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Too Cold to Brew

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by inchrisin, Feb 20, 2013.

  1. inchrisin

    inchrisin Savant (480) Indiana Sep 25, 2008

    I'm wondering if anyone else is becoming a fair-weather brewer this winter. It's 20F outside and it'll take FOREVER to get to a boil. Anyone else trying to hold out until April?
  2. jlordi12

    jlordi12 Advocate (560) Massachusetts Jun 8, 2011 Verified

    Pretty much. Too expensive to brew is more like it though
  3. PortLargo

    PortLargo Advocate (550) Florida Oct 19, 2012 Verified

    I have the same problem in reverse. I live in south Florida and winter is the best time to brew. On the coldest day of the year I might get my chill water down to 70. Go figure.
  4. kjyost

    kjyost Champion (775) Manitoba (Canada) May 4, 2008 Verified

    Eff that. When you live in the Canadian prairies, 20F is beautiful and you brew no matter what... That said when we had 40 mph winds on Monday with a -10F high I was glad I had decided not to brew the night before :p
    NiceFly and inchrisin like this.
  5. I also have to stop for a couple months :(

    We tried a month or two ago, it was 0-5F and was damn cold. Everything sucked especially the cleaning.
  6. inchrisin

    inchrisin Savant (480) Indiana Sep 25, 2008

    When it's all said and done it's probably an extra buck or two of propane. I agree that cleanup would be a bitch if the water hose doesn't freeze up.
  7. rocdoc1

    rocdoc1 Savant (450) New Mexico Jan 13, 2006

    Having had no real winter this year I can't say I agree. I actually prefer brewing this time of year before the moths, skeeters and other obnoxious flying critters come out. Also, brewing in my 115F garage in the spring and summer is pretty miserable.
  8. yinzer

    yinzer Savant (395) Pennsylvania Nov 24, 2006

    After all the hype, Blichmann pays off. Well I might have to brew four times a day for three months, but it is a good burner.
  9. i brew in my apartment now, my kettle fits over all 4 gas burners so i am good to go all year round
  10. koopa

    koopa Champion (835) New Jersey Apr 20, 2008

    I'm still brewing and just dealing with the additional time it takes to get my runnings to a boil. I'd rather take time off in the dead of summer than the dead of winter personally.
  11. so basically we are saying not to pop a window open and brew with a propane burner in the basement?...not that i have been doing that or anything
  12. mnstorm99

    mnstorm99 Advocate (535) Minnesota May 11, 2007

    Boil on my deck, it is nice and cozy in the kitchen. What I lose in boil efficiency, I gain in cooling efficiency. I love brewing this time of the year and my cellar is a nice 55* for fermenting. With that said, I think -10* is my coldest brew day to this point, and that one was tough.
  13. memory

    memory Savant (290) Pennsylvania Oct 2, 2005

    Agree. Only time to do lagers for me. Brewed a couple batches 2 days ago in the garage. Fine until the sun went down and had to deal with ice. Salt to the rescue. Of course the neighbors think i'm nuts.
  14. jlordi12

    jlordi12 Advocate (560) Massachusetts Jun 8, 2011 Verified

    I don't brew outside but I'd have to keep my heat relatively high while at work to keep the yeast happy. Does anyone know of an ale yeast that performs well at lower temps?
  15. pweis909

    pweis909 Champion (750) Wisconsin Aug 13, 2005 Verified

    Since I brew on the stove top, winter weather does not slow me down. However, my productivity is typically lower in the winter because of job and family considerations that are less taxing in the summer, when I can brew 2-3x more frequently. This winter I managed to do a couple extract and a couple all-grain batches, which is probably as much winter brewing as I've ever been able to do. My window of opportunity for another batch won't open until May, I think.
  16. I usually brew year round. Will do so this Saturday. My biggest problem isn't the snow and cold weather, its the rain from spring-fall that I have to deal with. It seems to rain every time I get a chance to brew.
  17. MMAJYK

    MMAJYK Savant (465) Georgia Jun 26, 2007

    I brewed on Sunday where it was in the 20s and windy as hell here. It took a while to get my boil going and get my strike water and sparge water up to temp, but it was awesome chilling 11 gallons of wort down to 64 degrees in 25 mins. You gotta take the good with the bad, I guess. Other than my face being windburnt and my lips being so chapped they bleed, it was a good brewday. :)
    Beerontwowheels likes this.
  18. ipas-for-life

    ipas-for-life Savant (460) Virginia Feb 28, 2012 Verified

    I've been brewing as long as the wind is low and the temp is around 40. Luckily in Virginia the weather isn't that bad. I just keep an eye on the 10 day forecast if a weekend looks promising I will get everything ready to go. I've been able to brew 5 batches since the start of December. As others have said not having to deal with bugs and long chilling times is a huge plus.
  19. premierpro

    premierpro Savant (350) Michigan Mar 21, 2009

    I brew in my garage so I do not have to deal with the wind or cold. It gets too hot where I have to open the door. I have the opposite problem. I don't like brewing in the heat!
    Naugled likes this.
  20. kjyost

    kjyost Champion (775) Manitoba (Canada) May 4, 2008 Verified

    I ferment 1056 in the 60F range...
  21. NiceFly

    NiceFly Savant (395) Tajikistan Dec 22, 2011

    To cold to brew is like being too drunk to fuck. Has to be some pretty bad circumstances.
  22. pointyskull

    pointyskull Savant (285) Illinois Mar 17, 2010 Verified

    Not a big fan of the cold (which is problematic as I live in Chicago).
    I thinking of adopting a minimum-of-2-batches-per-month-from-March-to-October brewing schedule.

    That would give a minimum of 16 batches for the year, which would be plenty.
  23. rocdoc1

    rocdoc1 Savant (450) New Mexico Jan 13, 2006

    I've brewed lager like beers with Nottingham at 57F internal temp.
  24. Toughen up!
  25. Pegli

    Pegli Savant (315) Rhode Island Aug 30, 2006

    I brew all-grain out in the open on a picnic table so I've been trying to hold out for a weekend that's at least in the 40's and not blizzarding...and my hose bib is frozen which means the back-breaking bathtub bucket brigade. Last brewday was Dec. 26th and rations are getting low...I NEED to brew something within the next few weeks.
  26. One of the many things I love about living in Colorado is the complete lack of consistent temperatures. It's not unusual to hit 60*F in the dead of winter. I have brewed in the cold more than a few times, but nothing like what you guys are talking about.

    The key to brewing in the cold, we've found, is heating up a pot of water for cleaning.
  27. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Champion (810) Texas May 21, 2010

    It's usually too warm here, not too cold. I'm about to create some sort of pre-chiller chiller system because the tap water is so warm. It's in the high sixties now and come summer will likely be in the high seventies. I will brave the heat to brew but will likely be brewing later in the day when the brewing area is shaded once it gets hot.
  28. billandsuz

    billandsuz Savant (460) New York Sep 1, 2004

    living in Upstate NYmeans you have to adjust to the weather. it's not like the weather will accomodate your schedule. brewing around here means you're going to need to deal with bad weather because the weather is almost always bad. pretty much the worst (don't get us started!)

    i brew on the deck and have done some tundra beers. i build a makeshift wind block and place the kettle as close as safely possible to the sliding door. the rate of evaporation is significant, and it can be nearly impossible to see the boil through all the steam. the propane tank ices up very quickly so it needs to be shaken every few minutes. the flame can blow out despite your best efforts. everything short of the boil must be done inside. waiting for hot break and the danger of boilover to stop feels like eternity. your hat/gloves/coat go on and off a few dozen times.

    -10 can be done. it ain't fun. you really only need to experience a windy -20 day once in your life. but im going to brew my damn beer today because im a homebrewer and i drink beer.
  29. cosco

    cosco Aficionado (130) Michigan Dec 5, 2007

    I don't let the weather alter my brewing schedule. I set up in the garage and, this time of year, open the garage door about 6 inches just to vent any propane fumes. Keeps the wind and snow out. I just fire up a space heater if necessary.
    warchez likes this.
  30. warchez

    warchez Savant (300) Massachusetts Oct 19, 2004

    I still brew in the 20F weather, but I don't bother pulling out the immersion chiller. I just don't want to deal with being sure I get all the water out of the chiller and my hose before putting it away. So I just use the no chill method, adjust my hop additions accordingly and go for it. I seems to work for me.
  31. pweis909

    pweis909 Champion (750) Wisconsin Aug 13, 2005 Verified

    Here's a problem I do have with winter brewing: my compost bin is full of spent grains. No biological activity to speak of in there right now.
    warchez and kjyost like this.
  32. skivtjerry

    skivtjerry Advocate (595) Vermont Mar 10, 2006

    I brewed Sunday in 8F weather with 45mph wind. It wasn't that bad. And no bugs!
    billandsuz, mountsnow1010 and NiceFly like this.
  33. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Champion (810) Texas May 21, 2010

    Bugs are a problem here in TX, especially bees, which LOVE beer and love wort even more. :rolleyes:

    I have a specially cut lid that goes on and wraps around the top of the wort chiller to help keep them out.
  34. koopa

    koopa Champion (835) New Jersey Apr 20, 2008

    I'll pass...
  35. mrjimcat

    mrjimcat Savant (290) New York Nov 22, 2002

    This Friday, been watching the forecast, high of 41, partly cloudy with a light and variable wind.....and I happen to be off Friday too. This should feel like summer.
  36. skivtjerry

    skivtjerry Advocate (595) Vermont Mar 10, 2006

    The freezing will break down cell walls and give the grain a head start come spring. If you have some warm spells and get freeze-thaw cycles, even better.
  37. skivtjerry

    skivtjerry Advocate (595) Vermont Mar 10, 2006

    I did have to tack up 2 pieces of plywood to keep the evil wind off my burners... took all of 10 minutes (including selecting the right pieces of scrap wood). And I cheated a little - we have a greenhouse I can duck into when it gets chilly. Wort chilling happens fast:)
  38. telejunkie

    telejunkie Savant (400) Vermont Sep 14, 2007

    winter time has never been brewing time for me...i focus on two things during winter skiing & the next time it will snow. After a skis are put away for the season, then it's time to brew again. By the looks of it right now, that may be at least another month or so before firing up the hlt.
    edit: and i don't like winter brewing much either...
  39. pweis909

    pweis909 Champion (750) Wisconsin Aug 13, 2005 Verified

    Yep. But I may have to start stockpiling coffee grounds and orange peels until that time comes.
  40. skivtjerry

    skivtjerry Advocate (595) Vermont Mar 10, 2006

    Everyone please note - this guy suffers an average high of 60F in the 'winter', with near constant sunshine. He will pay for this in about 3 months when things warm up:D
    NiceFly likes this.