From the HBD Archive
From: hplabs!rutgers!!bnr-rsc!crick (Bill Crick)
Subject: Sanitation
Date: 1989-11-21 16:09:28 GMT

The recent rash of articles on sterilization have prompted me to post some
comments on my brewing experience.

Through the years, I have used various cleaning methods, starting with just
plenty of hot tap water, through to boiling water, and santitizing detergents,
and chlorine bleach. I really haven't noticed a big difference I've never
washed or boiled bottle caps!

I often pitch yeast the next morning. I do use a good healthy starter that has
been started when I do the boil. This is especially true for ales that I want
a high diacetyl content (Butterscotch flavor like Samuel Smith's)
To get this,
I boil all the water. This drives off the oxygen causing a low oxygen
fermentation (I also strip the yeast out of the secondary with finings right
away). Because I've boiled all the water, it takes 12 -24 hours to cool to a
point where I can pitch. Beer is really resilient stuff! Thats why it has been
around so long!

I can't say I've ever had any contamination problems except for 3 - 4 bottles
that gushed (out of about 6400) because the bottle had a bit of gick stuck in
it because it slipped through QA in cleaning. Don't get carried away with
sanitation, but look at what you do and try to develop a good "clean room
disipline" in your actions. I'm not saying "the cleaner the better" is untrue,
but temper this with common sense. There is a law of diminishing returns.

I've also noticed a lot of people that seem to be really paranoid about
relaxing and letting the beer be. Don't be in a rush. I usually leave ales in
secondary for 2 -6 weeks. Lager 4 - 24 weeks. I know "... Autolysis... flavors...not bubbling...started again..." I've never seen any
of these problems! If you do have a bacteria problem, it will probably show up
in long ferment or storage times. I try to wait at least 1 month in bottles. I
also try to 'lose' a 6 pack of each beer I make for at least 8 months. I have
kept some beers around for 3 years, and they are still getting better,
although the rate of improvement tapers off after about a year. (except for
Cherries in the Snow which is still improving after 4 years)

For labelling beers, I give ever recipe a name, and mark a two letter short
form of the name on top of the caps with a marker. This is quick, and when
there are 6 or 7 different beers in the fridge, short names are easier to
remember than numbers, or anything else.

Note having only made about a hundred batches, everything I say may be wrong!

Bill Crick. brewius, ergo sum!

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