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Old 04-24-2011, 04:44 PM   #1
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Default using ice to bring down the wort temperature

After brewing about 10 batches so far, I still haven't purchased a wort chiller. For the first several beers, I just cooled it down in cold water. After that, another brewer brought up the idea of using ice from the grocery store and adding it directly into the bucket on top of the hot wort. I was a bit concerned, but it ended up working great. Turns out that grocery store ice is all filtered prior to becoming ice. I have experienced no bad side effects or off-tastes from this at all. I'm an extract (with grains) brewer, so I've been able to work it out as follows using a 3 gallon boil (give or take a degree or 2):

5 lbs of ice brings the temp down to 88 degrees.
7 lbs of ice brings the temp down to 75 degrees.
10 lbs of ice brings the temp down to 58 degrees.

all of this is after I also add room temperature water to get it up to 5 gallons total.

Not sure how many others use this technique, but it's easy and quick. The temperature drops within 10 minutes and I can measure OG, add the yeast, and get to cleaning very quickly. Not sure if this is economical with larger batches, but it works great for the 5-gallon ones that I'm making.

Anybody else try this? Or are there any other alternatives out there that might be worth trying?

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Old 04-24-2011, 04:51 PM   #2
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I freeze several bricks of ice the night before then give it an ice bath and even with full boils I never have trouble dropping temp to pitch level
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Old 04-24-2011, 05:09 PM   #3
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I buy a lot of ice for my vintage base ball team in the summer and I would never dump the store bought ice from one of those garage or grocery store coolers into my beer. I've emptied a couple of them down to the bottom, and you wouldn't believe the garbage I've seen down there, food wrappers, cigarette butts and god know what else. Plus who know where folks grubby little hands have been before the stuck their hands in there.

And most of the bags I've bought aren't completely sealed anyway, there's either a big gap at the top where the sting tie is, or there's drain holes in the bags, or they're just plain ripped,

Store bought ice is fine for cooling your beer if the ice is in an icebath on the OUTSIDE of your kettle, but unless you've made your own ice in a sanitized, sealed container, with preferably boiled water, then I wouldn't contemplate sticking it in my wort.

Just because you haven't had any issues SO FAR, doesn't mean you're not playing russian roulette with your beer.
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