Clean your homebrew equipment properly or your beer will be hideous. Your beer will suck and you’ll stop getting invited to BBQs. It’s that simple.
Cutting corners with cleaning is the biggest trap for new brewers. It’s the reason most people give up.
I don’t want your beer to suck and I want you to keep homebrewing.
So let’s get meticulous about cleaning. Take this seriously and you are on the track to great beer.
Use cleaning products made for homebrew
I’ve used many, many cleaning products over the years with mixed results.
In my experience, nothing else removes stains, marks and odors as well as PBW – powdered brewery wash.
Mix one tablespoon of PBW per gallon or four liters of hot water and clean away.
Do not use bleach in particular. It is very hard to remove the bleach odor.
It will hurt your beer’s flavor, especially light lager styles.
Everything gets a clean
To start cleaning, get a clean two gallon bucket and mix hot water and PBW at the correct ratio (1 tbs per gal/ 4 L).
Clean your brewing area first. Clean down your bench, sink, nearby cupboards, everything.
Add all of your loose items like spoons, taps, scissors, etc to your PBW solution and clean thoroughly. Tip some of the solution in your fermenter and clean in overlapping circles.
Pay particular attention to threads and other nooks and crannies. Clean the outside of your fermenter as well.
Every part of your fermenter and anything that touches your beer is potential for infection.
Get OCD here. Can openers, scissors, benchtops, everything. If you want to make great beer you need to clean every square inch of your brewing gear.
Once you are satisfied you have cleaned your gear properly, rinse thoroughly with hot water.
Stack your loose bits and pieces on a clean plate, ready for sanitizing.
Only use soft cloths
Only use soft cloths and elbow grease on your brewing gear. Abrasive pads and scourers will scratch plastics.
These scratches are great homes for infection-causing microbes.
Be safe – wear gloves
Wear gloves. They save my delicate hands from hot water and cleaning products.
They also save our beer from microbes hiding under nails and in cracks in your skin. Even the cleanest hands can still offer the risk of infection.
Clean up after bottling
Always clean your fermenter immediately after bottling your beer.
On a few occasions, I’ve left cleaning until the next day. This became a few days and it wasn’t pretty.
Crud hardens like cement and is very hard to clean off.
Your fermenter can also get pretty rank in warm seasons. This flourishing colony of bacteria and wild yeast will come back to haunt you and your beer.
Clean and sanitize your homebrew equipment the day before
If you are pushed for time, you can clean and sanitize your gear the day before you brew.
Make sure you seal your fermenter up with your lid or plastic wrap. You are good to go the next day.
Homebrewing With Kits—The Beginner’s Guide
To help you master homebrewing with kits, I’ve put together a guide based on my experiences over the last two decades.
This is the information I wish I had when I started brewing. I hope it helps you make awesome homebrew.