If the worst should happen and you have to close your brewery what steps should you take to limit deterioration and enable reuse when conditions return to normal? Here we list some of the more essential steps and a few examples from past experience. Remember small amounts of residue in and on vessels easily becomes a source of contamination for dispersal by draughts and pests.
- Clean everything. Thoroughly. If you are leaving your equipment unused for some period it is essential that surfaces are clean and, where possible, dry. This includes mash tuns, paraflows, kettles and FV / CT vessels. Also pipework. Clean thoroughly with caustic first to remove soil and deposits, checking corners and inaccessible areas – mash tun floors, grills, valves, pumps and pipework. Where possible CIP or circulate to allow agitation to remove stubborn deposits. Rinse the caustic thoroughly and sanitise with peracetic. Allow this to drain out and the surface to dry. Seal pipework and valves with end caps to prevent dust and pest ingress and remove FV door seals to keep dry.
- Repeat this for any packaging equipment, bottling machines, filtration units. These have small bore pipework and are more liable to harbour soil and contamination.
- Clean the brewery. Don’t just clean the brewkit but ensure surrounding areas, floors, surfaces and externals of vessels are clean – particularly of dust. Now is the time to deep clean the brewer’s office of all the tea cups and detritus accumulated in the last 12 months.
- Secure any tanked beer in sealed vessels. This may last a few months if kept chilled. If possible remove yeast as over a time this will leak yeast bite flavours into the beer. Higher gravity and dark beers will last longer than routine ales but if you have access check their quality from time to time.
- Secure any unused ingredients. Ensure malt is off the floor in tight sealed bags and away from walls to limit access to pests. Tightly seal hops and keep frozen or refrigerated.
- Discard any unused yeast. This will deteriorate within a couple of weeks and attract fruit flies which will spread contamination.
- Drain water tanks and run down boilers. Stagnant water will culture microbes so remove any opportunity. Turn off unnecessary electrical use.
- Clean and seal empty casks ready for refill in happier times – but rinse before use. Empty and process any cask returns for duty reclaim.
- Keep well and keep faith. There will be opportunities when we return to normal. Use the time to expand your brewing knowledge and plan to make brewing even better in the future.