Brew Dudes

Homebrewing blog and resource

Home Brewing In The Summer

Welcome to Fermentation Friday for June 2009!  The theme for this month was “beating the summer heat” when homebrewing.  Here are posts from other homebrewing bloggers:

Andy posted a comment:

I’ve only just started and my batches are small (1-3 gallons) so I can get away with cranking up the AC in my minuscule apartment. I guess that’s ‘cheating’ though huh?

Bryon states brewing outdoors is aces in his book.

B James writes about how summer brewing is a  face-smashing, tasing good time!

Dan left a comment:

I bought a garden hose splitter/adapter so I can run both an immersion chiller and CFC concurrently. This allows for a much faster chilling of the wort even with the almost 60 degree water coming out of the tap. I actually brewed a Maerzen on Monday in about 95 very humid degrees and was able to get the wort down to 58 degrees in under 15 minutes.  Either one by itself would have taken quite a bit longer.

Adam adds his contribution to beating the summer heat.

Steph describes her and her husband’s summer brewing solutions.

Chris gives us the cure for the Summertime Brewing Blues.

Jake writes:

I now have a few approaches, I do have a freezer for lagering so I am safe that way, I try to brew belgians during the hottest summer months, and I always ferment my ales in a cold water bath, it helps regulate the temperature.

Until I can dig a root cellar, those are my strategies!

Richard added:

The summertime is the perfect time for a nice cold golden brew. I mean I love a nice hoppy, rich, home brew, but after mowing the lawn in the hot summer sun, nothing goes down better than a nice cold Highlife(insert light beer of your choice). This year B James, McPaddy and I got a jump on summer and began brewing what we hoped was a Highlife clone. We started a little early, so that we could stil enjoy it during the hotter summer months.

Brewing lighter beer isn’t an easy task. You don’t have all the hops and malts that typically mask your mistakes. We ended up substituting rice sugar for our grains. It’s ready to open now, and I am anxious to see how it turned out. 

Rob asks, why beat the heat when you can join it?

Peter tends to brew seasonally.

Keith rocks the fridge with a temperature controller.

Matt C. AKA The GISBREWMASTER writes about long wort chill times.


Mike wrote the Brew Dudes response:The summer is a great time for beer.  Cook-outs, family gatherings, water sports and the beach are all perfectly paired with your favorite brews: Wheat Ale, Pilsners, Lawnmower Beer and the quintessential fruit beers.  The opportunities to brew up something out of the ordinary are just part of the excitement of summer.  The only problem is the damn HEAT!  Man!  The heat of the summer can really be a factor when brewing; from in the brew-house on brew day to fermentation temperatures during the week that follows here are some simple way I like to beat the heat.

Brew Day:  I am one of those odd ball people that lives by the “early to rise” mantra.  When most guys are just firing up the brew kettles, I am rinsing mine out and putting them away.  Standing over a boiling 6 gallon pot of wort is not the way I want to spend a 90+ degree day with 90% humidity.  It makes brewing a real chore.  For me I like to get up early before the sun rises and after the world has had a chance to cool off to get started.  A summer time 4AM start is not uncommon for me.  The flip side is possible if you are a night owl.  Cool summer nights are often quite a pleasant time. After the sun sets and people are stowed away in the climate controlled sanctuaries of their living rooms, the world becomes a nice quite place to enjoy all alone (minus the low hum of you neighbors AC unit).

Fermentation:  Even if you are tough enough to brew 12 gallons of Russian Imperial Stout at high noon in August…I can guarantee you your yeast isn’t.  If you routinely only cool your wort down to 75 and pitch, then in most climes of the US, expect fermentation to take your hard fought wort straight to temperatures that scream out head splitting hangover higher-order alcohols.  Not to mention out of control esters and lifelessly thin beers.  For those of us without a fermentation fridge there are a couple alternatives.  A cheap option is the swamp cooler.  A swamp cooler is simply a tub or container large enough for your fermentor to sit in with a good couple of inches of water around it, and coming about half way up the sides.  This increases the thermal mass of the whole fermentation vessel and helps to slow down heat gains and losses.  If you rotate in and out frozen water bottles or ice packs, then you create a really nice heat “sink” to help suck heat right out of the fermentor.  IF that isn’t enough cooling power you can even drape a cotton T-shirt over your fermentor and put a fan blowing across it.  This acts to help wick water up and over the fermentor and promotes evaporation.  Very similar to out own bodies sweating mechanism.  I have brewed many successful ales in a hot garage this way and was able to maintain 68F fermentation temps even when external temp was above 90F. An even cheaper way around this is to get on the Saison bandwagon.  Saison yeasts typically are started out cool for the first day or so, then allowed to just rise up into the low 80s!  So a simple swamp cooler to start, then just let the thing go.  Not much easier than that.

Post Brew Day: Well I don’t know how you beat the heat, but after a 4AM brew session there is nothing better than a nice ice cold citrusy Belgian Wit with pancakes, followed by a nice nap before the sun reaches its peak!

BREW ON!

I will be adding more submissions as the day progresses.  If you haven’t sent yours in yet, it’s not too late to do so.

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3 Comments

  1. The summertime is the perfect time for a nice cold golden brew. I mean I love a nice hoppy, rich, home brew, but after mowing the lawn in the hot summer sun, nothing goes down better than a nice cold Highlife(insert light beer of your choice). This year B James, McPaddy and I got a jump on summer and began brewing what we hoped was a Highlife clone. We started a little early, so that we could stil enjoy it during the hotter summer months.

    Brewing lighter beer isn’t an easy task. You don’t have all the hops and malts that typically mask your mistakes. We ended up substituting rice sugar for our grains. It’s ready to open now, and I am anxious to see how it turned out.

  2. I meant “some of” our grains. Just yeast and sugar would be disgusting. I know light beer can be a touchy subject in the homebrew world, but I see this undertaking as a challenge. B James origally came up with the idea as an attept to make homebrew economically viable in these troubled times. And who and I tobrurn down a challenge. Brew on!

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