Author Topic: All grain brewing in the winter  (Read 4577 times)

Offline gymrat

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All grain brewing in the winter
« on: November 03, 2011, 07:03:40 AM »
I did a search on this before asking on the forum. Nothing came up so if I am rehashing an old thread please let me know and point me to it.

This will be my first winter all grain brewing. I did extracts the last two winters. My concern is the need to steep my grains in the cold, and how to cool my wort without a chiller (the garden hose will be put away).

I have a small unattached garage that I will be using for my brewery. I use a Rubbermaid 10 gallon cooler for a mash tun. Will that maintain the temperatures I need for an hour on a cold day? And for cooling the wort, should I just put the lid on my kettle and let it sit in the cold? Maybe put it outside to get the wind to blow on it? Stir it frequently?

Would I be better off switching back to extract brewing until the weather warms up?

I am open to advice and suggestions.
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Topeka, KS

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Re: All grain brewing in the winter
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2011, 07:21:17 AM »
The grains will barely notice being mashed in the cold. Those coolers are well insulated.

For chilling, why don't you just get the garden hose out? The water will be nice and cold, making chilling a breeze.  Otherwise - during the summer I fill my HLT with water and ice and run that through the chiller. Once at an event without running water, I did the same and used a small pump to pump icewater through the chiller and back into the ice.
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Offline gymrat

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Re: All grain brewing in the winter
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2011, 07:26:30 AM »
I can't use my garden hose in the winter. When the temperatures really drop there is a danger of bursting pipes if I don't shut my outside spigots off. What does the acronym HLT stand for?
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Offline bo

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Re: All grain brewing in the winter
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2011, 07:28:13 AM »
I can't use my garden hose in the winter. When the temperatures really drop there is a danger of bursting pipes if I don't shut my outside spigots off. What does the acronym HLT stand for?

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Re: All grain brewing in the winter
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2011, 07:40:21 AM »
I can't use my garden hose in the winter. When the temperatures really drop there is a danger of bursting pipes if I don't shut my outside spigots off. What does the acronym HLT stand for?

Understandable. I have a freeze-proof outdoor faucet that I connect my hose to for brewing. Then disconnect and drain it when I'm done.

Putting it in a tub of cold water and stiring will cool it relatively quickly. Fill the tub well before brewing and the water will be nice and cold.
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Offline tom

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Re: All grain brewing in the winter
« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2011, 09:54:59 AM »
I can't use my garden hose in the winter. When the temperatures really drop there is a danger of bursting pipes if I don't shut my outside spigots off. What does the acronym HLT stand for?
Understandable. I have a freeze-proof outdoor faucet that I connect my hose to for brewing. Then disconnect and drain it when I'm done.
+1.  I bring the hose inside the night before brewday.  Then I empty it and turn off the spigots again.
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Offline beersk

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Re: All grain brewing in the winter
« Reply #6 on: November 03, 2011, 11:31:55 AM »
Bring your kettle inside and chill at the kitchen sink.  I've done that before.  That or do partial mash stovetop brews and chill in an ice bath.  You can still make top notch beers using that method.
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Offline Delo

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Re: All grain brewing in the winter
« Reply #7 on: November 03, 2011, 12:08:01 PM »
I can't use my garden hose in the winter. When the temperatures really drop there is a danger of bursting pipes if I don't shut my outside spigots off. What does the acronym HLT stand for?

Understandable. I have a freeze-proof outdoor faucet that I connect my hose to for brewing. Then disconnect and drain it when I'm done.

Putting it in a tub of cold water and stiring will cool it relatively quickly. Fill the tub well before brewing and the water will be nice and cold.

+1 I have a small garden hose I keep with my brewing equipment for the same type of setup. Its a lot easier than lugging a full length hose around. My outdoor faucet isnt freeze-proof so I set everything up and turn the water on/off from the shutoff valve in our basement. Then I break everything down and bring it inside.  I've tried cooling down a 5 gallon batch in a snow bank in cold weather with no chiller. It takes a lot longer to cool than one would think. It works for me but Im sure our winters in NJ probably arent as cold as where you are. 

Offline Kit B

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Re: All grain brewing in the winter
« Reply #8 on: November 03, 2011, 12:57:28 PM »
I mash in the house.
Boil in the garage.
Chill with a garden hose discharging into my kitchen sink, rather than my lawn or driveway.

I really hope I can finish my basement brewery, before winter hits.
It gets f-ing cold, in Minnesota.
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Offline Slowbrew

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Re: All grain brewing in the winter
« Reply #9 on: November 03, 2011, 01:05:51 PM »
I mash in the house.
Boil in the garage.
Chill with a garden hose discharging into my kitchen sink, rather than my lawn or driveway.

I really hope I can finish my basement brewery, before winter hits.
It gets f-ing cold, in Minnesota.


Pretty much the same for me.

I mash in my basement shop (walk-out)
Boil on the concrete slab outside
Chill in our old laundry room

It works like a champ.  Add in the remote thermometer and I only go outside to light the burner and move water in or out.

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Re: All grain brewing in the winter
« Reply #10 on: November 03, 2011, 01:16:10 PM »
I ran out of beer last winter, so I had to do a partial boil on the stove and top off with ice to chill/dilute. I don't think there are any major benefits to a full boil for an average-gravity beer.
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: All grain brewing in the winter
« Reply #11 on: November 03, 2011, 03:03:47 PM »
I would probably use water from a sink.  You can get a hose adapter and run the hose out a window to wherever you are brewing.  Then stuff a towel around it to seal up the cracks.  And when you're done, drain the hose and put it away.

Sean makes a good point about doing a partial boil inside and calling it good, that's another way you can go.  Or just brew a ton now while it isn't minus eleventy outside, and spend those cold winter days sipping homebrew and working on recipes.
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Offline gymrat

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Re: All grain brewing in the winter
« Reply #12 on: November 03, 2011, 03:44:36 PM »
How do you do a partial boil with an all grain brew? Do you not sparge?
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Re: All grain brewing in the winter
« Reply #13 on: November 03, 2011, 03:46:59 PM »
How do you do a partial boil with an all grain brew? Do you not sparge?

Obviously it depends to some extent on the boil volume, but for the most part you'd have to do a no-sparge.
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Offline euge

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Re: All grain brewing in the winter
« Reply #14 on: November 03, 2011, 11:50:50 PM »
I think Tom's suggestion is elegant and simple. And easily doable.

In the summer I boil on the stove and run the hoses in from outside to the IC and drain back outside through the sprinkler. Kinda the reverse of what he is saying.

As far as partial and short boils go I am a big supporter of that. Usually my longest hop addition is 45 minutes and I don't mind topping up either.

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