Thursday, July 22, 2010

Brewing, cleaning and all grain?

Some say brewing beer is like cooking, if you can follow directions you can brew beer. One big difference is you usually eat what you cooked fairly soon. A 5 gallon batch of beer might be around for a while. So its very important that after the beer cools below 170F you are very sanitary. Here are a few of my brew day tips.

Tip 0 - Clean it. Something can not be sanitized unless its clean. Use a good cleaner. I also recommend switching cleaners every few batches. I feel this makes sure any bugs don't develop a resistance and if one cleaner lacks in an area then the other might make up for it. However one good cleaning product might work also.

Tip 1 - Use a good sanitizer! I use Star San from Five star chemicals. It sanitizes very quickly, about 30 seconds. The foam will sanitize also. You can re-use it until its soiled or the PH drops below 3.2. You can spray it on gas connections and if they bubble then you have a leak. I usually have a tub of sanitizer sitting next to me so I can dip things in.

Tip 2 - Cover it! After you sanitize something like a carboy, wort chiller or bottles you should cover them. I use aluminum foil or plastic wrap. Minimize pet traffic and air flow if you can also.

Tip 3 - Chill fast. Once you are below 170F you are at risk of contamination. Chill quickly with a wort chiller or an ice bath. If using an ice bath make sure you have plenty of ice. Cooling works best if there is a good temperature differential.

Tip 4 - A healthy fermentation can make up for some sanitation issues. Its a competition between your yeast and other stuff so favor the yeast.