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I was thinking of asking for a Homebrew Starter kit for Christmas this year and would like to set it up to brew and ferment in my garage.

However I am wondering, will it be too cold to brew beer or ferment in the garage over the winter? I am based in the UK, so it will get pretty cold.

Would I need to get some sort of heating in the garage to be able to successfully brew beer? Or should I start the process in the house, before moving it to the garage?

Any advice would be much appreciated.

Gareth

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    Perhaps you need to clarify if you wish to ferment in the garage. Brewing in the cold weather is not much of an issue. – Wyrmwood Nov 16 '15 at 17:21
  • It would be both, due to lack of space in the house – Gaz Winter Nov 16 '15 at 21:09
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Cold weather won't negatively impact brewing, other than you may use a bit more propane. All the local brewers I know (in colorful Colorado) who use propane, including myself, brew in garages during the winter, to cut down on the cold, but it's really a comfort issue for the brewer more than anything else. I brew in my backyard most of the time, even in the winter, but if there's a lot of snow or wind, I move it to the garage so I can maintain a rolling boil.

Fermentation is a different issue. However, I ferment in my garage. I have a fridge (that was given to me) that's in my garage that has incandescent bulbs for heat and a temperature controller* so I can ferment at a specific temperature, then if I want to bulk age, I'll move ales to my basement or lagers to my beer fridge.

*I use the STC-1000. There are several different models, so you want to make sure you get the model with 2 controllers, one for heat and one for cooling. You can connect the power from the fridge to the one for cooling and either use light bulbs or a small heater inside the fridge connected to the heat power. Mine does Celsius, but I imagine that's what you'd want anyway. My fermentation setup cost me about $20, but I didn't pay for the fridge, and used a light fixture I had laying around from one I replaced. You can also get a Johnson controller if you don't want to mess with the DIY wiring, and don't mind spending a bit more money. UPDATE: There's a cheaper option if you don't want wire up an outlet box with an STC-1000, the inkbird. It's less than half price of the Johnson controller.

You could bulk age in the fridge as well, but so you don't hold up your pipeline, it would be best if you can move it to a closet (for ales) and you might be able to leave your lagers in the garage, maybe close to an inner wall as you don't want them to freeze, or maybe skip on lagering unless you get a second fermentation chamber you can leave at lager temps.

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You should be able to do it.

If your garage gets below 18°C, the fermentation will have an hard time starting. Check the yeast package for the temperature range, generally between 18°C and 22°C for an English Ale... So if heating the garage is not an option, you can buy a heating belt to heat a carboy or fermentation bucket. Check with your local HBS for something like this one: Homebrew Fermentation Heater

Then at bottling, you will have the same problem if you bottle condition. But you can store the bottles inside the house for about a week, and then when the fermentation is done, you can move them back to your garage.

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Though I concur with Wyrmwood's answer, I am assuming you are talking about fermentation more than mashing and boiling.

I would emphasize that it's important to have a stable fermentation temperature. That temperature can be low for some styles, but should typically be fairly stable and always above freezing, and preferably within the range suggested by the manufacturer for the yeast strain. I would follow package instructions on the yeast you get and find a way to stabilize temperature accordingly.

Preferably there would be enough ambient heat in your garage to stay in a tolerable temperature range. On the other hand, even if there is not, 20 liters of liquid is not going to change its temperature as quickly as a glass of water, much less the atmosphere around it, so you have some leeway. If the temperature shifts 5°C overnight, it probably won't kill your batch. Though, preferably, that shift would still be within the temperature range tolerated by the yeast.

So, I would say, take some temperature measurements and, if they don't work, consider investing in temperature controlling equipment if you have a garage with freezing temperatures and/or wild temperature shifts. Another thing is, if you have to compromise a style a little by picking a yeast that fits your environmental conditions, it is almost certainly not going to have a meaningful negative impact on the outcome unless you are very picky.

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I live in Wakefield and brew all year round in my garage.During winter time, I have a 25 watt Flat bottom heater pad and belt 25 watt heater working together using a 25 L plastic fermenting bucket. I use the STC-1000 to control the temperature. I cover the fermenting bucket in three layers of bubble wrap. This works perfectly for the winter time. The STC-1000 maintains a steady constant temperature with a variance set at 0.5 degrees. For anyone out there I hope this helps.

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The easiest way I've found to brew in cold weather is to put the fermenter into a big cardboard box, add a 60W incandescent light as a heating element, and fit it with a simple thermostat to maintain the fermentation temperature.

Details here: https://www.brewforafrica.co.za/blog.html?id=7

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