Homebrewing Blog and Resource

Brewing in Winter

I’ve been a little delayed getting my Yule lager going due to life’s little distractions, especially in December. Anyhow, my delays have now compounded into more obstacles. Here in the Northern suburbs of Massachusetts we’ve got 10 inches of snow. Over the last few days the temps have dropped into the teens. This morning my truck was telling me it was -1F out when I left for work. As I write this post another 6-8inches are falling.

But let me back up. Two weeks ago I planned to get my Yule Lager session going. I wanted to test something with my brew kettle before I started and I ended up filling it to the top with 14 gallons of water. I also left my garden hose hooked up to the outside faucet on the house. Well two days before the first blast of winter weather, the hose was still attached to the house and filled with water.

Now I have a hose that is frozen in some sort of distorted train track series of loops and twists. Useless. Next that 14 gallons of water has frozen nearly solid in my keggle!!! The damn keg is must weigh close to 90lbs and is a real bear to move. Useless!

So I am stuck with a frozen brew kettle and a frozen hose. I can probably slowly heat the kettle on a burner. However, that hose will remain a twisted mess until it warms up enough to lay it out on the black top driveway.

Being a homebrewer though, its time to get resourceful. Its a perfect time to try and do some small batch brewing. I have a mini beverage cooler with about a 2 gallon capacity. I should be able to mash about 4 gallons of grain at a max and produce a decent gravity for a 2 gallon pre boil wort. Doing some small batch brewing means I can heat water and set up my mash in the house. I have a deck right out the back door so I plan to boil out there. I can always grab a bucket of snow and make a ice cold water bath to chill old school style in the sink.

I hope to give this small batch approach a try very soon. As long as the weather stays cold and snowy, maybe I can cruise through several experimental batches in the comfort of my house.

I put a little video together this week to show my equipment issues and the conditions outside.

So how do you deal with brewing in winter? Do you brew like crazy in the fall to stock up. Do you brave the cold and bundle up outside? Maybe you have a heated garage or brew shack. Maybe you moved to Florida just to be able to brew year round. Let us know.

BREW ON!

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3 Comments

  1. Joe Schork II

    I brew nearly every two weeks. Not about to have a little chilly weather stop that. Happy to have moved to Delaware. No more 14 degree brewdays. Just a crisp 30 or so degrees!

  2. Herb Meowing

    Winter sminter.

    Here’s an all-season solution:
    5G mash tun + ~6# grain (up to 9#) ==> ~3.5G pre-boil volume good for a 2.45 (9L) batch size using a $10 Mr Beer fermentor…a 48-QT ice chest fermentation chamber…and one or two 22-oz bottles of frozen water for temperature control.

  3. Herb Meowing

    Forgot to mention the set-up described is how it can be done in the kitchen.

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