Sunday, April 26, 2015

No Chill Brewing Experiment

Revisiting Some Of The Classics

I've got some things going on right now that are going to keep me pretty busy. As such, I won't have much time to sit down and actually blog something, so in the interest of keeping the blog flowing, I'll be trying to fill some of the time with the classics. So, in honor of brew day, away we go!

No Chill Brewing For The First Time

I'm a week in to my schwarzbier that I'm brewing up for New Year's eve, and I'm happy with the
process so far. 
Normally once my boil is done I'm in for a while of waiting for the wort to chill. I don't have a chiller, so I use the sink or the bathtub and surround my boiler with cold water and ice. This sorta works, and I can usually chill to a too high to pitch yeast, but not so high it kills the yeast temperature. It works, but it's a lot of work to keep checking temps, changing out ice and water, and just being bored waiting. Towards the end of the boil this time around I did some browsing and found some articles talking about "No Chill Brewing." Sounded interesting, and like it might fit my needs. 

Basic Process

It seems the process has come about and become popular in areas where water usage is more limited and more expensive. The basic principal is that you let the wort sit till it's cool enough.
More specifically, you get a plastic fermenter set aside, and at the end of the boil you transfer the wort directly to the plastic fermenter. Once in the fermenter, splash the wort around a little to coat the lid, and thereby ensuring that the full container is sterilized by the recently boiling wort. A word of warning here, 200° wort likes to create pressure. If you fix the airlock before splashing around, you may experience some hot spray through the airlock, and wonder for a minute if the thing is about to shoot out the top and embed itself in the ceiling.
The cooling part was simple. I put my fermenter out on the deck, and let it sit over night. After around 9 hours it had cooled to 55°. 
At that temp I pitched the yeast, and put the beer to be out in the garage where I expect it to stay at around an average of around 50°.
Now there are people out there who will say this is inviting infections, off flavors, what ever, but I'm not too worried. There are a lot of home brewers out there using this technique successfully. 
My one worry was that I may have pitched the yeast at too low a temp. I've never done it that low before, and I spent a couple of days wondering if it was going to work at all. By the third day my airlock was happily bubbling away, and is still giving me some movement a week later. 
I'll be letting it sit there for about another week when I'll move it off to my glass carboy for another couple of weeks to do what ever it wants to do before finally moving it to the keg. 

I'm looking forward to trying this beer, not only to see what the concoction tastes like, but to test the results of brewing without a forced chill. If this works out, and I'm happy with the results this will save me quite a bit of effort in the future.