Thursday, June 25, 2009

Fermentation Friday - Summer Brewing: A face-smashing, tasing good time!

Ah, Summer. June 21 to September 22. Sunshine, blue skies, scantily clad women, grilling, golfing, swimming, and me trying to keep my pale ass from burning to a crisp.

But the weather doesn't stop the brewing. Nosir! There's usually a batch or two made for an annual party Dicks throws. After that, we mostly put down our grains in exchange for the fruits and berries that come into season in the hotter months. But no matter what we're brewing, we're still brewing. And that means heat on top of heat.

But we have ways to keep from melting into a puddle of sweat and malt on the floor. One huge advantage we have is our brewing location. Paddy has a 130 year old farm house. Now, that means that the house doesn't have air conditioning, but it also means he has a large basement stays between 65ºF and 70ºF all year. It's perfect for primary and secondary fermentation, it's an excellent place to store bottles of beer and wine we've made, and it's an excellent hang-out after the day's brewing is complete. However, there are no facilities to actually brew down there (yet...), so that must be done elsewhere.

One key investment that was made to help this was a turkey fryer. Just one that was on sale at Trader Horn, a general store kind of place. We set it out in the driveway, turn on the propane, and hang out around it like a camp fire. This not only allows for the heat to disperse more in the open air, but you can be some distance away from the pot and still have an eye on it. An outstanding investment, and one which I highly recommend.

Another piece of equipment that is important for cooling your brew, not necessarily you, is a cooling coil. We made ours from copper tubing, hose clamps, and a sink sprayer thingie all purchased, once again, from Trader Horn. The coil gets submerged in your brew, then you run cold tap water through it. It turns what could be hours and hours in the summer heat waiting for your brew to cool into maybe 10 minutes before you can pitch your yeast. They're not hard to make, but shop around carefully. Sometimes the price of copper gets high enough that making one of these is more expensive than buying one pre-made. Oh, and if you're the type of person who likes to say things about the mothers of federal agents, you should be aware that having a cooling coil makes your beer brewing equipment look an awful lot like moonshining equipment.

Ice cold beverages are also a must. Often our traditional glasses of Wild Turkey give way to glasses of Wild Turkey on the rocks. Maybe an ice cold beer or two.

But that brings me to one way to stay cool while brewing that is not a good idea. That's drinking a fifth of ice cold vodka straight from the bottle while naked in a swimming pool. It keeps you nice and cool, and away from the heat of the brewing, but it ends in smashing your face on the pool deck. Trust me.

So that's my advice. Keep it outside, drink cold beverages, and try to make the hot part of the process as quick as possible. Just use plenty of sunblock, watch your face, and mind the tasers.


  1. I really don't have anything more to add. I think I beat the summer brew heat by not (brewing that is). I'm still Settling into a new house, so my honey-do list over the summer is usually so long, I can't devote a whole day to sitting around the pot.

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