Cleaning and sterilizing before brew in details
Cleaningrequires a certain amount of scrubbing, brushing and elbow grease. It isnecessary because a dirty surface can never be a completely sanitized one.Grungy deposits can harbor bacteria that will ultimately contaminate your beer.The ability of a sanitizing agent to kill bacteria is reduced by the presence ofany extra organic matter, so prior cleaning is necessary to assure completesanitization. Several cleaning products available to the homebrewerare discussed below. Cleaning recommendations for the equipment you will beusing follow.
Dishand laundry detergents and cleansers should be used with caution when cleaningyour brewingequipment. These products often contain perfumes that can be adsorbed ontoplastic equipment and released back into the beer. In addition, some detergentsand cleansers do not rinse completely and often leave behind a film that can betasted in the beer. Several rinses with hot water may be necessary to remove alltraces of the detergent. Detergents containing phosphates generally rinse moreeasily than those without, but because phosphates are pollutants, they areslowly being phased out. A mild unscented dish washing detergent like Ivory is agood choice for most of your routine equipment cleaning needs. Only stubbornstains or burnt-on deposits will require something stronger.
Bleachis one of the most versatile cleaners available to the homebrewer.When dissolved in cold water, it forms a caustic solution that is good atbreaking up organic deposits like food stains and brewinggunk. Bleach is an aqueous solution of chlorine, chlorides andhypochlorites. These chemical agents all contribute to bleach's bactericidal andcleaning powers, but are also corrosive to a number of metals used in brewingequipment. Bleach should not be used for cleaning brass and copper becauseit causes blackening and excessive corrosion. Bleach can be used to cleanstainless steel, but you need to be careful to prevent corrosion and pitting.
Thereare a few simple guidelines to keep in mind when using bleach to clean stainlesssteel.
Donot leave the metal in contact with chlorinated water for extended periods oftime (no more than an hour).
Fillvessels completely so corrosion does not occur at the waterline.
Afterthe cleaning or sanitizing treatment, rinse the item with boiled water and drythe item completely.
Sodiumpercarbonate is sodium carbonate (i.e. Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda)reacted with hydrogen peroxide and it is a very effective cleaner for all typesof brewingequipment. It rinses easily. Several products (e.g. Straight-A, PowderBrewery Wash, B-Brite, and One-Step) are approved by the FDA as cleaners infood-manufacturing facilities. One-Step is labeled as a light cleaner and finalrinse agent, and produces hydrogen peroxide in solution. Hydrogen peroxide willeffectively sanitize surfaces and containers that are already clean. As with allsanitizers, the effectiveness of hydrogen peroxide as a sanitizing agent iscomprimised by organic soil. Use these cleaners according to the manufacturer'sinstructions, but generally use one tablespoon per gallon (4 ml per liter) andrinse after cleaning.
Inmy opinion, percarbonate-based cleaners are the best choice for equipmentcleaning, and Straight-A from Logic Inc., and Powder Brewery Wash (PBW) fromFive Star Chemicals, Inc. are the best of them. These products combine sodiummetasilicate with the percarbonate in a stable form which increases itseffectivity and prevents the corrosion of metals like copper and aluminum thatstrong alkaline solutions can cause.
Trisodium phosphate (TSP) and chlorinated TSP (CTSP) arevery effective cleaners for post-fermentation brewingdeposits and the chlorinated form is also a sanitizer. TSP and CTSP arebecoming harder to find, but are still available at hardware stores in the paintsection. (Painters use it for washing walls because it can be rinsed awaycompletely.) The recommended usage is one tablespoon per gallon of hot water.Solutions of TSP and CTSP should not be left to soak for more than an hourbecause a white mineral film can sometimes deposit on glass and metal whichrequires an acid (vinegar) solution to remove. This is not usually a problemhowever.
Using dishwashers to clean equipment and bottles is apopular idea among homebrewers but there are a few limitations:
Thenarrow openings of hoses, racking canes and bottles usually prevent the waterjets and detergent from effectively cleaning inside.
Ifdetergent does get inside these items, there is no guarantee that it will getrinsed out again.
Dishwasherdrying additives (Jet Dry, for example) can ruin the head retention of beer.Drying additives work by putting a chemical film on the items that allows themto be fully wetted by the water so droplets don't form; preventing spots. Thewetting action destabilizes the proteins that form thebubbles.
Withthe exceptions of spoons, measuring cups and wide mouth jars, it is probablybest to only use automatic dishwashers for heat sanitizing, not cleaning. Heatsanitizing is discussed later in this chapter.
Commonly known as lye, sodium hydroxide (NaOH) is thecaustic main ingredient of most heavy-duty cleaners like oven and drain cleaner.Potassium hydroxide (KOH) is also commonly used. Even in moderateconcentrations, these chemicals are very hazardous to skin and should only beused when wearing rubber gloves and goggle-type eye protection. Vinegar isuseful for neutralizing sodium hydroxide that gets on your skin, but if sodiumhydroxide gets in your eyes it could cause severe burns or blindness. Spray-onoven cleaner is the safest and most convenient way to use sodium hydroxide.Brewers often scorch the bottoms of their brewpotsresulting in a black, burned wort area that is difficult to remove for fear ofscouring a hole in the pot. The easiest solution is to apply oven cleaner andallow it to dissolve the stain. After the burned-on area has been removed, it isimportant to thoroughly rinse the area of any oven cleaner residue to preventsubsequent corrosion of the metal.
Sodiumhydroxide is very corrosive to aluminum and brass. Copper and stainless steelare generally resistant. Pure sodium hydroxide should not be used to cleanaluminum brewpots because the high pH causes the dissolution of theprotective oxides, and a subsequent batch of beer might have ametallic taste. Oven cleaner should not affect aluminum adversely if it is usedproperly.