As the weather chills and the leaves change, those pumpkin ales and spiced lagers call out to you. Why not make your own and stock up for winter hibernation? Now that we’ve got you thinking about homebrewing this harvest season, here are a few safety tips for your newfound hobby.
Avoid bottle rockets
It’s not atypical for your first couple of beer brewing experiences to include some explosions and beer-soaked walls. According to beersmith.com – a homebrewing blog – there are five things* you can do to prevent bottles from breaking.
Scrub down everything
It may sound a little obsessive compulsive, but clean your brewing equipment and then sanitize it. “Sanitary basically means germ-free, and nothing can be germ-free unless it is also clean,” writes Dave Miller in his book Dave Miller’s Homebrewing Guide. “If sanitation is not maintained,” says Miller, “the wort or beer will be contaminated and an infection will take hold.”
Keep your eye on the prize
Never leave your active brewing equipment unattended, and make sure your brewpots are big enough to prevent the wort – the term for beer prior to fermentation – from boiling over.
Don’t black out
The fermentation process that takes place when brewing beer produces carbon dioxide, and if you inhale too much of it you can black out, explains a blog post from E.C. Kraus, a 46-year-old supply company for homebrewers and winemakers.
The more you brew, the more addicted to the process you’ll probably become. That addiction is fed by lots and lots of toys, meaning larger brewpots. The larger the brewpot, the more boiling liquid you have to deal with, so consider moving your brewing operation out of your kitchen and into a larger space. “Advanced brewers have moved their brewing operations into their basements, garages and utility rooms (and some of their spouses have moved to new addresses),” writes Marty Nachel in Homebrewing for Dummies.
*1. Use high-quality ingredients.
2. Allow the beer to ferment completely – you may be drooling over it already, but it will be worth the wait.
3. Use good bottles – the thickest you can find. Avoid bottles with twist-off caps.
4. Calculate and weigh the right amount of priming sugar.
5. Store your beer in a cool, dark place.