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Thread: When to toss equipment and replace?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    When to toss equipment and replace?

    I've been brewing for just over two years at a rate of about one batch every 1 1/2 - 2 months. Been doing partial mashes for last 10 batches or so. Anyway, I'm sure my last 3 batches were infected (gushers and awful off flavours) and I'm wondering if I just need to toss my equipment and buy new. I don't think the off flavours are from fermentation temps as I've been keeping pretty well within the range of whatever yeast I'm using. Everything that touches my beer is thoroughly soaked in starsan (not rinsed) and my set-up is pretty basic (plastic primary, glass carboy/secondary, auto-siphon, regular tubing, plastic bottling bucket w/spigot, plastic bottle filler). I use only glass bottles too, some of which have been in circulation since my very first brew day. I'm wondering how long some of you have been using the same equipment? ...or bottles? I've had "neck-rings" inside the bottles of a few batches, but can usually get them off with cleanser before reusing. Do plastic fermentors and tubing just need to be replaced every so often as a basic rule? I don't think my buckets are scratched up at all and I actually do by new tubing every 5 batches or so.

    Thanks for any advice.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
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    Welcome to the site.
    I've got 2 buckets I've used since 1993 and they've never caused an infection, even though they both have spigots that I didn't replace for almost 10 years. I think the idea of routinely discarding buckets is silly.
    Are all the bottles from each batch infected or just some of them? If it's not all of them I suspect the bottles. Otherwise the most likely culprits are the spigot, autosiphon and bottling wand since they all have places that are hard to physically clean.
    Bottles can be cleaned and re-used almost indefinitely unless you use a heat treatment for sanitizing.

    Also keep in mind that whenever possible ferment at the low end of the temp scale, or even lower. Those temp ranges are for maximum yeast growth, not necessarily best beer flavor.
    It's always time for a beer

    On tap:Oatmeal Stout, ESB
    Primary:Imperial HoppyRoggenbier
    Bottled:2006 crabapple cider,Cherry Brett,Black Braggot,2 Prickly Pear Meads(1996 and 2006),Sour Pumpkin
    Lagering: Pecan Rauchbock
    Secondary: apple cider vinegar
    Next: Sticke Alt

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    Thanks, I figured some homebrewing stalwarts like yourself have been using the same buckets for decades with no problems. I just wanted to see if anyone thought replacing equipment was necessary at this early stage of my brewing "career." I am thinking it maybe is my bottles. Yes, "gushers" vary from bottle to bottle and I do ensure priming sugar is evenly mixed, so I didn't think that was the culprit. I've been using starsan on 'em but some have had caked on mini-krausen or something around the necks. I think I get that mostly off, but if not, would not starsan sanitize whatever little is left? ...or will it just get the surface of this scum and not really kill it? I think I'll use new bottles on my next batch and probably get a new spigot, siphon, and bottling wand just 'cause they're relatively cheap. I'm just going to have faith in my buckets and carboy. My next batch is a Porter (which I have successfully made before) and I'll be damned if it's infected come winter when I'll be ready to drink it!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
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    6,445
    You can't sanitize a turd(I love saying that). Bottles have to be clean before you can sanitize them with whatever you use. When I bottled I liked bleach because it would remove the crud and sanitize, but then I had to rinse with tap water. People worry about sanitizing with tap water but hot tap water is probably completely safe 99.9% of the time. If you have contaminated drinking water in your house you have other issues far worse than gushing homebrew.
    It's always time for a beer

    On tap:Oatmeal Stout, ESB
    Primary:Imperial HoppyRoggenbier
    Bottled:2006 crabapple cider,Cherry Brett,Black Braggot,2 Prickly Pear Meads(1996 and 2006),Sour Pumpkin
    Lagering: Pecan Rauchbock
    Secondary: apple cider vinegar
    Next: Sticke Alt

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
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    2,015
    I like to use oxyclean on my bottles to clean the scum off that you can see where the beer level was up to of you hold them to the light. Every so often, I soak them in TSP which completely removes everything the oxyclean may have missed. Then I sanitize them. The only sanitation problem I have ever had was from not getting the corner at the bottom of the bottle clean enough. Bottle brushes don't always get all the dried crud at the bottom, especially those that were returned to me and not rinsed directly after pouring.

    Edit: I too have not replaced my buckets after 4 years. I've only replaced the siphon hoses after about 3 years. (They're now my hot transfer hoses for the fly sparging process.)
    Last edited by Mikegobrew; 09-21-2010 at 05:44 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    Thanks guys. I'm sure my buckets are fine after all ...never a problem cleaning and sanitizing those, so after hearing about you guys using them for years, I think I can be confident there. It's the bottles that I think I've neglected the most or rather ignorant in regards to what it really takes to keep them clean and sanitized. I'll give them extra attention this this time. Before long I'll be kegging, or so I hear based on other people's experiences... It's the natural progression, right?
    Little Green Brewhouse
    Holland, MI USA

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beerbrarian
    . Before long I'll be kegging, or so I hear based on other people's experiences... It's the natural progression, right?
    Yes it is unless you enjoy spending the time to bottle and cap beer, and if you ever move up to 10g batches i cant even dream of bottling 10g at a time! But then again since i kegged my first batch you are really hard pressed to get me to bottle ANYTHING anymore, Kegging is just SOOOOO much easier and Faster!
    The mind is like a beer, it does the most good when it is opened.

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  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by vance71975
    Yes it is unless you enjoy spending the time to bottle and cap beer, and if you ever move up to 10g batches i cant even dream of bottling 10g at a time! ...
    I once bottled 10 gallons and brewed 10 gallons in the same day. My wife and kids were out of town for the weekend and it sounded like a good idea to me. lol. After all, I didn't have anything else to do, right? Wrong. Bad idea. I'll never do that again.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    3,695
    I'd give the autosiphon a good hard look. You should take it apart down to the component pieces, including pulling o-rings out of their grooves. Some nasty stuff can hide under o-rings.

    If you got one of those brewing starter kits, you probably got a turkey baster in it. If not, you can get one at any grocery or LHBS. Toss the bulb and keep the tube. Drop the baster tube in the sanitizer. When you're ready to siphon, place one end of the siphon hose in the vessel you're siphoning from, pop the fat end of the baster tube in your mouth, stick skinny end of the tube into the siphon hose, suck the beer into the hose, pinch the hose, and pull the end off the baster tube and drop it into the vessel you're siphoning into. Spit the baster tube back into the sanitizer. Quick, easy, cheap, and no place for the buggers to hide. What's not to like?
    On deck: a clone of Carolina Beer Co's Rye Stout, clone of Breckenridge's Vanilla Porter,
    Primary: Schwarzbier
    Secondary: Dortmunder, Hopweizen
    Keg Conditioning: Dunkelweizen, Roggenbier, Okto, Ord. Bitter
    On tap: Alt, Hefeweizen, Cigar City Maduro clone, Mild
    Bottled: Mead, Quad Rajet, Granola Bar Braggot

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