February Fermentation Friday (FFF): Homebrew Sanitation

Thank you Matt at World of Brews for hosting this month's Fermentation Friday about sanitation during brewing :-)

Its quarter past twelve and I've read a bunch of the posts already. So, what do I have to contribute? I'll list the obvious.
  • sanitation is important
  • it is important because it is about killing the bad living things so they don't eat your wort
  • it can be easy
  • it can be hard
  • If you aren't careful your yeast will have to battle/compete with other undesirable living things. If it loses, then your beer may taste bad.
  • No known pathogens can live in beer. (or so I've been told)
Here's my approach. It isn't comprehensive, but, you get the picture. Please ask questions in the comments.
  • I use "one step" for brew day (hot water)
  • one gallon of solution in a big bowl
  • everything that touches my wort gets dipped/rinsed in one step for a minute or more
  • iodophor for kegging day (cold water)
  • 2.5 gallons is enough for me in the keg
  • chlorine bleach for bottles
  • I never use soap
Philosophy & experience
  • when you start you are hyper attentive
  • when you get a routine you relax
  • (drinking some Chinook Ale btw)
  • be conscious of what you touch, what your equipment touches
Things to understand.
  • yeast is a living thing
  • there are other living things that can infect your beer
  • the yeast you pitch and other living things compete
  • make sure your yeast has an advantage
  • recognize the lag time between yeast pitch and visible fermentation
  • reduce the amount of unwanted living things in your beer
  • increase the amount of good living things (yeast you pitch)
  • sanitation is something you can obsess over
  • don't be afraid to make mistakes
  • your boiling wort will kill the bad living things in 15 minutes
  • sanitation is most important when touching the sweet wort/green wort after the boil
Things I don't know
  • can I save money by buying oxyclean instead of onestep
  • can I reuse iodophor for a long time?
  • Do people ust Starsan solutions for a long time?
Hopefully you've learned something about sanitation. If you have questions, please ask! :-)


EvilchurchdOc said...

I have personally used oxyclean with great results. Get the baby kind that doesn't have the blue odor crystals if you can. As for reusing iodophor I remember reading an article on this and while it may stain your white buckets (i use an orange home depot bucket for this reason) you can store it for extended periods and reuse it, though I have only done so on occasion. I don't use starsan (dont like the bubbles) so can't comment on that one. It should be worth noting to remember about your plastic fermenters and the effects of scratches on those. You should replace them when they get scratched or discolored as you wont be able to properly clean them in the scratches where bacteria will grow. 2 cents as usual

kmudrick said...

I'd recommend checking out both the sanitation and cleaning podcasts on brewstrong (jamil & palmer on thebrewingnetwork.com)

From everything I have read and heard, One Step is really not even remotely close to being effective as a sanitizer as Iodophor or Star San. There is a huge difference between cleaning and sanitizing; the former has to be done before the latter for any kind of disinfection to actually take place.

I mostly use oxyclean-free or pbw for cleaning my equipment, then Star San for sanitizing. If the pH of your water is good, Star San will keep for a very long time. I have a spray bottle of solution that I mixed with distilled water which is handy to spray down smaller things I need sanitized quickly - like a thief for taking samples, or spraying the posts of my kegs, etc. Otherwise, I usually make a half gallon or so fresh solution whenever I am doing a heavy brewing activity (racking, brewing, or bottling.)

I stopped using Iodophor because the smell bothers me (and I swear I can taste it in the solution, which means I really have to let everything air-dry, as opposed to star san which I can still use wet.)

I'd never let bleach near any of my brewing gear, because I feel like the need to rinse after just completely invalidates any sanitizing I just did.