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Old 10-03-2011, 06:38 PM   #1
iceroadbrew
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Default Suggestions for extreme cold brewing newb

Hi everyone

Been reading the forums quite abit and am amazed by the welcoming nature and mass knowledge you good people possess. I'm a green horn and have been reading up for a while on brewing (same old story!). I have made the leap and bought some gear for all grain. I like to dive into things head dirt and am very interested in all grain so I said screw it I'm going to buy some gear. I have carboys, plate chiller, brew kettle, siphons, pales, sanitizer, sp 10 burner, a couple of kegs I'm going to convert, and some other stuff.

My concern is I will be Brewing on a ground level suite and in Yellowknife the winter is on average -20 to -30 Celcius. At first I was thinking I could get away with cracking a window and door while boiling the wort but after reading many posts about the hazards of doing so I'm thinking that's not the greatest idea with a propane turkey fryer.

I have worked, played and lived in extreme cold my whole life so I think I can hack brewing outside but while this comprimise the tasty goodness of the end product and will the sp 10 have enough jam to pull off the boil (5 or 10 gallons) in under one and a half two hours? And because I'm brewing in such a cold climate will that much more water be lost in steam and such? Any suggestions would be very much appreciated. Thanks guys!

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Old 10-03-2011, 07:36 PM   #2
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I brew in the winter (not nearly as cold as where you are).

I heat my strike water on the stove and mash indoors. I put my burner right outside the sliding doors by the kitchen on the deck and start the sparge water. Makes for fast hops additions too. Sometimes I add a windbreak if needed. I can manage to carry the BK to the kitchen sink where I hook up the wort chiller.

Beats sitting in a cold garage and dealing with a frozen water hose.

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Old 10-03-2011, 07:49 PM   #3
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I have tried brewing outdoors in 0° F. It sucks; I used to work outdoors, but as I get older I have become a wimp. I now brew inside in the winter; I use a 1500W heatstick to assist my stove. Works great!

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Old 10-03-2011, 07:53 PM   #4
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You might have to insulate the top of the pot, using some fireretardent guards. That would be your best bet. But really it's just a try and see thing. There are posts on the boards of people insulating their pots, check some out.

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Old 10-03-2011, 08:05 PM   #5
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I've brewed in -20C weather once (with windchill, it was colder than this by a good margin). My crappy 76k BTU Canadian Tire burner managed to get the 6 gallons to boil without a hitch, it just took longer than normal. I do heat my strike water and I do mash inside though.

Remember that wort doesn't lose or gain heat nearly as fast as the ambiant air so the fact that it is very cold outside is of little importance when you already have pipping hot mash and sparge water to work with. I wouldn't recommend trying to mash outside though.

Regarding evaporation, I do see an increase since winters are usually dryer compared to fall/summer months. Less moisture in the air = more evaporation. Take careful volume measurements the first time you go at it and you'll be able to ballpark your evaporation rate for the next brews (provided you use the same equipment, don't boilover and use the burner at roughly the same regulator level).

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Old 10-03-2011, 08:12 PM   #6
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I first started brewing all-grain in the cold dead of southern Alberta winters. In my case, I would be brewing in my garage, but the door was still open, and I was still huddled around the boil kettle with gloves on as it would still be about -25C outside. I did everything in the garage including mashing. In general, the conversion of starches can happen in as little as 10 minutes, the fact that the temp inside the tun dropped a few degrees wasn't a big deal. In the end, I was still kicking out fantastic beers for all to enjoy...

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Old 10-03-2011, 08:23 PM   #7
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You could always brew indoors if you do everything electric. That would be what I would do it if were that could here in the winter. There is importance in having your hands free when brewing. Brewing in cold like that is going to require gloves and I could see them interfering. Although it might just mean changing things to acvomodate for the gloves but electric inside is just easier. I am considering electric to stay out of the cold and the coldest it gets here is 10*F. I won't brew below 25 though.

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Old 10-03-2011, 08:29 PM   #8
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You really gotta love beer to brew in those conditions. I'm from Minnesota, which I suppose to someone from Yellowknife, might as well be Kansas. As much as I like winter, I would lose the love of this hobby if it was -25C on brew day.

Is there any all electric system that would allow you to mash and boil inside? I would at least want to mash inside. Boiling I guess could be done outside as you would just have to watch for boil overs every so often. But I would still use either a stove or some other electric setup if possible. At least then the heat you are using can also heat your house. Although you do have the humidity problem to deal with.

-25 does make for some pretty efficient wort chilling though?

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Old 10-03-2011, 08:35 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by solbes View Post
Is there any all electric system that would allow you to mash and boil inside? I would at least want to mash inside. Boiling I guess could be done outside as you would just have to watch for boil overs every so often. But I would still use either a stove or some other electric setup if possible. At least then the heat you are using can also heat your house. Although you do have the humidity problem to deal with.
1) Heat mash water on stove
2) Mash in cooler
3) While mash is converting, heat sparge water on stove.
4) Sparge and collect in kettle.
5) Go boil outside.

No condensation since nothing is boiling inside. You do need to have a stove capable of heating around 18-20L of water at once, but if my glass stove top can, pretty much any stove can. That's for 19L (5 gallons) though. 10 gallons complicate things further because the kitchen stove most assuredly cannot be used to heat the water all at once.

Brewing outside in the cold isn't any worse than skiing or fishing in winter (two activities where you sit and do nothing for long stretches of time). Just do jumping jacks if you are getting cold. Or get inside.
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Old 10-04-2011, 01:48 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by solbes
Is there any all electric system that would allow you to mash and boil inside? I would at least want to mash inside. Boiling I guess could be done outside as you would just have to watch for boil overs every so often. But I would still use either a stove or some other electric setup if possible. At least then the heat you are using can also heat your house. Although you do have the humidity problem to deal with.
1) Heat mash water on stove
2) Mash in cooler
3) While mash is converting, heat sparge water on stove.
4) Sparge and collect in kettle.
5) Go boil outside.

No condensation since nothing is boiling inside. You do need to have a stove capable of heating around 18-20L of water at once, but if my glass stove top can, pretty much any stove can. That's for 19L (5 gallons) though. 10 gallons complicate things further because the kitchen stove most assuredly cannot be used to heat the water all at once.

Brewing outside in the cold isn't any worse than skiing or fishing in winter (two activities where you sit and do nothing for long stretches of time). Just do jumping jacks if you are getting cold. Or get inside.


Haha. Thanks to all of you! I knew you guys were good stuff from all the threads I've been reading but to get all these great responses the same day is wicked! I like the above post I will definitely try this method out for the fateful first brew. Which may have to wait a few weeks as I am waiting for gear and I want to read palmers book ( which is also in the mail lol) and need to figure out what type of ingredients for my first brew (thinking a sleemanish cream ale or some sort of lager any suggestions?). I realize mashing outside is out of the question and have the whole ground level suite of a friends just to brew in so evreything else can be done inside. My plan is to try and brew and learn as much as I can and eventually brew some kick ass beer. If this happens It will justify making a electric setup cause that is in no way cheap!! The main dream (cause you gotta have one!). Is to be our only microbrewery up here. I apologize if this post is scattered typing it up on the phone because I'm at camp! thanks again!

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