Demystifying the Process of Cleaning & Sanitizing in Home brewing

Homebrewing is all about having fun while making and drinking it. Do you know the best part about homebrewing apart from this? The fun while discussing your favourite beer recipe or spices you can add to complement your drink.

When you start talking about homebrewed beer, there are endless topics to talk about – how you made your first batch, what it tastes like, where you buy your beer makingsupplies from, and what new you are trying these days. But the one question that doesn’t most of the people overlook is how to clean and sanitize your beer brewing equipment?

Although cleaning and sanitizing are not the best part of the process, they are essential steps in beer-making. And in the current scenario of growing coronavirus pandemic, it has become al the more necessary.

Before starting, let’s first know the difference between cleaning and sanitizing.

Cleaning is the process of removing all the visible dirt and stains on the equipment, sparing the living organisms.

Whereas, sanitizing means treating your equipment with some chemicals (or heat) that will kill the spoilage organisms.

  • Cleaning

You go to pick a bottle of beer after a dreary day and suddenly realize that it is the last bottle of beer. It’s been weeks (or months) since you made your last batch. You need to start brewing your next batch. But you recognize that your equipment stained. It is easy to overlook them and get tempted into beer making without cleaning them. But this way, you are exposing your beer to microorganisms that will ruin your beer and make your efforts go in the gutter.

Where do you start cleaning?

First of all, clean the equipment that is going to be in contact with the beer. This includes hoses, airlock, fermenter, siphon, spoon, siphon, funnels, etc.

You can clean your equipment using either of the two ways; scrubbing your equipment with a cleaning solution or soaking them in water and a chemical cleaner.

You can also use a combination of the two by soaking them in a chemical solution for around 30 minutes and then gently scrubbing to get rid of all the dirt and stains. For equipment like hoses and airlocks, you can only wait for the chemical and water to soak them clean. You can also replace them after a few batches of beer making as they are inexpensive.

While scrubbing plastic equipment or stainless steel surfaces, sponge or soft cloth should be used to avoid scratching the surface. You can use abrasive scrubbers for glass equipment. A lot of homebrewers avoid using home cleaners because either they are too mild or harmful for consumption.

A new group of chemical cleaners, percarbonate, ismuch admired by homebrewers these days. They work with active oxygen and a mild alkali to remove stains and dirt. They are also environment-friendly. Hydrogen peroxide is another chemical that comes close to the quality of cleaning required to brew a batch of beer safely. You can also use any of the other chemicals that come with your beer making kit.

  • Sanitising

The hard part is over. After sanitising your equipment, you can start with the fun process of actually brewing. The sanitizers listed below are generally added to water, and then the equipment is soaked in the solution for 2-30 minutes. After sanitising, you can put them aside to dry for 5 minutes. But some sanitizers like Bleach and Sparkle Brite require you to rinse your stuff with water.

  1. Star-San
  2. Iodophor
  3. Chlorine

There is a common rule of threes in homebrewers. The rule is simple. If microbes are lingering on your equipment, it will take as many as three batches to reveal their growth and off-flavours of your beer. Hence, if your third batch tastes awful, you know that you haven’t been cleaning and sanitising your beer and making supplies properly all this time. Now that you know the basics, grab your home brewing equipment and start cleaning and sanitising.