||07-11-2011 12:13 AM
If you plan on sticking with this hobby and eventually doing full boils or even All-Grain, it really is in your best interests to figure out a better way to cool your wort though. I would never personally advocate no-chill brewing... partially because of the increased chance of infected batches, but mostly because it makes hop utilization really difficult to predict.
The best solution would be an actual chiller... I prefer counterflow chillers (CFCs) and plate chillers as they are the most effective, but many people prefer to save some upfront money and go with a more basic immersion chiller. I've seen FAR too many people end up being unhappy with their immersion chiller and/or finding it to be insufficient after moving to bigger batches, eventually wanting to upgrade to a CFC or plate chiller, to necessarily recommend it to all beginners. They all work on the premise of heat exchange with flowing water though, usually from the tap/plumbing, but people with an overly warm "cold water" source or no way to connect to their plumbing often use ice water with a pond pump.
If you really plan to stick with homebrewing though, a chiller is, IMO, one of the important and useful tools a brewer can have. If you don't have a bunch of money to spend ATM, an immersion chiller may be best for you, CFCs and plate chillers (which are just a special, more compact type of CFC) are more expensive than even the price of the chiller would suggest. A valve on your kettle is absolutely required, although valves are fairly inexpensive and are just such an amazing thing to have, that I would recommend it to everyone anyways.
The bigger expense is a beer pump able to withstand boiling temps. A pump is not *technically* required, but I would never use a CFC without one, because otherwise they will likely cause a lot of infected batches. With a pump, you are able to recirculate boiling wort through the CFC and back into your kettle for a few minutes, effectively sterilizing the whole setup. A pump is useful for a lot of things, and has made my brewdays significantly easier and safer, but although I consider them a great investment, when you combine the costs of the CFC, pump, valve, and even hoses and fittings, it is just too expensive for most new brewers to buy all that at once without being absolutely sure that this is a hobby that will last a lifetime, and an immersion chiller may be the best way to hedge one's bets. But if one KNOWS this hobby is for life, and is able to spend that kind of cash, IMO it's better to just buy the best stuff and not spend money on a chiller they'll soon want to upgrade from anyways.