Cooling Wort Fast Without A Chiller

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I use two different methods for cooling 5 gallons of wort down after boiling it. One for summer brewing and one for winter brewing. Neither of these include a wort chiller, as I have not purchased one yet. I thought sharing these methods just might help a new or even an experienced brewer out. Let's say they are using or getting ready to use a wort chiller and it cracks or breaks. What do you do?
Either one of these methods can be set up in minutes with minimum effort, saving the brewing day from being disaster. Both are extremely inexpensive and done without using an expensive wort chiller. They will take your 5 gallon wort temps down to yeast pitching temps in less than 20 minutes.
Method One:
To cool your wort down to yeast pitching temps without a chiller, I use a $6 rope handle tub from Walmart. I start off by placing about 1 gallon of water in the rope handle tub, add about 3 lbs of ice, then place my boil pot in the rope handle tub. Next, I stir the wort, add as much ice as I can get into the tub and still have the ice floating in some water. You might need to add some water to keep the ice floating. I keep the water and ice moving around by stirring, and stir the wort at this time, too, as this helps the heat transfer faster. I use a different spoon for the wort than I use for the ice water. Add ice cold top off water if it's needed. This helps finish the cooling process even faster.
I use this method in the summer time, as our sink/hose spigot water here in Arizona runs at 95 degrees in the summer.
Method Two:
To do this you will need to have a double sink. You move the faucet to the back of the right sink basin, then plug the right basin with a stopper. Next, roll up a wash rag into a tight cylinder and lay it between the 2 sink basins, blocking off the middle high part of the two sinks. Place it near the faucet and lay it out as far as it reaches toward the front of the sink (leaving around 4" to 6" open on the front end of the sink middle), then pat it down. Next, I turn the faucet on cold until I have around 1 to 2 gallons of cold water in the right sink basin. After your boil, place your boil pot in the right sink basin then turn on the cold water. Slow to medium works well. Let the sink water overflow past the front of the wash rag. You will need to stir the wort every one to two minutes, as this helps the heat to transfer even faster. As stated in method 1, add ice cold top off water if needed.
Using this method will cool 4.5 gal of hot wort right off the boil down to 70 degrees in only 12 to 15 minutes depending on faucet water temp. I'm guessing by late January it will only take around 10 minutes to cool.
For the people that don't have a double sink and want to utilize method 2, you could combine method 1 and method 2 by using the rope handle tub outside. Put the end of your garden hose in it and turn it on low to medium. Place your boil pot in the rope handle tub and just let the water flow over the top. Stir the hot wort every one to two minutes, and once again add ice water to help make the process faster.
*BEFORE USING THE METHOD ABOVE* Please check to make sure that your boil pot is taller than the rope handle tub. If your boil pot isn't taller, you can still use this method by drilling a 1", 2" or 3" hole in the side of the rope handle tub about 4" to 6" below the height of the top of your boil pot when it is sitting in the rope handle tub.
I have found that both of these methods work very well for me and will hopefully work just as well for you, too.
I will be trying the 1/2 combo method right after Christmas, as my wife is giving me a stainless steel 15 gal boil pot with the steamer basket (oh yes, full boil BIAB here I come) and this pot will not fit in the sink.
I hope this helps and makes your brewing day a little easier.

To be clear... does the wash rag act as a small retaining wall so that your overflow water is channeled to the other sink rather than to the floor or something?
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Yes the wash rag acts as a dam, to channel the water around your boil pot, making it circulate around the pot for better heat transfer.
You may be able to get some more efficiency by adding rock salt to the ice bath? In the end it looks like too much work for me to be hauling a 45 pounds of hot wort into the sink. and then constantly string. But if it works, who can complain, nicely done!
I use a form of this method and as suggested, rocksalt really speeds things up. Its the same principle as in making ice cream. The salt forces the ice to melt and this pulls more heat more quickly.
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Hello DrVertbrae, I might have to try adding some rock salt to the tub this summer, Im with you guys that it will increase efficiency, so far the wort cools pretty fast as it is.
I use the first method described here in Florida. Works very well and I have never not gotten wort down to pitching temp in less than 20 minutes
If you're that worried about losing your hop flavor with a slow chill method, dry hop your last dump and save the water.
has anyone just used 3 gals of bottled water at near freezing temperature in the fridge and then just combine both wort and cold water together in 5gal bucket surrounded by ice bath in sink? Wondering if that would just do the trick as well.
I used to do a half full-boil and used 2-3 gallons of near freezing water to top off before I made a wort chiller. In my opinion, a counter-flow wort chiller is not that expensive and is the most effective way of chilling the wort. I made one for less than $70 with a garden hose, some copper pipe, and fittings.
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@Dev-Ale, Hello when I was brewing extract partial boils, I would put the pot full of hot wort in the sink bath, then after getting the wort temp down to around 100 deg, add ice cold top off water to get down to pitching temps, this works really well and greatly reduces your cooling times.
I use to do that, but I spent 20 bucks for copper pipe and clear tubing and made my own chiller. Works great. I made one because it beats paying 7 bucks for 3lbs of ice and no potential flooding lol.
Forgive my ignorance but if you stir your wort in the pot, does not that adds numbness to your beer?
I use irish moss, and I think that stirring diminishes the effects of it... does'nt it?
I'm with the copper pipe boys. Home depot supplies and you are setup for life.
Extremely cheap set up cost and no need to be buying Ice. Even in Alberta Canada where I could just throw my boiling pot in a snow bank 5 months of the year. Lol
An external copper pipe set up is much easier to keep clean over a internal heat exchanger set up (i.e. counter flow setup) as i usually just add it to the last 5 mins of the boil just to make sure the surface bugs are nicely killed.
I have been using my copper pipe set up for approx 20 years and I believe I now have it paid off?
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To be perfectly honest, I have no idea, you might want to ask that question in the forum.
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My house water is 85+deg in summer right out of the tap, so I will need 2 copper chillers and a pot full of ice.
Im planning on doing that this summer, but the article is for people that currently don't have a chiller and need a way to cool their wort.
It's easy to build a wort chiller though, I did it for under $20. After buy quite a bags of ice, you could make your own chiller and not have to do that anymore. Just my thoughts.
I'm just wondering why no one just adds ice to the wort?
I could understand that it could potentially add pathogens to the wort, I guess. However, the water they use needs to be food grade. What's the negatives of this method?
I've done it to the last two batches with no change in flavor, or contamination. One small bag of ice to 4 gallon boil = 5 minutes to pitch from boil.
I would just make a wort chiller...I made one for $20 and it cools my wort (about 3 gallons - extract batch) in 6 -7 minutes..just reading all that sounded like too much work IMHO...
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Like I have said before, I live in Arizona and in the summer
My house water is 85+deg in summer right out of the tap, so I will need 2 copper chillers and a pot full of ice.
Im planning on doing that this summer, but the article is for people that currently don't have a chiller and need a way to cool their wort.
I will still need to ether make or purchase Ice to cool my wort.
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Hello when I was brewing extract partial boils, I would put the pot full of hot wort in the sink bath, then after getting the wort temp down to around 100 deg, add ice cold top off water to get down to pitching temps,
this works really well and greatly reduces your cooling times.
I read several threads where its been stated that you should not add Ice to wort over 100 deg, that it could have ill affects on your beer, that is why I cool to 100 deg first.
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I might try this too, although it dose worry me for the obvious reason, increased contamination potential.
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Hello, Im not sure I follow, how is putting your boil pot in the sink and turning the water on low, to much work ?
Isn't making a wort chiller, hooking it up each time, disconnecting after use, washing it after each use and don't forget getting the water out of your copper coil so it dosn't mold up inside after each use, also more items to store, isn't that more work?
Please dont get me wrong, Im not against using a wort chiller at all, in-fact I bit the bullet and have made a 50' chiller and love it, but using it is still more work, than tossing the pot into the sink and turning the water on low IMHO.
And once again, the story is a suggestion on, how to cool wort "without" a wort chiller.
Hello, I'm sure this method may work ok for you, but I can tell you without a doubt using a counter flow chiller is absolutly the way to go! I get my work cooled down to about 55 degrees in about 6 seconds!!!!! thats how long it takes the wort to run through the chiller and into the carboy!! save up some pennys and buy one or you can build one yourself for very little!! you can get directions opn line or maybe here in the forum!!!!!!
I tried this on a batch that I will taste for the first time tonight, so I will see if adding ice will alter flavor:
1) Sanitize two two-liter bottles and fill with water.
2) Freeze them the night before you plan to brew.
3) When the wort is ready to be chilled, sanitize an exact-o blade and cut off the top of the two-liters.
4) Carefully slide (I used a spoon for support) the ice chunks into the wort.
The ice chunks cooled it off in well under 5 minutes to the point where I could top off the water, aerate, and pitch the yeast.
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Hello, I already have a chiller, like I have said several times before the article is for people that Do Not Have A Chiller !
And comments like save your pennys to buy a wort chiller is very misleading at best, especially for the beginner brewer, I just made a 50' chiller with supplies from Home Depot and it came to right at $75, that is not just saving a few penny's for some people.
I really don't understand when people on this forum say things like save your penny's and buy a chiller.
When clearly the article is to help people that Do Not Have a Chiller and might not be able to afford one, and still need to cool wort.
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Hello, I have used large chunks of Ice to cool my wort before, it worked just like you described, my wort was cooled by the ice in about 7 to 10 min, and the beer came out ok.
But like I have stated above, I read in several threads where you don't want to use ice to cool wort over 100 deg, and for the life of me I can't remember why you should not, maybe one of the more experienced brewers could chime in and explain why you shouldn't.
Hope your beer turns out Great !
Ok gotcha, I live in MI so our water stays pretty cold. If your tap water hits 85 degrees, then yes I fully understand this method.
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@jflongo, I wish we had cool or cold tap water in the summer, right now (its may) my tap water is at 85 deg, in august my tap water is 95 to 100 deg right out of the tap,
From the beginning of june to the beginning of september I don't even have to wait for the water to warm up to get in the shower lol
Ive used the sink method multiple time but have not gotten around to using the rope tub method. I have used a bathtub with two to three pounds of ice. I move the brew kettle to the middle of the tub and let the overflow drain take care of the hot water as it rises to the top of the bath water.
I use tupperware I have around the house to make ice chunks for the ice bath (in the rope tub). This requires freezer space, but eliminates the cost of ice each time.
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  • #40
I sometimes use tupperware to make ice too, when I use to top off a batch, before I got the 15 gal pot, I would add ice chunks to cool the wort from 100 deg down to pitching temps.
I might start doing this again since my tap water is now at 90 deg and climbing.
Ice is relatively cheap here, I can get 20 lbs in a ice chest, or a 15 lb bag for $1.50, we always have a 15 lb bag in the freezer.