Friday, 6 April 2012

It's all about water - Part Two

As if worrying about what's in it is not enough, the last 24 hours have seen me think about water in general.

Water is one of the major facets of beer's environmental footprint, probably second (maybe even first) to the transportation footprint of the ingredients and the product. Certainly for home brewers it is pretty significant. Ordinarily, this should not be an issue, but, yesterday, the South was placed under a hose-pipe ban. Now using water for 'food' does not come under the ban, but the message to conserve the little was seem to have down here is clear.

Water is used all over the place in brewing. Not only do you start with almost double what you end up drinking, but you are constantly rinsing and cleaning and rinsing again. Moreover, to ensure that the wort does not get infected by bacteria and yeasts from the outside world, you try and cool your wort as quickly as possible. I have done this previously using an immersion chiller - apiece of copper tubing that runs of the tap and discharges down the sink. This typically takes 30 minutes, and I hate to think how much water I use. The immersion chiller can be seen here on the left:

So, this brew, I have used an idea from Australian brewers, whose water shortages are far more severe than ours! They use a method called cold cubing or no-chill cubing. Simply, this a HDPE food grade jerry can (not the ones Francis Maude suggests you fill with petrol!!!), which you fill with wort and then fully seal. I tried to get mine to be brim full, and you 'burp' the container to try and remove as much air as possible. The wort then cools naturally without contact with air and nasties:

I should be able to pitch yeast tomorrow, although some brewers keep their wort like this for months with, allegedly, no deterioration in quality. I leave them to that kind of thing, but, for now, I'm glad I'm saving a bit of water!

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