Newbie - Sterilization

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I called the local (70 miles away) brew store and asked a bunch of newbie
questions.  One I forgot to ask was about the beer bottles and other
containers used in the process.

What is necessary to clean old bottles, fermenting jugs, etc?  To they have
to be boiled like canning jars?  I heard that cleanliness is very important
in brewing.  Can the bottles be washed in the sink with a bottle brush?

Re: Newbie - Sterilization
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First, go check out - it will address everything
in plenty of detail.

Bottom line, clean everything completely with regular soap and water and
rinse.  You'll then need to "sanitize" anything that will contact the
beer after your boil.  You can mix up a sanitizing solution from bleach
or you can buy other substances made just for that purpose.  You then
soak your bottles, fermenting bucket, etc., in the sanitizing solution
for as long as is appropriate (5, 10, 20 minutes, etc).  Some solutions
are no-rinse and others need to be rinsed (bleach-water usually needs
to be rinsed).  Rinsing with normal tapwater is usually OK assuming
that your tapwater is normal, treated city type water.

(BTW, I use (plain, unscented) bleach and I mix a "couple glugs" into
about 4 gallons of water in my fermenting bucket and let things sit
about 10+ minutes).

Relax, don't worry, have a homebrew! (RDWHAHB)    Have fun!

Re: Newbie - Sterilization

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Thanks, I will check out the link.  When I googled brewing all I could find
were sites that wanted to sell me stuff.

Re: Newbie - Sterilization

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If you want to check the brewing archives, hit the Groups tab on the Google
home page.  From there, go to the group you want to search and type in your
key words.  You'll find lots of posts that way.

BTW, you may also want to check out rec.crafts.brewing (the most active
brewing newsgroup I know of) and alt.homebrewing  [I just searched the r.c.b
archives for "Bottle Sterilizing" and got about 550 hits.]

Re: Newbie - Sterilization

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Sanitized, not sterilized.  There are many cleaners like One-Step, Idophor,
and the like.  Many of us use diluted bleach (a cup or so to 5 gallons of
water).  I usually soak glass overnight, and plastic for a few hours.  Rinse
with hot water until there is no more bleach smell.  Only use regular
chlorine bleach, not any kind of scented bleach.  Bottles can be washed in
the sink with a bottle brush.  My routine now is to clean the bottles after
they are emptied with hot water and let dry (upside down).  If you let
bottles sit without cleaning, that can get moldy inside.  If I find a moldy
bottle, I will sometimes soak it overnight in oxy-clean, but I usually just
chuck it (why take a chance?).  When I'm ready to bottle, I turn up the
water heater, and run the bottles through the dishwasher ( NO SOAP OF ANY
KIND) twice with the heated drying turned on.  The heat from the drying will
sanitize the bottles.  I can usually get 50 or so bottles in the dishwasher.
I have used a bottle washer attached to my laundry sink in the past, but it
became very tedious.  I now just use the bottle washer to clean carboys.

If you don't have a dish washer,  you need to soak the bottles in some kind
of sanitizing solution. Some require rinsing and some do not. There has been
a lot of debate about which is the best sanitizer.  Bleach works fine for me
IMHO and have had no infections in almost 10 years of brewing.

Hope this helps.


Re: Newbie - Sterilization
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You need two steps

firstly, bottles etc need to be clean so wash them with a bottle brush
to get rid of any gunk and stains that are in there.

Secondly you need to sanitise. The easiest way is to soak them for
30-60 minutes in a solution of 1 cupful of bleach to 25 litres of
water. I fill up my fermenter and put all my bottles, bottle caps etc
in there to soak.

If anything is badly stained then a 24 hour soak will breakdown any
organic matter etc.


Re: Newbie - Sterilization
Oh get out!!! it's not that friggin complicated... you've got three basic

1.  Iodophor ("no rinse" and 'easiest')
2.  Chlorine based cleaners (including good ol' bleach)-- a bit more work
and requires rinsing
3.  boiling/kilning/autoclaving -- OVERKILL

If you can get BTF iodophor this'll do you fine with least hassle... just
let 'em drip dry before you plop the brew in... if you get household bleach
or B-Brite/C-Brite you've got to wash the rascals after "cleaning".  If you
go further than that you've got more time on your hands than the average
homebrewer... read a book and use BTF Iodophor... then you can "relax, don't
worry and have a homebrew".  Whatever that means-- if you were that type of
personality you wouldn't be homebrewing; you'd be buying brews from the
store and developing serious front ass watching the telly.


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Re: Newbie - Sterilization

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So you don't reckon sodium metabisulphate, sodium percarbonate or phosphoric
acid based sanitizers are any good?  I have only used the first two and so
far haven't had any infected beer.

Re: Newbie - Sterilization
sozman wrote:

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You've been lucky.  None of those are effective sanitizers for beer.

Life begins at 60 - 1.060, that is.

Reply to denny_dot_g_dot_conn_at_ci_dot_eugene_dot_or_dot_us

Re: Newbie - Sterilization
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That's quite possible, I have only brewed three batches.   Then again I just
use water out of the garden hose to bring my wort up to the desired volume
for fermentation.  The scary thing is that these (in particular the sodium
m.) is pretty much what the LHBS promote as sanitisers.

Being a newbie at homebrewing means I need to sift through the shit loads of
(often contradictory) information on the web and elsewhere and make up my
own mind.  The info I have seen has been pretty favorable towards things
like StarSan (phosphoric acid based) and "oxygen powered" (which I assume is
largely sodium percarbonate).

I guess it is like PC backup software, you don't know how effective it is
until you lose a hard disk.


Re: Newbie - Sterilization
I would say that you're not lucky but a miracle worker... first of all
there's typically enough chlroine in unboiled city water to fry yeast
fermentation and secondarily chlorine doesn't kill all the nasties that can
put off the flavor of beer.

Are you measuring your final gravity to see what kind of attenuation you're

I hear you about contradictory information but that's the philosophical side
of beer-- you've got to do what works for you!!!!  Live and learn.  This is
also the important aspect of keeping good records of what you've done that
works or doesn't work..

Anyway... I guess I'm sold on iodophor.  Barring that, household bleach does
as much as as any of the fancy stuff as long as you're anal about rinsing
(again, chlorine can be your friend and your enemy).

I'd also strongly suggest you get to full 5 gallon boils as this does a lot
towards sanitizing everything anyway...
"sozman" <pauls> wrote in message
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Re: Newbie - Sterilization
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At the end of the day even Homer Simpson could probably brew beer

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Maybe chlorine levels vary from place to place.  Melbourne has a reputation
for very clean water.  I have a water filter in my kitchen and there is not
a great difference between what comes out it and what comes out unfiltered.

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Yes.  It has varied but about 1012 (say for an APA from a kit).

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Exactly.  Unfortunately newbies like me have to start somewhere and in my
case it was a combination of research and what was on the shelf at the LHBS.

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As soon as I can convert that old twin tub washing machine :-)

Re: Newbie - Sterilization
Yagottawundah wrote:
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I use Chlorine and have had good results.  But yes, the cost is alot of
cleaning, and a bleach-smelling kitchen and face/hair until you take a

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Not a bad idea, but for the smaller investment, I've had good luck using
bottled water for those last two gallons.  Depending on where you shop,
I get mine at $0.87/gallon.   Worth it to me.  As for the other 3
gallons, I use Brita.  The drinking water also adds some minerals to the
mineral-sketchy Brita-filtered tap water.


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