Monday, October 12, 2009

Tried and True Home Brewing Sanitation Regimen

INVENTORY

The first thing you need to do is gather up all the equipment you plan to use for your brewing: glass (or plastic...but we recommend glass for better flavor) carboy (5 or 6 1/2 gal), 7 to 10 six packs of empty bottles (depends on the batch size, but most 5 gallon batches make about 8 six packs), a large (at least 3 gallon capacity) stainless steel or enamel pot to hold the wort, large funnel, and transfer tubes. The last thing you want to happen is to find yourself in the middle of brewing, only to discover you're missing crucial equipment!

BREWING

When it comes to cleaning the brew pot, I use dish soap and a sponge. Since you'll be boiling your brew in this pot, it isn't necessary to sanitize--just make sure it's clean (make sure there isn't any burnt patches or food residue, as this could affect the flavor of your brew). Add about a cup of bleach to your carboy, fill a fourth of it with water, shake it so that the liquid touches all the surfaces( shake for about 30-45 seconds), pour out, fill again (this time leave out the bleach), shake for another 30- 45 seconds, then repeat this one more time and you should be fine. At this stage, you don't need to sanitize your transfer tubes--those won't be needed until your secondary fermentation (which is transferring your brew to a second sanitized carboy for further fermentation, and also reducing the potential for sediment in your final product) and/or bottling. When you're ready for this, you can clean the tubes in the same way as the carboy.

Another option is to simply add the bleach, fill to the lip with water, and let sit for about 30 minutes (during this time, it's also not a bad idea to soak your carboy stopper in a bleach water solution). Pour out, fill about a quarter way with hot water, shake to cover all surfaces, then repeat 2 or 3 more times (until you can't smell any bleach). Rinse your stopper the same way, then cap your carboy to prevent airborne contamination while brewing. (Note: also for tubes, a similar soak and thorough rinse will work--if not using the tubes right away, you can wrap them in plastic wrap to minimize exposure to air and possible contamination)

After this you should be ready to brew!

BOTTLING

Whenever I clean out my bottles, I try to find some sort of tub (a bathtub will do, although you may want to scrub it out first), add a cup of bleach, and fill with water two thirds to three fourths of the way up mix up the solution. Next, add your bottles, making sure that each one is filled up with the solution (to protect your skin from the bleach, household rubber gloves will do). I tend to leave them in the tub for about two to three hours. After that I inspect each bottle for scum on the bottom of the bottle--if I find any, I put some of the solution in the bottle, shake it, and pour it out. If the scum is still there, I recycle the bottle--not worth ruining a good bottle of brew for a few cents of glass. After all the bottles have been inspected, I proceed to load them into the dishwasher and put them through a cycle (do NOT use dish detergent, as this could negatively flavor your brew--hot water is fine). While running the dishwater, you can sanitize your bottling equipment (transfer tubing, bottling bucket, spigot and autosiphon if you have them) in a bleach/water tub soak--when the cycle is about done, give all equipment a thorough rinse, then fill your brew bucket (adding priming sugar solution if desired for additional bottle fermentation) and start filling your bottles.

ENJOYING

Allow your bottled beer to ferment at least a week longer (for many styles, the longer the better, but read up on your specific style to make sure), UN-cap, and enjoy!

Cheers from Wisconsin,

Collin

1 comment:

Erin said...

Couldn't agree more--improper or lazy sanitation can ruin a good brew. At last a hobby where my germophobia isn't a source of mockery!