Chilling wort - outdoor winter brewing

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BrewingChip

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Just moved and upgraded to a propane burner to brew outside. I live in Northern Michigan, where temps are pretty cold, and I need to figure out how I am going to chill my wort. I obviously can’t use the outdoor hose, and in my mind my current options are hooking a hose to the kitchen sink, running that outside to connect to my wort chiller. Or, I could *try to life the 10 gallon pot with 5 gallons of boiling liquid inside and chill there with my wort chiller and sink. Any ideas or suggestions for how to chill my wort without having to do either of these?
 

Sam_92

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When I brewed outside I carried my 10 gallon pot with 5 gallons of boiling wort into the kitchen to chill. We lived in apartments so there was no spigot I could use winter or summer.

You could sanitize 2 food safe buckets and take the wort into the kitchen in two separate vessels to chill.

If it's more convenient you could attach the house to the washing machine cold water supply.
 

nonamekevin

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Northern Colorado here. I spent the day before brew day thawing out my garden hose for use outside. I would take ~20ft sections of hose and dunk it in a 5gal bucket of warm water from the kitchen sink. Took a little while to do with 75+ feet of hose, which taught me to be more diligent about blowing out my hose with my air compressor.

I wouldn't be afraid to use a hose in the winter time, if I had a way to blow the water out after finishing up.

If you absolutely don't want to use your garden hose, do you have a small pond pump you could put in a cooler to recirculate water/snowmelt through your chiller? Or if it's snowing/has snowed, I guess you put the lid on your kettle and pack snow around the outside. I could see that creating a mess though, quickly.
 

Sam_92

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A word of warning about snow around the kettle, I tried it once and the kettle melted an air gap and the snow actually insulated it and kept it hot for even longer. I think the pond pump is a pretty decent idea.
 

kevin58

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I'm in Saginaw Michigan and this was one of the reasons I stopped brewing outside in the winter. There is the no-chill method in which you just let the wort cool naturally... usually overnight. I've only ever seen it done on the Basic Brewing Youtube channel. Its a method developed by brewers who have water availability issues and would work here too.
 

Jim R

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In terms of chilling, I would rather brew in the winter in Wisconsin because I can use snow. I do use my garden hose and the outside faucet and just drain the water out of the hose (by gravity) and store it in my attached garage. I wouldn't really need to use the hose for the first 10 min of cooling though before I switch to my inexpensive pond pump / cooler recirculation system. In the summer I have to make 2-3 batches of ice to use the recirculation system. In the winter, I can just keep shoveling snow into the cooler water. I fill the cooler about 1/3 full of water and keep filling the rest with snow as it recirculated through my immersion chiller. I can reach pitching temperature in about 20 min both winter and summer.

I use this pump in a cheap cooler.

 

Grizwold1

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I second the pond pump plan. I use a 15 gal square cooler with a pond pump circulating water thru the chiller and back into the cooler. I go thru about 4 bags of ice per 4 gallon batch. I usually capture the first couple of gallons of hot water to use for cleanup, then just recirculate thru the ice and back thru the chiller. I chill 4 gallons in about 15-20 minutes max. We have a dollar store close by, so I'm out about 4 bucks and only two or three gallons of water used, including the cleanup water. The only down side is having to go get the ice during the brew day, as I haven't freezer space to store it.
 

Steveruch

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I'm in Saginaw Michigan and this was one of the reasons I stopped brewing outside in the winter. There is the no-chill method in which you just let the wort cool naturally... usually overnight. I've only ever seen it done on the Basic Brewing Youtube channel. Its a method developed by brewers who have water availability issues and would work here too.
I've been doing that the last few batches I've brewed. I take my kettle off the heat, put the lid on, seal around the lid/pot with plastic wrap and into the basement until the next day.
 

Homebrew Harry

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I've been doing that the last few batches I've brewed. I take my kettle off the heat, put the lid on, seal around the lid/pot with plastic wrap and into the basement until the next day.
I have wondered...Is there more trub left in the fermentor or any other noticeable differences doing it this way ?
 

Golddiggie

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Do you have a furnace, or furnace room where you are?? I've been feeding my chill water from the cold water faucet right there at the furnace (before it goes into the furnace). It's pretty much a direct feed off of the well. So the chill water is cooler even in the summer. Also means I don't need to use the hose that runs outside for cooling the wort. When the outside hose isn't frozen, I use that for cleaning tasks.

Either way, if you don't already have one, get a shutoff to go on the end of the hose (the working end, not faucet end) so you can leave the water feeding it on all brew day and just turn it on at the hose as needed. That also allows you to change what it's connected to far easier.
 

Steveruch

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I have wondered...Is there more trub left in the fermentor or any other noticeable differences doing it this way ?
A lot of trub settles out in the kettle. This festbier is pretty clear after being in the bottle only two weeks with no finings..
IMG_20220204_180101.jpg
 

Jim R

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I second the pond pump plan. I use a 15 gal square cooler with a pond pump circulating water thru the chiller and back into the cooler. I go thru about 4 bags of ice per 4 gallon batch. I usually capture the first couple of gallons of hot water to use for cleanup, then just recirculate thru the ice and back thru the chiller. I chill 4 gallons in about 15-20 minutes max. We have a dollar store close by, so I'm out about 4 bucks and only two or three gallons of water used, including the cleanup water. The only down side is having to go get the ice during the brew day, as I haven't freezer space to store it.

The other trick I use is that I save a couple gallon milk jugs and freeze a couple blocks of ice in my freezer before brew day. When I start my boil, I throw those into the cooler water to start cooling it down before I throw the ice cubes in. This reduces my need for ice cubes although I make a couple batches in my kitchen ice maker and throw these into my freezer too so I don't have to buy ice.

I also use my garden hose for recirculating first for about 8-10 min before I switch to my pond pump set-up. This cools the wort down 60-70 degrees which then reduces my ice consumption.
 

Spivey24

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I installed a 14” frost free hose sillcock so I can leave it on year round. I ended up installing a hot and cold sillcock which is very nice for cleaning outside on cold days too. I store a couple of those collapsing hoses in the garage or basement to keep them thawed.

But the last couple of times it has been too cold to even mess with that, I set up a big fan next to the kettle blowing on it and left the recirculating pump on. Not as fast as a chiller, but did just fine as I wasn’t in a hurry.
 

Spivey24

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I have wondered...Is there more trub left in the fermentor or any other noticeable differences doing it this way ?
It will affect the hop utilization noticeably, but you can adjust for it somewhat. If you can cool it a bit with ice or something the effect will be less.
 

GrowleyMonster

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No-chill should work nicely in cold climates. Just remember to rescue your wort before it freezes!

Plastic wrap around the kettle/lid gap should help but some air will still get sucked in if there is any headspace at all. I would get one of the 5 gallon HDPE "cube" jugs. Fill it absolutely to the top with hot wort, squeeze the sides to expel all air, screw the lid down good. You can add hot water if needed, to bring up the level. Excess can be chilled normally and refrigerated, and added the next day. Or used for starter. The hot wort sanitizes the jug. With no air, the cooling wort won't pull a vacuum and if it did, the flexible sides of the jug would compensate. There are a few cautions. You want an extended boil time to drive off DMS precursors, so I am told, and there can be "interesting" results with mash bills heavy on pilsner malts. Hops bittering develops more strongly and you may want to reduce hops boil time. Currently I go 15 minutes on the bittering hops instead of the usual 60, and my total boil time is 90 minutes, sometimes longer if I think I am much over my mark.

Another trick I use is I pull a quart of hot wort for ice bath chilling, and use that for my starter wort. Since the wort in the jug will not be transferred to fermenter until the next day, I can chill that quart of wort and make my starter, and it is ready for war by the time my batch is in the BMB. So my starter is exactly the same as the wort I am pitching to.

Also, apparently since the wort is of course thoroughly pasteurized and the jug is sanitized, the wort can be kept in the jug for several days. I personally have not tried that. I am told that some guys just ferment in the jug but not sure exactly how they manage that, with no headspace. I suppose some wort has to be transferred out, or one heck of a blowout tube used! There are also collapsible bladder type no-chill jugs, and you could maybe brew a 3 gallon batch and have room for fermentation. A spunding valve would help keep the jug inflated and maintain headspace for the krausen. I haven't tried that though.

Here is the jug I am using:

And these look interesting.
 

Dland

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I'd strongly recommend against carrying pot of boiling hot wort, too easy to have a horrible accident.

I brew outdoors, when it is below freezing, I bring keep hose inside and also make sure it drained after use. If you do not have a yard hydrant or frost free spigot, you can use regular spigot, just make sure it is shut off and drained after use.
 

Homebrew Harry

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No-chill should work nicely in cold climates. Just remember to rescue your wort before it freezes!

Plastic wrap around the kettle/lid gap should help but some air will still get sucked in if there is any headspace at all. I would get one of the 5 gallon HDPE "cube" jugs. Fill it absolutely to the top with hot wort, squeeze the sides to expel all air, screw the lid down good. You can add hot water if needed, to bring up the level. Excess can be chilled normally and refrigerated, and added the next day. Or used for starter. The hot wort sanitizes the jug. With no air, the cooling wort won't pull a vacuum and if it did, the flexible sides of the jug would compensate. There are a few cautions. You want an extended boil time to drive off DMS precursors, so I am told, and there can be "interesting" results with mash bills heavy on pilsner malts. Hops bittering develops more strongly and you may want to reduce hops boil time. Currently I go 15 minutes on the bittering hops instead of the usual 60, and my total boil time is 90 minutes, sometimes longer if I think I am much over my mark.

Another trick I use is I pull a quart of hot wort for ice bath chilling, and use that for my starter wort. Since the wort in the jug will not be transferred to fermenter until the next day, I can chill that quart of wort and make my starter, and it is ready for war by the time my batch is in the BMB. So my starter is exactly the same as the wort I am pitching to.

Also, apparently since the wort is of course thoroughly pasteurized and the jug is sanitized, the wort can be kept in the jug for several days. I personally have not tried that. I am told that some guys just ferment in the jug but not sure exactly how they manage that, with no headspace. I suppose some wort has to be transferred out, or one heck of a blowout tube used! There are also collapsible bladder type no-chill jugs, and you could maybe brew a 3 gallon batch and have room for fermentation. A spunding valve would help keep the jug inflated and maintain headspace for the krausen. I haven't tried that though.

Here is the jug I am using:

And these look interesting.
I have some of these cubes, but never thought of them as brewing equipment. Great idea on using them and expelling the air !
 

GoodTruble

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If I were brewing outside in a cold climate, I would definitely try the hot fill bags from morebeer. Just empty the wort into the bags, seal, & leave them outside to chill. My second choice would be trying to just seal the kettle and no chill that way. I have no-chilled several batches (indoors, just covered kettle & left it alone), and all thise beers turned out fine.
 
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