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Given the limited space of an apartment, how can you achieve a good chill?

Do not consider budget to be a factor.

This is the fifth question in a series of discussions about small-space brewing. Please keep the discussion limited to wort chilling.

See also: Equipment Storage | Mashing | Steeping | Boiling | Fermentation | Packaging | Cellaring

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5 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

A plate chiller or an ice bath are the best options.

The plate chiller is FAST, and super small. Easy to store it on a bookshelf or something. You do need to have a hose hookup on the sink to make this work.

Ice melts. Pretty good for saving space. It just takes a lot longer.

An immersion chiller takes up a bit more room, and can get messy. Definitely not the best option for small space brewing.

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I do partial boils so chilling isn't too tough. I put the pot in my sink with the lid on, surround it by water, and then put in a bunch of reusable ice packs. This has seemed to work great and cause little mess. I see using a wort chiller or something similar probably being a bit of overkill and also causing a lot of excess mess and additional cleanup.

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sorry if this is a stupid question, but what does a "partial boil" mean? –  Jerry C. Apr 12 '11 at 0:07
    
@JerryC. Partial boil is boiling your extract with only part of the total water required by the recipe and then diluting the result in the fermenter with extra boiled water to reach the final volume. –  Cleber Goncalves Feb 5 '13 at 14:58
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I have done some testing with the ice bath method, it only improves my time by about 9% over letting the wort chill unaided.
I will be investing in the plate chiller shortly.
My plan is to use a small hose attachment (with the adapter I use for my bottle washer) to run cold Rocky Mountain Denver tap water past the hot wort as I put it in the carboy.

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When using an ice-bath you'll get the most efficiency by keeping both the wort and the water moving; and by keeping the wort vessel an inch or so off the bottom of the sink. –  STW Jan 5 '11 at 18:26
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...you can also consider adding salt to the ice bath to drop the termperature even further chemically. You'd want to be careful doing this with an aluminum kettle as the salt may corrode it. –  STW Jan 5 '11 at 18:26
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A lot of apartment refrigerators can't make massive quantities of ice, and buying ice for an ice bath can get expensive. Instead, freeze bottles of water before you brew, and use them in your ice bath. You can even sanitize a few bottles and throw them into your wort to boost the chilling power.

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No Chill!

Australian Homebrewers like to conserve water and have developed a no chill method of chilling. This means you transfer your hot wort after flameout (and whirlpool if you do that, and I would recommend you do) into a sanitized heat tolerant plastic cube. You force all air out and seal it. It will cool overnight or in a couple of days. The Aussies have written extensively about this method: http://aussiehomebrewer.com/topic/23742-ahb-wiki-the-no-chiller-method-using-a-cube/ and you can also look for Basic Brewing Radio episodes on it, and maybe Beer Smith did an episode as well. The Aussies will even store the wort for a period of time before fermenting, like weeks or months.

I tried it only once and the beer was fine. My sister does it, but I find her IPAs to be extra bitter, maybe because of her no chill method, which does not include the whirlpool and careful siphon of the wort only into the no chill cube. So the hops are in the wort for a long overnight slow chill. Her California Common comes out great.

I bought my cube from US Plastics. I made one beer with it and it came out fine. I still use a plate chiller and an immersion chiller for smaller batches. I should use the cube more but I already had a pretty good setup for chilling when I discovered the cube technique.

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