By Chris Jennings
For the Oregon Beer Growler
As homebrewers, we all know the huge importance of keeping our equipment sanitized. Not only can dirty equipment ruin our tasty homebrew, but it can also invite unwanted guests into our brewhouse. Keeping our equipment clean and the space we store everything in organized is a great way to ensure future brewing success.
Properly storing your ingredients will not only prevent spoilage, but it will also keep pests away. The best way to decide how something should be stored at your home is by seeing how your local homebrew shop does it. If they have ingredients such as grain and spices in airtight containers, then it is a safe bet that you should store them that way at your house. These containers should also be kept off the floor and on a shelf to prevent rodents and bugs from getting into the good stuff. You also want to be sure that all of the bins you use for dried storage are food-safe.
When storing hops, the best method is to freeze them in their original packaging. However, if you’ve opened the bag they came in and didn’t use all of the hops, you can use a vacuum-sealing device to close the package or place them in a plastic resealable bag for freezing. Avoid keeping hops at room temperature because they will begin to lose a lot of their aroma and flavor due to oil evaporation.
Meanwhile, yeast should always be kept at refrigeration temperature until you’re ready to use it. Yeast stored at room temperature will start growing bacteria and become unusable.
Equipment storage is just as important as ingredient storage. Making sure that everything has a place and doesn’t run the risk of accumulating grime is just as important as cleaning our fermenters after we have emptied them. Some simple, inexpensive wire racks are great for storing buckets and carboys. Small parts, such as air locks and stoppers, are best kept in a tool box with individual compartments. Try to use wall space for storage as well to help cut down the amount of counter and shelf space that you’ll need. Hanging tubing from hooks on a peg board will help keep liquid from pooling and mold growth. Store buckets and carboys upside down to help drain every drop of liquid.
Once you have properly organized your brewhouse, the next important thing to do is to clean the whole brewing area. You don’t want slime and mold growing in the cracks and corners. Simply hosing down the floors and making sure there is no standing water left is the fastest and easiest way to ensure that you have no brewing disasters. Brewing is a lot of “hurry up and wait,” so the next time you are brewing an awarding-winning beer, try cleaning along the way to make the process easier the next time around.
How to Store Brewing Supplies
Stories from the print edition of the Oregon Beer Growler.