Cold Weather Brewing

12 Tips to Keep You and Your Honey Blonde Warm this Winter

Cooped up inside this winter?    Keep busy (and buzzed) by brewing your own beer and wine!

Here's some helpful hints for cold weather brewing.

  1. Style is Important: Brew a Lager.  Take advantage of the cooler temperatures to brew a cold fermenting beer.  Lager yeasts work better at an average temp of 45-60 F. (Ales require 60-75 F.)
  2. Find the Right Spot:  Location, Location, Location. Find the right place to brew. Check various places in your home with a thermometer over a couple of days and find the average temperature, and/or degree of temperature fluctuation. *Hint: Check out our Max/Min Thermometers which record the high and low temperature readings in your fermentation zone.
  3. Make it Big:  Brew a strong beer and the added alcohol will keep you warm. Barleywines, imperial stouts and strong Belgian beers are all excellent for those long winter months.  Make sure you brew it soon though, since many of these brews take a couple of months to be palatable, and sometimes even up to a couple of years to reach their optimum flavor.
  4. Protect it:  Use a carboy shield to insulate your carboy.  This fits snugly around 5 and 6 gallon carboys, conserving heat, protecting your brew from the harmful effects of light, and minimizing accidental damage from ‘bumping’ something else.
  5. Box it up:  Wrap a blanket around your fermenter and keep it in a box.  This will help to insulate your wort and minimize temperature fluctuations.  While the outside air changes temperature quickly, your insulated fermenter stays warmer.
  6. Keep it up:  Keep your fermenter off the basement floor.  Avoid direct contact with the cold cement which is usually many degrees below ambient room temperature.
  7. Wrap it up:  Get a Brew Belt. This wraps around your fermenter to provide a constant heat source.  The temperature is not regulated, so you’ll have to pay attention to the temperature and unplug it if the brew gets too warm.
  8. Warm the Bottom:  Try a heating pad underneath your fermenter.  Hot air rises. And the heat will radiate up through your brew.  Take care not to heat the fermenter too much.  Since most of these are unregulated, you’ll have to keep an eye on the temperature.
  9. Light it up: Another way to warm up your vessels during the cooler months is with a 100 watt light bulb.  Place the bulb approx 12 inches for your batch to warm up the temperature by as much as 8-10 degrees F.  Back the bulb away, or use a lower wattage to affect less of a temperature increase. Be sure to cover your carboy with a towel or bag to protect it from the potentially harmfull effect of direct light.  
  10. Maintain Control:  Try a fridge thermostat.  For excellent temperature control, put your fermenter in a closed space (like an old fridge, or even an insulated box) and plug your lamp into the thermostat.  This will turn the bulb on and off, allowing you to set the desired temperature.  Some people get real fancy with this and construct an insulated room or box, and use a regulated space heater for optimum temperature control.
  11. Try a Warm Bath:  Put your fermenter into a larger bucket (or aquarium).  Fill the outside bucket with water, and use an aquarium heater (available at most pet supply stores) to heat (and possibly regulate the temperature of) the water.
  12. A.H.H.H. :  Always have home-brew handy.  This one’s really a no-brainer, but it’s also a very important element in maintaining your sanity during the brew process.  Plus, if you have a basement full of Home-Brew, you wont have to run out in the middle of a blizzard to stock up on this all-important beverage.

                                  

Remember:  When you brew your own brew, it warms you twice!

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