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-   -   Lagering in snow? (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f13/lagering-snow-282404/)

mojo_wire 11-21-2011 01:57 AM

Lagering in snow?
Planning ahead for the depths of winter, when I like to do a pilsner. it just occurred to me: what about lagering by burying the secondary in a snow bank? I would split the batch and only bury a 2.5 gallon better bottle, and I imagine I would seal the top and place the carboy in a bag. Get it out there in early February and dig it up in mid-march?

I figure if the BB cracks, it's only half a batch.

Is this something anyone has tried?

postalbunny 11-21-2011 03:01 AM

May want to rig up a better blow-off tube style airlock. Being outside, I'd be afraid the water would evap or bugs would crawl in some how.

Rockape66 11-21-2011 11:10 AM

The first lager that I've read about (Oktoberfest) was brewed in early spring, and then placed in the icehouse where ice was stored for the summer. The snowbank method will probably work as long as enough snow is piled around the fermenter to insulate it from actually freezing. Let us know haow it turns out.

Airborneguy 11-21-2011 12:25 PM

How consistent will the temperature be? Does your snow stick around for weeks once it falls? If so, it's probably doable. If the temperature goes below 32 for extended periods, you'll probably have issues. How did you plan on doing the initial fermentation at around 50?

Sounds like a cool experiment, I would just have a few concerns to figure out first.

mojo_wire 11-21-2011 02:45 PM

I should have plenty of snow, I'm in SE Wisconsin. I figure I'll bury the carboy within snowblower range of my driveway, so after I bury it the first time I would be throwing more snow on top with each subsequent snowfall. There is the risk of temperatures getting too low after I first bury it under 1-2 feet of snow, but after a while there could easily be 6 feet on it. I think I'll just totally seal the carboy and take my chances on not having an airlock. Once the liquid in an airlock freezes, it's the same thing anyway.

Fermentation temps aren't a problem. I ferment in my passively cooled wine cellar. It's always 48-51 degrees in winter and tops out at 62 in the summer.

upperNY01brewer 11-21-2011 03:06 PM

I was thinking of the same method myself, Im in upstate NY and once we have the snow falling its here for good till near the end of March if we are lucky. Ive been wanting to do a lager for sometime now and this is probably my best option at this time.

Revvy 11-21-2011 03:18 PM

You'll need to protect it from light and from freezing solid. I'm working on something for this winter on a sunporch.

A simple suggestion is just a brute garbage can like this that can hold and cover the carboy.


Water in the bottom will help to act like an insulator, but you'll need to make sure it doesn't freeze solid, so one idea is an aquarium heater.

Another option would be putting the carboy in a box in there and placing christmas rope lights inside (the box would protect the beer from the light) and the rope lights would give off heat. You could hook it up to a timer to go off for a few minutes every few hours to keep it warm.

lou2row 11-21-2011 04:01 PM

Put a pole in the ground next to it so you can find it if necessary and so no one plows your drive and shoves the snowout into your yard.
Get a cheap wired thermometer that you could check throughout the winter to see how it is staying. You could put the readout up on the post. Then if it gets too cold, kick on Revvy's lights. I also like the trash can idea to keep it cleaner.

kpr121 11-21-2011 04:13 PM

Secondary in a corny keg. That way its all sealed up and basically unbreakable.

Im interested in this idea and if we get a couple weeks of heavy snowfall this year in my area I may try it if only for the fact that I can name the brew "Snowbank Lager"

olllllo 11-21-2011 05:01 PM

You should put it in a container that creates airspace around it. Keep it dry. DO NOT buffer the temperature with water. Think igloo. If there is enough snow pack on it, it will remain at 32. Snow insulates from below freezing temps as well as keeping it cold.

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