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Old 06-20-2008, 03:58 AM   #1
sdalloway
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Default Cooling Wort Alternative

Here's a question that has stumped me - maybe it's quite simple and I've just been working too hard this week - but here we go:

I don't have a wort chiller yet. What if I was to transfer the hot wort into a sanitized food grade plastic bucket, slap on a sanitized lid, and attach a air lock - wait half a day when it finally cools on it's own (no ice, no chiller, nothing) and transfer into glass carboy and pitch. I've always read you want to cool the wort as fast as possible to minimize the risk of infection, but I just can't see how this alternative, while inconvenient, wouldn't work. Any thoughts?

Sean

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Old 06-20-2008, 04:05 AM   #2
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you run the risk of wild yeast and/or bacteria taking hold in your wort. Even if the bucket is sanitized, there is wild yeast and bacteria in the air. And remember, sanitized does not equal sterilized so there is still some bacteria/yeast/general nasties present and giving them that much time to go to work on your wort is just asking for trouble

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Old 06-20-2008, 04:08 AM   #3
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I am not sure that it would not work, but I am wondering how your going to get the wort safely in the bucket. I personally would not feel comfortable lifting 5 gallons of boiling hot wort and pouring it into a bucket. Unless you have a stainless steel racking cane and some hi temp tubing racking it will not work, since a plastic racking cane will melt. If you are just going to leave it in your brew kettle until it cools off enough to handle then your risk of infection increases from airborne bacteria. Perhaps a partial boil with a top off of cold water may be a better solution.

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Old 06-20-2008, 04:19 AM   #4
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I would also be worried about the plastic becoming very soft at those temps. You might also get some off flavors from DMS precipitating on the lid at temperatures over 140.

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Old 06-20-2008, 11:51 AM   #5
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I think you're better off just slapping a lid on your kettle and putting it in the sink with some changed water.

That kettle has been boiling for an hour, it's likely so hot there's nothing surviving in there. Changing out the water will cool it down faster, so you can reasonably be good to go after a couple hours.

But to respond to your original post, people do things similar to that all the time. I think on the Jamil Show someone was talking about a pro brewer who just racks his hot wort into sealed kegs and lets it sit there until he's ready to pitch yeast. I'm not sure at what temperature the plastic tubing starts to melt, but I know the tubing in my buddy's wort chiller sits against the side of his kettle during the last 15 minutes of the boil, and it doesn't melt from that, so I'm not sure near-boiling wort would do it. It would be a terrible way to ruin a beer, though, melting plastic into it - I might want to test the tubing with some boiling water first.

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Old 06-20-2008, 12:21 PM   #6
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When you put hot liquid in a sealed container for it to cool off, you need to remember the volume of the liquid will decrease & air would theoretically go backwards through the air-lock. However, air wouldn't go through, the water from your airlock would. I suppose this would work if you were able to seal the container and pressurize it with CO2, but I'm assuming that you don't have that capability being that you don't have a wort chiller.

If you're handy, why not spend the $30 to make one? It's just as much fun to make as it is to use. Plus you drastically cut your brew-time.

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Old 06-20-2008, 12:30 PM   #7
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The cold break is another consideration. Quickly chilling your beer helps some large chain proteins to coagulate and fall out of suspension, helping to improve your beer's clarity.

I agree with just using a cold water bath. It's easy enough to do and will get you to pitching temps in an hour or two.

Are you even an all grain brewer? If not, why not put 3 gallons of your water in the fridge, add it to the carboy after you're done boiling the wort, then add the hot wort to the cold water. Presto! Instant pitching temps!

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Old 06-20-2008, 02:58 PM   #8
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I have done this with jerry cans. It worked great, except it was on a pale ale and the late addition hops were useless from the boil, as well as cloudy beer. If it was a beer with less hops and low pilsner it would probably work great. I actually let the jerry can sit for 2 weeks and dumped it on top of the yeast cake from the same split 10 gallon batch. I will probably do this again with a brown ale this fall.
Very low chance of infection, sanitized can, plus you are dumping boiling hot fluids into the can, which sanitizes it as well.

There was a discussion on this about 6 months back.

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Old 06-20-2008, 10:31 PM   #9
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It's gonna take WAY more than a half day to cool down that much.

Hell it'll take 10 hours to drop from 80F to 70F if you're relying on ambient room temperature.

Do an ice water bath for the brew pot, then pour in the bucket once its cooled.

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Old 06-20-2008, 11:39 PM   #10
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I use the "ice bath" method in my sink, and I keep adding ice as it melts, and occasionally draining some of the water out. I can cool 2 gallons of wort from boiling to 80* in about 22-24 minutes. And all it costs is $3 for a 16 lb. bag of ice at the convenience store.

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