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Home - Brewing University - Beginners Guide
Beginner's Guide To Brewing Great Beer Cool The Wort

So, here's the challenge. Without contaminating the wort, bring the temperature down from around 212 degrees (boiling point at sea level) to 70 degrees as quickly as possible. If you simply wait for the wort to cool naturally, it would take all night. Besides being frustrating, such a delay would give all kinds of contaminates plenty of opportunity to set up shop in your freshly made growth medium (aka: homebrew).

There is nothing wild yeasts like more than warm sugar water, so what you want to do is deny those wild yeasts access to your beer until you've added the 30 or 40 billion yeast cells that you get in your liquid yeast pack. With so many "friendly" yeast cells in the wort, the bad ones won't ever get the opportunity to start growing. We are going to "choke out" the bad guys!

Use an ice bath - Fill your sink about a third full (or 2/3 empty, depending on your outlook) of cool water and put your kettle in the sink as shown in the picture. Make sure the lid is on the kettle so you won't accidentally drop any unsanitary items in while you cool your wort. With the kettle in the sink, fill the sink the rest of the way up with ice. The wort will chill quickly by itself, or you can speed the process along by stirring the wort gently with your nicely sanitized large spoon being careful not to mix the unsanitary ice water with your wort. By the time the first round of ice melts, you will have brought the temperature of the wort down to around 100 - 110 degrees. Drain out the sink, fill it 1/3 full again and add in more ice. Generally two ice baths in a row will drop the temperature to 70 degrees in about 20 minutes. The more ice you use, the faster the wort will chill. If you don't have enough ice in your freezer to accomplish this task, we find that two bags of convenience store ice generally does the trick in a pinch.

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A drunken man gets on the bus late one night, staggers up the aisle, and sits next to an elderly woman.

She looks the man up and down and says, "I've got news for you. You're going straight to hell!"

The man jumps up out of his seat and shouts, "Man, I'm on the wrong bus!"
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"When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading."
-Henny Youngman

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