Originally Posted by Pat
Just joined the forums, and i'm only just starting to brew. I've got all my stuff, but i'm not completely sure on sterilising the bucket/barrel. I've got Sodium Metabisulphate, and i need to know what to do with it basically.
The brew is going to be 5 gallons. How much of it do i need to put in? How long do i leave it in for? Do i stir? Do i rinse? Should i start the brewing immediately after?
Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Welcome to brewing! I'd say welcome to the forum, but I'm new too.
When thinking about cleaning beer equipment, it's your mindset that is the most important thing. Remember, you aren't sterilizing your equipment (unless you brew in a lab or clean room). What you're after is sanitizing. That is, you want to remove as many nasties as possible and stay as clean as possible, though that is never truly sterile.
I use Iodophor and bleach, though mostly the iodine. When I use bleach to sanitize something, it's always followed by thorough rinsing and then iodine sanitizing to be as thorough as possible.
Here are a few tips that will help get you in the right frame of mind:
1) Cleaning - clean everything immediately after use. Don't store dirty equipment, carboys or whatever. Wash it right away. It's easier and more sanitary. Dirty stuff breeds up the population of nasties in your brew environment.
2) Sanitizing - Anything that comes into contact with cooled wort needs to be sanitized. It should be sanitized right up until the time it comes into contact with the beer. In the case of the bucket you are using for a primary, you want to have it filled with sanitizer until just before you want to put your wort into it. The same goes for airlocks, racking canes, or whatever.
3) Minimize exposure time - Once your wort is in the fermentor, cover it immediately. When racking, replace airlocks as quickly as possible.
4) Use a chiller - If you don't have one, get one. Waiting for the wort to cool before pitching yeast invites disaster each and every time. All that time it spends at hot temperatures invites the nasties to grow. Remember, your fermentor is not sterile. There *always* will be undesirable nasties in it. Your goal is to minimize the exposure your wort has to them, and to outcompete them with yeast. Your chiller, if it is a counterflow chiller, is a major vector for contamination, so you need to clean it religiously, and occasionally hit it with caustic line cleaner. ALWAYS rinse and sanitize it immediately after use, because if wort dries in your chiller, you have a major problem.
5) BIG yeast pitch - Always make a starter for your yeast. Always use liquid yeast for the best flavor. I don't care what Wyeast or White Labs say. Their yeasts are not large enough volume even for a five gallon batch. Get yourself some DME, make a small batch(.25 gallon) of wort a few days before you want to brew. Sanitize a gallon jug and an airlock that fits it. Being *very* careful to be clean, put the wort into the bottle, and, once it is cool enough, add the yeast. This will not only increase the yeast cell count, but a couple days later, when you pitch the yeast, it will be at a phase in its lifecycle that lends itself to a much quicker-starting ferment.
If you follow these steps, you won't get infections. That's because your wort will go from boiling hot (sanitized) to chilled very quickly, and then very quickly have a large, healthy, exuberant yeast pitch added to it. So, even though we know that nothing that touches your wort is really sterile, you have put the desirable yeast at such an advantageous position that they will immediately dominate the brew.
After a while, all of this comes second-hand. You won't even have to think about it once you get the right mindset. Have fun!