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I'm just starting out with homebrewing. I've ordered a starter set and am digging into some books. My primary concern right now is safety -- I don't want to accidentally make my friends and family sick.

Are there any ways to test for health safety, or any dead giveaways that something is wrong?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 14 down vote accepted

If home brew goes bad, then you can taste it. Even then, it still won't make you sick. It just tastes bad. All the warnings about maintaining good sanitation are just to keep your beer tasting good - not to prevent disease.

I suppose you could get sick if you didn't rinse out any cleaning chemicals that you used. And if you were distilling, then you could get sick if you concentrated all the methanol in one place.

Otherwise, relax, have a home brew!

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1  
Righto. So long as you follow the kit's directions, you will NOT poison or hurt anyone with your beer. Its ridiculously safe. Even when beer goes "bad", it just gets acidic and turns to vinegar, which is also 100% safe to drink (albeit nasty tasting), no questions asked. –  Graham May 7 '12 at 13:07

As long as your beer has alcohol in it, it is pretty much guaranteed to be safe to drink. Lots of live yeast in the beer can give you gas, and acetaldehyde can worsen hangovers, but other than that you're safe.

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In ancient times brewing was used to make dirty water safe to drink. So relax and as long as it smells and tastes OK everything is fine.

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This was the realization that helped me get over my fears before I started my first batch. –  Argyle May 7 '12 at 18:40

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