Beginner’s Guide to Home Brewing – Sanitation


The very first thing you need to know about brewing is that beer is created under the strictest sanitary conditions. All your equipment has to be clean and sterile especially when you transfer your wort or unfermented solution to the fermentation container. Transferring is called racking. I have found the best cleaner to be a product called B-Brite or another called One-Step. These cleaners use carbonates and oxygen bleaching agents. Many people use household bleach but it must be rinsed thoroughly so no residue comes in contact with your product. When getting started brewing day mix up a solution of B-Brite using 2 Tbs. Per gallon of tap water. Use a new water plastic gal. jug. Remember cleaners remove contaminants and a sterilizer is needed to keep equipment clean and I recommend Star San. Star San is an iodine and phosphoric acid sterilizer and I found that .66 tsp. or a little over ½ tsp. in a half-gallon of water works well. You could use a growler from the local brewpub. In a clean 5 Gal. bucket put a bunch of B-Brite and water to soak tubing and the plastic parts you’ll need later. On brew day get these solutions ready and then move on.

Some households are also home to pets that shed and leave fur around no matter how well you clean. A benefit of backyard brewing is that the deck and patio can be cleaned and hosed off prior to your session. Rain and windy days also present their own risk of contamination and so must be dealt with in your own unique way. Sturdy temporary windbreaks could be set up or working near the garage are some alternatives. Always keep safety in consideration. Burners and boiling kettles produce vast amounts of heat and must be respected. Your main concern with contamination is after the boil when cooling and transferring takes place.

A few days prior to brewing soak the fermenter by filling partially with water, add some B-Brite, then fill it all the way to the top. After using any piece of equipment try to rinse it as soon as possible to prevent any caking or drying. Cleaning is easier later. Tubing is cheap and should be replaced often. Very hot water (over 175 F) will sterilize and I boil any rubber stoppers used and the stainless aeration stone.

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