You can use them in conjunction with your chiller.

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Old 04-16-2011, 01:41 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Schnitzengiggle View Post
I use a 900GPH pump , and recirculate ice water through my chiller. I have a 70qt coleman xtreme cooler, I place the pump in, dump a 20 lb bag of ice in, fill it with just enough cold water to make it slushy, then after running tap water through the chiller to get the temps down to about +/-100°f, I hook up the pump and recirc the ice water while stirring my chiller constantly, I have yet to get a march pump set up, so I don't have the ability to whirlpool yet, but that is the next item on my gadget list, now that I have just completed my fermentation chamber.

Anyhow, I have to use more ice in the heat of the summer, up to 40lbs, but when the temps are in the 80's I can get away with a single 20 lb bag when brewing 5 gallons, 10 gallons is a whole different story!

I would suggest getting an inexpensive pump from harbor freight to recirculate ice water, it is more efficeint than a pre chiller, or you could recirc ice water through the pre chiller too, and dubbel-up, uh, dubbel-up, uh! (beer humor)

At least this is my method...
Thanks for that quick reply -- glad to see another Tucson homebrewer! I've read up on the whirlpool chiller and think that would be a great upgrade. I'm going for the kegging setup next but I like your pumped ice water method. I'm guessing that's a submersible pump you drop in your cooler without having to make any mods to the cooler?
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Old 04-16-2011, 01:56 AM   #5
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I use my Counter Flow chiller in the summer, recirculating Ice water through it, same method as above but with the CFC and gravity flowing the beer to the fermenter...comes out nearly to cold 55-60f

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Old 04-16-2011, 06:24 AM   #6
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Thanks for that quick reply -- glad to see another Tucson homebrewer! I've read up on the whirlpool chiller and think that would be a great upgrade. I'm going for the kegging setup next but I like your pumped ice water method. I'm guessing that's a submersible pump you drop in your cooler without having to make any mods to the cooler?
Correct, submersible pump.

FWIW, yes, go for the kegging setup first, if I knew then what I knwo now, I would have done the keg setup first (bottling is a bitch!)

The pump I bought was like $30 and I had the cooler, I just have to py the $2.50 for a 20 lb bag o'ice
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Old 04-16-2011, 08:09 AM   #7
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I'm with schnitzengiggle,

I use 100ft of hose and then put 25 lbs of ice on top of that and enough water to cover the ice. I also put rock salt in to lower the temp as low as possible. I think last time I had the water to -8C. I run that through an IC and stir the **** out of it. Hasn't taken more than 15 minutes to get down to temp (75-80F).

If you are getting close to pitching temp but not all the way there you could always leave an extra gallon or two out of the whole brewing process (leaving you with a relatively high gravity wort) and get the gallon or two that you left out to almost freezing (or atleast 40-45F), when you transfer the finished wort into the fermenter your temperature will equalize at or around where you want to be. If you use plastic buckets you could even boil the water before you put it in the fermenter to ensure that there are no chances of getting any infectious agents in there.

I haven't brewed in the summer yet, but I am ready for the challenge

btw... i went back and read iparks comment... maybe buying a CFC isn't a bad idea...

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Old 04-16-2011, 03:31 PM   #8
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I'm with schnitzengiggle,

I use 100ft of hose and then put 25 lbs of ice on top of that and enough water to cover the ice. I also put rock salt in to lower the temp as low as possible. I think last time I had the water to -8C. I run that through an IC and stir the **** out of it. Hasn't taken more than 15 minutes to get down to temp (75-80F).

If you are getting close to pitching temp but not all the way there you could always leave an extra gallon or two out of the whole brewing process (leaving you with a relatively high gravity wort) and get the gallon or two that you left out to almost freezing (or atleast 40-45F), when you transfer the finished wort into the fermenter your temperature will equalize at or around where you want to be. If you use plastic buckets you could even boil the water before you put it in the fermenter to ensure that there are no chances of getting any infectious agents in there.

I haven't brewed in the summer yet, but I am ready for the challenge

btw... i went back and read iparks comment... maybe buying a CFC isn't a bad idea...
A CFC would be nice, but without a March pump, I think that it would be more trouble than it is worth, slow to go by gravity, and hard to clean without a pump.
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Old 04-16-2011, 04:40 PM   #9
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You can't get below 74 even with an ice bath?? Something just doesn't sound right there.

Here is my suggestion: Do not bother with an ice bath at all until you get below about 100 degrees. You want the coldest water toward the end of the chill. Don't use it all up in the beginning when you don't really need it. Tap water will chill boiling water just fine.
And maybe you just need to slow down the water. If your tap water isn't very cold, you need to run it slow so it will cool down in the ice bath. Measure the temperature of the water as it's coming out of the cooler too. If it's not much warmer than tap temperature, you're just wasting water.
To make your ice pre-chiller work better, add salt to the mixture. This will lower the temperature of your water. Ice water will only be 32 F, while salt/ice/water can get down below 0 F.

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Old 04-16-2011, 07:00 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by IceFisherChris View Post
You can't get below 74 even with an ice bath?? Something just doesn't sound right there.

Here is my suggestion: Do not bother with an ice bath at all until you get below about 100 degrees. You want the coldest water toward the end of the chill. Don't use it all up in the beginning when you don't really need it. Tap water will chill boiling water just fine.
And maybe you just need to slow down the water. If your tap water isn't very cold, you need to run it slow so it will cool down in the ice bath. Measure the temperature of the water as it's coming out of the cooler too. If it's not much warmer than tap temperature, you're just wasting water.
To make your ice pre-chiller work better, add salt to the mixture. This will lower the temperature of your water. Ice water will only be 32 F, while salt/ice/water can get down below 0 F.
Thanks for the suggestions, they mirror what I'm already doing except for the fact that I do this outside with the hose rather than with tap water. The rate of change was getting so slow toward the end that I just stopped at 74 after sitting there for several minutes whirlpooling with a spoon while the water was running -- I probably could have gotten a bit lower but at that point I was getting concerned about the amount of time it was taking. The temperature of the hose water and the tap water are pretty much the same here. Pipes aren't buried very deeply so the fellow Tucsonans can attest to the joy of turning on the "cold" tap only to get something that feels about the same as the warm tap. My current procedure is to turn the hose bib on just until I start to see water coming out of the outlet of my IC at a good rate, I guess I could try to throttle that back a little more, but I don't have much room to work with there. I'm sure the water in my pre-chill tank is plenty cold, I think the hose water is just rushing through the 25' of copper too quickly to dissipate that heat. Of course I've never run any tests without a kettle of wort that I'm desperate to cool down so maybe that would be in order, but I can see the advantage of the submersible method in that you know that you're pumping that very cold water directly into the IC rather than hoping that the hose water gets cooled down somewhere close when running through the pre-chiller. I think it sounds like a good investment for AZ brewing.

Thanks for the good discussion, I know there is some good info here that will be helpful to others too.
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