How to Homebrew safely
Homebrewing is a pretty low risk hobby, the most you really risk is putting on a few pounds. But there are always some simple precautions you can take to keep yourself safe.
Before starting a brew check all of your equipment. You want to make sure it is not damaged at all, leakage is an obvious issue but even a little scratch in your fermentation bucket can mean bacteria is hiding inside ready to ruin your ale. It shouldn’t make you ill however but a bad brew isn’t great for the stomach. It also helps to always properly clean your equipment with sanitizer to avoid this issue. You also want to check your work surface, it is best to just clear everything out the way before starting so no accidents can happen. On that note make sure any animals or children won’t be coming near your pot of wort without supervision.
As you can tell from the first paragraph having hot sticky liquid is obviously the most dangerous part of homebrewing, thus it is best to keep it in one place for most of your brew. To help this a muslin bag is a very useful piece of equipment and why we supply one in our kits. Normally in homebrewing you’d have to separate the wort and malt by either sieving the hot liquid or having specialist equipment to let you drain it out the bottom (Note: don’t try and make your own equipment to do that). Muslin bags offer a much easier solution, by placing the malt in it like a giant teabag it allows you to move the malt rather than the wort. It will need to be drained before the boil but this is easily done by placing a sieve over your pot and leaving the bag on it for a minute while the wort starts to reach boiling point.
Cheap and brittle glass is your enemy. Do not buy or use glass that seems cheap or is quite old to store your homebrew while it ferments. Demijohns are pretty but much of the time more hassle than they are worth in every regard (storage, syphoning your ale, exploding and imbedding glass in the walls), but if you do choose to use one make it a new one made of thick glass. Using plastic or metal is much safer however, at worst the top of the lid may pop off which is more likely to ruin your ale than cause any harm. You don’t really have to worry about glass bottles, most you get from the supermarket shouldn’t cause you any problems and cheap ones are more likely to break when being capped rather than explode. If any of your glass equipment does break clear everyone out the area, put on some thick soled shoes and carefully clear out the area. Don’t have your glass equipment around some thick carpet as it will make finding the pieces impossible.
A lot of the safer measures with homebrewing are simple precautions, if you think everything through and don’t do anything silly you have nothing to worry about