Sanitizing Materials for Beer Brewing

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 13,248
    Gary Glass from the American Homebrewers Association discusses sanitizing equipment for beer brewing.

    Gary Glass: Hi! My name is Gary Glass; I'm the Director of the American Homebrewers Association. I'm teaching you how to make beer at home. In this segment, we'll cover cleaning and sanitizing of your equipment.

    Cleaning is a very simple process of removing soils and things from your equipment, where sanitizing is actually killing any kind of bacteria or any other beer spoilers that might be on that equipment. So two different things, actually. The cleaning, you can use everyday household cleaners, regular dish washing liquid will work. It's best to use things that don't have a lot of perfumes in them as those will carry over on your equipment into the beer. OxiClean is an excellent cleaner for brewing equipment, very good at removing soils.

    There is also a special cleaner that's used specifically by the brewing industry called Powdered Brewery Wash, just make sure that you use a good amount. Get in there, clean everything well with a sponge or with your carboy brush or your bottle brush. So again be sure you clean all your equipment very well before you sanitize.

    Now sanitizers are as I said, they are going to kill any beer spoilers there are, whether it's yeast or bacteria that happens to be in your kitchen and it's there. It's everywhere. So you have got to be very vigilant about sanitizing your equipment as well.

    Everything that touches your beer is going to have to be sanitized. If you put something down on the counter top, you are going to have to re-sanitize it. The simplest and cheapest form of sanitizer is household bleach. You can use two fluid ounces in five gallons, it works just fine. With bleach, you do have to soak everything for a minimum of 15 minutes so it has to be completely submerged in order to sanitize. Then you also have to rinse it very thoroughly. Once you have done your sanitizing before anything touches your beer, it's chlorine in the bleach will carry over into the beer and add off-flavors.

    There are some other sanitizers that are specifically made for the brewing industry that work very well. They are little more expensive than bleach. These are no-rinse sanitizers. We have got Iodophor and Star San here are two examples of no-rinse sanitizers. They won't add any flavor compounds to your beer so you don't have to worry about rinsing after you use them.

    So 15 to 30 seconds is really all you need in terms of contact time with this no rinse sanitizers. Also, with the no rinse sanitizers, you don't actually have to soak your equipment; you just need to have it in contact with your equipment. As long as it touches all of the surfaces that are going to come in contact with the beer, you have sanitized it with these products. So I tend to recommend these, they don't leave as much room for error. Very minimal contact time if you accidentally put something down where it shouldn't be, you don't have to re-sanitize it for 15 minutes as you do with the bleach. You can just throw it right back into your container of Star San or Iodophor.

    So that basically covers cleaning and sanitizing. Next step, we'll talk about the brewing process.