I recently got my hands on a Cool Brewing Bag because I live in a hot climate here in Australia, a state called Queensland. In Summer our temperatures can get quite high, not only does it get hot, but the humidity is disgusting as well which can spell disaster for a brew.
I am by no means a professional brewer. I do extract brews and while I would like to move into all-grain brewing eventually, at the moment, I don’t have the time or money to do so.
If you are like me, you have no dedicated brew fridge, you don’t keg and just pour the extract tins into your fermenting vessel, put the yeast in and set it aside.
Enter the Cool Brewing Bag.
This bag is essentially just a large cooler with a waterproof lining, round with a lid and a couple of zips. If a swamp cooler is ghetto then this bag is a Rolls Royce.
I will admit I was skeptical of this bag at first. I read some great reviews online and over at Amazon, it has a lot of 5 star ratings. Could this bag really offer the temperature drops that it claims you can achieve? I set to find out.
I thought about attempting a lager in this thing and I have read that some brewers have managed to do it, but the pain I would be inflicting on myself to keep the temps low wouldn’t be worth it. So I decided to brew a dark ale, the SMOTY Ale via the Coopers website.
I was surprisingly able to keep the temperature at a consistent 20 Celsius. Even when fermentation was active, the temperature didn’t climb too drastically. All I did was get myself some of those blue ice bricks you can get at your local Bunnings and use those to keep the temps low.
However, I also froze some 2 liter bottles of water and admittedly, I found the bottles worked a lot better (the instructions for this bag do mention bottles of water).
Once you are done with the bag, take out your fermenting vessel and then hose it down. You will want to hose this thing down and do it well as the condensation is a recipe for mould (I actually got some mould, but it came right off). Cleaning this bag when you are done is imperative.
Thanks to this bag, I am able to keep my wort cool while it ferments in the first few days and produce dramatically different beers thanks to the low temps preventing unwanted additions from forming inside of the wort when it gets too hot.
I am no longer a skeptic. If you live in the hotter parts of Australia or anywhere where you need to keep your brew insulated (this could work with both hot and cold), then this bag won’t disappoint. There is a reason it is so highly rated online, this bag is legit.
You can not only use this thing for brewing, but I had an event not long ago and filled it with ice and used it as a cooler to hold drinks and keep them cool, it worked well. This bag has definitely paid itself off already with its usefulness.
Would running a dedicated fridge for brewing be easier? Definitely. Would be more economical? Not exactly. While a small brewing fridge wouldn’t cost that much to run, in the long run you will end up paying more than what this bag costs.
If you are still on the fence, just buy it. Go to your local homebrew store and get yourself one (or just buy online).