Garage Lagering?

I’m looking for some tried and true advice about lagering in my detached garage.

I live in Milwaukee, WI and as I look at average temperature ranges, it seems that I can lager in late March and early April.

Lager season?

I’m intending to do a dunkel ... t-kit.html

then and I’m looking for some advice about no-cost or almost no-cost ways to maintain a steady lagering temp.

A few ideas I’ve read about in the forum are:

  • putting carboy in a larger tub of water to act as a temp change buffer
  • using frozen water bottles to keep temps down as need be
  • using blankets to keep temps steady

Any other sage advice?
Any advice about the above ideas?

Anyone want to tell me I’m crazy and this won’t work?

I don’t really know what I’m doing as I’m new to this…

Any advice about lagering in general is welcome – mostly I’m looking for ideas around temp control in an early springtime WI garage.


If it’s crazy, then I’m crazy…I’ve got one pils lagering, another fermenting and I’m about to brew a bock under the same conditions. I’ve been doing it for years with good to great results. We have fairly moderate winters with highs 45-55 and lows 30-45 usually. I put the fermenter in a tu of water and put aquarium heater in the water. I hook the heater to a timer and set it to come on during the coldest parts of the night. With a little tweaking I can maintain a fairly consistent lager fermentation temp.

I live in New Berlin, so I deal with the same weather. I will tell you this. I’m fermenting a munich helles right now in my garage. I use a johnson temp controller attached to a ferm wrap, and put the whole thing in a big styrofoam box. I’m trying to keep it at 50°F. Remember that 60°F day we had a couple weeks ago? My ferm temp got up to almost 55°F for a day and a half.

I’m not saying you can’t ferment in your garage in the spring, but I think it will be hard to keep a consistent temp with the wide temp swings we can see here. I thought I would be fine in the middle of January and still got burned. I’m sure you can do a pretty good job of temp control using water baths and ice bottles etc, it will probably be a lot of work though.

Do you have a basement?
The basement in my apartment can get beer down to about 48* (fermometer) when sitting on the floor. Not true lagering temps but I am trying it this year for the heck of it.

My Maibock missed the OG anyway, so it will be off style and not quite “cold lagered”. But I have my fingers crossed it will taste good.

Tell me if I’ve got the lager temps down right…

Initial fermentation - low 50s
After a few days for d-rest - low 60s
Then lagern
The for a month or two - low 40s


I am no lager expert but those seem generally correct (depending on yeast). Some lager right down near freezing with a temp controlled freezer/fridge.

Also – not too far down the forum page


I ferment in a chest freezer in my garage modified for the purpose with an external thermostat for the freezer to kick on when its warmer in the garage and a lightbulb on an internal thermostat (set to kick on when the garage is too cold). However, I lager in the garage all winter after completing primary by simply racking to kegs and leaving them in the garage after topping them off with CO2. It works fine. As spring arrives, then I use a spare refrigerator, so my lager brewing slows to allow for less available space to lager the beer.


my post on the above linked thread:

[quote=“Nighthawk”]I doubt that a commercial brewer does a slow rise or a slow descent. They get the wort in the fermenter and then get the beer into bottles/can/kegs. Time is money.

Pitch huge amounts of yeast. Ferment, and crash to get the yeast to drop. ... 08&t=59851[/quote]

I tried to use a aquarium heater a few years back. Maybe it was to cheep, but I could not get the thing to dial into a steady temp. Maybe using a timer as Denny mentioned would help.

If doing a aquarium heater, I would still suggest a temp controller.

I’ve simply accepted that I can’t lager just yet, and I have had great results with WLPs German/Kolsch yeast. Ferments at ale temps and even better just a little below. :wink:

So pretty much a dedicated fridge would be the way to go?

Sure makes life easier