Cleaning and Sanitization

Cleaning and Sanitization is probably the most important discussion for home brewers and I think I need to shed some light on the subject, especially for new and aspiring brewers who frequently does not understand the “why and how”.

The Yeast

Yeast, being a singled celled organism and the very special culture that converts the fermentable sugar to alcohol, are like you and me also susceptible to bacteria and infections. One will however only know the distraught sadness of loosing a brew when you have personally experienced the loss. Sometimes, and just sometimes, the smell of an infected brew will catch your nasal passages with the sharp like hooks of a seasoned fisherman and will be lodged up there for a day or two and only then will it become your ultimate life mission not to experience it ever again. I had my fair share of decomposed bodies during my past career in the Emergency Medical Services and I can assure you that the smell does hint favorably in that direction.

Oxygenating Detergent

There are numerous options and recommendations available on the market, but I am going to focus on a specific option which is Oxygenating Detergent. Oxygenating Detergent is chemically designed to release oxygen when it comes in contact with water. The release of oxygen lifts dirt and stains and also removes odors that could have seeped into your fermenting vessel. It is safe to use on bot PET and stainless steel fermenters. I normally clean and dry my fermenters thoroughly after every brew. The only thing I want to do on brew day is a quick rinse and sanitize. I would usually add the desired amount of detergent to my fermenting vessel and fill it up to just above the Krauzen Ring. The dilution remains in the fermenter for about a hour or so after which you literally just wipe the Krauzen stain away with a soft cloth, never a scouring pad. Also be sure to run the detergent through your fermenter tap if you have one installed as those are notorious to build up a sticky layer on the inner parts. Be sure to give your fermenter a good rinse afterwards and dry it as well as you can as bacteria loves to seek out moisture retaining areas. The only downside I have with Oxygenating Detergent is the slimy sensation it leaves on your hands, so I recommend the use of gloves. Oxygenating Detergent is available from Viking Brewers or your preferred home brew store.

Foaming No-Rinse Sanitizer

Once again you should be aware that there are numerous products on the market, but Foaming No-Rinse Sanitizer is my personal preference due to its visible effectivity. No, it does not work for Covid-19 and will give you some dermatological bills if you should be brave enough in an attempt to disprove my theory, but it is 100% food-grade and designed for the food and beverage industry. Foaming No-Rinse Sanitizer is a mild acid based sanitizer. When used correctly it will destroy the bacteria responsible for possible yeast infections of your brew. The one reason bringing me back to Foaming No-Rinse Sanitizer is the small amount you need to make a dilution, 1.5ml per liter, yes only 1.5ml. Seasoned brewers who became accustomed to Iodophor, a dark brown betadine like sanitizer, are usually put off by the amount of foam it creates, but the foam is 100% normal and gives you a good visible indication of the surface the sanitizer came in contact with. The other great benefit of Foaming No-Rinse Sanitizer is its short contact period of only 60 seconds. It also forms a protective biofilm on the inside of your fermenter, thus sealing off microscopic scratches which can house bacteria. The ultimate benefit is also hidden in the name, “No-Rinse”, as you do not need to be concerned about rinsing any residue or foam from your fermenter once you emptied the sanitizer. The foam is actually beneficial and adds a source of oxygen to your wort which is great for the yeast. The most important fact to note is that all instruments and surfaces involved during your brew day should be clean and sanitized well. This is how I treat my brew day, but it also might be the fact that I work in an operating theatre on a daily basis and might just be paranoid. Nevertheless, rather be safe than sorry. Foaming No-Rinse Sanitizer is available from Viking Brewers, but if you ask your preferred brew shop nicely, they might just assist you with a similar product.

Until next time, Happy Brewing.

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