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Old 02-04-2011, 02:18 PM   #1
Oct 2010
Lincoln, NE
Posts: 215
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I just brewed Yooper's DFH 60 Min IPA clone last night in my brand new 7.5 gallon stainless kettle. I got a late start and finished my boil around 10:30 PM last night. With the temperature dropping close to 0* overnight, I figured it would cool fairly quickly if I put it in my yard, which also has a couple inches of snow on it.

After waiting 3 hours and only seeing the temp drop about 40* I decided to set an alarm for 90 minutes later and went to bed. I did this several times, until the wort was finally down to about 80* some time around 4:30 AM.

I typically chill my kettle in an ice water bath in my utility sink, but the new kettle's too big for that. Chilling has taken me somewhere between 1 and 2 hours every time until now.

So, what's the deal here? Is it that the stainless is a better insulator than the thin walled, enameled canning kettle I've been using? Is it the larger volume (5+ gal. vs. 3.5~)? Is it that air, even at 0* doesn't absorb heat as well as water?

Thanks for any info you guys can provide. I can't afford too many all night brewing sessions like this one!

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Old 02-04-2011, 02:25 PM   #2
Jan 2010
Salt Lake City, Utah
Posts: 88

It's the volume. I too noticed how much longer a water bath takes to chill a 4 gallon brew as opposed to a 3 gallon brew. I am planning on buying an immersion chiller soon.
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Old 02-04-2011, 02:26 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by wittmania View Post
Is it that air, even at 0* doesn't absorb heat as well as water?

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Old 02-04-2011, 02:33 PM   #4
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Mar 2010
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It's also the contact area. Ice water cools faster because there is coolant-metal contact around the entire external area. With snow you get tiny air gaps all over the outside of the kettle, these add up and reduce the cooling rate by a lot.

For final boil volumes larger than 3 gallons, you gotta get an immersion or counterflow chiller.

Edit: What wilserbrewer said. Air is a drastically poorer insulator than water.
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Old 02-04-2011, 02:39 PM   #5
Jan 2009
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Snow is a great insulator. That's why igloos work.
When you put the kettle in the snow, it quickly melts the snow a fraction of an inch back away from contacting the pot. After that, the snow is actually helping keep the pot warm. If use snow to cool, put it in a water bath or keep moving the pot/snow to keep it in contact with the pot.

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Old 02-04-2011, 02:44 PM   #6
Jan 2011
Fargo, AK
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Air has a very low heat transfer capacity. Snow has a fairly high insulation capacity as well. Avalanche survivors survive thanks to a blanket of snow keeping them insulated until they are found.

You will get the best external chill by circulating cold water against the metal brew kettle. You can add salt to ice water to drop the freezing point and achieve a colder bath. The only other method of increasing heat dissipation would be to somehow extend the surface area of the kettle with a metal enclosure that incorporates heat fins that are subjected to circulating cold water.

High metal surface area coupled with circulating cold water is about the most efficient heat transfer available in the kitchen on the cheap. You could always look at employing liquids with lower freezing points and higher thermal transfer capacity such as glycol based solutions but that gets messy and expensive. An active submersible wort chiller (or counterflow) presents the highest degree of thermal transfer efficiency for the dollar.

Lacking a submersible chiller and an appropriately sized sink I would strongly consider using a bathtub to make the cold water bath. This certainly will not be the most efficient in terms of water or ice use but the large surface area will provide a better transfer and a better ability to provide a higher degree of circulation. There is the whole issue of transferring hot wort to a bathtub to contend with.

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Old 02-04-2011, 02:53 PM   #7
Dec 2010
Shingletown, CA
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I tried the chilling in the snow method on my first ever batch... and that was with 2 feet of snow out there... Eventually brought it back in and chilled it in the sink.. never tried the snow theory again... doesn't work...

A few batches later I made an IC.. when I switched to 10G batches, I then hated the IC, so now it's a custom made flat all copper CFC... finally happy...
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Old 02-04-2011, 03:09 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by downinit View Post
It's the volume. I too noticed how much longer a water bath takes to chill a 4 gallon brew as opposed to a 3 gallon brew. I am planning on buying an immersion chiller soon.
Ditto. I did a stove top AG last week and buying an immersion chiller is no longer an option.
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Old 02-04-2011, 03:54 PM   #9
Jan 2011
St. Paul, MN
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I used snow once, but had my kettle in a water bath in the sink and dumped snow into the water to cool it. Worked OK, but it melted very fast and had to be replenished often. It was a lot less work buying a bag of ice at the store and using that in the water bath.

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Old 02-04-2011, 04:00 PM   #10
Jan 2011
Fargo, AK
Posts: 222
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It's even less work to freeze appropriately sized bags or cups of ice in your home freezer if you can spare the space and can think a day ahead.

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