We collected some of the best tips from top local breweries to help homebrewers prepare for the 2015 1st Annual Sonoma County Home Brewers Competition. Here are some tips for creating a winning brew.
1. Beer Hygiene
It is imperative that you always be neat and clean. Don’t use bleaches on your equipment because it can cause a chemical reaction with the maltose molecules and end in a nasty flavor. Even a slight drop of bleach can destroy an entire batch of a perfect brew. There are so many cleaners and sanitizers available in the market, but you can purchase an inexpensive vodka which does the job just fine as a sanitizer. You can also use vodka in your airlock instead of water. Keep some vodka handy in a spray mist bottle so you can also use it on your equipment on the fly.
To keep your bottles clean use a large cooler that can hold as many as 48 beer bottles. Fill it with 6 – 7 gallons of water with the plug near a drain or sink. Add some no-rinse sanitizer. Sink your bottles neck up until they fill with water to the point they stop floating. You may need to add more water and sanitizer to get larger sized bottles submerged. Leave them there until you are ready for bottling process. Pull the plug to discard the water.
Vinnie Cilurzo, Owner/Brewer for Russian River Brewing Company“At the end of the day sanitation is everything, without good sanitation a brewer cannot make good beer, clean, clean clean. For the advance brewer, don’t overlook how much hop bitterness you will pick up from late kettle and whirlpool hop additions as the wort potentially sits for a while before being cooled down.”
JJ Jay is the master brewer for Petaluma Hills Brewery. My advice is: “A solid recipe, reasonable brewing procedures, and clean and sanitary space and equipment will produce an awesome beer every time!”