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A Home Brewers Dream: Cleaning Your Home Brew Supplies with BKF
March 24, 2021
One of the hobbies that have taken off during the lockdown is homebrewing. Homebrewing equipment sales are up. More and more folks are making handcrafted beer, and more and more brewers are disappointed in their results.
A homebrewer can buy the best homebrew supply, gather choice ingredients, and follow a recipe to a “T,” and the brew can still come out poorly. Why is that? It could be the cleanliness of the equipment.
How to Keep Your Home Brew Supplies Clean
Passivating Your Brew Kettle
If you’re like me, you’ve never heard of brew kettle passivation. Unfortunately, neither have many homebrewers. Passivation is a chemical process, which forms a protective layer on the inside of the brew kettle. Without this layer, it’s easy to lose your brew. Bacteria and other contaminants can change your brew from tasteful to wasteful. Adventures in Homebrewing, experts on Homebrewing who have been sharing advice since 1999 explain how to passivate your homebrew kettle.
“First, you need an acid. Bar Keeper’s Friend is an oxalic acid cleaner that’s great for stainless steel. The acid reacts with the metal to form the protective layer inside the brew kettle. Simply sprinkle the Barkeeper’s Friend into the kettle with just enough water to make a thin paste. Spread it around the kettle with a washcloth. After several minutes, rinse the brew kettle very well, and wipe dry with a towel. If the towel comes out clean, you’re in good shape. Allow the new brew kettle to air dry for a few days. The combination of the acid treatment and the air will continue to passivate the kettle.”
Does Bar Keepers Friend Really Work for
“We’ve recently discovered the wonders of Bar Keepers Friend, a wonderful cleaning product that will clean your brewing kettles and keep them bright and shiny! For beer brewing, you can use it to clean all your stainless steel gear like taps, but its major use comes from cleaning your brewing kettles.” — How to Homebrew
Bar Keepers Friend is Magic!
“And so, it came to pass that I began my reluctant alliance with the great majestic beast that is Bar Keepers Friend. And then it took like basically no time at all. I don’t know why I don’t do this more often.
The procedure I used:
- Spray down your kettle with the hose to free any debris and wet the surface.
- Liberally sprinkle on Bar Keepers Friend
- Scrub the kettle with the resulting paste and a clean sponge.
I used only the soft, yellow, gentle side of the sponge since I’m super freaked-out about scratching my stainless.” — Kettle Cleaning Day!
How Often Should You Clean Your Home Brew Supplies?
Most kettle manufactures recommend cleaning the kettle and other stainless-steel equipment after every batch. Taking your equipment apart to deep clean should be done every 6 to 12 brews or no longer than 6 months.
How Do I know If my Homebrew Supply Is Contaminated?
Home brew supplies that are not properly cleaned and sanitized eventually becomes contaminated with microbes. Microbes are microscopic living things that are all around us. They survive in air, water, soil, and home brewing equipment. Microbes include bacteria, viruses, and fungi. One way to determine if your equipment is covered in microbes is the finished product. Some call it the rule of three. Your first batch is fine, the second seems a little off, and the third is undrinkable. That’s why it’s so important to keep your homebrew equipment clean with more than a rinse down after completing a brew.
More Pro Tips
- Don’t rush. Cleaning your homebrew equipment is one of the key elements to a successful and tasty brew.
- Don’t use soap or detergent. Soap leaves residues, which can ruin a beer’s head.
- Remove the spigot from the bottling bucket. Do this to clean inside the spigot to halt bacterial buildup.
- Use non-abrasive sponges and scrubbers. Abrasive cloths, sponges, or scrappers can scratch stainless-steel and plastic. The scratches are perfect hiding places for bacteria.
A Clean Home Brew is a Tasty Home Brew
Yes, it’s essential to keep your homebrew equipment clean, so it doesn’t become grimy and stained but what may be even more significant is that keeping your equipment shiny and clean helps you brew a better beer! Cheers!
About the Author
Randy Clark is a speaker, coach, and author. He publishes a weekly blog at Randy Clark Leadership.com. Randy is passionate about social media, leadership development, and flower gardening. He’s a beer geek and on weekends (after COVID-19) he can be found fronting the Rock & Roll band Under the Radar. He’s the proud father of two educators; he has four amazing grandchildren and a wife who dedicates her time to helping others. Randy is the author of the Amazon bestseller The New Manager’s Workbook: A crash course in effective management.