Deep Cleaning Boil Kettle Question

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springinloose1

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Every brew, before I begin and after I'm done, gets a hot PBW soak with a Star San rinse. I put all my equipment away clean, sanitized, and dry every time, no exceptions.

I decided to pull apart the bulkhead, its fittings, the thermometer, and sight glass and was astounded at the amount of gunk. The lower sight glass hole was probably the worst besides the dip tube threads. Inside the cast aluminum piece, under the gaskets, and in the allen set screw threads was all pretty gnarly.

I admit. Shame on me for not looking sooner, however, I really didn't think about it. I honestly thought everything was sealed and as long as I made sure everything was soaked hot with PBW, cleaned, sanitized, and dried that I'd be good. And after 50+ all grain batches now, I've only had one that was dump worthy.

So, my question is how many batches/years do you go before doing this type of deep clean on your boil kettle and mash tun?
 
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springinloose1

springinloose1

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You're supposed to clean it?
I mean... I'm thinking so......... However that's why I'm here. To see how many actually do the "deep clean". Because I never have until now after all these batches but....
 

SoCal-Doug

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It's good that you always "clean up". Beer-stone is going to form though and will need to be dealt with. I do an acid wash about every 3 to 5 brews depending on my recipes brewed. It works amazingly good and keeps everything bare metal clean. The link below will help explain it. Something else you can try is hot water and a scrubby with barkeepers friend powder (from supermarkets, winco, restaurant supplies, etc). It's made for stainless steel and has a mild oxalic acid (not as good as a phosphoric / nitric acid blend, but cheap and readily available).

https://www.morebeer.com/articles/removing_preventing_beerstone
 

RPh_Guy

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My unscientific approach:
I rinse my kettle with water and then use leftover starsan to clean it and then rinse again. I scrub it and it sparkles.
8 brews on my big kettle and haven't cleaned the inside of the valve yet.

I rinse my cooler mash tun with starsan to help avoid nasty smells.

Cold side everything gets dismantled and cleaned (PBW soak) every time.
 

mongoose33

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I don’t understand why you guys are sanitizing your brew kettle?
Cleaning is good, sanitizing a brew kettle that you are going to boil in seems silly and unnecessary jmo
You beat me to it, Michael. Every time I boil something in my BK, it's sanitized.

I'm not saying I want gunk in my parts (that sounds vaguely titillating, eh?) but a hot soak in PBW turns everything bright.

We should probably define how hot and how long. My tap water is 135-140 degrees, and I'll let it soak for 30-60 minutes. I used to use tap water that was pretty warm but I still could get my hand in there with a paper towel and scrub. Then I did the hotter version and I was astounded at how much better PBW worked. Much easier to rinse out the kettle to get out the trub and stuff, then fill with 3 or so gallons of hot water and PBW, and let it soak. I'm making sure the water is above all valves and ports.
 
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Jayjay1976

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After every batch I rinse out most of the trub then fill to 3 gallons, add pbw, bring it to a boil and recirculate for 30 minutes while I slowly cycle the two ball valves and clean other things. I started doing the valve cycling after seeing how gross they were when I took them apart. Last brewday I noticed the inside of my ss fittings had a brown buildup so obviously boiling homemade pbw isn't doing enough or maybe it just needs more time. Will a hot starsan soak take that off?
 

RPh_Guy

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I'm not sanitizing the kettle, I'm using an phosphoric acid cleaner with surfactant :)

It certainly looks clean.
Will I develop beer stone if I don't use PBW occasionally?
 
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springinloose1

springinloose1

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That's cool you all are doing the exact same type of cleaning I've been doing all these years but for giggles I decided to reach out to Blichmann to see if they had anything additional they could add. Pretty consistent with our lines of thinking.

1.) Do you think that leftover gunk that accumulates in the threads during the boil could affect beer flavor or be harmful? I do not, but want your opinion.
No I don't think it is a big issue, at this point it is on the hot side so the boil is going to kill any bacteria that may be there. Obviously you don't want it but it is going to build up.

2.) How often do you recommend pulling everything apart and doing a deep clean like this? It's obviously a chore to pull it all apart, re-tape the threads, and hook it all back up.
I would recommend at least once a year pull it all down and give it a good cleaning. If you are brewing every month maybe increase to twice a year.

So there you have it. You don't want gunk to be in there, but it's going to build up, it's not an issue, won't affect beer flavor, and a once or twice a year deep clean is sufficient.

Cheers.
 

Jayjay1976

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I brew every other Sunday morning like clockwork, just like going to church, which if I'm brewing a Belgian makes me feel a bit like a monk. I tear down all fittings every 3-4 months just for gits and shiggles, to inspect everything spend some quality time with my rig. Teflon tape is cheap and if I put on a movie or some music it's a nice way to spend a Saturday afternoon spinning wrenches like some kind of a beer mechanic.
 

cubalz

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I scrub my boil kettle right after transferring into my fermenter using PBW and hot water. I also use BKF of any leftover stuck on proteins. When I am done, my kettles always look brand new and I brew at least 2 times a month. I never sanitize on the hot side, there is no point.
 
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