June 21, 2008

Regarding Washing Detergent Use In Bottle Cleaning

Filed under: NEWS — Matt @ 1:47 am

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Hi all. It’s been a while since the last posting but for once most of that wasn’t my laziness! I have been quite busy with more renovations at the Chateau de Viking along with ebaying up a storm, but the major cause of non-postage was caused by me carrying out a software upgrade that became a severe downgrade when I discovered that I could no longer access the site! So, that (not so) little issue has been fixed by the nimble hands of Adam at Propagate and now I can post away.

Chris from Brisbane emailed me regarding an issue he came across during bottling of his first two brews  that I didn’t cover in my Make That Brew Clean  article  (my apologies Chris for taking so long to post your enquiry but I simply couldn’t access the site admin).  He writes -

G’day mate,

Was just perusing your site and had a read of your article “Make the brew clean”,
I was particularly interested in the fact that you said you wash your bottles out with household detergent before storage..

I have just complete my first two brews over the weekend and am about to begin steralisation of the bottles but some of these have been washed in detergent and I had been informed that the were now useless as the detergent can never be totally removed..?
Have you had any problems with this or do you just take extra caution with your final steralisation before bottling?
Any advice appreciated

Kind Regards

Brisbane, Australia

And here’s my reply -

G’Day Chris,

Apologies for the delay in the reply.

I’ve never had any problems myself with washing with detergent. I personally think that is a bit of a myth about never being able to totally remove the detergent and was probably started in the dim dark past by someone who buggered up and didn’t rinse correctly or had poor quality glass. The key element I believe is to ensure that when you wash or scrub with detergent, rinse in nice hot water straight away. Hot straight from the tap is best. If you don’t have hot water available then cold is fine but you will have to rinse a bit more rigorously and be more thorough about it as cold water does not dissolve and wash away detergent residue anywhere near as easily as hot does.

I do this with all my beer glasses also. Wash with detergent then rinse straight away with hot water then let drain dry, not drying with a tea towel. This way I get crystal clear glass and no hassles. DO NOT put your beer glasses into the dishwasher to clean unless you are washing solely with hot water - that is don’t use the dishwasher powder, tablets or that lovely blue liquid additive that makes dishes all sparkly because that WILL destroy the glass for drinking beer out of. But, back to the bottling…

So, like I said earlier, you shouldn’t have any issues with detergent washing as long as you rinse well at the time you wash with clean water, not in a sink that you rinse 60 other bottles in because you will end up with some residue that way. This might be a bit of a problem if you are on heavy water restrictions though because that rinse water is going straight down the sink. In Melbourne we are still on stage 3a which is one step away from no water use at all outside the house, but you will find you don’t need to completely fill the bottle to give it a good rinse, just put a bit in (say 1/4ish or a bit less) and shake like hell. Do that a few times and it should be good.

Also, if you store the bottles cleanly you shouldn’t have to wash with detergent every brew you use them. As long as you rinse all the sediment out and make sure there are no bits still sitting in there and leave to drip dry on a rack you will only need to sanitise for next use. If the bottle is stored clean sinitisation is all that will be needed - unlike a mate who does put his bottles into boxes but leaves them outside to get covered in dust, dirt animals etc. If there is some sort of residue left in the bottle like a bit of old sediment, mould or detergent, it most likely won’t stop the brew from fermenting  but will usually end up causing off tastes. Residue of sodium hypochlorite (bleach) WILL destroy your brew: a small amount of sodium metabisulfate residue shouldn’t stop yeast activity but a larger amount will certainly inhibit they’re normal level of activity. Another reason I use bleach for sanitising is that even if someone had the flu when they drank out of your bottle, the lovely little flu bugs won’t survive 30 minutes soaking in a nice sodium hypochlorite solution.

For storage I have been using mostly just slab boxes - I think you guys call a slab of beer a case up there - with a piece of paper towel tucked under the closed top to keep out dust, but after an invasion of mice i switched to 48 litre plastic tubs from Bunnings. They are great. They only cost (down here) $8.95, they can hold a full brew of empty 375ml bottles (I fit 55 bottles into each tub. I usually make my brews a bit less than the 23 litres that the wort cans generally say - gives better flavour I think) and they have a lid that can be secured against animal and dust ingress. Best of all they can be stacked pretty high on top of each other and are still stable. I use these tubs for storage of bottled brews too, but found only 3/4 of a bottled brew can fit into a tub due to having to store upright. 800ml ‘longnecks’ fit into them too. They are also good to hold everything secure if a bottle explodes.
Thanks for taking the time to check out the website and I hope you’ll come back for updates.  If you don’t mind I’ll post your question on the site - it might help with questions other brewers might have.

Cheers and good brewing Chris -


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