Homebrew Hack: Wort Chiller Wastewater

If you’re a beer brewer you know the deal: you’ve got to chill your wort but the two popular methods waste a ton of water. Let’s look at why this step can’t be skipped and then a few ethical options to put that water to good use.

Why Chill Your Wort?

Wort chilling is one of my least favorite parts of the homebrewing process. It’s messy (water can get everywhere) and it’s wasteful. But it’s necessary.

Dimethyl Sulphide is present in all beer but the boil calms it down. The compound is naturally occurring in malts but more pronounced when the malt is stored in damp conditions. If the boil gets rid of it, why does it matter? Because it can come back. And when does it come back? When your boil stops. Crashing your wort to fermentation temp as quickly as possible is the best way to avoid the lovely flavors that come with DMS:

  • canned veggies
  • oysters
  • cabbage
  • tomato soup
  • creamed corn

Both Ways Of Chilling Wort Waste Tons Of Water

Whether an ice bath or wort chiller is your method of choice, you’re looking at waste water. An ice bath uses ice and water surrounding your kettle and is slow, increasing the risk for DMS to rear it’s gross head. Using a wort chiller, where you run water through it is quicker but again, wasteful.

So what’s an ethical brewer to do when you can’t risk NOT crashing your wort but you don’t want to waste a ton of water? Recycle! Here’s a list of ways to reuse that water instead of just letting it go down the drain.

How To Reuse Chilling Water

A Note For Non Beer Brewers

You don’t have to worry about this since mead, cider and wine making don’t require a fast crash but feel free to share with your beer brewing friends so that they can think about how to be more ethical in their brewing.

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