The Importance of Cleaning...

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by Steve SPF, Nov 5, 2020.

  1. Steve SPF

    Steve SPF Well-Known Member

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    A bit hesitant to post this but I've never claimed to be any kind of expert so...

    I've had a really bad run with the brewing. A couple of years problem free really and when I geared up with new fermenters in June I ran into problems that just baffled me. I posted here about my first dumper and thought that I had just been a bit dumb/naive for not stripping the kettle fittings down but, as it turned out, there was a bit more to it than that.

    The short version is that I dumped the next three brews as well. I brew decent sized batches on a 100lt kit so it's quite a bit of ingredients and cost, and quite a bit of time as well.

    I've ended up with commercial brewers' chemicals for cleaning, caustic and perbac, and a brand new appreciation for the importance of getting all the steps of a good cleaning and hygiene regime right. I now use a hot 2% caustic solution and a paranoid amount of 0.5% perbac solution as a terminal sterilant.

    I don't know honestly what the problem was but I suspect the plate chiller but fully accept it could have been the fermenter as well/instead. It does feel good to have beer in the kegs again after what feels like an age and to be brewing again tomorrow with a bit of confidence.

    Had covid too. Really shitty couple of months :)
     
  2. BarbarianBrewer

    BarbarianBrewer Well-Known Member

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    Glad to see you used the past tense Steve! I hope you recovered 100% and don't have any lasting effects.
     
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  3. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    Jesus Christ dude. That's a bad summer. Glad you're feeling better.
     
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  4. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    #4 Trialben, Nov 5, 2020
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2020
    Your a tough Ba$t&rd mate that's for sure! A credit to your tough grit to stick in there and see this problem solved. I believe you'll be a better brewer for it for sure!
    Well I guess you'd better go buy a lottery ticket because I'm sure theres no bad luck left for you to have this year;):p!
    Onwards and upwards
     
  5. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Glad to hear Covid is in your past.... Cleaning and sanitizing are the two underrepresented heroes in brewing. Yes, your recipe is important but if you don't get the clean and sanitary part right, the recipe is also irrelevant. I use caustic (PBW or clones) in my CIP routine for the pump, the RIMS tube and the chiller, followed by a hot acid rinse. Takes off the beerstone. For the fermentors I simply wash them out, making sure I leave no gunge or deposits, then sanitize the heck out of them prior to refilling. Perbac - peracetic acid plus some other ingredients, is strong stuff! For most of us, it's unnecessary. I also can't find a source at homebrew scale for it in the US.
     
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  6. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    What sort of fermenters were giving you such problems?
     
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  7. Steve SPF

    Steve SPF Well-Known Member

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    Just on the covid front, it kinda kicked the crap out of me. I had real bad muscle aches which I hadn't realised was a covid symptom so just tried to ignore it. Then I hit the wall, tested/diagnosed, and the worst of it was over in a weekend but the aches are long lasting. I think around seven weeks and counting now, today was actually one of the most painful days I've had. It seems like your body lets you know you're doing too much and gives you a bit of a kicking to tell you it's Netflix time.
     
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  8. Steve SPF

    Steve SPF Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure it was the fermenters. I think it was more like my bumping up the scale of the brewing without having the proper cleaning processes in place.

    I bought a couple of new 100lt dished bottom stainless fermenters that I was really pleased with but, quite clearly, I wasn't doing the basics properly. Don't blame the tools :)
     
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  9. Steve SPF

    Steve SPF Well-Known Member

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    A good recipe is a waste of time and ingredients if it ends up tasting like hospital floorwash :)

    I'm fortunate enough to be plugged in to commercial brewers locally so can access the caustic and peracetic. Honestly, I don't want those things around - they are horrible - but I felt in the end that if I wanted to brew beer then I needed them.
     
  10. Steve SPF

    Steve SPF Well-Known Member

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    Last year was worse I promise.

    It's distressing throwing all that beer away but you're dead right, if you can get to the other side of it you're going to have a better understanding of the process and you have to have learned something. I feel that I've learned a lot and will absolutely be a better brewer for it. There's no point in discussing the subtleties of one hop over another when everything comes out with disinfectant overtones and goes down the drain :)
     
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  11. BOB357

    BOB357 Well-Known Member

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    Glad to hear things are now going well Steve. We've all had bad runs and they definitely suck.
     
  12. Ward Chillington

    Ward Chillington Well-Known Member

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    It's all gonna get better from here Steve and attaboy for being the tough bird you are!

    I noticed your mention of a chill plate and your concern there as well. Do you have another option to cool things down? 100 liters is a lotta wort to chill!
     
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  13. Steve SPF

    Steve SPF Well-Known Member

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    Tried a few options like no-chill or immersion chillers, partly because I didn't trust the plate chiller, but I have a pro-brewer pal and he convinced me that the plate chiller was the way to go and that's what the big boys use.
     
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  14. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    Harry from the brew shed would be happy I'm sure to help you out "harrisons Brewery" hes in Sheffield over there wherever that is. He uses that paracetic acid for his sanitation that's when I had a look around for it here in Aus to no avail HB stores dont stock that stuff and I'm happy with phosphoric acid. Might try hot phosphoric acid though as Noseybear suggests I'm finding stone build up in my pipe outlet fitting from kettle.
     
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  15. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    At least at the start, you're running near boiling wort through a plate chiller. That would pretty much sterilize it pretty much immediately. I tried one, couldn't keep enough trub and hop debris out of it to keep it running effectively, so I switched to a counterflow chiller. I can't see in there either but with my CIP process, it should be clean and sanitary for its next use.
     
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  16. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    I run a chill plate as a "pre-chiller" and primary chiller, depending on batch size. I've had good success running hot PBW through it for 20 minutes when I clean the whole system and them at the end of boil, I run boiling wort through it for 10 minutes. That part pasteurizes my whole post-boil plumbing system.
     
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  17. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    Glad to that you "have", or at least, "are" recovering from COVID. It is strange how differently it affects people.
     
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  18. FrostyBeach

    FrostyBeach Well-Known Member

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    I have used a plate chiller for years and have never had any problems with it. I circulate hot pbw clone through it and rinse with water at same temp and then star san. Same pbw and star san go through everything.

    I use the same pbw to clean kegs with too before I'm done with it.
     
  19. FrostyBeach

    FrostyBeach Well-Known Member

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    Good to hear that you have mostly recovered Steve. I got it in March and the joint pain is still bad. The Dr said maybe six months. But they just don't know. Hang in there.
     
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  20. Steve SPF

    Steve SPF Well-Known Member

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    Six months? There's something to look forward to... :)
     

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