Monday, March 27, 2017

My Actual Hobby

Ah, eight cases of clean bottles; a beautiful sight.  This is, of course, what I actually spend most of my "homebrewing" time doing: washing bottles.  And carboys.  And kettles.  And hoses and pumps and fittings and the floor of my basement.

But that's what we're doing when we are homebrewing (and I think it occupies a significant amount of time at a real brewery.)  When you are trying to create conditions that favor the microorganisms you want, you have to scrape out everything you don't want, hence the cleaning.  My homebrewing friends and I often debate what it means for something to be "clean" and I think of it like this.  There are three levels of cleanliness that one can strive for:

1) Clean
2) Sanitized
3) Sterile

I think sterility is a myth, especially in a garage or a basement or your driveway where most of us are making beer.  Trying to get here ends up doing more harm than good.

Getting things sanitized is nice, but if you are doing everything well: good wort with plenty of digestible sugars and strong pitch rates with plenty of the yeast (etc.) that you want, they will overwhelm the bad guys and it will come out fine.

Cleaning stuff, which I define to be removing any chunks of stuff or films lining your glassware, is what you really need to do, and this is really pretty easy.  It can be boring and repetitive, and I tend to get frustrated with some of the more stubborn schmutz that gets stuck in the bottom of some bottles.  Sometimes I just toss them if it seems like too much work.