Sterilization is an important first step for home brewing. It is the only way to ensure that you don’t end up with a bad-tasting sour beer. Sour beer can be delicious, but only if you know exactly what culture is fermenting the beer.
Here’s my basic cleanliness guidelines:
1. Pull your hair back.
2. Wash your hands and sing “baa baa black sheep” under the running water, before touching anything to do with the beer preparation.
3. Wipe down your counters with a sanitization solution.
4. Sanitize all of your equipment, before (and preferably also after) use.
5. Air dry equipment after sanitization (never, EVER towel dry).
1. Boiling: Fill a large pot up with water and bring it to a boil. Put in all your glass and metal implements and boil for 5 minutes. This doesn’t work for plastic and wooden items.
2. Bleach: Place all items in a solution of 2 tbsp of bleach per gallon of water, leave for 30 minutes. Rinse items well prior to use, then air dry. Bleach can also be used for spraying down surfaces prior to fruit preparation.
3. Commercial Sanitizer: You can usually find this at the home brew beer and wine stores. Follow the instructions on the package. I usually fill up one of my sinks up with sanitization liquid, and keep all my equipment stored there while I’m using them. Just be sure to rinse well prior to use, because the sanitizer will also kill the good yeast that you want to ferment. My rule of thumb is to rinse everything three times prior to use.
I recommend using commercial sanitizers. They are relatively inexpensive, and it’s the only way to properly clean out tubing, siphons and bottles. I bought some pink chlorine sanitizer powder at my local home brewing store. I also have iodophor sanitizer. They both seem to work equally well and are easy to use.