Sanitation is no doubt the most important part of the beer brewing process. In fact, one avid beer brewer even said that sanitation is 75% of the beer brewing process. If beer brewing equipment, and even beer brewers, are not properly sanitized, then they will expose their beer to bacteria and viruses. During the fermentation process the beer is left unchecked for long periods of time, during this time even the smallest of bacterium can reproduce unchecked – ruining your entire batch of beer. Ruining an entire batch of beer, and wasting your time is generally not the goal intended when brewing. Therefore it is important that any home brewer follow at least some (if not all) of the following sanitation steps.
The goal of proper sanitation is not sterilization, but instead simply greatly reducing the amount of bacterium present on your equipment. Bleach is a brewer’s best friend when it comes to sanitation. Bleach allows the brewer to easily control (kill) all of the bacteria that is present in his or her brewing equipment.
The first step of good sanitation is having proper equipment. Scratched equipment gives the bacteria a place to hide, and significantly increase the amount of cleaning in order to brew successfully. If possible, scratches in equipment should be buffed out if the equipment is metal, or cut out with a dull knife if the equipment is made primarily of plastic.
The next step of proper sanitation of beer brewing equipment is removing organic deposits from all of the equipment. Old bottles, carboys, brewing pots often leave gunk deposits in them. This gunk will hide bacteria, and can shield it from the effects of bleach. It is also very important not to form scratches in the equipment when cleaning it of these organic deposits. Using a brush that is too hard can often create scratches in brewing equipment, and as we know, this may more or less ruin the brewing equipment. So, remember, before you soak your equipment in bleach it is of utmost importance to remove the organic deposits first.
The step of the equipment sanitation process is soaking in bleach or a similar cleaning solution. The equipment should be soaked for at least 20 minutes in a cleaning solution before it comes in contact with the beer. After that make sure to properly sanitize yourself, and you should finally be ready to start the brewing process.