Avoiding Homebrewing Pitfalls Each Season

collage of beer pictures

As hard as we homebrewers try to care for our equipment there is always the chance of unforeseen problems. This is truest in the fall when the weather cools and brewing increases. A little preventive maintenance prior to your first batch this autumn is in order. I start each brewing season with a little cheap insurance, an inspection of my equipment, review of last year’s brew log and shake down batch of beer.

Cheap Insurance: At a few cents a foot, it’s better to replace siphon hoses then waste time inspecting them. Rubber stoppers can dry out and they do shrink. Instead of having an old one wind up inside your carboy, air lock and all test fit and if there is any doubt, replace it.

Equipment Inspection: Bottling bucket spigots use a rubber gasket to seal tight. Once again, rubber will dry out and in this case can wear out. Remove the spigot from the bucket and inspect it. Fit the spigot back on to the bucket and test for leaks. Remove and inspect the air lock grommet from plastic fermenter lids (The lid should also be tested for wear. Fill the fermenter half way with water. Attach the lid and fit the air lock in to place. Plug the air lock with a cork or tightly wrapped piece of cloth. Turn the fermenter upside down and check for leaks. If it leaks, try to determine if the problem is with the lid or the rim of the bucket. Replace the faulty part. Plastic fermenters and bottling buckets need to be inspected for scratches. A tiny scratch on the inside of the pail can hold millions of beer loving bugs, even through the sanitation process.

Wash Everything: I soak all my equipment over night in Straight-A cleanser. The next day, after rinsing, I give my fermenter, bottling bucket and carboy the nose test. Stick your head inside and check for sour beer aroma. If it’s there, try soaking in cleanser again. If it persists you may want to replace the vessel.

Last Year’s Brew Log: I am constantly telling customers the importance of recording your brewing activities. Here's another good reason why. Look over your brewing notes for signs of reoccurring problems and frustrating situations. The homebrewing market is growing and there are new gadgets and gizmos coming out all the time. If you are experiencing a problem you can bet you’re not alone. Your knowledge of homebrewing has also increased. Look for signs of bad habits and take steps to correct them.

Shake It Down: If you have not brewed in a while one of the best things you can do is make a batch of basic beer. Don't jump right into a new and complicated recipe. Save that for a time when you know everything is working as it should be. Get back to brewing with a simple and familiar recipe, one that will not cost a fortune if you encounter a brewing disaster and will provide a good brew as you tackle the more difficult ones.

homebrewed beer with malted grains and hop flowers

Home Beer Brewing

Brewing beer is an American Tradition.