Updated: Sep 24, 2019
At the end of a long, hard brew day, I like nothing more than to turn off the heat, relax and have a beer. Although, that’s not always the case. What goes up must come down and unfortunately, that rule applies to the temperature of your beer.
This means that after your wort is made, you have to then spend a further half an hour chilling your soon-to-be beer down to a temperature that won’t scorch your yeast let alone the time it takes to clean the chiller after you’re done. But what if there was another way… What if you could walk away at the end of your brew day without worrying about pumping a reservoir of cold water through your hard earned wort?
‘No-Chill’ is a technique that became popular in Australia where water is in short supply. It is becoming increasingly popular around the world due to the ease that it brings to the end of your brew day. In the traditional method, it involves pumping boiling hot wort into tall, plastic bottles called ‘brew cubes’ which are pasteurised by the hot wort and can be sealed to prevent infection. The brew cube is perfect for this as its surface area to volume ratio is quite high which means that the liquid will cool much quicker than if it were sitting in a more shallow container. The actual procedure, then, is quite simple but there are some considerations to make to ensure that your beer turns out tasting exactly as you intended.
WHAT DO I NEED TO DO?
Honestly, the actual procedure is quite simple: after you’re done, put your wort somewhere and walk away. There are, however, some considerations to make to ensure that your beer turns out tasting exactly as you intended.
Hops: If you are going to leave the wort hot at the end of your brew day you should definitely consider using whole hops instead of pellets and also use hop bags. Hop bags can be a pain to use and, typically whole hops are a little more expensive than pellets. However, using bags allows you to remove the hops at the end of boil and therefore halt any isomerisation of alpha acids, meaning that you won’t get any unintended IBUs in your beer. Using whole hops reduces the chances of leaving behind any unwanted hop particulate that may also contain unextracted alpha acids.
Sanitation: Even if, in theory, your wort is hot enough to sanitise the container that you are transferring into, don’t risk it! Brewing in this way means that you won’t be pitching yeast until at least a few hours later. This means that any invasive bacteria or other bugs that manage to get in there can grow and colonise your beer without having to compete with the yeast.
Get a suitable container: Don’t leave your wort in the kettle. The kettle is simply to hot and will retain heat for much longer than a fresh cold container will. Go out and get yourself a place to put the wort until it is cold. Getting something that is graduated (has volume markings on) allows you to top-up any liquid loss due to boiling in the container. Doing this with cold water or ice will obviously speed up the cooling process but that is not absolutely necessary.
So if you would rather watch paint dry than watch wort cool down then maybe try no-chill brewing.