Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my beer taste different than last time?

There are a lot of factors that can come into play, but the most important is cleanliness. The vessels you use for preparing your product must be clean and properly sanitized prior to use. Scale, beerstone, beer solids, even dirt can harbor bacteria which can have a significant negative impact on product quality. You’ve heard it from others…. Clean, clean, clean.

Why can’t I use straight chemicals, like sodium hydroxide, to clean my tanks & vessels?

You can use straight chemicals, and your tanks will probably come very clean. Sodium Hydroxide is a great material for the removal of protein. But it does not easily penetrate soils, it’s not easily rinsed from surfaces, reacts with hard water to form insoluble precipitates, and can cause water hardness to precipitate during and after rinsing. These precipitates will quickly form a film and eventually a scale on surfaces that will harbor bacteria. A properly formulated cleaning compound will assure that the cleaning action is accomplished in the most efficient manner. It will contain additives (builders, wetting agents, chelants) that prevent or minimize the drawbacks of the straight chemical.

Can I use the cleaners I buy at the grocery store to clean in my brewery.

Of course you can. . Remember, the grocery store sells cleaners for use in the home. As such, they are sold at very low concentrations to minimize safety concerns, as they should be. Industrial cleaners, like we offer, are similar in composition to the household cleaners, but contain significantly less water or inert ingredients. They are made to be diluted before use. In fact, many household cleaners are sold at concentrations lower than our recommended use dilutions. While over-the-counter cleaners can be functional, cleaning performance will suffer if appropriate cleaning concentrations cannot be achieved. Industrial products are usually cheaper to use because they are concentrated. Even when freight is added, the industrial cleaner is typically cheaper to use.

Could I use one product to clean everything?

You could, but we recommend you “use the right tool for the job.” Some things would clean up easily and quickly; others would take lots of time and elbow grease and still not be clean. Alkaline materials work best on protein soils; acids work best on mineral deposits (beerstone or waterstone). For some cleaning tasks foam is desirable, in cip and tank cleaning it will cause problems and de-foaming is desired. It’s better to buy a product for a specific task.

Do I need to know a lot of chemistry and/or biology to make good beer and keep it that way?

Of course not! Do you have to know how to build a car to drive one? It’s not a bad idea to have a basic idea of how it works, but you don’t have to be a mechanic. To understand cleaning you don’t have to be a chemist and we’re pleased to explain why the right cleaner works for the required task.

We provide you a material to enable you to achieve a certain goal. We guarantee our product will achieve this goal if used properly. We know how to put these formulations together; we know what these formulations can and will do. All you have to do is use them correctly and safely.

I have really hard water at my place. Do I need a water softener for better cleaning?

The water you use makes your beer unique. You don’t do anything special to the brewing water. Most cleaning products have sufficient additives such that we effectively soften the water chemically. Our formulations contain additives which can mask or inactivate hard water ions (calcium & magnesium) such that they do not adversely affect the cleaners ability to achieve it goal. That means the results obtained with hard water are virtually the same as with soft water.

Do I need a lab and do I need to test my solutions?

I’ll answer that backwards. I strongly urge you to test your use solutions and record results, so you can be sure of the strength of your cleaning and sanitizing agents. By testing and recording your results, you can monitor your entire cleaning process, identify areas of potential problems, and keep tabs on chemical usage & costs. Government inspectors ‘look favorably’ upon testing and recording results. As for needing a lab, it’s a toss-up. The question I ask is: ‘How much would it cost for you to dump 1 brew?” Would that amount spent on a lab or lab supplies break your bank? If not, I’d set up a lab. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Simple drop-count test kits are available for a minimal charge. I would NOT rely on pH measurements; they’re just not accurate enough. Your suppliers should be able to provide information on where to obtain kits. Visitors touring your operation will be impressed and feel more comfortable knowing you have and use a lab.

What’s the best way to remove………

Beer solids form the brew kettle?

A properly formulated alkaline cleaning compound, containing a source of chlorine or oxygen if the soil is difficult to remove, w ill do a great job in removing the soil(s). General use concentrations are 0.5 to 3% as sodium hydroxide; temperatures as hot as you are comfortable with (~100E F for manual cleaning; ~140E F for CIP). First use a hot water spray to remove as much soil as possible, then apply your cleaning method for a pre-determined time. Drain the solution and rinse all surfaces with clean potable water.

Beer solids from the chiller?

A properly formulated alkaline cleaning compound, containing a source of chlorine or oxygen if the soil is difficult to remove, w ill do a great job in removing the soil(s). General use concentrations are 1.0 to 3% as sodium hydroxide; temperatures as hot as you are comfortable with (120 – 140E F for CIP). First flush hot water thru chiller to remove as much soil as possible, the apply your cleaning method (either once thru or re-circulation) for a pre-determined time. Drain the solution and flush the system thoroughly with clean potable water. Follow with a compatible sanitizing solution if appropriate.

Beer solids from my fermenter?

Again, a properly formulated alkaline cleaning compound, containing a source of chlorine or oxygen if the soil is difficult to remove, w ill do an excellent job in removing the soil(s). General use concentrations are 0.5 to 3% as sodium hydroxide; temperatures as hot as you are comfortable with (~100E F for manual cleaning; ~140E F for CIP). First use a hot water spray to remove as much soil as possible, the apply your cleaning method for a pre-determined time. Drain the solution and rinse all surfaces with clean potable water. Follow with a compatible sanitizing solution if appropriate.

Beer solids from my storage tanks?

Once again, a properly formulated alkaline cleaning compound, containing a source of chlorine or oxygen if the soil is difficult to remove, will do a great job in removing the soil(s). General use concentrations are 0.5 to 3% as sodium hydroxide; temperatures as hot as you are comfortable with (~100E F for manual cleaning; ~140E F for CIP). First use a hot water spray to remove as much soil as possible, the apply your cleaning method for a pre-determined time. Drain the solution and rinse all surfaces with clean potable water. Follow with a compatible sanitizing solution if appropriate.

Deposits from my hot liquor tank?

Most brewers do not look into their hot liquor tanks. The rely on the heater to supply hot water for their operations. The telltale sign that there is a problem is when the water does not reach temperature. The cause is usually deposits forming on the heating coils in the tank. The best and quickest way to remove the deposits is with an acid cleaner. You may have to determine which type of acid will work best (hydrochloric may be the fastest, but could cause attack on stainless steel) thru trial and error and choose according to your situation and risks you are willing to take. Additionally, chelating agents will remove most mineral deposits, but do so much more slowly. Typically, the need to turn around tanks quickly necessitates the acid cleaning method.

Deposits from my Filler?

Once product has made it to the filler, 99.99% of the ‘undesirables” are removed from the beer. Deposits in the filler should be and usually are minimal. To clean the filler, a properly formulated alkaline cleaner would be used. Care must be taken in the selection of the cleaner such that it will not adversely affect the metals in the filler. General use concentrations are 0.2 to 1% alkalinity tested as sodium hydroxide; temperatures as hot as you are comfortable with (~100E F for manual cleaning; ~140E F for CIP). First use a hot water spray to remove as much soil as possible, then apply your cleaning method for a pre-determined time. Drain the solution and rinse all surfaces with clean potable water. Follow with a compatible sanitizing solution if appropriate.

The drip lines from the outside of the brewing vessels?

These lines are usually the result of ‘boilover’ during brewing and mashing. Solution escapes the vessel and runs down the side, drying and baking onto the surface. Your clean shiny surface now has a line that is difficult to remove. I have had very little success in removing the deposit without affecting the overall appearance of the tank. A ‘green pad’ tends to mar the surface, chemicals alone do not remove all the deposit, strong chemicals tend to discolor the surface. We suggest you first try the method you’d use on the deposit on an inconspicuous area of the tank, away from viewers. Clean it as you would, rinse and let it dry. Then evaluate how it looks. For some of our customers, a coating of mineral oil, applied just before tours and buffed to a high shine, successfully ‘masked’ the stain.

The fiberglass floor gridwork that’s all blackened?

This gridwork, usually green, is used as flooring or steps in many facilities. Constant traffic over the rough surfaces actually ‘scrapes’ the footwear, removing the dirt and shoe material. The constant traffic ‘grinds’ the material deeper into the fiberglass. A foaming, solvented mildly alkaline cleaner, applied liberally (3 to 6 ounces per gallon of HOT) water and worked in with a stiff bristle brush may remove most of the soil. But the dirt (including non-chemically reactive rubber sole material) sometimes has been forced so deep into the irregular surfaces that it is basicaly is not affected by chemical action and will not be completely removed. It will look better than before, but not like new . . . but then its not new.

How do I remove obnoxious drunks from my bar at closing time?

We’ve found that a significant increase in ambient lighting, along with the removal of music and beverage sales works in most cases. However, tenacious barstool deposits may take a more creative approach . . . and taxi cabs or designated drivers are always recommended.