Friday, February 27, 2009

Fermentation Friday - 2/09 - Cleanliness

Thanks to Matt at A World of Brews for hosting this months Fermentation Friday. Cleaning and sanitizing, I find, is fairly difficult to spell out in details. It's so routine, I never think about it. I guess I could easily wrap it up in only two steps...mild soap and Iodiphor.

Generally I'm pretty good about cleaning and sanitizing. I don't worry too much about it though. I'd say there have only been a couple beers infected, only in bottles. Over the years, my bottle washing has become utterly simply, but also has resulted in what looks like a very thin film on the inside. Trying to use the bristled scrub brush only makes millions of scratches in the film. I tend to throw out these bottles as they have been used countless times. My best guess is that the film is some sort of yeast/soap residue. My bottle collection has gotten smaller as a result of kegging.

I use a small dab of dish soap and a good rinse to clean most everything. After a bottle of beer is poured, its rinsed, a small drop of soap goes in followed by hot water. The bottle sits for the night(s) on the kitchen counter. They are then rinsed thoroughly with hot water, and ready for sanitizer on bottling day.

Carboys don't get cleaned until their final batch is fermented. They get a hot rinse and good scrub, and then sit bunged & inverted, with hot soapy/enviro-bleached water. Then it's scrubbed again and rinsed thoroughly with hot water, drip dried and ready for sanitizer on brewday.

I've never tried Starsan or any other cleaner/sanitizer. I really hate the feeling and white spots that OxyClean leaves. Iodiphor is really the only sanitizer I've ever used, cause it works. I'll use just shy of a full cap in 5 gallons. Then in the case of carboys and kegs, I'll pour out most of it into another vessel or sanitizing bucket. Then pour in more water to dilute the sanitizer by about half, slosh around and completely drain before filling with wort or beer.

I do use the minimum amount of sanitizing solution. Since bottling, racking & brewing usually coincide on the same day, I get to use the same sanitizing water for everything. Also, in the end, everything is cleaned with mild soap (with dedicated sponges, brushes and a special homemade scrubby sponge...cause no oils should get onto any equipment) or thoroughly rinsed, and then all small things go into the sanitizer bucket. So everything gets put away sanitized, and simply gets sanitized before use.

I'm really looking forward to reading all the other entries for this Fermentation Friday topic. If there are better practices or cleaners, it would be good to read about them.


Anonymous said...

I am beginning to think more and more that my bottling issues might be related to the cleanliness of my bottles. We'll see, but that would explain a lot. It's a bummer because I do so little of it and I should enjoy revisiting old brews, but instead I am bummed because it's nothing like it should be.

Ted Danyluk said...

Travis, yeah I think it's bottles most of the time.

Unless there is a best practice with washing bottles (which seems to be long a tedious) I don't care to reuse bottles to many times.

I like reusing commercial bottles and home brew bottles a few times. The longer a bottle has homebrew in it, the worse the "film" I was talking about. It's not contamination in the bottle, but I think its just protein/yeast residues sticking to the sides. But in using them again "with the film," that's where I get contamination issues.

Since you don't bottle that often, perhaps stick to reusing commercial bottles (they're quite clean) or get new ones and reuse them only a few times. Or make sure you are washing them thoroughly, right away, before it's too difficult to remove dried stuff on the insides.

~J~ said...

I have found that I really really enjoy Starsan. I suppose if you have a technique that works than there is really no need to switch.

I have yet to develop any film on my bottles and I reuse all the time. I do get a small yeast cake on the bottom as the yeast settles out during the aging process, but with a bottle brush and starsan I don't have contamination issues with later batches.

The coolest thing about starsan is that I can let it sit , for weeks, in the sun and it still sanitizes. Not that I would, but since my bottling days are before my brew/rack days, I can sanitize my secondary and leave my starsan in it bunged overnight.

patrad said...

I've been using starsan and for cleaning used PBW. I needed a bunch of new bottles recently and cleaned about 24 old bottles that had sat around unwashed. I let them soak in a bucket of hot PBW for a couple hours and they all looked good, then rinsed, starsan dunk and dry. PBW also made cleaning the carboys easy. Soak overnight then a quick brush out and rinse. They are back to crystal clear.

Anonymous said...

I've stopped using soap for bottles. When I finish a bottle, I rinse it with water within a couple of days and then let it drip dry on a dish rack. Prior to bottling, I rinse and then sanitize. I used to use Iodiphor, but I have thyroid problems so I've switched to Star-San. Any bottles with gunk ('cause I got it back from a friend or was too lazy to rinse when I finished) I clean out with some vinegar and a brush. If there's too much gunk or I just can't seem to get it out, then I recycle the bottle. The idea of a little bit of soap getting left behind bothers me.

Ted Danyluk said...

Alright. I think I'll try skipping out on the soap. I picked up a little PBW, and will give that a go with most cleaning on brewday. Sometimes I do just rinse bottles with hot water, and will probably stick with that.

I figure, the bottle is super clean when beer goes in. Then when a beer is poured the bottle is still super clean, and all it needs is a super nice rinse, and it's pretty much good to go.

Anonymous said...

Two questions:
Does the thin film in your bottles start out as little spots? Maybe I'll get around to putting a picture up on my blog...
What I find works very effectively on this is a 'scrubby' pad of some sort - just get a stiff wire and push it around inside the bottle. Cleans up perfectly in a few swipes.
Second question:
Can you describe the "feeling" you really hate with oxyclean? And what are the white spots? I always rinse after using oxyclean - did you?

Matt said...

For my beer bottles and glasses, I give a good soak in B-Brite in hot hot water for 10 minutes or more, then the bottles get a scrub with a brush, followed by a blast with the bottle washer, and finally go into the dishwasher. (Maybe I don't need the dishwasher, but it gets the outsides nice and clean too.) After a rinse, beer glasses go from the B-Brite into a bucket of Idiphor. Carboys/fermenters get a scrub, followed with a long (sometimes overnight) soak in a (cold) bleach/water solution to remove/dissolve hidden gunk, then rinsed with hot hot water. After air drying, I put saran wrap over the openings so they are ready for use next time wo/ needing to re-sanitize. Before bottling, I sanitize the bottles either in the "sanitize" cycle in the dishwasher (no soap!), or I fill each with Idiphor and let sit 5 minutes.

Ted Danyluk said...

iwouldntlivethere, That's more than a couple questions, but no spots. I like the idea of getting a small stainless scour pad/ball and attatching it to a stick.

Perhaps it wasn't oxyclean. It was ID Carlsons Striaght A Cleanser. Anyways.

stoptime, that is a really strict cleaning routine. All that really isn't necessary. Really, right after pouring a bottle, just a very thorough hot water rinse and then sterilizer (Iodiphor) before bottling is all you need. Using a bucket to submerge a bunch of bottles at a time is easy, with no rinsing.

I do lay the bottles on their sides and then drip out the remaining drops before setting them up for bottling.

Anonymous said...

I guess it was more than a couple questions. About the 'scrubby' - sorry, what I meant was one of the green plastic ones, or even a sponge. I think a stainless scour pad would have the same problem as a brush - just a lot of lines in the fime. The film is not tough to remove - even using a sponge to wipe it off worked once. The one I use now is a beat-up old green scrubby retired from cleaning the brew kettle.

seeandyspin said...

Hey Ted; were do you recommend picking up/ordering cleaning supplies in Chicago? Just getting up and running myself...


Ted Danyluk said...

yeah, i think I'll try that sponge/scrubby on a wand approach. I know, I can wipe it off with my finger in the neck of the bottle.

Seeandyspin, I'll get them form the Brew & Grow, or sometimes when I'm ordering from NorthernBrewer or MidwestSupplies.