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I was in the middle of a 7-gallon brew, when my landlord informed me that the grain that I had put down my garbage disposal had clogged the main drain for the house. My sink is too small for an ice bath for my kettle, so my cooling plan had been to use my copper immersion chiller. But, with nowhere to put the waste water (I am nowhere near the ground floor, and there isn't an outdoor hose I can access), I had to air chill the recently-boiled wort.

I saran-wrapped all of the gaps in the brew kettle (the edge of the lid and the aperture for the thermometer, which I left in), and left it to air chill. It took two days until the wort came down to fermentation temperature, at which point I removed the plastic wrap, spritzed the outside of the kettle with sanitizer, and dumped it into primary. It's currently aerated and fermenting away.

Question:

How worried should I be about contamination that may have occurred during two days of air cooling this wort?

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How did the beer turn out? –  Graham Nov 12 '12 at 12:56
    
Aging now. Out of primary there were some bitterness issues, but no sourness/yeast contamination notes. If those flavors are there, I can't taste them; it's a big, roasty, dark stout, so it could be there and just covered up. –  Zac B Nov 12 '12 at 15:10
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3 Answers 3

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How worried should I be about contamination that may have occurred during two days of air cooling this wort?

Honestly, I'd be very worried. However, not much can be done now anyway, so don't sweat it, but don't do this again for future reference.

As that wort cooled, it contracted in volume slightly, which created a very slight vacuum that might have pulled air down into the kettle that had wild yeasts/bugs in it.

Regarding "No Chill Brewing" as mentioned by Ryan, I am a big fan of it (I hardly ever "chill" batches anymore) but for me, I always do it in an air tight, sealed tank.

Did the wort smell "sharp" or "sour" when you poured into primary? I had a beer get subtly infected in my No Chill tank once, and I could definitely tell that something was wrong when I poured into primary, from the taste of the wort. Wort should be bitter + sweet, with an orange marmalade or coffee kind of flavor depending on the grainbill, but should never taste acidic or sour.

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actually this is a method called "no chill brewing" as long as you are clean about things you will be just fine. look up "no chill brewing" online and you will get a lot of info. GOOD LUCK!

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No chill is always done in a sealed container, so the OP did not do the no chill method. –  Dale Nov 11 '12 at 0:26
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I know its not a perfect seal, but if he plastic-wrapped everything, I doubt there was a whole lot getting in there. –  Pietro Nov 13 '12 at 13:50
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Sealing with saran-wrap could seal the container up. And if there was still steam from the boil it could have sterilized the whole business. As Charlie Papazian says relax and have a homebrew. Wait and see it could very likely turn out just fine. –  Chris Plaisier Nov 13 '12 at 16:25
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Buy one of these, and your problem with no access to a hose fitting is solved. I use it in my 2nd floor apartment for my immersion chiller, works like a charm.

http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/faucet-adapter.html

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