No-chillin’ – Part Deux! Will you be illin’?

you be illin'

Sadly its been a long time since our last post. Life gets in the way I suppose. My little assistant brewer is now walking and starting to say a few words. None of the words are brewing related terminology to this point, but he’s still in training. He can say “Hop!”, but sadly I think he is confused by a little red character on Sesame Street jumping around. Also, I’m getting a bit more free time to do things like brew, but barely doing anything barley.

In my last post, I discussed the merits of No-Chilling your wort. This is not only a time saving technique, but also saves a good deal of water in the process. With my recent upgrade to a 16 gallon kettle, I now have more hot wort than I can chill with my little immersion chiller. I tried the little chiller for a batch or two, and sat there with the water running and my march pump circulating wort for what seemed like hours. After that nightmare, it seemed like a good excuse to try our no-chill. So I decided to take the plunge and order two of the 5 gallon tight head pails from US Plastics. They arrived without issue, and I set about cleaning them with super hot water and OxyFree. I let them sit for a good long time with the hot solution to remove any odd odors etc, and then rinsed and sanitized them with Starsan.

On my first no-chill brewday, I decided to do a pale ale. My brewday went off without a hitch and I decided to split the wort between the two containers. In order to do an extended “whirlpool” addition, I added hops right in the sanitized containers. Into one container went a half ounce Mosaic Hops and the other went a half ounce of Citra. I proceeded to fill the hot wort to the very top, and then tightly seal.  I rotated the containers a few times right after sealing so that the hot wort contacted all sides of the already sanitized interior. These were then left to cool. I also saved enough wort to do a 2 liter starter, and got that going right away, which was a great added benefit. The containers tend to shrink in size as the wort cools, and a vacuum is created inside the container. So they will look slightly squished. But I found that the containers go back to their original shape without issue.

After about 48 hours my starter was ready, so I proceeded to start fermenting the Citra batch. I dumped the container into my primary fermentor, aerated, and pitched my yeast starter. I left this in primary for 3 weeks and kegged. I then harvested yeast from this batch, rinsed, and proceeded to ferment the Mosaic container. This was also left in primary for 3 weeks and then kegged. I put the beers on tap side by side to taste the difference if any in the hops, as well as flavors that might have changed due to extended aging of the stored wort of container 2.

The resulting beers turned our very good! Both beers were very bright, so I did not experience any haze from letting the wort cool on its own which is great. Really? How can that be when every brewing resource tells you to chill your beer as rapidly as possible to produce cold break etc etc?  The only caveat is that the beers were a little on the bitter side. I would anticipate having to tweak recipes slightly based on things like extended hot additions of hops into the no-chill container. Isomerization is still taking place for an extended amount of time as the wort remains hot. In addition, no off flavors were detected in the Mosaic hop version that was stored for 3 weeks in the container. A bonus, as I really loved the idea having wort that I could ferment at will from a single days work! But…. ( there is always a but ).

Recently there has been heightened concern over long term storage of wort with this method for periods longer than a couple of days. It seems that it is possible for Clostridium botulinum to grow under these conditions which could lead to Botulism poisoning. Links to several articles include :

And listen to Chris Colby, Chris White and James Spencer discuss on Basic Brewing Radio:

After reviewing all of this information, I think it’s prudent that we proceed with a bit of caution in regards to long term storage of no-chill wort.  Until there is a definitive answer to many of the questions, I will be storing my no-chill wort only long enough for it to cool on its own,  and then ferment as usual within a safe time window of a day or two.  While the risk seems small, it’s not something I want to have happen to any of my friends or family, just so that I can have the convenience of fermenting some wort weeks after my brew day.

Used in the right manner, no-chill is safe, and a great way to save a bit of time on brewday, and take a few dollars off of your water bill.

I currently have another no-chill batch that’s ready to keg. This time a cream ale for the summer. I plan on splitting this out into several experiments as well using fruit juices. I will report on these once I can provide some further insight. Brew on friends!

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