The Basics; Part One

This is my brewing guide. There are many like it, but this one is mine.. *cough*

Ladies and Gentleman, The Brewguide, Part one.

Let's start with the most important part. Can you guess what it is? It's not the ingredients. Nope, not the yeast either, or the temperature or the equipment either.


Now, before you skip this part, let me clarify what sanitation means in this context. If you merely cleanse or wash something, it's not sanitized. The water you get out of your tap probably isn't sanitized in a brewing sense. To achieve true sanitation, you have to ensure that all the bacteria that might try to infest your brew is dead, along with having all residues and oils and other things that might contribute off flavors to a drink clear and gone from every instrument that touches your brew. Since the water you are using may in itself contain some of these nasty buggers, whatever you use needs to be 'rinse free' as well.

Here are some things I use or have used.

1. Campden Tablets
So, these are easy to find and are often used in the actual brewing process as well. They're basically potassium powder compressed into pill form, and they function as a rinse-free bacteria killer. In wine it's not uncommon to add a tablet or two to the unfermented wine (called "must") to kill off all the baddies that might have been hanging out on the grape skins or the feet of the crushing team or what have you. Since they kill yeast too, you need to wait a bit before you add yeast to any batch you brew with campden tablets but as a sanitiser the dissolved tablets act pretty much like everything else. I dont like using them too much, mainly because they take a while to dissolve and I like the option of spontaneity.

2. Dilluted Bleach
This is one of those that you can use, but maybe shouldent. Just a capfull or two in a sink of water is enough, but you risk contaminating your final product. I sometimes use this to clean my siphon hose and transfering bucket after I'm done with them though.

3. Powdered cleaners
Ok so this is hands down my favorite. I use Ultimate Brewery Cleaner , and everything it says in the product description is true. Not only does it do a fantastic job cleaning up gunk and nasty bacteria, it lets you know it's doing it. Something in the reaction causes the dead organic material to turn a cloudy grey-green. It's pretty scary when you take a apparently clean bottle and pour in some water, powder, shake it around, and then pour out green tinted water that contained bugs that might have ruined a batch! I actually use this stuff around the house sometimes too, like if I bake ribs and get that cement-hard pork fat crust stuck to my baking pan- UBC takes it right off. Cheaper than Dawn too!

So, now you've got your options set before you, let's talk about the rules of sanitation.

Rule no.1- Everything, and I mean everything, that touches your brew must be sanitized.
It should be a no-brainer that all your equiptment needs to be sanitized, but remembering that the environment and you yourself need to be clean is just as important. Sanitize the counters! You know the term, "so clean you could eat off it"? That, but moreso. As you work, you'll inevitably have to scratch yourself, take a pee, pet the cat, touch something you forget to sanitize etc, so I have a routine I follow for hand sanitization;

If you touch your face, wash your hands. If you touch something you didnt sanitize a right before you started, wash your hands. If you take a break, wash your hands when you get back. If you're waiting on something to boil, wash your hands before you go back to it. If it's been ten minutes, wash your hands. since it's pretty easy to get your gear cleaned before you start, your hands are most likley where any bacteria that find their way into your drink will come from. Even if you are wearing gloves, it's best to wash any time you think of it.

With this first step out of the way, you are ensuring you dont lose a batch to what is probably the #1 cause of brews gone bad. Tune in next time for The Basics; Part Two- Gear!


Post a Comment