Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Chilling with Ice... a radical and environmentally friendly approach to chilling your beer.

One of the things I love about homebrew is the many different methods of achieving great beer.  When I first started brewing there were really only two basic methods of making beer.  Extract, and 3 vessel all grain.  Then we started hearing about partial mash.   Now there are literally hundreds of methods.  And the growth of equipments and methods is only limited by the imagination of the brewer.  If anything, the options available in the landscape of homebrewing has become a little confusing.  "should I 3 vessel, BIAB, partial mash, RIMS, eHERMS, eBIAB, eBIABRMS... 

Here is the fact; (doesn't matter if you don't agree it is still true) Ill be writing a post soon on homebrew baloney, where we'll get more in depth on some of the prevailing myths of homebrew. Today we focus on a cool way to chill the wort fast.  ICE

FACT: To make beer the following steps must be performed.

  • Conversion and Extraction of sugar from the grains 
    • Doesn't matter if you do 3v, BIAB, extract, or partial mash
      • The sugar just has to come out of the grains.
      • There is no best method, the best method is the one that you get reliable results from. 
  • Boiling of the Wort
    • Doesnt matter how you boil.  The boil is meant to denature proteins and sanitize the wort.  
    • You can boil in anything that will boil for adequate time.  
      • A 10 Minute boil will accomplish the sanitation just fine (but really doesn't denature the proteins.)
      • Yes, it is when we usually add hops but you dont have to add hops. 
        • There are recipes that don't have any hops in them.
        • There are recipes where all of the hops are added as dry hops or as hop tea.  Still beer
  • Chilling of the Wort.
    • The wort has to be chilled to a temperature where yeast can work its' magic.   Doesn't matter if you use a wort chiller, no chill, a water bath, cold water additions, or ICE.
      • There is no perfect way to chill wort, but generally speaking the faster you chill the better cold break you get and the less time your beer spends in the danger Zone for infection. 
  • Pitching of the yeast.
That's it.  Nothing more.  Everything else is just additional process that we have added and concocted to improve the beer or the reliability of the beer. 

Which Brings us to Chilling with ICE.  Yes with ICE.  I first saw this method like many of you on an episode of Good Eats on the Food Network.   The host did a batch of homebrew.  While not everything he said was gospel, it was a good episode and a good primer for newbies.

The basic premise is this.

  • Do a partial boil. 
    • Doesn't matter if you are doing all grain, extract, or partial mash.
      • Extracted Sugars are Extracted Sugars... Having said that were not doing a truly small boil.  
      • a little more than 1 gallon short
  • When your boil is done pour the wort onto 10lbs of ice. 
    • Buy your ice at a safe place with a recently inspected ice machine.  
      • I prefer Wal-Mart.  Their machines are inspected weekly by local food safety and cleaned 2x a day by store employees at my local super Wal-Mart.
      • Do not under any circumstances get ice from your local bar, pub, or restaurant.  (have you seen bar rescue?)
  • Pour the wort and ice back and forth between 2 sanitized brew buckets.  
    • This will also aerate your wort.  Yeast needs oxygen in its multiplication phase in order to bud. 
    • You can also just stir with a sanitized long spoon, but come on pouring the wort is way more fun. 
This is by far the best method that I use to chill the wort.  It is super fast (under 10 minutes)  and uses only 1.184 gallons of precious water.   I encourage you all to check it out.  Give it a try.  Obviously this method cant be used with pico batches (1 or 2 gallons).  But it is great for 5 gallon recipes.  I've done this with 10 gallon recipes as well that were split into 2 5 gallon fermenters.   It is important to use the big brew buckets for this. Not glass fermenters. 

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