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Old 03-06-2013, 04:23 PM   #1
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Default This is probably going to start a riot but...

So let me begin by saying that I think proper sanitation and sterilization is a very important part of producing consistent brews.

However, sterilization, the complete removal of microorganisms, which is almost impossible to achieve unless you use lab grade equipment such as chlroine gas or a large autoclave is nearly impossible to achieve. As homebrewers we do the best that we can using products like starsan, iodine or bleach but microoganisms are still left behind and are most likely introduced again through the air when drying your equipment.

After reading a number of books on natural/wild/open fermentation, I contend that sterilization is not as important as proper sanitation, cleaning the surface that comes in contact with your ferment with, at a minimum hot water, and dare I say it, small amounts of soap.

For example, in the Art of Fermentation the author only sanitzies using water and soap and doesn't go to through the extra steps of sterlization and doesn't run into issues with his ferments. Strange right? And definietly not in alignment with what we have been told about proper cleaning methods.

The author says that the most important thing is to provide a relatively clean environment for the ferment and provide the conditions necessary for the yeast to establish a healthy colony, whether yeast are pitched from a culture or introduced through open fermentation. Once the colony is established then there is not a lot of room in the ferment "eco-system" for other bugs/competitors to take hold...survival of the fittest in action. The crucial part is establishing a healthy colony and sterilization definitely works to your favor but is not a requirement.

I have tried this myself and had similar success using only proper sanitation with no sterilization on smaller fermentation projects. This makes sense if we reflect upon how beer and other ferments used to be made not too long ago without the use of modern sterilization techniques.

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Old 03-06-2013, 04:29 PM   #2
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I can't see why this will start a riot. I'm fairly confident that most do not believe in fully sterilizing brewing equipment and feel proper sanitization is sufficient. However, in your Art of Fermentation example the author appears to be cleaning with soap and water. I wouldn't call that sanitization.

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Old 03-06-2013, 04:32 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by japroto View Post
So let me begin by saying that I think proper sanitation and sterilization is a very important part of producing consistent brews.

However, sterilization, the complete removal of microorganisms, which is almost impossible to achieve unless you use lab grade equipment such as chlroine gas or a large autoclave is nearly impossible to achieve. As homebrewers we do the best that we can using products like starsan, iodine or bleach but microoganisms are still left behind and are most likely introduced again through the air when drying your equipment.

After reading a number of books on natural/wild/open fermentation, I contend that sterilization is not as important as proper sanitation, cleaning the surface that comes in contact with your ferment with, at a minimum hot water, and dare I say it, small amounts of soap.

For example, in the Art of Fermentation the author only sanitzies using water and soap and doesn't go to through the extra steps of sterlization and doesn't run into issues with his ferments. Strange right? And definietly not in alignment with what we have been told about proper cleaning methods.

The author says that the most important thing is to provide a relatively clean environment for the ferment and provide the conditions necessary for the yeast to establish a healthy colony, whether yeast are pitched from a culture or introduced through open fermentation. Once the colony is established then there is not a lot of room in the ferment "eco-system" for other bugs/competitors to take hold...survival of the fittest in action. The crucial part is establishing a healthy colony and sterilization definitely works to your favor but is not a requirement.

I have tried this myself and had similar success using only proper sanitation with no sterilization on smaller fermentation projects. This makes sense if we reflect upon how beer and other ferments used to be made not too long ago without the use of modern sterilization techniques.


Who says you need to sterilize anything in order to brew? The only time sterilization is needed in brewing is if you're yeast harvesting or culturing.

Edit : That's why this forum is Equipment/Sanitation and not Equipment/Sterilization
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Old 03-06-2013, 04:39 PM   #4
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Aack, two replies already, here comes the riot!!!!

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Old 03-06-2013, 04:40 PM   #5
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That's Shooter for ya, always first to the riot.

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Old 03-06-2013, 04:44 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Shooter View Post
I can't see why this will start a riot. I'm fairly confident that most do not believe in fully sterilizing brewing equipment and feel proper sanitization is sufficient. However, in your Art of Fermentation example the author appears to be cleaning with soap and water. I wouldn't call that sanitization.
I get the OP's point and the author's point of 'Art of Fermentation.' But as one who has hand an infected beer (bad transfer hose into bottling bucket I think), I'm inclined to not just try and clear away any food for the buggers, but also kill as many as possible.

Sure we leave our spoons and forks and other untensils and eatingware days or weeks without worrying about food contamination when we eat. Why? because there is no food on them for the bacteria to get going on. And our brew equipment should be similar, but there is no guarentte after use that we have everything up to sufficent quality that we get no infections.

I agree, this isn't sufficent to be called sanitation. And both have technical definitions when refering to sanatizing or sterilizing agents (chemicals, heat, etc). These come in to play when the manufactures sell Star San as a 'rated sanatizer' or such. None of what we buy claims to be sterilzers.

I'd submit that the process mentioned simply is 'cleaning'
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Old 03-06-2013, 04:55 PM   #7
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So let me begin by saying that I think proper sanitation and sterilization is a very important part of producing consistent brews...
I'm not going to argue the points you make and I'm not going argue what other people feel is important to them.

For me, proper pitch rate, fermentation temperature, and water quality are way more important in brewing and trying to brew consistent batches. Given an optimal environment, the yeast will take care of the beer. Yes, that includes providing a clean environment for them to work in, but I don't need sterilization and the obsessive sanitation people talk about at times. My efforts are better spent on controlling those other factors and just making sure I clean and spray down whatever touches my beer with some form of sanitizer. You know, I never sanitize my bottle caps and have never had a problem in my 30+ batches. That's well over 1,500 bottles and I have not had a single noticeable infection or inconsistency within a batch. I even ferment with the lid loosely placed on my bucket most of the time.

I'm not proposing people throw caution to the wind when it comes to cleanliness, but you likely don't have to worry about it as much as others may think. Now if you keep your fermentor in a moldy basement, next to your trashcan, or right by your toilet, I'd say, yeah, try to be a little cleaner when checking on it.
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Old 03-06-2013, 04:55 PM   #8
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I tend to follow the same procedure as the OP. The critical cleaning takes place during the boil and as long as the rest of the gear has been washed and dried the yeast that you pitch will overwhelm most other bacteria. Yes it is possible to get a nasty, but beer has been brewed since Pharoah's were in charge and they certainly never sterilized or sanitized, just washed the jug and drove on.

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Old 03-06-2013, 06:34 PM   #9
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I can't think of a single person who believes brewing requires a sterile environment. Sanitation is critical only in specific area ans steps, and even then, if you cleaned well, your odds of actually getting an infection is still very small. IMO the OP's comments are very likely on par with what most people do.

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Old 03-06-2013, 06:38 PM   #10
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Katz is explaining mainly native lactic ferments is the AOF. No reason to sanitize in this case.

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