As winter is approaching, the weather here in northwestern NJ has already turned cold. Brewing beer outdoors means we are dependent on fair weather. That means no precipitation or blustery wind gusts. We can deal with the cold. The frigid temperatures don’t have to stop the carboys from being filled, it just creates a new set of challenges that can be overcome. Don’t let the thought of winter discourage you. Just as you snowshoe, ski, and snowboard being prepared will always get you through the toughest tasks. I made a Pale Ale last week on a day the temps hovered below freezing. It worked out great and I’m happy I did it.
Watching the weather report is the first step. Pick the right day where the temps will be within reason with light to no wind. Even if the day starts out below 32 F a lot of times the sun comes out and it warms up a bit.
As in every batch, the night before gather all your equipment and measure out the water needed to have them ready for the morning. This time of year it’s a good idea the drain the garden hose and keep it in the garage so it’s not frozen when you need it. That way in the morning you hook it up when you’re ready to go. If it’s really cold you’ll have to set the nozzle to let the water run slowly to prevent it from freezing. I remember one year it read 18F on the speedometer and I had to turn up the trickle because it was making an icicle that clogged the flow.
There are ways to cheat Mother Nature and it’s called Outdoor/Indoor brewing. I don’t have a HERMES or RIMS set up so it’s “gorilla” (credit Jeff Levine) brewing here at Wildcat. Once I dough in with the mash tun cooler I bring it inside where it’s warmer so the rest temp doesn’t drop dramatically as it would do outdoors. I heat up the mash-out water on the kitchen stove, stir it in the tun then bring it back outside. Vorlauf then sparge right into the kettle for the boil. You can go inside to warm up, oh I mean to record your notes, weigh out the hops, or spoon out any additives.
It takes less time and water to chill the wort in the winter so keep an eye on the temperature. If the fermenter has been sitting outside for a while it too will be colder than usual. Make the proper adjustments.
By the time you pitch the yeast, it is later in the day and probably getting colder. Have some buckets of warm water for the cleaner and sanitizer. That will help out on the hands. You could use dishwashing gloves. A hot water hose outside would be a blessing for the cleanup.
Always remember safety is a priority. Freezing temps mean icy patios and deck stairs. Use caution and be aware! Have fun and please let me know how it worked out.

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