Crash cooling beer is a popular subject and a term often found on bulletin boards and forums. Many prefer to simply brew as they always have and many old school shun the process entirely. Irrespective of your set up cold crash cooling beer can apply to any capacity, home brew, nano or micro. Many explore the method because they want their brew to take on the crystal clear appearance of commercially produced ales. Moreover the most effective way to convince anyone you brewed in a state of the art facility. Not forgetting that this process can also be used within the wine making process. Notably additives such as whirlfloc, irish moss, gelatin finings and super-kleer can be dispensed with. However many brewers commit to a natural end product and are fundamentally averse to additives.
This process can apply to any brew from a pilsner to a lager to a super hoppy IPA. However keep in mind that some beers are supposed to be cloudy such as wheat beers. Crash cooling allows you to improve the appearance of your ale easily and affordably. Remember crash cooling beer should only be carried out when fermentation is complete. This process should take place around two to three days prior to bottling or kegging. Our trusty hydrometer will help us determine more accurately when our fermentation is complete. The importance of completing fermentation is that when the temperature falls below a certain level sugar will not convert (alcohol). Additionally Dimethyl Sulfide may hang around when fermentation ends prematurely giving the brew an unpalatable, unsavoury flavour. Importantly progress to bottling and kegging at the earliest opportunity in order to avoid your brew climbing towards room temperature.
Crash cooling beer does not affect carbonation
Crash cooling beer will not affect the carbonation process. The ideal temperature range for cold crashing is 33f>40f (Just below 1c>just above 4c). Monitor the temperature closely as the brew must not freeze. The desired effect being that the remainder of the yeast (after fermentation) will flocculate. This reduces to a minimum the sediment/trub that would transfer to your keg or bottle. In more simple terms the yeast will bind together, fall out of suspension and settle. Depending on the size of your fermenter attempt to tilt if practical. The yeast will settle to the rear keeping the spigot clear. Remember crash cooling does not destroy the yeast but merely sends it to sleep. The obvious benefit being less packaging mess especially for a dry hopped IPA. You may also find that extra time is required to condition as less yeast will be present to carbonate.
Take care to position the siphon above the trub to avoid withdrawing what you have painstakingly tried to remove. For many home brewers an old fridge is an excellent start for cold crashing. Those blessed with more resources and a larger capacity may well choose a commercial kegerator (Gamko). While falling under the general umbrella of a beer cooler they are insulated panels with a condensing unit. These type of beer coolers though lend themselves to cold crashing right in the keg. The keg can be purged with CO2 and this removes any concerns about the ingress of oxygen. Thereafter transfer to an additional keg to filter out further sediment. While we have touched on additives the ‘chill haze’ phenomenon can be addressed with gelatin finings.