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I'll be brewing a small (1.5 gal) batch of beer soon, and in my quest for laziness efficiency, I was thinking of brewing in a smaller pot, rather than in my 7-gallon monstrosity. However, my immersion chiller doesn't fit inside the small pot.

Would I be able to get sufficient chilling with an ice bath? I'll be trying a more hop-forward brew, and I'd still like to retain as much aromatics as I can, so I'd like to cool it quickly.

Some napkin math makes it appear that the bottom & sides of the small pot would have roughly 2/3 the surface area of the wort chiller, and would not have nearly the convective effects of flowing water through copper. But on the flip side, a smaller batch would have much less thermal mass.

Advice?

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I have done this with a 10 liter (2.5 gal) stock pot in my kitchen sink when I started brewing, also batches from 1 to 1.5 gallon. I did two things.

In the first step I cooled by letting water flow from the faucet on the outside area of the pot. I do have a detachable faucet which does make this easier.

In the second step, after sufficiently cooling (to around 40°C), I filled the kitchen sink with water and ice, and then you have to be patient. I also stirred this water around the pot to get better cooling. Make sure you have sufficient ice on hand.

I think that I got my wort to a reasonable temperature in 20-30 minutes, at most 45 minutes. I can't remember that I needed to wait that long before I racked the wort to the fermentation vessel.

  • I think it's good to do it in two stages as you describe. My experience with glass carboys is that htey are rather fragile and worry that an ice bath with wort close to boiling would create stress that untempered glass couldn't handle. – 42- Nov 29 '18 at 21:36
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Because you are brewing a small batch, I think that an ice bath will be quite sufficient, however you muct add more ice at regular intervals. I also suggest adding salt to your ice so that the melting point of the ice is raised. Keep a lot of ice at your service and remember to stir!

  • ITYM: Melting point lowered. – 42- Nov 29 '18 at 21:36
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I do this with some of my five gallon batches. I have a rather big deep sink. I buy a couple of bags of ice and put the whole pot in there and fill with ice and water. It cools down quickly enough. Works fine if you don't have access to a wort chiller. I have seen people in northern climates put their hot wort in the snow. Works well in Canada in the middle of the winter!

  • Snow's actually a rather good insulator. Think igloos. – 42- Nov 29 '18 at 21:38
  • If there is an air gap, but not if it's in direct contact. This is why wort immersion chiller work. If you held an immersion chiller above the hot wort it won't do anything. If you put it in direct contact with the hot wort it magically works. Interesting how that happens... – farmersteve Nov 29 '18 at 23:39
  • I've got experience with snowdrift cooling. If you just dump it in the snow, an airgap will promptly form. Just as with immersion coolers, the snowdrift method is going to be much more effective if there is movement, both of the liquid in the pot as well as against the outsides of the pot. – 42- Nov 30 '18 at 1:10

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