What to do in a Blizzard? Make Snow Beer!

Yes, you read that right.  2 weeks ago we had a blizzard here in the north east which got me thinking; “Had anyone made beer from snow?”  With no positive responses, I decided, what the hell lets give this a whirl.  After a quick ph test, I found the snow and my normal brewing water was the same ph, so I gave it a shot.snowwit_8

Let me avoid the jokes right off the bat, I only used the snow that my dogs had peed on and I had written my name in!

Ok, with that said, since this was a spur of the moment brewing session I grabbed the first recipe I had the ingredients for, a Belgian Wit.  Even though I had all the ingredients I wasn’t sure what kind of yeast to use since I didn’t have time to make a starter, but we’ll get to that later.

So, one of the “obvious” things I learned with this brew; it takes a lot of snow to make the water for this 5 gallon batch, about 35 gallons of snow.  It also takes a long time to melt the snow, which turned this brew day into a long one.   Not only did it make a long day, but I also needed to strain and filter the water to get out any particulates that may have been in there.

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The Grist

A small grain bill for this beer.

  • 3.5 lbs Pale Wheat
  • 3.5 lbs Pilsner
  • 1 lbs Flaked Oats

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The Mash

Like the grist, the mash was straight forward, 152° for 60 minutes with 1.25 quarts of water per pound. Then a 170° fly sparge for 60 minutes.

The Boil

  • 2 oz French Strisselspalt @60 minutes (2.0%)
  • 1 oz Bitter Orange @10 minutes
  • 1 oz Coriander Seed @10 minutes
  • 1 tsp yeast nutrient @10 minutes

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After the 60 minute boil and the wort cooling, I still hadn’t decided on yeast.  I had Belgian Wit yeast and Brettanomyces Bruxellensis.  I decided to go with the Brett since I didn’t know what off flavors the snow would lend to the beer and I figured a sour funky beer could cover that up.

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It is still under going active fermentation after 2 weeks and the krausen has just begun to fall.

Stay tuned for more updates.

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30 Responses to “What to do in a Blizzard? Make Snow Beer!”

  1. nate Says:

    I think the idea is awesome, and I love the recipe. It’s simple, but has a lot of room for flavour. the fact that you aren’t trying to blow away with ABV should let the qualities of the Yeast and grain bill shine.

  2. Scott-TheBrewClub Says:

    Peter, you’re a madman! I’ve never heard of anyone doing this!

  3. Simply Beer Says:

    @nate Thanks, I’m most concerned about the water quality from the snow. But I like to have fun and some times be spontaneous… this was one of those days. How’s your spontaneous beer going?

    @Scott – don’t you know it! I guess that is why I did it, ’cause nobody fessed up to doing it.

  4. nate Says:

    It’s going great…although it’s not spontaneous…just open, I did pitch yeast. It is the fastest fermenting beer to date. it went from 1.054 to 1.013 in less than 48 hours. I am guessing all the available oxygen did the trick.

    As far as the quality of your snow water, I’d wager it might be better than tap…I think I’d cherish the absense of Chlorine/fluorine.

  5. Simply Beer Says:

    I’m excited to here how your open fermentation turns out. Are you going to write about it on Thank Heaven for Beer?

    Had I had the forethought with this beer, I might have tried a regular batch with tap and one with snow to see the difference.

  6. Kevin M Says:

    It’s just too bad that Rogue already made a beer called Yellow Snow…

  7. RomeoS Says:

    Respect!

  8. Simply Beer Says:

    @kevin, I’ll make sure I same you some yellow snow!

    @Romeo@ – Thanks!

  9. Kevin M Says:

    Good good… I’ll share my last bottle of Yellow Snow for Friday. Any ideas on what you’re bringing… Don’t post that here, I don’t want to get Jim salivating yet!

  10. Simply Beer Says:

    Good question was thinking about bringing a Barrel aged Hibernation, Ithaca Brute, or Russian River Supplication. We’ll see… :-)

  11. uberVU - social comments Says:

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by SimplyBeer: What to do in a Blizzard? Make Snow Beer! http://bit.ly/atcoUU

  12. Don Says:

    I’d be afraid that the snow would pick up airborne contaminants that couldn’t be filtered out. Lik shit from the local Dow chemical plant, and the Goodyear Tire Factory, etc. But I hope it goes well! It will be interesting to see if it tastes good, or if you begin to grow an arm out of your forehead.

  13. Simply Beer Says:

    LOL! I’m shooting for eyes in the back of my head or a third arm!

  14. Scott-TheBrewClub Says:

    I was thinking the same thing as Don, but didn’t want to say anything. But, now that I think of it, a 3rd arm could be very useful particularly when home brewing or a lot of other things. A third arm would give anybody an advantage if they were in boxing. Also, when driving you could have both hands on the wheel AND hold a phone. This could be very interesting.

  15. Nick Says:

    I was, just tonight, thinking of doing this for a stout. i havent found any information on doing so or how to condition the water and the guys at BA raised some valid points about contaminants…but i figured if i get a filter(britta or something) it might catch some of the city crap… they pointed me to this page about 10 minutes ago. im very curious to see how this works out. i might just go ahead with it tomorrow as we have about 10 inches here. i would hate to spend all the money on this recipe i have and have it taste like kwame kilpatricks @$$ but with no risk there is no reward so what the hell…

  16. Nick Says:

    also, when did you make it? i am assuming, by looking at the comments that it was within the last couple days.

  17. Simply Beer Says:

    Right on NIck, go for it! I made this beer on feb 10th. when we got about 14 inches in NJ. I’m not too concerned about the contaminates (potential), first off the water was filtered and boiled and then I’m only drinking little portions at a time. It’s not like I’m consuming this snow water on a daily or long term basis.

    Anyway, Good luck. I hope you do it, let us know how it turns out. I’ll check out the thread on BA tonight, there is also one going on RateBeer. Guess I sparked some discussion… cool!

  18. Nick P Says:

    Hey…I found your site! Can’t wait to here the results. Sounds like you’re getting a little funky with it as well with the Brett. I went a little more simple with my Abominable Snow Pilz. Should be a nice soft Minnesota Pilsner! I’ll keep ya updated!

    Cheers.

  19. Nick Says:

    well. i just finished melting down about 30gal of snow…it made about 5.5gallons of water. i filtered it (which took about an hour) there are some tiny specs of dirt here and there but i dont think i will bother filtering it again. i was going to boil it to neutralize and acids or bacteria that might be in there but i figured that it would take care of itself when i boil it tomorrow during the brew…what do you think? should i have boiled it first?

  20. Simply Beer Says:

    @nick You are going to boil it anyway, keep going!

  21. Nick Says:

    just made myself a sweet milk chocolate stout with the snow…in about 24 days i guess we will see if its a hit or if i’ll be hitting the toilet

  22. Nick Says:

    Well, just over a month later and i opened my first bottle of sweet milk snow stout…it was absolutley heavenly. it was like drinking a smooth light chocolate malt. silky in the mouth. i WILL do this again next year.

    it onyl been a few minutes so i dont know what the affect of the snow will have on my stomach but so far so good.

  23. Simply Beer Says:

    @nick, Wow, cool! My snow wit is still fermenting. Probably give it another month before bottling let the wild yeasties and bacteria do their jobs.

  24. Nick Says:

    well…i know its been forever but i finished the stout…it was really good… i entered it in a competition in may. i entered one as a sweet stout, one as a dry stout and one as an american brown ale. i got decent marks for both stout catagories but i was just shy of third place for the brown ale which i wasnt quite sure how to take that. please tell me that your beer is finished.

  25. Simply Beer Says:

    I bottled mine a couple weeks ago. Had the first bottle last tues. It was good, funky, and slightly sour.

  26. Simply Beer Snow Wit | Dos Beerigos Says:

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  28. malak Says:

    Well I was up at the cottage over Christmas and I melted some snow. The cottage should be far enough from the proverbial dow chemical or goodyear tire plants. I melted from snow to get liquid water, often by melting it on the stove and pouring the boiling water over more snow until I had enough liquid water.

    Then I ran 6 imperial gallons of water through my Katadyn Pocket filter and added a drop of bleach to the container.

    The beer I’m making, a dark Belgian ale, is bubbling away nicely. I can’t wait to serve it to someone who will then go “yuck” after he’s said how good the beer was.

  29. Simply Beer Says:

    awesome! I haven’t make snow beer again, but next blizzard I think I will!

  30. malak Says:

    My Belgian ale turned out quite nicely, the wort having fermented out quite well — actually, it was, as you like it, happily or disappointingly routine. As per my habit, I used an ounce of honey per gallon of beer to prime the bottles, and it carbonated well.

    By about mid to late February after I’d bottled the beer and it had carbonated, it seemed a bit disappointing, dull and flat; not carbonation wise, but flavour wise. But as of about late March the chocolate flavours had developed and now I know I’ll be going back to get more of this kind of beer kit — produced in the store according to a recipe from various liquid malts.

    I’m so happy with the results that now all my “personal” beers out of snow water — or in the absence of, water taken and filtered from the lake at the cottage or some other “natural” and “hopefully clean” source — not those I make for serving to groups such as on Canada Day at the barbecues for which I use plain tap water, an eminently excellent choice, by the way, at least here in Montreal. I now even have another five imperial gallons of snow water I produced a few weeks ago using city snow before all of it had disappeared, and an extra gallon I just prepared last night after a final “winter hasn’t quite left yet” snow storm that came around yesterday.


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