Skip to main content

Beerstone Removal from Stainless Steel Fermenters

I have four stainless steel fermenters.  Three are made by SS Brewing Technologies, and have a conical bottom with a valve, dip tube, and thermowell.  The last is by Chapman and is a cylindrical shape with a tap near the bottom.  They are all good products, but I'm partial to the SS Brewing Technologies fermenters for their conical bottoms (to capture trub and yeast), stackability, and thermowells.

Although I purchased it (supposedly) new, one of my SS Brewing Technologies fermenters arrived with a rough white substance on the inside.  I suspected that this was beerstone, and was hesitant to use the fermenter for that reason.  Beerstone can create pockets for bacteria to thrive in, and it can be difficult or impossible to sanitize that surface well enough to prevent infection.  I work too hard on my brews to chance an avoidable infection.

Recently, I started reviewing how other home brewers were removing beerstone from their equipment.  The recommended solution is a two-stage cleaning with extremely hot water. The first stage uses a phosphoric/nitric acid mixture.  The second uses an alkaline cleaner.  After using the alkaline cleaner, a very thorough rinse is recommended.

Digging around online, finding the recommended acids was difficult if not impossible due to concerns over their hazardous nature.  My stand-by cleaner, PBW, is an alkaline one so I figured it might do the trick if I could find the acid mix.  Star San contains one of the acids, but not both.

I continued to research and found that a number of home brewers swear by Oxiclean.  They say that mixing Oxiclean with very hot water and letting the fermenter soak for an hour or two would loosen beerstone and make it easier to remove. I had purchased a 10-pound package of Sodium Percarbonate (one of the active ingredients in Oxiclean) from Amazon a couple of years ago.  I use a tablespoon of it in a large quantity of hot water to remove labels from bottles for home brewing, and to remove caked on yeast from the bottom of the bottle before tossing them in the dishwasher.

I figured I had little to lose, so I took a small quantity of the chemical (approximately 2 ounces) and put it in the fermenter with the beerstone problem.  I then ran the hottest tap water I could into the fermenter until it was full (or at least had a water line above the beerstone).  I put the lid on the fermenter and left it for about an hour.

When I returned, I removed some of the mixture from the fermenter until I got down to the level of the beerstone.  Sadly, I could still see it on the wall of the fermenter.  I took out a scrubbing sponge I use to clean my fermenters and scrubbed with moderate pressure.  The beerstone removed instantly.  By the time I'd scrubbed the entire inner surface of the fermenter, you could no longer see or feel any beerstone in it.

If you find beerstone caked in your stainless fermenters, you may want to give this a try.

Comments

  1. "Although I purchased it (supposedly) new, one of my SS Brewing Technologies fermenters arrived with a rough white substance on the inside."

    If it was brand new this may have been polishing compound from the factory. This is why SSbrewtech recommends using tsp to clean the fermenter before first use.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Note that comments to this blog are moderated in order to minimize spam comments and things that might be offensive to readers.

Popular posts from this blog

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

Brewing with The Grainfather, Part 3 - Cleaning and Overall Thoughts

In Part 1 of this series, I introduced The Grainfather and discussed how to use it for mashing and sparging.  In Part 2, we talked about boiling and chilling the wort with The Grainfather and its included counterflow chiller.  In this final segment, we'll discuss cleanup and overall thoughts about the device and its usage. Cleanup Once you've pumped the wort from The Grainfather into your fermenter and pitched your yeast, you're well on your way to a delicious batch of homebrew.  Unfortunately, you've still got some cleanup work to do. The cleanup process in my experience will take 20-30 minutes.  It involves the following tasks: Removing and discarding the grain from The Grainfather's grain basket Cleaning the grain basket, kettle, recirculation tube, and wort chiller Cleaning all the other implements used in brewing (scale, scoops, mash paddle, etc.) At the end of the brewing process, there will be hops bags (if you used them), grain and other residu

Chapman Brewing Equipment 7 Gallon Stainless Steel Fermenter

Chapman's 7-Gallon Stainless Fermenter Recently, I found the Chapman Brewing Equipment 7-gallon SteelTank stainless steel fermenter on sale on Amazon for approximately $110.  That's about half the price of the other stainless steel fermenter I own, Ss Brewing Technology's Brewmaster Bucket. In fairness to the Brewmaster Bucket, the Chapman fermenter lacks a number of features.  The Chapman has no legs underneath it.  It's not designed to stack multiple fermenters on one another.  It has no thermowell or thermometer.  It doesn't have a conical bottom to catch yeast and sediment.  It also doesn't have a spigot you can use for bottling.  So the extra $100 buys a few features you're not getting here. That said, there is nothing wrong with this fermenter.  It seems very well made from 304 stainless steel.  There are good strong looking handles.  The gasketed lid can be clamped down for sealing and safety when carrying.  It even ships with a 3-piece airlo