Can I Brew with Snow?

snow bucketWell, we’ve been getting pounded by snow here in Chicago, so figured this would be a good subject to tackle. Maybe it sounds like a cool ingredient for your Eisbock? It might even add that certain¬†je ne se qua to your beer you’ve been looking for.¬†Well, that’s partly right, but not in a good way.

When I first started brewing and was using extract kits, I would boil 3 gallons of wort and since I didn’t have a great way to quickly cool it down, I would freeze 2 gallons of spring water and add to the bucket to cool and bring my batch up to 5 gallons. Worked then, so why now try it with snow?

Well, the short answer is DO NOT BREW WITH SNOW!

Snow is good for cooling beer (i.e. put your kettle in a snow bank or pack around plumbing you use in wort chiller), but not if you actually put it in you beer. Even if you live in a pristine location, there’s no guarantee that your snow originated there or what sort of chemicals are in it. So while this might sound like something cool to boast about, it isn’t. And while boiling could kill off bacteria and such, lingering chemicals could still be harmful at the worst or create some undesirable off flavors at the best. So much like yellow snow, putting white snow in your beer should pretty much be avoided at all times.

(photo by Wannasonic)

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