Skip to main content

My Brewing Process - Part 5, Cleanup

In the previous installments of this series of posts, we've looked at recipe creation and prep, mashing, boiling, and fermenting.  Now it's time to look at cleanup.

The more batches of beer I've done, the more I refine my cleaning process and activities.

I try to do cleaning when I'm not actively working on brewing the beer. For example, during the mash there are long stretches of time where you can clean or sanitize equipment. The same is true during some parts of the boil process. If you use your time effectively, you can get most of your cleanup done by the time you pump the wort into the fermenter. This will reduce your overall elapsed brewing time.

After the sparge process is finished, I lift the grain basket off the kettle and place it inside a 5-gallon stainless kettle that it fits comfortably inside.

As the wort heats to boiling in The Grainfather, I begin scooping the grain out of the basket and into a plastic bag or trash can for disposal.  (If you have cats and buy litter in those large yellow buckets, these make an excellent grain disposal vessel.) By the time the wort is boiling, I've emptied the basket of grain. I rinse the basket in the utility sink, and also rinse out the kettle.  Those items are very nearly spotless at that point (though I'll finish the job with PBW).

Next, I'll put a half-scoop of PBW into the 5-gallon kettle and fill it with the hottest water I can get from the tap. When the kettle's about half full, I drop the grain basket in and clean it up. I rinse it with fresh hot water and dry it off. By now, The Grainfather typically has the wort boiling.

As the boil reaches the 30-minute mark, I'll mix up Star San and sanitize my fermenter and carefully dry out the excess Star San with a clean paper towel.

When brewing is finished and the wort's in the fermenter, I finish the cleanup process.

At this point, final cleanup consists of these steps:
  • I dump the leftover wort and sediment from The Grainfather's kettle into the sink and rinse it down the drain.
  • I put some PBW solution from the 5-gallon kettle into The Grainfather's kettle and scrub any caked on material in the bottom of the kettle or on its sides. I dump this out and rise the kettle with hot water until I see few (or no) floaters in it.
  • I put the rest of the PBW solution into The Grainfather's kettle and pump the hot PBW through the counter flow chiller and recirculation pipe to clean those.
  • I dump all the PBW and fill the kettle with hot water. I rinse down the sides of the kettle to get any PBW off it, then start the pump. First I'll recirculate through the recirculation pipe, then through the counter flow chiller.  The chiller and pipe are now clean and rinsed, ready for my next brew session.
  • I dump the rinse water out. If there were floaters in it, I may do this a couple of times to get rid of them. 
  • I dry out The Grainfather kettle, grain basket, lid, and pipes.
  • I clean the sparge water kettle and dry it out for the next use.
  • From here, I'll wipe down the work table and perhaps mop the floor.
I've found that the combination of hot water and PBW is extremely effective at removing even the most caked-on mess at the bottom of The Grainfather's kettle. It may need to soak a while if the caked on mess is too thick, but often it comes loose easily. Rinsing with hot water gets rid of the PBW reside.

Occasionally, beerstone will appear in a fermenter or other vessel. I've found a pretty effective way to remove that (a long soak in Oxiclean with very hot water, followed by scrubbing).

Usually at this point I'm left with a few utensils and plastic bowls that need some cleanup. These I'll typically haul upstairs and wash them in the kitchen sink or dishwasher.

The last part of the process, bottling, will be covered in the final installment.


Popular posts from this blog

Grainfather Specifications for BeerSmith, Beer Tools Pro, and Other Software

Recently, I've been trying to "dial in" settings in BeerSmith and Beer Tools Pro so that I can do a better job getting my actual brewing results to match up to the figures in the software. Below are some of the figures I've worked out with my US Grainfather. Given manufacturing variances and possible measuring errors on my part, these might not match exactly to yours, but hopefully they're close enough that it will help you. BeerSmith Equipment Profile: Brewhouse Efficiency: 83% (based on my experience, yours may vary) Mash Tun Volume: 8 gallons Mash Tun Weight: 8.82 pounds Mash Tun Specific Heat: 0.12 Cal/gram-deg C Mash Tun Addition: 0 gallons Lauter Tun Losses: 0 gallons Top Up Water for Kettle: 0 gallons Boil Volume: 6.25 gallons Boil Time: 60 minutes Boil Off: 0.40 gallons per hour Cooling Shrinkage: 6% Loss to Trub and Chiller: 0.53 gallons Batch Volume: 5 gallons Fermenter Loss: 0.40 gallons (yours may vary) Whirlpool time: 0 minutes B

Yellow Label Angel Yeast vs. Typical Brewing Yeast

I currently have my second batch of rice wine fermenting with the "magical" yellow-label Angel Yeast from China, and wanted to share some of the more unusual aspects of using it.  If you've never seen or used this yeast, I suspect you're not alone.  It ships in a 500 gram package that looks like this: What makes it "yellow label" is that yellow box you see in the upper left corner of the package.  This implies that it's yeast for distilling (though you do not need to have a still or distill the output to use it).  As I understand it, inside the package is a mix of yeast and other materials which will convert starch into sugar and directly ferment it, without the need for a traditional mash step.  This can radically shorten your brewing time.  For my most-recent batch of rice wine, I heated 3 gallons of water to 155F, poured it over 13+ pounds of uncooked rice straight out of the bag, let that soak for an hour, rehydrated some of this yeast in warm water,

Things I've Learned Brewing with The Grainfather, Part 2

In the last post, I shared an overview of The Grainfather, recommended equipment to use with it, and an overview of the brewing process.  In this installment, I'm going to talk specifically about mashing and sparging. Having brewed over a dozen batches with it, I'm finally becoming very comfortable with the device, the mash process, and how to get what I want out of it. I don't consider myself a "master" of it yet, though. For those who have never done all-grain brewing, I want to provide a quick overview of the mash process itself. Mashing - With or Without The Grainfather The goal of mashing is to turn the starches in the grain into sugars. More specifically, you want to turn the starches into a mix of fermentable and unfermentable sugars that provide the flavor profile associated with the beer you are brewing. A sweeter beer might warrant more unfermentable sugars. A more dry beer will demand few unfermentable sugars. To a great extent, controlling the