Dec 092008


Winter brewing?

I wound up postponing my brew session planned for this past Sunday when I woke up to a frigid morning and a fresh blanket of snow on the ground. I could’ve dealt with the snow, and I might’ve been OK with the cold, but the real brew killer was the fact that my garden hose was frozen!

Back in my apartment dwelling days, I brewed all year round with no worries – one of the distinct advantages of doing partial boils and extract beers. I briefly considered converting the recipe to extract, but didn’t know if the long boil would mess up my stove (one of those electric flat cooktop ones). Frustrated, I put off the brew until this coming weekend, and all I can do is hope for some better weather.

So, how do you guys do it? I’ve read accounts of brewers in Minnesota brewing in sub-zero weather, so I should be able to handle the occasional freezing brewday. What do you guys do when the weather gets cold? Do you have a system to deal with the cold weather (mash indoors, use the cold to your advantage when chilling, etc…)? Do you brew indoors, switching to smaller batches or partial boils? Or do you hang up your mash paddle until the Spring? And how do you deal with a frozen water supply anyway???

I feel this year was such a bust – I totally missed out on the Fall, which is my favorite season to brew. I missed performing the Great Pumpkin Beer Challenge, and didn’t get my Winter Warmer brewed. What a waste of some good brewing weather. It would kill me if I couldn’t brew again until March. Not to mention I need to get this beer done in time for Christmas!

Email me or leave a comment with your best winter brewing tips – if I get enough, I’ll compile them into a separate post. Happy brewing!

  6 Responses to “Do You Brew During the Winter?”

  1. I’ve been having the same issue! All this grain to use and it’s too damn cold outside. I’m interested in the responses you get.

  2. Yeah, brewing extract is the way to go. I am having some problems with my new stove. The top is too small for my big pot. So partial boils will be the order of the day.

  3. I can do all grain in my kitchen. I’ve got a gas stove and my brew pot covers two burners. In fact, I’m better at doing all grain in the kitchen than outside.

    I’m really curious about what others do.

    What is the safety of using a propane burner in a garage? If you do this, does the garage door need to be all the way open?

  4. I brew year round myself but am still doing extract brews. My stove is one of the glass cooktops and I have had no problems with it and brewing. If anything it is ideal in the event of a boil over. The comment that Adam above made about being too small for a big pot I assume is referring to the burners. I have an 8 gallon brewpot and I actually turn on the front and back burners and then overlap them. I do full boils and can get a fully vigorous boil going. Using just the front will get a mild boil for me, so it may seem a bit weak by itself. Good luck!

  5. I still brew during the winter, but tend to do so with less regularity than in the kinder months. Living here in the Chicago suburbs we can experience anything from 60°F to -10°F temps, so it’s basically a gamble. I’ve had hoses freeze on me right before chilling, and it took some quick thinking to keep the session moving, although it helps by brewing in my garage.

  6. Yup I sure do brew in the winter, Calgary has pretty mild winters compared to what I grew up with in Northern British Columbia. I try to avoid brewing when its below -25C just because its a pain and everything takes longer (due to heat loss) but I think it would really depend on what kind of equipment you have, what you are using for a mash tun if you are all-grain and how long you are mashing for.

    As for frozen pipes and such you can always run your immersion chiller with an adapter from a kitchen sink….


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