Keep Your Brew Fresh

photoEver crack a home brew and take a swig and wish you didn’t? It may not have been the ingredients, the style or the brewer … it may be bacteria.

Infections occur a lot of in-home brewing, mostly because of small things in the brewing process that lead to contamination. Along with being a mad scientist with a carboy, you are also a very picky custodial agent.

Remember all those times mom and dad told you clean your room and you didn’t? Karma baby, karma.

Now, if you see a stray dandelion puff floating in the air or you see a spider two rooms away you are going nuts.

Welcome to the world of brewing!

A good rule of thumb: Clean, clean, clean. No-rinse sanitizer is the way to go. You can pick up a good quantity of the powder that dissolves into water for a good price at your local brewing supply shop. Or you can take household bleach and add one teaspoon of bleach for every one gallon of water — although, I suggest rinsing your items after a soak.

Always have sanitizer and fresh towels on hand when you start. I always take a 2-gallon jug and fill it up so I can douse my hands, a towel, a rag, whatever needs to be cleaned quickly. Plus you can cap it and save the excess for later. Clean everything before you start and place in a clean area for use. Being clean isn’t as needed before the boil, but it’s better to be as clean as possible during the whole process to prevent any bacteria from growing and spoiling your batch.

As you brew, don’t feel bad about over-cleaning, it may be a bit excessive, but you are better safe than sorry. Everything should be cleaned at least a few times during the process.

After your brew day is over and you have made sure to keep things clean during your secondary and priming, you are ready to bottle.

Don’t slip up yet!

Make sure your bottles (especially if they have been used for home brews before) are clean and yeast free on the inside. A quick 1-2 minute soak in a mixture of no-rinse sanitizer will do the trick and leave them to dry upside down if possible. A bottle tree is a good, cheap way to do this.

I prefer to even rinse despite most sanitizers claiming they are no-rinse.

Make sure your hoses are clean throughout as well. Look for staining or standing water in the tube, those could be sources of contamination.

While capping, make sure to use sanitized hands and keep your caps on a clean surface or use a sanitized towel. If kegging, make sure all equipment that is touching the beer is clean as well. You are just a few days away from clean, tasty home brew!


Raise one up!


Fermenter: nothing

Secondary: nothing

Bottled: A few leftover American IPA, English IPA, Nut Brown Ale and Dubbel/Tripel hybrid

Up next: Dad and bro-in-law are coming to town, we’ll figure something out after I have been in a brewing drought for a while because of other obligations.

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