— phillyfermentation (@phillyferm) March 3, 2019
How do you go about diagnosing your brewing problems to find the cause? There are many online and book/magazine resources. I like using charts where I can scroll down a one or two page sheet to find some possible causes and then dig into some further research on those few.
Brew Your own (byo.com) has a great and (somewhat comical) troubleshooting chart aimed at new and experienced homebrewers. I keep this bookmarked for brewday and fermentation troubles.
I go back and forth between OxiClean free and PBW (from Five Star) due to the cost of PBW and how effective i find plain old OxiClean to be. Oxiclean is a versatile oxygen activated cleaner that when combined with water (hot is best) releases oxygen and scrubs away stubborn stains and organic material. Be sure to get the “free” version which has no perfumes or dyes and is chlorine free. Bonus points for using it in my laundry as well, especially whites. OxiClean is about 1/5th of the cost of PBW.
I typically fill the entire vessel (keg, carboy, bucket) up to the top with the appropriate concentration of cleanser. In my early homebrewing days I would just fill up a gallon or two and shake, stir, or agitate the vessel. But that was time consuming and dangerous around glass. It is worth it to me to fill the whole volume and let it soak overnight and it is typically ready for a hot water rinse in the morning and ready to be sanitized.
Oxygen based cleaners do tend to foam up if agitated. I recently graduated to an DIY “automated” keg cleaner (review and DIY build coming soon) and it will begin to foam out of the bucket. I just shut it down for a few minutes and let the foam subside before restarting. It also becomes quite slippery so be extra careful around glass.
PBW does contain about 30% Sodium Metasilicate which is not in OxiClean.
OxiClean is not recommended for aluminum kettles as it will oxidize the metal and cause darkening.
The big box stores also sell a Sun brand version of it so you can pick up a bucket. And always remember, cleaners are not sanitizers and vice versa. You can’t sanitize an dirty carboy.
Overall, PBW is a superior product with more cleaning potential that I will use for deep cleaning sessions. But I find that if I kick a keg and clean it that night OxiClean does the trick.
You can grab either of them here:
Sanitizer in a spray bottle – utilizing a spray bottle filled with your favorite sanitizer is one of the easiest and most efficient methods to quickly sanitize small parts. Use it to spray tin foil on your yeast starter, quick disconnects, or anything that hits the floor. Currently I prefer Star San from Five Star for its ease of use. My LHBS even refills the bottles from a bulk container for a couple dollars cheaper than buying a new one so maybe yours does as well.