Sanitising bottles that will be used for beer, especially in home brewing is an important step to ensure great beer. John Palmer, author of "How to Brew" says sanitising ensures a safe and successful batch of brew by protecting the beer's flavour and ensuring against contamination which could lead to spoilage. There are multiple ways to sanitise bottles including the dishwasher, soaking, no-rinse sanitisers and dry-heat, but, according to Palmer, heat is one of the only ways a homebrewer can sterilise, which kills all microorganisms.
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Things you need
- Aluminium foil
Clean the bottles thoroughly to remove the build-up that might house bacteria. Palmer says the dishwasher is a good place to clean the outside surface of the bottles, but the opening is too small for the dishwasher to effectively clean the inside. Use a bottle brush and scrub the inside, scouring all the crevices.
Sanitise the bottles by soaking them in a large container of water that contains 1 to 4 Tbsp of bleach per gallon of water. Allow the bottles to soak in the solution for at least 20 minutes, but you'll get better results if you soak overnight. If there is any pesky stuck-on build-up, soaking in the bleach solution should soften it enough to remove with the bottle brush.
Rinse the bottles completely with boiled water. Allow the bottles to drip dry upside down. According to the Seven Bridges Cooperative, other no-rinse solutions are available for home brewers, including Iodophor, an iodine sanitiser that is non-toxic when properly diluted. Using this instead of bleach will allow the bottles to drip-dry without the need to rinse.
Place a piece of aluminium foil on the mouth of the bottle before sterilising. This will seal the bottle and keep it sterilised during storage.
Sterilise the bottles with dry-heat by putting the bottles in a cold oven and raising the temperature -15 degrees Celsius every five minutes until the bottle temperature reaches 171 degrees Celsius. Let the bottles remain in the oven at this temperature for an hour.
Cool the bottles by turning off the oven and leave the door closed, letting the oven and the bottles cool slowly. Palmer states that most beer bottles are made of soda lime glass, which is susceptible to thermal shock and breakage. Letting the bottles cool slowly will help prevent this breakage.
Tips and warnings
- If brewing at home, sanitise all the items that will touch the beer after the boil in step two.
- Thoroughly rinse all bleach after sanitising or the taste of the beer will be affected.
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