Cold crashing beer is a tried and true way to get crystal clear beer faster. It’s also a good way to ensure sediment and suspended yeast fall out of the beer and settle at the bottom of the fermenter before bottling or kegging.
What is Cold Crashing?
Cold crashing is the practice of chilling your beer down to near freezing after fermentation has completely finished. It’s the last thing you should do just before kegging or bottling. Be sure fermentation and conditioning are entirely wrapped up before crashing. You want the yeast to have adequate time to clean up after itself after fermentation is completed. I usually wait 10-12 days after pitching.
Why Cold Crash?
Flavor and clarity. You don’t want yeast in your finished product. Your beer will taste cleaner if everything falls out of it that should. With yeast and sediment falling out of your beer, it will obviously jump-start the clarification process. Sure your beer will slowly clarify overtime in the keg or bottles, cold crashing just speeds up the process.
How To Cold Crash Homebrew
Place your fermenter directly in a fridge and get the beer as cold as possible without freezing. Shoot for about 35°F-38°F for 24 hours. Remove and proceed with kegging or bottling. Don’t worry, there will still be enough yeast present after crashing to bottle carbonate your brew.
If you keg your beer, you can in fact cold crash directly in the keg in your kegerator. The only downside is you’ll miss the opportunity to filter out any yeast sediment before kegging. Cold crashing before kegging also ensures your beer is super chilled and ready to take on CO2 for forced carbonation immediately.
How To Cold Crash with No Fridge
If you don’t have access to an extra fridge. (God knows my wife would kill me if I tried to stuff my fermenter in our fridge), you can place the fermenter in an ice bath and or wrap in water-soaked cold towels. Continue to monitor and pour fresh ice water over the towels periodically. I used to use a cheap 20-gallon plastic basket for cooling hot wort in the kettle—it’s a phenomenal option for cold crashing as well.
If it’s winter…it’s your lucky day. Place the fermenter on the deck or in the garage! Just make sure your beer doesn’t freeze.