Those in colder climates, how do you brew?

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Those in colder climates, how do you brew?


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RyPA

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For those who do not use a dedicated electric setup...

Looking to get ideas on changing my cold weather brew days. Up until my latest brew, I brewed in the kitchen on a stove. For extract it's not really a problem, but all grain/full boils take forever. I have a propane burner which I used for the first time for my last batch, but now that we are in full winter mode, I am not looking forward to brewing outside.

For a batch I did back in September in the kitchen, I split the boil into 2 kettles and then combined them when the smaller kettle was close to boiling, but this is annoying and a little dangerous.

For my latest batch, I mashed in the kitchen, then brought 6.5 gallons down 2 sets of stairs (in 2 separate kettles) to my garage to boil on a kettle, which wasn't fun.

I am considering picking up a heating element to supplement my stove to brew indoors December to April. Brewhardware has those Hot Rod's for around $140, just need to install a GCFI in my kitchen. Also thinking of possibly going all electric later this year.

How do you guys brew that live in the northern US, or anywhere when it's cold? Does the cold air further delay boil time, making indoors ideal?
 
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Elric

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Before I got my brewzilla I did all of my batches on the stove in my second kitchen. I still use it for my smaller batches, but larger ones I use the brewzilla for ease of use. burners on my ceramic top were hot enough to get 10 gallon kettle up to a gentle boil for 5 gallon batches if I spaced it over the largest element and the smaller element above it, and for 3 gallon or smaller batches the 5.5 gallon kettle could boil decently just on the largest element.

sure the five gallon batches would maybe have an hour or two added to the brewday for extra time to boil, but I'd much rather that then deal with Canadian winters (I don't have a garage and even if I did, I would rather brew where I don't have to see my breath).
 
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RyPA

RyPA

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Yeah, I am not a cold person at all, so I try to avoid being outside at all costs during the winter.

The price of the brewzilla surprises me, how do you like it? I thought these setups went for closer to $1k
 
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RyPA

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Brew smaller batches. You should have no problem with 2-3 gallon all-grain batches on just about any stove top.
I've been thinking about this a lot lately, especially being I've been pretty disappointed in almost all of my brews so far as I am still learning. After my upcoming 5 gallon NEIPA batch, I think I am going to dial it back to 2-3 gallon batches, when I get it tasting good, then I'll brew 5 gallons. Should have did this a while ago.
 
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OneInTheHand

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Normally it’s the wind that causes issues with brewing outside. Heat loss and blowing the flame out. I’ve brewed in an outside stairwell, which really cut down on the breeze. If I had to brew on a flat area with limited cover I’d probably get a 55 gallon drum or steel trash can and make a wind screen to go around the burner and kettle.

However I’m tired of carrying equipment around and out of my basement so I’m going electric with a dedicated setup.
 

camonick

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Can’t help you much since I brew everything outside year round. I brew 3 or 5 gallon full volume no sparge BIAB on a homemade propane burner in an un-insulated outbuilding (machinery shed) on my farm. I live in rural northeast Colorado and have brewed in the teens before. Today’s high temperature was 27 °F and I brewed a Munich Dunkel in the afternoon. I don’t notice much of a difference in the time it takes to boil, but maintaining my mash temperature can be tough. I use reflectix, an old pillow and a moving blanket to insulate my mash and I usually only see 2-4° temp drops over and hour. I work outside for my week day job so I guess I really don’t pay much attention to the temp. Keeping my hoses for my wort chiller from freezing is my biggest challenge. I’ve been brewing more 3 gallon batches lately just to increase my variety and I get to brew a little more often.
 
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RyPA

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@camonick lol, you are dedicated to your beer, I wish I could tolerate the cold. I work indoors, and since covid, I roll out of bed and log in for my workday, which is nice.

Normally it’s the wind that causes issues with brewing outside. Heat loss and blowing the flame out. I’ve brewed in an outside stairwell, which really cut down on the breeze. If I had to brew on a flat area with limited cover I’d probably get a 55 gallon drum or steel trash can and make a wind screen to go around the burner and kettle.

However I’m tired of carrying equipment around and out of my basement so I’m going electric with a dedicated setup.
Yeah, for my one and only outside brew I had large plastic garbage cans surrounding my burner to block wind. I am looking into electric now, seems so much easier.
 

Elric

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Yeah, I am not a cold person at all, so I try to avoid being outside at all costs during the winter.

The price of the brewzilla surprises me, how do you like it? I thought these setups went for closer to $1k
I got the brewzilla in October when I saw inflation starting to cause the price to go up. I got it for $450 CDN which is like $355 American. Once I got it I started kicking myself for not buying it earlier. Between programmability (having mash water pre-heated when I wake up if doing an early morning brew), the pump (so convenient), and the freedom from the stove (I can place it right beside my sink and fill directly with it in place), it is an absolute steal.

would highly recommend if you want an affordable but feature filled entry into electric all in one brewing.
 
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RyPA

RyPA

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Yeah, I am kicking myself now for buying a 10 gallon kettle and building a mash tun, but I guess I can keep this equipment and on a nice spring/summer day, brew outside and stick to electric for crappy weather and winter. Even at it's price now $536 with all add-ons, it doesn't seem priced too badly, compared to the clawhammer at over $1k. But the clawhammer appears to come with a plate chiller and maybe more stuff, so maybe that's why.
 

Elric

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Ha, that's exactly what happened with me. I bought a 10 gallon kettle to make 5 gallon batches easier and then ended up buying the brewzilla four months later! Definately plan to keep my 5.5 gallon kettle, but debating if there is any need to keep the 10 gallon or whether I should just look to sell it.

each system has plusses and minuses, it comes down to what features you want, and how much you want to pay.

I think the clawhammers are pretty slick, and a huge plus with them is it isn't really an all in one, so it is easy to replace (or just plain leave out) individual components. But two big negatives for me center around the control box, it's huge and needs counter or wall space, two things in short supply in my brewing space, and the control box is all manual (and the pump and chiller both need their own counter or floor space too which is not the case with true all in ones). There is no timer function on it, so you can't set it up to start pre-warming your strike water at a particular time, if you want different temperatures through a mash schedule you have to make the changes at the appropriate times, etc. I think the programmability is the part that I am most impressed with on the brewzilla considering its price point.
 
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RyPA

RyPA

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Same here, pretty much, I recently switched to AG from extract and initially assumed my 5 gallon kettle would work...a few days before brew day in September I realized I was wrong so I had to spend $100 or so on a 10 gallon kettle, which isn't that bad I guess. I wouldn't mind switching between old school and electric; brewing a batch outside on the burner on a nice spring/summer day when the weather is nice would be cool.

I have bandwidth in my budget for either setup, but that doesn't mean I want to go for the most expensive/crazy option. I'm pretty much at a point where I need to brew a batch that I enjoy to keep me in the hobby. Once I can brew a batch that I enjoy, I'll splurge, as I don't foresee myself not drinking beer in the foreseeable future, and $20+ for a 4-pack at my local brewery isn't a good situation. The brewzilla may have everything I need, so there may not be a reason to go for the clawhammer. I need to do more research on all systems to figure out which is ideal. The price tag on the brewzilla is really tempting, but what doesn't it have that the clawhammer does to justify half the price tag.
 

Sam_92

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+1 for electric brewing.
+1 for small batches.
I love my electric brewing system. It runs on 120 volts so when the weather turns nice I just run it off the outlet on my porch and I get the best of both worlds! With batches that small the element is pretty comparable to propane but the level of control is so much better, I haven't even come close to a boil over with this system.

The down side is that if I wanted to do a five gallon batch it would take forever to get to boiling but still I would be inside warm, reading HBT, and sipping a cold homebrew rather than huddling over a propane burner, shaking the tank to keep it flowing while my teeth chatter out
 

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Stovetop, we have minus 30c here today so outdoors brewing is a no go.
Next summer when we switch out the pellets boiler for a ground heat unit, I'm gonna make the boiler room in the basement into a brewing room.
 
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madscientist451

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For a batch I did back in September in the kitchen, I split the boil into 2 kettles and then combined them when the smaller kettle was close to boiling, but this is annoying and a little dangerous.

I am considering picking up a heating element to supplement my stove to brew indoors December to April. Brewhardware has those Hot Rod's for around $140

What's wrong with brewing a 5 gallon batch in 2 pots? I'd rather do that than use a hot rod. You'll have to adjust your total water used since you'll have more evaporation with 2 pots boiling. I guess you're doing BIAB? Mash in pot #1, when its done, pull the bag and dunk sparge in pot #2.
Not included in your question, but I'd spend money on fermentation temperature control (chest freezer) and serving kegs (another chest freezer) before buying an electric brewing system, but maybe you already have those things.....
 

Dog House Brew

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I’m like @cominick and brew in the cold. I don’t have a shed or anything, I brew on a deck. I use a natural gas hookup and can brew up to 25g. Usually do 12g batches. Being outside I use a few different coolers for MT, 30g and a 15g. I really never get too cold because the burners pump out the heat, 20 tip jet burners on a 3 tier. I’d love to have an indoor electric setup. I have thought about buying an all in one electric. I brew a lot of beers that age well and friends that stop in for “free” pints. I always figured 5g -25g take the same time. 😎 My only issue is my hose run is long. I mounted a laundry sink in the deck. I just let the hose trickle to keep it from freezing. Good gloves and a set of bibs and your good to go!
 

MikeCo

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I brew on a 240v electric BIAB system in my garage in warmer months with the door open. In winter I brew on my gas stove top in the kitchen using a 10-gallon kettle, often with 3-gallon batches. The kitchen range has a burner that's rated at 15,000 BTUs that works fine with 5.5 gallon batches, but it takes a lot longer to heat to mash and boil temps than the electric system. The only reason I don't use the 240v system in colder months is that I haven't done anything to vent condensation.
 

Joggin

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I brew out in garage all year. Love the cold ground water temp cooling brew down fast. Only thing is below freezing watching out for creating ice. I look ahead for the warmest sunny day coming.
 
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RyPA

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What's wrong with brewing a 5 gallon batch in 2 pots? I'd rather do that than use a hot rod. You'll have to adjust your total water used since you'll have more evaporation with 2 pots boiling. I guess you're doing BIAB? Mash in pot #1, when its done, pull the bag and dunk sparge in pot #2.
Not included in your question, but I'd spend money on fermentation temperature control (chest freezer) and serving kegs (another chest freezer) before buying an electric brewing system, but maybe you already have those things.....
I thought for the batch in general and for hop levels/ratios to be correct it had to be boiled together in one batch, but could be wrong. I do not BIAB, I have a 10 gallon dedicated mash tun. I do not have fermentation temperature control yet, but it is on my list of equipment to buy...though right now, I am more worried about 'temperature control' of the air when I brew versus that for fermentation.

@Joggin I agree, I had the wort chilled in under 10 minutes in the batch I did a few weeks ago. It's now in the 20's near me, and I do not enjoy it at all. It has to be at a minimum in the high 60's for me to want to be outside having fun brewing beer.
 

Spartan1979

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Before I switched to electric, I would brew in the winter in the garage with propane. When the burner was going I'd leave the door about 1/4 of the way up. I would have to bring the garden hose into the garage the night before so it wouldn't freeze up.
 

RM-MN

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I thought for the batch in general and for hop levels/ratios to be correct it had to be boiled together in one batch, but could be wrong. I do not BIAB, I have a 10 gallon dedicated mash tun. I do not have fermentation temperature control yet, but it is on my list of equipment to buy...though right now, I am more worried about 'temperature control' of the air when I brew versus that for fermentation.
The biggest improvement in my beer came when I started controlling the fermentation temperature.
 

Kharnynb

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i used to brew 5 gallon batches on a stovetop kettle, it worked fine most of the time with the occasional overboil accident.
Switched to a 230v 2500W system after 1 year for ease of use, also those basic "teaurn" style systems are so cheap nowadays it's almost not worth going for a normal kettle.

in summer it's easy enough to run a cord outside to brew there as well.

edit. if you are planning to already spend on an element and a gfci, I would spend a bit more, for 3-400 you can switch to a good biab electrical system easily.
 
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RyPA

RyPA

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The biggest improvement in my beer came when I started controlling the fermentation temperature.
That's what I've been reading lately and I am going to try to find a chest freezer. I never paid it too much consideration but I think it's time.

I am wondering, this time of year my garage is 40F or less, I wonder if I can setup a chamber that I have only a heating element in, and to cool, use a fan to blow air in.
 

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I think it's all been covered, but - yeah, +1 for electric brewing. I love my Anvil 6.5, if I didn't own it I'd be down about 4 months every year with no brewing at all. But with it, I can brew indoors and continue to do so through the winter!
 

RM-MN

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That's what I've been reading lately and I am going to try to find a chest freezer. I never paid it too much consideration but I think it's time.

I am wondering, this time of year my garage is 40F or less, I wonder if I can setup a chamber that I have only a heating element in, and to cool, use a fan to blow air in.

You sure can and following this video you could have heating and cooling for way less than a chest freezer.

 

kevin58

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Spring/Summer/Fall brewing is done on a 15 gallon, 3 kettle electric HERMS in the garage. The garage is un-attached and un-heated and my water source is a hose from the side of the house. My garage brewery has always been shut down once the weather got too cold. (current daytime high temps are in the teens)

Winter brewing is done in my basement on an Anvil Foundry 10.5. Right now I am using it on 110 with an inline GFCI power cord from Home Depot until I get an electrician in to install a GFCI breaker on my dryer circuit so I can use 240.
 

MaxStout

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In Minnesota, so indoors from about November through March. BIAB in 8-gal Megapot on the elec stove top, with a 1500W bucket heater to bring to boil. Once it hits boil, the stove top alone will easily maintain a vigorous boil.
StovetopBrew.jpg
 

DosGatosBrewing

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Here in Northern KY (near Cincinnati), I brew 10 gallon batches outdoors all year long. I have a patio just outside the basement door, and I roll out my propane rig. I try to avoid the windiest days and days below 20 degrees F. For rainy days, I have an EZ Up canopy. I position my kettles so I can read the thermometer(s) through the door, and stay inside as much as practical.
The only problem I have is the water source for my immersion chiller. I have to wheel the garden hose cart inside for a day or two to make sure it isn't frozen.
 

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I brew on a 240v Grainfather G40 in the garage. Although I can fully monitor it indoors with their software and only run out there when it alerts me, I brewed this weekend when it was below freezing and ran into some issues. I have a frost free hot+cold hose hookup nearby, but forgot to pull in the hose reel so it was frozen solid. :) For chilling, I normally just run the waste water down the driveway, but that would have created an ice rink. I need some better way to deal with run off water. I ended up air chilling with a fan and the pump recirculating which actually worked ok. And I usually do cleanup partially in place and partially in the driveway, but even with hot water on the hose, it really sucked and was very cold. The G40 is too big to clean inside anywhere. Next brew will be when it’s above freezing for sure but staying in the garage and getting one more of those collapsible hoses that I can keep inside.
 

OakIslandBrewery

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I brew ten gallon batches in the basement anytime of the year. I have a closed off spot with water, exhaust fan & make up air, my brew kettle is fired by natural gas and with my exhaust system I have zero extra humidity or fumes. Safety is key to everything on my brew day. Hot water is heated by an electric HLT that I fill the day before then dial in the temp. Having a little more room would be nice. I've been thinking of setting something up in the garage. I got the back half, 20x30 that could be set up nicely. The basement is real convenient though as I have a bar on the other side of the brewery area. Still giving it some thought though.
 
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RyPA

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You sure can and following this video you could have heating and cooling for way less than a chest freezer.


Just did a quick search and chest freezers do not appear all that expensive. I'm sure I could save a few bucks, but time is also money, and the freezer would look a lot nicer.

 

Spivey24

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Just did a quick search and chest freezers do not appear all that expensive. I'm sure I could save a few bucks, but time is also money, and the freezer would look a lot nicer.

plus a 35$ inkbird controller and you are set. I am about to get my 3rd chest freezer since I do a lot more lagers now and need different coolers at different temps. :)
 

hamachi

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How do you guys brew that live in the northern US, or anywhere when it's cold? Does the cold air further delay boil time, making indoors ideal?
I live in mild SoCal, but summer or winter, I brew (all-grain MIAB) in the kitchen because it's convenient. For 5 gallon batches, I do 3-pot partial boils and have been quite happy with the results. With this approach, the most liquid I need to haul between rooms or down stairs is about 4 gallons.

Details:

 
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RyPA

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How do you hop each partial batch? Divide the hop addition by # of pots involved, assuming all have equal liquid volume?

I'm considering using 4 kettles in my kitchen this weekend. Combine them in my 10 gallon when the boil is over for the FO and/WP addition, and cooling.
 
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hamachi

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How do you hop each partial batch? Divide the hop addition by # of pots involved, assuming all have equal liquid volume?

Quoting from the first post I linked above:

"I have started putting the hops only into the smallest pot because that leaves sweet wort in the others for me to continue sampling during the boil :), and what matters for alpha-acid isomerization is the boil time, not the hop concentration. (From the calculators, the difference in hop utilization based on gravity is small enough that I don't worry about the wort being more dilute.) I have noticed no difference from when I used to distribute the hops across the different pots."
 
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RyPA

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Interesting... So hops will keep dispensing goodness regardless of the volume of wort
 

hamachi

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Interesting... So hops will keep dispensing goodness regardless of the volume of wort

Heh. I guess that's one way of putting it Do keep in mind that for the purpose of calculating IBU, you should use the final volume after dilution (e.g., 5 gallons), not the immediate post-boil volume.
 
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RyPA

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The recipe remains the same, right? It's all combined in the end, you are just getting there a different way.
 

hamachi

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The recipe remains the same, right? It's all combined in the end, you are just getting there a different way.
Basically yes. The only difference I can think of offhand is that the total amount of strike and sparge water will be less than for a full-volume boil, so you need to use the actual volumes when using a calculator to determine your strike temperature.
 
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RyPA

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I would mash normally, I'd split up into 2-3 batches when ready to boil.
 
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