Clean Beer? You “clean” a fish and wash your vegetables, but how clean is the draft beer you drink?

In the words of Brian Wiggs, Dark Horse Brewing Co. Marshall, MI, “Brewing is 10% chemistry and 90% janitorial”. This statement will ring true for any brewer whether they are a homebrewer or Brewmaster. Keeping your equipment and brewing space clean is the first thing you learn. If you’ve ever taken a brewery tour you’ll notice how amazingly clean and tidy the brew house is. Gary S. Nicholas, Quality Assurance & Control with Bell’s Brewery, Inc Kalamazoo, MI spoke about what the kegs at Bell’s are in store for when they make it to the brewery: “They go through a multi-step cleaning & sanitizing process prior to each fill. We also conduct additional pre-cleaning for kegs that have been out in the market for unusually long periods. We go one step further, slowly cycling through our entire keg inventory and completely disassembling the keg spear valve assemblies, replacing worn parts, and visually inspecting the interior….any kegs that fail a cleaning/filling cycle are set aside for detailed inspection.” What needs to be cleaned out of these kegs? “Typically, you’ll see infiltration of a wide variety of aerobic microorganisms (acetic acid-producing bacteria, wild yeasts, etc.) and anaerobes(A type of bacterium that does not require air or oxygen to live). Over time, these will form a bio-film, a mass of slime that is very resistant to simple flushing techniques.”: said Nicholas.

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