If you’re based in the northern hemisphere, you’re probably preparing for the upcoming winter. In fact, I spent the weekend preparing my garden for winter and I cut my grass for the last time this year. This got me thinking. What does it look like for a home brewer to prepare for winter? How does winter change things for a brewer? What sort of beers should we be brewing? All of these questions I will be working through.
Yeah, I know, it’s a shameless Game of Thrones reference but it is what it is, and that brings a whole bunch of new challenges when it comes to brewing up your favourite beer for Christmas or your new years parties.
The first challenge or blessing (depending on the style you’re brewing) is going to be temperature. Obviously, I’m not sure what your house is like throughout winter but the temperature control in our house is very inconsistent so I have to take extra precautions when brewing an ale throughout winter. If you temperature is going all over the place, you’re going to get a lot of off flavours and even kill some of the yeast.
From November onwards, I will be using my brew belt. For any newbies, a brew belt is a belt that you wrap around your fermenter which gives out a certain amount of heat that you move up and down to control the temperature. Failing that, you can always wrap your fermenter with a couple towels or blankets and ensure it in the warmest place in your house.
This probably won't have as much of an impact for a British home brewer but the prospect of brewing beer in the garden is pretty much a no go. Depending on the space you have in your house, you might need to look at downsizing your system if your space is limited, otherwise keep brewing, but make sure you have a good clean up before and after and ensure you have plenty of ventilation to reduce the chance of any condensation build up.
Finally, lets look at what sort of beers you should be brewing throughout winter. The obvious answer here is whatever you like but winter to me is all about the malt. So i’ll be brewing some stouts, ambers and some Belgium beers for sure, but that doesn’t mean you should forget about some of your favourite styles/ flavours just because it’s winter. I like a really nice hoppy IPA just like the next person but maybe try a Black IPA. You get plenty of the hops coming through whilst allowing the malts to take the beer to the next level. Oh and don’t forget that this time of the year is your chance to brew up some imperial strength beers, that extra warm feeling will certainly help keep you warm through the cold months.
Whatever your circumstances, enjoy what winter has for you and the beers you brew!
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