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So I recently purchased a bottle tree (not sure how I went so long without one) for drying/storing my sanitized bottles. Is it is overkill to sanitize the bottle tree in sanitizing solution as well?

NOTE: I realize this is somewhat subjective, so please back up your answer with rationale (i.e. "You should-- I forgot to once and it spoiled my batch...").

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I pour sanitizing solution that was in bottles on the tree while emptying them. Sanitizer instructions say it is effective with immersion or contact. –  Paolo Apr 2 '13 at 14:18
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2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I'll try to present both sides of the story:

If the tree is fully cleaned, and your sanitizer is sufactant-based (such as StarSan) so that kills organisms on contact then maybe (and only maybe) you can get away without sanitizing. That's about as far as you can guess as to the consequences of not sanitizing the brew tree.

If it's not clean, then forget it. Each dust particle harbours enough acetobacter to make a very nice vinegar from your batch of beer.

Whether it works or doesn't will very much depend upon your environment. Some people feverishly clean their equipment before and after use and store in a sealed container, some don't. If someone says it works, do you know their processes, cleaning routines? I wouldn't base any judgement other than "do it, don't take chances" on someone's anecdotal evidence that they successfully brewed a beer without cleaning. And how do you know the beer was up to your standard? I can smell a contaminant almost before I've lifted the class, and wouldn't take the chance at all.)

Personally, a quick spray with starsan is simple enough to do that I choose not to leave it out. Why take the chance of a waste of a day of brewing for a few seconds of additional sanitation?

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My subjective answer:

Yes you should.

If nasties happen to land on the branches of the tree your bottles can pick them up after you pull them off.

To me letting my tree sit for 30 seconds in sanitizer isn't much of a hassle at all, and better safe than sorry right?

If you'd rather not you probably wont spoil anything to be honest. But why not play it safe.

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Totally agree, although I do think you underestimate the risk of not doing it. It's impossible on a homebrew scale to isolate a single event of not cleaning the tree against the spoilage of beer, since contaminants are introduced at every step, so it's best to be as sanitary as we can be at each step to reduce the impact. –  mdma Mar 30 '13 at 1:26
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