As we’ve mentioned, Star San is a pretty kick-ass method of achieving sanitation in your brewery. There are other options out there, but we’re definitely in the Star San camp as a fantastic and easy method of making sanitary things happen. I thought I’d write up a few of the Star San tips I use to maximize the impact of this great product.
#1: Measuring and Mixing
Star San should be distilled using 1 oz per 5 US gallons of water. Now, not too many people need that much all the time, so I find it easy to mix it in half-gallon allotments, blending the water with 3mL of Star San. I commandeered a plastic antibiotic syringe from one of those times when my kids were sick (both had separate prescriptions, so I didn’t use one of the accompanying syringes to use in the brewery). It is a 5mL syringe, which is really easy to dip into the Star San container, withdraw 3mL, and add to the water. I like to ‘shoot’ the Star San from the syringe into an empty bucket, suck up water into the syringe, and shoot it into the bucket – I do this several times to make sure I get as much of the Star San out of the syringe and into the solution. Then, I add the water to the bucket, swirl it up, and I’m done!
#2: Store It!
As we’ve stated before, when blended with distilled water, Star San will keep for a VERY long time, provided that it is sealed and kept out of the light. When I’m mixing up a half-gallon batch, I keep it in a sealed, one-gallon, white plastic container – it used to be a sturdy yogurt container, available at many grocery stores. This is the container I use when I want to flush out my auto-siphon – I stick in both the probe end and the rubber hose, cycling the Star San up and through the siphon.
#3: Spray It!
What could be easier than picking up a spray bottle and using it to quickly, deftly, and painlessly soak any brewing equipment? Well, I suppose not sanitizing at all would be easier, but we’re not stupid. Right? I keep a spray bottle on hand at all times, filled with the sanitary goodness. I top it up using the Star San in my plastic bucket. By the way, I go through enough of the stuff that I’m not worried about the eventual permeation of excessive amounts of air that would reduce the effectiveness of the solution over time.
#4: Keg It!
A corny keg is a sweet way to keep a decent amount of Star San on hands at all times. I usually only keep a gallon or so in a keg. The main use for it is to sanitize my other cornies prior to adding beer from my carboys. Use a hose with a liquid disconnect on each end, connecting to the OUT posts of each corny (obviously). Hit the Star San keg with CO2 and open the pressure release valve on the destination keg. Push over enough liquid (shake the destination keg to estimate how much has moved over) to enable you to shake, roll, whatever the second keg to coat all the insides and IN post with Star San, and it’s sanitary. Don’t forget to close that pressure relief valve before you turn it upside down! When you’re happy, just switch the gas over the the second keg, pop the valve on the first one, and push it back. Done!
This is also very handy for having Star San on tap at all times. Keep a hose with a picnic tap on it for dispensing Star San any time you need it. There’s nothing like pouring yourself a cool glass of bubbly Star San…or not.
#5: Reuse it!
Just because you’ve used it once doesn’t mean you’re through with it. This is no one-night stand! You can keep reusing Star San many times. A good rule of thumb is that, as long as it’s clear (other than the bubbles, smart ass), it’s good. Once it starts to cloud white, you’d better toss it, as it will have most likely lost most of its effectiveness.
One great way to keep reusing it is with my keg-sanitizing method. I wind up using that same batch of Star San to sanitize many cornies; it seems like anytime I would probably be ready to toss it and add a new batch, I’ve used up enough of it through minor loss to other kegs and dispensing through the picnic tap for other purposes that I need to add more to the keg, anyway.
Stay squeaky clean and sanitary - your beer will thank you. As always, find what works for you…and brew great beer!