As much as I enjoy the winter holidays, I’m really glad they’re behind us. Baking sprints, family gatherings, holiday parties, cross-country travel, and repeated bouts of postprandial shame are all well and good, but the interminable onslaught of joy and gingerbread really ate into the time I would normally devote to homebrewing.
My absence from the hobby became abundantly clear this past weekend when, in a marathon string of brewing chores, I
- Brewed a double IPA.
- Fully disassembled, cleaned, sanitized, and reassembled four kegs.
- Racked a bock, an Irish stout, a Belgian golden ale, and a cider to the four newly cleaned and sanitized kegs.
- Cleaned the two buckets and two carboys in which the newly kegged beer had been stored.
- Cleaned and rinsed my kegerator’s draft lines.
- Swapped one standard draft faucet for a nitro faucet in anticipation of enjoying the stout I kegged.
- Pulled the carbon dioxide cylinder from one of my two draft lines and replaced it with the nitro blend that will push the stout.
This took the better part of a day, but I learned a lesson in the process: Don’t procrastinate on your homebrewing chores! I suppose I can let this one slide somewhat since the holidays include a large asterisk on the calendar, an asterisk that says, “All bets are off from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day.” But there’s no reason the rest of the year.
So, with that in mind, here are some suggestions that will hopefully turn those monumental brewing chores into easily accomplished mini-tasks.
Double dip while you brew.
All-grain brewers in particular have lots of downtime waiting for water to heat up, waiting for the mash to convert, waiting for the wort to boil, waiting for the wort to chill, and so on. Use this time to clean kegs, organize the hops in your freezer, or rack beer from primary to secondary.
Pull kegs as soon as you kick them.
Resist the temptation to leave an empty keg in the kegerator: You’ll forget about it until you need a new keg. Even if you’re not ready to clean it immediately, at least pull it from the kegerator and place it somewhere where you (or your significant other) will notice it.
Clean bottles as soon as you empty them.
A simple swish with hot water is usually all that’s required, but it doesn’t hurt to go ahead and soak them in a brewery-approved detergent. If you’re throwing a party, make up a bucket full of OxiClean and ask your guests to drop their empties in there. It’ll save you some elbow grease later.
Take advantage of fresh sanitizer.
Anytime you whip up a big batch of sanitizer, think about anything else that might need sanitizing, and get to it. These will usually be kegs and bottles, but maybe you’re planning to make a yeast starter in a couple of days. Go ahead and dunk a growler jug, cover the mouth with sanitized foil, and let it wait for you.
We all have certain things we like to put off. From going to the dentist and visiting the Department of Motor Vehicles to cleaning kegs and racking beer, doing your chores a little at a time can keep you from spending an entire Saturday getting your brewery back in order.