Happy Brew Moon! Today is a new moon and the debut of the monthly "Brew Moon" post. One post a month dedicated to home brewing. I rarely drink alcoholic beverages but I do enjoy making beer, wine and mead; plus my friends are more than happy to help me dispose of the product.
What's in the carboy? Well, right now I have a stout that needs to be bottled and a Riesling ice wine that needs to be racked. There's 3 gallons of mead at my friends' house that I need to check on. I've got grain for another stout, I want to do a recipe comparison, and some soda extract for DBF.
Rule #1 of brewing is sanitation. Cross contamination is bad in cooking and it's equally bad in brewing. Rogue microbes can lead to skunking and unwanted growth. I remember the first time that my former brewing partner tried making beer, he got one of those beer kits from Wal-Mart...you know the ones with the plastic carboy and the screw on cap? They don't make a very good seal and something got into the wort that created white tendrils. It was gross, I teased him about having a yeast infection.
However, primary fermentation is often done in a plastic bucket and the home brewer needs to be aware that plastic is a porous material. If you have scratches inside the bucket then you might want to consider replacing it, the same goes for hose; I replace my hose every year. Soda extract can be very potent and can permeate a plastic bucket so it might be a good idea to have a dedicated bucket if you want to make soda. How do I know this? The #1 comment about my latest batch of beer is that it "smells and faintly tastes of root beer." The batch was a crap shoot anyway, I bought the wrong ingredients, so it might still taste like root beer if I tried to replicate the batch. Either way, I can smell the root beer extract even when the cap is on the bottle so I'm going to have a dedicated soda bucket.
"Relax. Don't worry. Have a home-brew." -Charlie Papazian