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Old 09-12-2011, 02:50 PM   #41
Sep 2010
Quebec, Quebec
Posts: 1,633
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Originally Posted by SIXFOOTER View Post
"Cold Crashing" in the context I posted may or may not be the correct term. Its just the way I describe my method of getting the wort temp down from boiling to under 70* as fast as possible. Like I said I get it done in under 2 minutes and its done based on some good ideas. You see everyone posting about infections, getting the temp down as fast as possible so you can pitch the yeast and get it under an airlock limits the time that your wort is exposed to the air and anything that might be floating around out there. A lot of guys in here call useing Ice in the wort a gamble, well it might be but its a small one. I talked to a guy at Ready Ice, one of the ice suppliers here and the ice guy at the grocery store chain here. They both use RO to make their ice and are required by law to do a whole battery or testing, so, my ice supply chain is clean. Also you see guys posting about sanitizing ziplock bags and useing that to freeze their own boiled water in, Really? Those zip lock bags come off an assembly line at Very High temps and are molded and closed all in the same high temp environment in seconds, they are completely sterile inside, same thing with the ice bags.
I think that a lot of people have bought into the idea put out there by the water bottling companies that our public water supply is not as safe as it should be. With very few exceptions that is BS. If your on a well or maybe some CO-OP water system then you may need to take some extra steps. I live in Boca Raton, pretty fancy place but their water distribution sucked when I first moved here, boil water orders regularly due to broken water lines. Not so much anymore, but the water is Green if you put it in a white coffee cup. The chlorine boils out very early in the boil process so its never been a problem.
IMHO, and I am not any kind of expert but I have made about 40 batches with only 1 bad one and I have done every one the same way. If you use a wort chiller, it seems you need to take a lot of care to make sure it is sanitised before putting it in your wort and it also takes much longer to chill the wort than ice does. Its also a lot more trouble screwing around with a waterhose and all that. Ice drops the temp and brings up the water level all in one step and in 2 minutes I have condensation on the outside of the pot.
Bottom line is you have to make sure everything is clean and limit the exposure to possible contaminates. IMO ice does that better than a chiller or an ice bath, But, its your beer and you can do whatever you want.
This works well for extract brewing which is all I do. For AG you have to pay pretty close attention to water volume and ice may not work so well.
Sorry for the rant, but this has been my experience with it.
Ice is fine, but using it means you have to take into consideration the dilution (both of SG and IBU) when planning the recipe because you are after all cutting your beer with water post boil. It's easier when you brew extract because you just have to use more extract for less volume, but I know that for me, on my setup, using all grain, it's more straightforward to do a full boil and then mess with wort chillers. Topping off used to throw out of whack my mashing ratio quite a bit, leading to temperature and efficiency issues.

Plus you have the argument that full boils taste best, but I'm not so sure I buy into that one.

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Old 09-14-2011, 05:32 AM   #42
Oct 2006
Moline, IL
Posts: 475
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I really think this discussion is most relevant to extract brewers. I'm currently shopping for the gear to move to all grain, and the very first item on the list is the burner and pot to be able to do full 10 gallon boils.

With the extract brewing I'm currently doing, I'm on a stove that can boil 2.5 gallons, and can squeeze out a 3 gallon boil but it's a major struggle and takes over two hours to really get it going. And either way I have to have the lid partially on.

The point of mentioning that is this: I have to use top-off water anyway, so the dilution arguments are sort of irrelevant. Yes, I know full boils are better, but at the moment I don't have a heat source that can manage it. (Although it is the very next item on my shopping list.)

I've used the ice method and it works fine. It's definitely a risk, but in the 20 or so times I've used it I never had an infection.

I have a simpler and safer method that I use now, though. I use gallon "milk" jugs that I bought distilled water in. A few days prior to brew day I pre-boil some water, let it cool enough to fill the jugs, then set them in the spare fridge. I take the same care in sanitizing the jugs that I do with my fermenters, and they have never had anything but water in them so sanitizing is enough, no physical scrubbing/cleaning necessary.

On brew day, I put the water jugs into the freezer a few hours before I start brewing. For a 5 gallon batch I start with a 3 gallon boil. Evaporation leaves me with somewhere between 2 and 2.5 gallons of wort at flame-out. I then pour about a gallon and a half of pre-chilled, pre-sterilized water straight into the brew pot. This doesn't quite get me to pitching temp, but definitely cool enough to safely rack to my carboy. Once it's in there I use the rest of the prepared water to top it off to my 5 gallon mark. At that point I'm usually sitting right around 70 degrees F, so I pitch right away. It's actually faster than using either of the immersion chillers I used to own.

Is there risk with this method? Sure. But there's risk ever step of the way. Every time you rack you're taking a risk by unsealing that carboy/bucket. And this is definitely less risky that just topping off straight out of the tap, which I've also done many times without issue.

Also, while the argument about ice having a better effect than water of the same temp is 100% true, I don't think it comes into play. The amount of top-off water you'll need for a typical stove-top extract brewing section will easily do the cooling job as long as it's down at typing fridge temps. It doesn't have to be ice.

(Having said all that, like everyone else here I'm always trying to improve my gear and my methods, and I'm shopping for a bigger boiling setup and a wort chiller. My next goal is to not have to use any top off water at all, at which point a good chiller becomes extremely important.)

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Old 07-08-2013, 01:44 PM   #43
Mar 2013
Posts: 2
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I don't view your reply as a rant at all. Great description of your process, and you experience. Thanks! I'm looking into the use of ice to get the wort colder than 80F since that's the coldest my outdoor (=garden hoses along a hot driveway), counterflow chiller setup will allow during the summer. Problem is, I'm doing all grain, BIAB, and full volume boil. Maybe I'll float sanitized Ziploc bags, filled with ice, in the 80F wort to get it down to pitch temp. I'm thinking it will work better than soaking the bucket in my kitchen sink filled with ice...of course there's the chance of contamination...

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