If you are an avid home brewer, you already know how important cleaning and sanitizing your equipment is to the success of your batch. If you are a newbie to the home brewing world, it cannot be stated enough how important sanitizing and cleaning is to the process. Every single thing that touches your beer needs to be cleaned and sanitized. Failing to do so can lead to the growth of bacteria. Bacteria will not only ruin your beer but also make you sick. It is an easy step that is often forgotten when you first start out brewing your beer. Here are some basic tips to making sure everything is clean and sanitized.
First, consider where you brew your beer. If you are brewing it in your kitchen, basement, or another room, make sure that the area is as dust free as possible. While you are brewing, keep out pets or anyone else that does not need to be there. Any cough, sneeze, or other bodily function will increase the chances of your batch being spoiled. The first step toward limiting bacteria growth is to keep your environment as free of contaminants as possible.
You will need to clean all of your equipment thoroughly. This means before, during, and after brewing. Check the pots, utensils, and bottles for any visible contaminants such as stains, dust, dirt, or anything else. Clean them well, and remember that you are the person who will be drinking this. Also, make sure all of the surface areas are clean, including counters and tables. Common dish soap is probably sufficient, but you might want to consider a cleanser that is used specifically for beer equipment. This can be purchase online or at various stores. Once you clean everything, make sure you have no soap residue left.
The next step is to sanitize the equipment. This is the step people often forget. Many beer kits come with a sanitizing brush or other sterilization equipment. If not, you can buy one at many stores, including places like Target or Sears. However, an easier way to sanitize is to soak all of your equipment in a sanitizing solution. There are many types out there, including iodophor. Iodophor is commonly sold at most beer brewing stores and online. Whatever sanitizer you use, remember that you will probably have to dilute it with water. Read the instructions to make sure you are using the right ratios. You probably don’t need to sanitize the brewing pot. This is because the boiling will sterilize the pot. However, it doesn’t hurt to sanitize the pot and helps you get more used to the habit.
For bottles, you can use the sanitizing brush to get to the hard to reach areas. Bottles are where your beer will age, and bacteria can thrive in there. They are the hardest things to sanitize, but probably the most important. Rather you are using new bottles or recycled ones, it is best to sanitize shortly before pouring the fermented beer so that you eliminate the chance of dust or dirt getting in there. There are also sanitizing tools specifically designed for sanitizing bottles. They can be found in several stores or online. They usually cost less than twenty dollars. It might be something to consider if you want to make the process go faster.
It may seem tedious, but cleaning and sanitizing is arguably the most important step in the home brewing process. It is easy to forget or not do a good enough job. However, you don’t want to spend all the time making the beer and waiting for it to condition only to have it ruined because you skipped over an easy step. Take the time to make sure everything is as clean and sterile as you can make it.