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Australian NO CHILL Brewing Technique TESTED

Saturday, June 6th, 2009

“No Chill” is a term used for the Aussie method of transferring HOT wort into a sealed container and letting it cool gradually, over a period of time. Aussie brewers generally pitch the yeast when they see fit to do so, sometimes days or even weeks later. This method has evolved out of the necessity to conserve water in some areas of the world, such is the case in Australia.

By utilizing this method I hoped to:

  1. Conserve the many (50) gallons of water that I waste while operating my immersion chiller.
  2. Conserve time (20-30 minutes) that is spent cooling the wort on brew day.
  3. Conserve time by fermenting in the same HDPE (High-density polyethylene) vessel that I transfer the hot wort into after the boil.
  4. Reduce the amount of equipment required (no chiller) to complete an all-grain brewing session. This may be of special interest to new all-grain brewers.

The “PLAN”: Brew a recipe that I have brewed many times before, something low ABV and lightly hopped so that any real flaws in the flavor will be very apparent. I brewed the beer normally except for a small change to my late hop additions. The planned OG is 1.040, FG 1.011 and comes in at a light 18 IBUs.

There is still a noticeable amount of hop utilization happening in the wort as it cools in the HDPE container; at temperatures above 170F this is more pronounced and will affect the total IBUs of the beer. For this reason I have adjusted my late hop additions to keep them from bittering the beer.

The CONTAINER: A 6 gallon HDPE container from ($15) and a #11.5 drilled stopper ($2.25) to accommodate the large opening where the cap currently exists. Aside from this, the HDPE container is simply outfitted with a stick on thermometer to indicate when the temperature is appropriate to pitch the yeast.

The PROCESS: After the boil I added what remained of my late addition hops to the HDPE container, those that were not moved to FWH. I gently whirl pooled the wort in the boil kettle and let it stand for 10 minutes to allow some of the material in the wort to settle to the bottom of the kettle.

The kettle was drained into the sanitized HDPE fermentor, once filled, the cap went back on tightly and I gently turned the vessel on its side to allow the hot wort to further sterilize the inside of the container. I then placed the container in my 65F fermentation freezer for a 24 hour period to chill.

aussie no chill brewing

When I drained the kettle I saved about 1 quart of the wort to create a 24-hour yeast starter. This is referred to as a RWS, or Real Wort Starter. NO MORE DME!

aussie no chill brewing

After 24 hours: The wort had cooled to yeast pitching temperatures, so the fermentor received a good shake to adequately aerate the wort. Once this was complete, the yeast starter went in and the cap came off so that I could affix the stopper/air lock in its place. Signs of a healthy fermentation were visible in the air lock within 5 ½ hours of pitching the starter.

14 days later: The fermentation is complete, the hydrometer is showing the target FG of 1.007. Very light, very crisp! The beer is transferred to an awaiting keg for a couple weeks of cold storage and carbonating. The cold and flat beer has a distinct “twang” to it… much like any green beer, time will tell if this brew will have any off flavors from the “no chill” method.

28 days later: After much anticipation it is time to pull the tap! This beer is still young, it has not completely cleared, though it is clearer than it was when first kegged. The aroma is slightly malty, slightly hoppy (Cascades) but very mellow, just as this Haus Ale has been in the past (4) keggings while using an immersion chiller. The flavor… it is again identical to previous batches that were chilled in the conventional manner. It is very light, slightly citrus (Cascades) and very easy drinking. There are no indications of DMS (a corn like flavor) and the hop profile is identical to previous batches that were chilled conventionally.

Following are the guidelines I followed to reduce the perceived bitterness of hop additions.

  1. Assumed that the HOT wort in the HDPE container would add 20 minutes of utilization to ALL hop additions.
  2. Moved my (20) minute hop addition to the HDPE container (20 minutes utilization in the container from #1).
  3. Moved any hops that required LESS than (20) minutes boil time to FWH (this provides a complexity in flavor and bittering and less perceived bitterness).
  1. 41 Responses to “Australian NO CHILL Brewing Technique TESTED”

  2. Can you elaborate more on the container you used? I have been wanting to experiment with this as well, but I could not find the container in your pics on the website. Maybe just a product number or something. Thanks.

    By Kordell perkin on Jun 8, 2009

  3. Hey, thanks for the inquiry. USPlastics has them, they are called Winpak containers. Here is a link to the ones that I use.

    I have heard that they are out of stock on them currently, apparently they have some increased demand. Give them a call and check stock before you order to see where they stand.

    By Rob on Jun 9, 2009

  4. Could you post the recipe you used for this? Just curious, thanks!

    By Rick on Jun 11, 2009

  5. Just as an update on this article. Since performing this test I have not chilled a single brew. I have a SNPA clone on tap as well as a Hefeweizen in the fermentor that were no chill brewed. A note on clarity: these beers clear just as rapidly and cleanly in the keg as my IC chilled beers have in the past.

    By Rob on Jul 26, 2009

  6. So, could you do a mash/sparge ending with 3 gallons, pour into fermenter, then top with RO water and let it cool gradually in the fermenter to room temperature? Just asking since I don’t have a fermentation freezer/fridge… Thoughts?

    By Mike on Jul 26, 2009

  7. It is an all grain full wort boil, so whatever is left in the kettle (typically 5.5 gallons) goes into the fermenter.

    I don’t see why this wouldn’t work for an extract style batch – diluting with water would cool it down a lot faster. Just keep in mind when you dilute the gravity drops!

    By Larry on Jul 26, 2009

  8. Did the lid you’re mentioning come with that sized hole or did you actually drill it yourself? Based on your post it sounded like you did but in the pic it looks like it came that way. Thanks!

    By Niko on Aug 21, 2009

  9. If you are referring to the cap on the Winpak… it is solid. I purchased a #11.5 drilled stopper to accomodate my airlock and blow off.

    By Rob on Aug 22, 2009

  10. How hard is it to clean the fermentor? I would be afraid that a carboy brush would scratch it.

    By Jamison on Sep 10, 2009

  11. Never use a brush to clean plastic. Here is the process, and it is much esier than brushing a carboy.

    1. Rinse with water after fermentation
    2 Fill with hot water and ONE scoop of OxiClean (or generic equivilent)
    3. Soak for as long as you wish (takes about 4 hours to clean)
    4. Empty and rinse with clean water
    5. Sanitize with StarSan or equivilent

    It is easy and works remarkably well. After 6 batches in mine, I have never had a problem getting it absolutely clean.

    By Rob on Sep 11, 2009

  12. Cool – what a great idea. I have been fermenting in corny kegs for awhile now. Seems like they would work well for this method.

    By Steve Pierson on Oct 5, 2009

  13. They COULD… you have to realize and consider all of the vacuum that is created when this wort cools. Cornies are designed to seal under pressure, not vacuum. When the wort cools, with no modification to the cornie, I fear you will suck in air past the poppets.

    By Rob on Oct 9, 2009

  14. question:
    after listening to a Brew Strong podcast about DMS and its precursors i must ask:
    are you not worried about DMS development in the hot wort while it’s cooling?
    did you notice any off flavors in the beers after more than 28 days?

    By Noam on Jan 10, 2010

  15. another question,
    If i only want to wait as long as the wort takes to cool down, let’s say – over night. without keeping the unfermented wort for a long time as discribed, would it be ok to simply leave the wort in the kettle with the lid on untill it cools?

    By Noam on Jan 10, 2010

  16. I wouldnt worry about DMS. If you really look into SMM and the resultant DMS production you will see that NO CHILL wont really have much impact.

    If you arent using Pilsner malt, DMS shouldnt be an issue regardless of whether you chill or not, there are just not enough precursors.

    If you are using a large amount of Pils malt, a strong 90 minute boil will leave you with DMS free NO CHILL beer as well. Between the Aussies who sort of pioneered this and the brewers I have collaborated with here in the states with this process, no one has noticed any DMS in thier Pilsner based brews.

    I say, have no fear of the DMS monster.

    By Rob on Jan 10, 2010

  17. BTW, I have no chills that I am drinking 6 months after brewing and they happen to be the most popular on tap… no ill side effects detected.

    About cooling in the kettle. I have read where some brewers have done this, I have no personal experience.

    If you have a good tight fitting lid so that nothing can crawl in there and it keeps drafts and the resultant dust out… it SHOULD work for you.

    I have always liked the idea of using the hot wort to help sanitize my fermentor, and having a tight sealing lid to keep nasties out when the wort cools, contracts and inevitably sucks in air if there is no seal.

    Experimentation is the mother of invention, give it a shot!

    By Rob on Jan 10, 2010

  18. Thanks for the cool post, Rob. Very interesting, and has my head spinning a bit…

    But…. Since the post talks about being environmentally friendly (using less water), which I like a lot, have you tried cooling simply at room temperature, rather than using the fermentation freezer (which, of course, will use a fair amount of electricity once the hot wort is put in it)? My guess is that the cooling process would take a little longer at room temperature, but probably only a couple hours longer or so….

    In addition, assuming you seal the fermentor airtight, isn’t there a tremendous vacuum effect on the fermentor as the wort cools? How does that work for you? Or is some air allowed in (which would seem to increase chances of unwanted bacteria making their way in)?

    By Mark on Mar 10, 2010

  19. I do let the wort chill at ambient temps. Except when it is 90F outside, then the last bit of the chill must take place in the cooling chamber.

    Vacuum does not hurt the HDPE fermentor in the least, no air is allowed in. There is a tremendous amount of vacuum that is developed. HDPE can handle it.

    By Rob on Mar 15, 2010

  20. I am ready to move to plastic. Will you tell me please, is there any problem seeing inside the winpac so you can tell where the beer ends and the yeast cake starts when it is time to remove the fermented beer?

    By Chad on Jun 29, 2010

  21. Seeing inside is cool, but not necessary for a successful brew. Some containers will have some opacity but others will not. The model pictured in this article does not allow light through it. Yeast cake is usually 2″ thick. Pay attention to the airlock, and rely on gravity samples to tell when to rack/bottle. I usually wait 2 weeks on my ales, sometimes 3-4 depending on the gravity.

    By Larry on Jun 30, 2010

  22. Hi,
    I have an extra Coopers kit fermenter, do you think that would work? I’d put some vodka in the bubbler so that any air that went in (and there will certainly be some) should be sanitized. Thoughts?

    By Cliff Pankonien on Nov 15, 2010

  23. I’d make sure the plastic is rated for those temperatures first.

    By Larry on Nov 20, 2010

  24. I’m pretty sure it’s ok at boiling temps, as the Coopers kits call for boiling water (albeit only a quart or so). I also found another post where someone actually reached out to Coopers to confirm that. I guess I’ll give it a try, once I get a valve installed on my kettle. Thanks!

    By Cliff Pankonien on Nov 22, 2010

  25. So for a batch of BIAB + no-chill, it seems it would make sense to dry-hop the finishing/aroma hops. Or is there a way to “FWH” the bag brew?

    By Jeff on Jan 30, 2011

  26. I think FWH in that case would be to add the hops after you remove the grain and start draining the bag. With no-chill the hops would continue to ‘cook’ for awhile as the temperature cools down. I don’t do no-chill because even though the bucket says food rated there has to be some of it going into the wort at those temperatures.

    By Larry on Jan 30, 2011

  27. What temperature is the wort going into the HDPE container? I boil at 225F +, wouldn’t this be too hot to put into the plastic?

    By nowashburn on Feb 7, 2011

  28. nowash,
    You must be pretty far below sea level if your boiling temp is 225F! Standard boiling temp is 212F and goes down from there with higher elevation.

    Correct, the wort is going into the container at near boiling temperatures. As for the plastic, it needs to be rated for 212F+. That’s why I personally use an immersion chiller to cool the wort. Plastic is in our food supply enough as it is! I really don’t want plastic in my beer in any amount.

    By Larry on Feb 7, 2011

  29. I have been brewing full grain “no chill” for a couple of years now and find that if I do not transfer the wort to the plastic fermenter after boiling for about half an hour or so then the temperature has dropped to maybe 60 deg C (or a bit above) and there is still no chance of contamination. The only thing is that I think the IBUs creep up a little over what is calculated in Beer Smith. Still, I haven’t found anyone who can pick the IBUs in beer accurately using their own taste buds.
    I am sereously looking for a decent bag to go BIAG.
    Can anyone tell me where to by one? My boiler is 400mm dia & 400mm deep.

    By Freddo on Mar 19, 2011

  30. Very cool article! Look forward to trying next batch. One question, do you see any problem with doing the “no chill” in a glass carboy? I was going to try this with a stopper. Will the vacuum be way too much for this method?

    Alternately, I bet I could use an S-curve type water lock, filled with vodka (or something stronger). This would allow air in, but might not kill all the bad bugs…

    By Joe on Apr 1, 2011

  31. > One question, do you see any problem with doing the “no chill” in a glass carboy?

    Big problem here! The glass could crack on you if you pour that much boiling wort into it. Cool it down to 80F in the kettle first, then drain into the glass carboy. The lid on your kettle isn’t a very good seal, so germs could creep in.

    By Larry on Apr 2, 2011

  32. I see this post is about 3 years old now. Just curious if you still use the no-chill approach from time to time?

    By Alan on Feb 16, 2012

  33. I personally use a wort chiller, but one of our authors was using this method 100% and I believe he still does.

    By Larry on Feb 16, 2012

  34. Rob,

    I know this article is a few years old, but are you still no chilling? Still no problems?

    By SpargePErvert on Mar 6, 2012

  35. Well.. I’ve never chilled my brew with a chiller :)

    I’ve always placed the plastic fermenter right inside my cleansed brewing pot and filled the gap up(0.5 inch in radius) with cold tapwater and let it cool down over 5-7 hours.

    By Janus on Jun 27, 2012

  36. Re. using a corny keg as a hot wort container- “When the wort cools, with no modification to the cornie, I fear you will suck in air past the poppets.”

    So that might be possible, but when the hot wort is sealed simply purge any air with CO2 and add pressure to compensate for any drop that will result from cooling.

    How much pressure? … about that much!

    I don’t know. Here is what I got from the internet😅

    Use the formula: k = T1/P1

    By Michael on Jan 11, 2022

  37. Re hops utilization in no-chill method:

    Notes from:

    “Only recently have we come to understand that short boil “flavor” additions are largely a myth.”

    Late boil additions add some bitterness as the hops alpha acids are isomerized by boiling, but shorter boiling time does not add flavor or aroma b/c these “boil-off quickly”!

    “It turns out that hop utilization does drop off pretty quickly below the boiling point…”

    “[based on a whirlpool or hop stand temperature of 90 C (194 F) a roughly 50% utilization factor (equivalent boil utilization for Bitterness) is not a bad approximation.]”…“A cutoff temp of 85 C was picked as hop utilization drops pretty rapidly below that temperature.”

    So this is where flavor additions should be moved… to around 85 c ( 185 F.)

    Dry-hopping is likely the best approach to add hops aromas… and I’m thinking any late boil hops addition is a WASTE.

    Buttering additions (FWH or 60 min.) are likely still the best place to get best hops / isomerization to utilize alpha acids to add characteristics bitterness.

    By Michael on Jan 11, 2022

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