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I have one batch of home brew under my belt, and I am preparing for my 2nd and 3rd batches (going to get a second primary fermenter so I can have two batches going at once) so I have spent a few hours this afternoon laying out all of my supplies, and documenting what I want my cleaning process to be. During my first batch, I pretty much flew by the seat of my pants, and while the end result was drinkable, I want to ensure I have a process recorded to easily follow for future batches.

I stole a term from computer science, "Unit Testing", which means to individually test components of an overall solution, and coined the term "Unit Cleaning". I used this to define how I would clean each individual piece of equipment. I then defined my Cleaning Process, which then simply states "Clean Brew Pot", while the "Unit Cleaning" module for Brew Pot would outline the specific steps needed.

So, below is my approach. I would welcome any criticism from the more seasoned brewers, I want to make sure my process is comprehensive.

UNIT CLEANING

Brew Pot

1. Add 5 gallons water
2. Add 25 tsp cleaner
3. Scrub
4. Allow solution to sit for 25-35 min
5. Rinse

Utility Bucket

1. Clean with Barkeeper's Friend
2. Rinse
3. Add 5 gallons water
4. Add 1 oz Star San sanitizer
5. Repeat steps 3-4 as needed for more sanitizer

Rinsing Bowl

1. Clean with Barkeeper's Friend
2. Rinse
3. Add 8 cups water

4. Add 3 tsp cleaner
5. Stir

Primary Fermenter

1. Add 5 gallons water
2. Add 25 tsp cleaner
3. Scrub
4. Allow solution to sit for 25-35 min
5. Rinse

Utensils

1. Includes; air lock, thermometer, test tube, hydrometer, spoon, siphon/tubing, wine thief
2. Clean with solution from Rinsing Bowl
3. Rinse
4. Add to Primary Fermenter to soak

Wort Chiller & Tubing

1. Clean with solution from Rinsing Bowl, using sponge
2. Add to Brew Pot to soak

Then, this is my overall cleaning process;

Pre-Boil Cleaning

1. Clean Utility Bucket
2. Clean Rinsing Bowl
3. Clean Primary Fermenter
4. Clean Utensils
5. Clean Brew Pot
6. Clean Wort Chiller
7. Layout tarp/opened up trash bag and lay on counter to create sanitary resting place
8. After they have soaked for at least 15 minutes, remove Utensils and lay on sanitary resting place.
9. Sanitize Brew Pot

    1. Allow Wort Chiller to soak

10. Sanitize Primary Fermenter

    1. Allow Utensils to soak

My plan for after my boil will be to simply clean everything with Barkeeper's Friend. I am thinking that this will get enough of the grime off, and then this routine before my next batch will suffice.

Note, the "utility bucket" is just a regular household bucket I use to prepare and hold sanitizer/water mixture to pour into other pieces of equipment.

Chris

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I agreed with the accepted answer, but I would emphasize: put everything away clean after you brew. Don't put off rinsing or scrubbing where required. Now is the easiest time to clean, not in a couple of weeks after drying, hardening, and potentially hosting mold, etc. –  jalynn2 Apr 14 at 16:48

2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

You don't need to do 90% of that.

Surfaces need to be clean of matter before they can be sanitized.

Things that are visibly dirty should be cleaned, but you don't need to – for example – scrub and soak your brew kettle before you use it … anything you add to it is going to be boiled, which will kill everything. The same goes for your rinsing bowl and utility bucket.

I assume your wort chiller is an immersion coil. If you add it to the last 15 minutes of the boil, it will then be sanitized; no need to clean it separately (unless it's dirty).

And after using it, you can generally get it clean if you rinse it off with hot water before any gunk dries to it.

Your brew kettle might need some actual cleaning post-boil.

Everything else can be simply rinsed.

As for sanitizer, only things that come into contact with cold wort need to be sanitized. For me, that's usually only (my primary, obviously, plus racking tubing; and…) the beer thief; I transfer the sample into the hydrometer tube, but since I'm tossing the sample instead of adding it back into the wort, there's no need for the tube or the hydrometer to be sanitized or frankly even clean.

What sanitizer are you using? Star San has a 30 second contact time requirement, only. I might dunk my bung/airlock into a star-san solution before afixing it to my primary carboy, but literally that's all.

Relax. Don't worry. Have a homebrew.

(EDIT: Oh, you did say star-san. Note: use distilled water for your star-san, and it will basically last indefinitely so long as you don't add organic matter/dirt to it. Keep it in a bucket, reuse it time and time again.)

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One minor suggestion. You don't need to add your immersion cooler for 15 minutes in the boil. You can add it right at flameout, anything living will be killed instantly. –  Conman27 Apr 14 at 17:01

To use your template as a guide, here is how I handle each step. For the most part, "cleaning" is important prior to the boil, "sanitizing" is important for all post boil processes with the wort. For sanitizing, keep a pre-filled bucket of Star-San solution on hand. You can reuse Star-San as long as the ph remains at the correct level.

UNIT CLEANING

Brew Pot

IF it wasn't cleaned after the last batch:

1. Clean with Barkeeper's Friend
2. Rinse

Remember, this thing is going to be boiled for an hour or more. That will kill anything harboring in there, but you don't want any leftover trub from the last batch in there either.

Utility Bucket

Depending on your usage, this really only needs to be rinsed. Honestly, I've done hundreds of batches of beer and I only rinse mine. Sanitizer here is total overkill.

1. Clean with Barkeeper's Friend
2. Rinse

Rinsing Bowl

No idea what this is used for, but the same rules apply as the utility bucket.

1. Clean with Barkeeper's Friend
2. Rinse

Primary Fermenter

I do this part while the kettle is boiling. It should have been cleaned after the last use, so you really only need to fill it up halfway with water and add some one-step cleanser, give it a shake for a minute or two then let it soak while your boiling. Throw in your airlock, bung, and siphon tubing and let them soak as well. Near the end of the boil, dump it out and fill it with about 1 gallon of sanitizer like Star-San, leave the airlock, bung and siphon tubing inside and place the top on it and shake it for a minute. Place it aside still covered until you are ready to fill it with cool wort. Dump out the sanitizer just before you fill it so it stays wet. No need to rinse out the sanitizer, the bubbles are not harmful to your beer and will keep the fermenter sanitized.

1. Add 5 gallons water
2. Add 25 tsp cleaner
3. Scrub **If this is plastic, be careful not to scratch**
4. Allow solution to sit during boil
5. Rinse **If you used one-step, you don't need to rinse**
    6. Fill with 1 Gallon Star-San

Utensils

1. Includes; air lock, thermometer, test tube, hydrometer, spoon, siphon/tubing, wine thief
2. Add to Fermenter

Wort Chiller & Tubing

1. Clean with solution from Rinsing Bowl, using sponge
2. Add to Fermenter

Then, this is my overall cleaning process;

Pre-Boil Cleaning

1. Clean Utility Bucket
2. Clean Rinsing Bowl
3. Clean Primary Fermenter
4. Clean Utensils
5. Clean Brew Pot
6. Clean Wort Chiller
7. Use a small sanitized plastic pitcher, it holds utensils and hyrdrometers equally well.
    8. Place wort chiller in boil pot during last 15min of boil to sanitize.
10. Sanitize Primary Fermenter

The best way to keep your brewery clean is to clean everything after use. That way, when your ready to brew again, all you need to do is a quick rinse and a little sanitizer.

When your done, commence Functional Integration Testing (FIT) and have a homebrew. What is it with software developers and brewing anyway?

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1  
"What is it with software developers and brewing anyway?" That question kinda answers itself, dontcha think? –  DesertIvy Apr 15 at 20:28

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