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Old 12-06-2007, 05:40 PM   #1
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Default Freezing fermentations

I tried the ol' search function, but ther's just too much random data to narrow it down to a reasonable framework.

Anywho, I don't have the refrigeration to make a proper lager, nor am I likely to get it anytime soon. So, with the onset of winter, I was considering doing the ferments in the garage. Unfortunately, the lack of actual climate control means I'll run risks. So, will freezing, or slightly less likely, warming to near 60, be likely to kill a lager yeast?

I'm guessing the "heat" won't kill it, actually, but might freak out the ferment in some fashion. It's the freezing that worries me. Should I just abandon these foolish thoughts and beg my brother in law for a few cubic feet in his extra fridge? Any thoughts?

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Old 12-06-2007, 05:50 PM   #2
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You could heat the carboy with something like this to keep it from freezing. I think they work best with a temp controller, though.

There are other brands and models out there, this is just an example.

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Old 12-06-2007, 06:50 PM   #3
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Your yeast won't die if it gets up to 60F. Shoot, it wouldn't die if it got up to 85F, but you wouldn't wind up with the lager you were looking for.

Temperature variations are your biggest problem here. Yeast are happy when temperatures stay fairly constant, and they are unhappy when it doesn't. Unhappy yeast that are actively fermenting tend to make all sorts of things you don't want in a lager, such as diacetyl, phenols, and acetadehyde.

If your garage temperature varies more than about eight degrees over the course of a day, it might not work so well as a fermentation spot. Really, you can probably get away with a larger variation if you insulate your fermenter. However, I would try and work something out with your brother-in-law. I mean, you're making beer. I'm sure he's heard of the stuff, and he might be interested.


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Old 12-06-2007, 11:25 PM   #4
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i've done 2 lagers so far and have used a cooler filled with water and frozen h2o bottles. kept a relative 50ish temp. i do have a kegerator though for the actual lagering portion though

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Old 12-07-2007, 01:42 AM   #5
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I have a couple lagers going in my garage right now. I just insulated them well to help keep the temperature from fluxuating too much. The first one turned out great and the second one tasted great when I drew a sample off to check the gravity. I say give it a shot.

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Old 12-07-2007, 01:56 AM   #6
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If I may be so dense, I'm still wondering...Will a freeze kill yeast?

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Old 12-07-2007, 01:58 AM   #7
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A freeze may. Refrigerator cold, no. But freeze? maybe to probably depending on how cold.

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Old 12-07-2007, 03:48 AM   #8
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Yeast propagators freeze yeast for long term storage, so no freezing temps won't kill yeast.
If liquid in a yeast solution freezes, it can crystallize and penetrate the yeast' cell walls. This will kill the yeast, as well as the possibility of damaging your secondary by expansion.
Temperature fluctuation can be limited by bathing the vessel in liquid, preferably glycol (nontoxic antifreeze) or salt water to prevent IT from freezing. Beer freezes at lower temps than pure water, but I would not leave it out there during a long sustained freeze without a small heat source (incandescent bulb in a cardboard box? [gfci necessary near water]).

If you attempt to lager at too warm of temps, you'll just get "steam beer"!

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Old 12-07-2007, 04:19 AM   #9
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It seems to me that if you put a glass carboy in salt water in freezing temperatures it would be a terrible idea. Wouldn't it work that same way an ice cream machine works. Use ice and salt to lower the freezing temperature. Surrounding the carboy in something that has a lower freezing point wouldnt help much after it transfered its cold temperature to the carboy. It would help but not for too long. But I guess thats only if its as cold as it is here. (snowing currently just a bit) Im just to lazy to click back and see how cold of temp were talking about.

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Old 12-07-2007, 04:20 AM   #10
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It seems to me that if you put a glass carboy in salt water in freezing temperatures it would be a terrible idea. Wouldn't it work that same way an ice cream machine works. Use ice and salt to lower the freezing temperature. Surrounding the carboy in something that has a lower freezing point wouldnt help much after it transfered its cold temperature to the carboy freezing it. It would help but not for too long. But I guess thats only if its as cold as it is here. (snowing currently just a bit) Im just to lazy to click back and see how cold of temp were talking about.

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