Ah No Chill Brewing one of the greatest and simplest innovations ever developed in the world of home brewing.
Obviously I am a huge fan.
In this post I am going to give you a quick overview of the history of no chill homebrew, the pros and alleged cons of it and how to do it successfully.
So let’s get into it…
The History of this Wort Chilling Method
When it comes to brewing (and many other reasons) I love the Australians. They are one heck of an innovative group from down under.
First they invented my favorite method of brewing beer called Brew in a Bag or BIAB. You can learn about it here: How to Brew in a Bag
This first innovation cut back significantly on the time, expense, complication, clean up, etc etc of All Grain Homebrewing.
And then they go ahead and develop this amazing common sense and straight forward method of chilling your homebrew.
A method that costs significantly less, cuts back on time it takes to brew, saves serious water and is just plain easy to do…
The story goes that they developed this method out of necessity…
…apparently water can be scarce at times in Australia, at least enough water to be able to chill your wort using the traditional methods such as an immersion chiller etc. As well apparently the temperature of their ground water is at times too high to chill the wort properly so out of necessity they came up with this No Chilling idea.
This method has gained popularity in recent years, brewers who are looking for simpler quicker and less costly ways of brewing (like myself) have jumped on this method and love it.
Having said that you do not see many traditional home brewers using it very often.
This is not because it does not work, but rather it is because the Guys that are stuck in their ways who have been brewing for years and years using 3 vessels with immersion chillers continue to do so and that is all well and great as this is a hobby for everyone and if you enjoy brewing a certain way and it gives you good results why change?
There was at first a concern that by using a no chill brewing container your brews could result with high levels of DMS or Dimethyl Sulfide in them. The thought was this would be as a result of the wort not being chilled down quick enough to stop this from occurring.
This has been proven to be a non-issue as the buildup of DMS using this method does not happen. I will not BS and try to explain why it does not happen but off flavors that should be there from a buildup are not. Some have said this could be due to any remaining DMS being released during the fermentation process.
How It Works
The great thing about this method is that it is simple, and easy. Just the way I like it.
With this method you are simply taking the wort that you have just boiled and immediately transferring it to a clean and sanitized no chill brewing container, which must be a HDPE and BPA free container.
You then seal the container and Very Very carefully with oven mitts you shake the container, making sure the boiling wort touches all of the interior of the container. (helps insure container is thoroughly sanitized).
You then pull the back air valve at the back of the container and then again Very Very carefully with oven mitts or a towel you squeeze all of the air out of the container, and then put the air value back in place resealing the container.
You now leave the container to cool down to room temperature on its own.
I’ve heard tell of some people putting it in the fridge or freezer (do not allow wort to freeze) or outside if it is cold in order to bring the temperature down quicker. I have never done any of that. I simply leave the container alone overnight and by morning the temperature of the wort has dropped to room temperature and I proceed with the fermentation process.
I have also heard tell of people leaving the wort in the container for weeks. I also do not do this. I tried it once time and left the wort in the container for 4 days and it became infected; I believe this was because it was a container I had used many times and because of the boiling wort the groves you screw the cover on had become warped over time which allowed air to get in.
So I no longer do that.
What I do is leave the wort in the container for 12 – 18 hours tops and then transfer it to the fermenter and add the yeast. I have NEVER had a problem doing it this way, never had the wort get infected, etc.
So again once the wort has cooled to the proper yeast pitching temperature I transfer it to the fermenter and add (pitch) my yeast, put the cover and airlock on the fermenter and carry on with fermenting.
Video of me No Chill Homebrewing
Let’s take a look at a few more of the benefits and things you should know about this method of chilling home brew
Benefits and Thing’s You Should Know
1) You are definitely going to save time in your brew day. Chilling wort using the other methods takes at least 30 – 60 minutes if not longer. Using this method takes about 5 – 10 minutes.
2) One of the benefits people claim regarding this method is you can brew now and ferment later.
What they are referring to is you leaving your wort in the container for as long as you like.
Again I do not do this because it back fired on me, once bitten twice shy, but as indicated I believe that was due to a failure of the container I was using and I feel confident that you could indeed do this as long as the integrity of your container was intact.
If you decide to brew now and ferment later it allows you to get some serious brewing done while you are waiting for either fermenters or temperature controlled chambers to become available. Also if you are fermenting back-to-back like this and use liquid yeast you can save money and time by re-pitching your yeast immediately instead of having to wash it and store it.
3) This next benefit is something I have heard tell of other home brewers doing but have never done myself, however I may give it a try soon as an experiment.
Some people ferment in the no chill container which is a cool bonus. This can save you money on fermenters as these containers are inexpensive in comparison to a fermenter. It would also save you time as you do not have to transfer into a fermenter.
One thing to consider if you decide to ferment your beer in the container is that the wort will probably take up most of the space in the container and a typical air lock will not suffice, so you will want to rig up a blow off hose to the container.
Stay tuned on this one, I think it is definitely going to be an experiment I try very soon!
4) The water savings using this method are phenomenal. Other methods of chilling burn through insane amounts of water, just crazy in fact. With this method of cooling your wort you are saving anywhere from 15 – 20 gallons of water at least. So if you are conscious of conserving water this is the method for you.
5) The cost savings in equipment is significant.
I literally started using this method of chilling when I got into all grain home brewing because it saved me from having to spend money on an immersion, counter flow or plate chiller.
Plus it was one less “thing” I had to figure out how to do.
Chilling your wort using the other methods is not rocket science but there is definitely more involved with them than using the no chill method. Simple is better in my books. Hence why we call this site Make Beer Easy!
6) Some people claim that by allowing your hops to stay in contact with the hot wort longer using this method results in hop utilization not following the typical guidelines and as such you should adjust the timing of your hop additions accordingly.
While this makes sense to me in theory, I have never noticed any negative consequences of keeping my hop additions the same as if I was using other chilling methods.
Having said that if this is a concern of yours simply adjust your hop additions by 20 minutes. Meaning if a recipe calls for hops at 60 minute mark change it to 40 minute mark, etc. Late hop additions can be added at flameout. And you could also whirlpool at 180 degrees and add hops then.
One thing to watch is if you let the wort cool to low, make sure your container has been thoroughly sanitized with StarSan, because since the wort will no longer be boiling it will not sanitize the container for you.
7) Some people claim that doing No-Chill brewing is not a great idea of hoppy beers. They claim that it produces some off flavors because the hops are in contact with the hotter wort longer.
I will admit I prefer more balanced and malt forward beers then I do the hoppier brews and as such tend to brew more of those styles. However I do brew my share of IPA’s and APA’s and I have never noticed any of the grassy off flavors some warn about. But it is something to watch for if you like hoppy home brews.
8) Again the same people who claim off flavors can be produced using this method also claim that beers cooled in this fashion also become hazier or cloudier. Again I have never experienced this.
Now perhaps this is because I do love a clear beer and implement fining techniques such as whirl flock, gelatin and cold crashing into my brewing process.
If you are interested in making sure your home-brew is clear, check out this article:
How To Clear Home Brew – 7 Proven Methods
As I stated from the beginning of this article, I am a HUGE fan of this method of chilling your home brew.
That is not to say that I have not and will not use other methods, I have and do and will continue to from time to time as doing so is fun for me. I like to mix it up so that brewing is always an exciting adventure for me.
However, there is no question that this method has many advantages and very few if any disadvantages and if you are considering giving it a try I highly recommend you do so. The minimal cost of giving it a try is worth doing so to see if it is for you.
If you want to learn about the other methods of chilling your home brew here is an article that discussed 5 of the top methods out there: How To Cool Wort – Top 5 Methods
And of course if you have any questions on this subject by all mean put a comment in below in the comment section and I will be sure to help you out.
Cheers Big Robb is gone!!