The simple answer is that you need to sanitize and clean your equipment to protect from microorganisms that want to ruin your beer.
Microorganisms like bacterial and wild yeast love wort, in the same way that beer making yeast does. The evil microorganisms can do damage like make beer taste off, spoil it and do many other bad things to it that would make you want to pour your beer down the drain. Cleaning your equipment can remove those places that the bad microorganisms like to hangout and sanitizing your equipment can kill the majority of those evil doers.
Cleaning and sanitizing are often used hand in hand, but they are two very differing things. Cleaning is a lot like doing the dishes. Sometimes you have to soak, scrub and use a little bit of soap to get rid of the leftover gunk from your last batch or particles that snuck onto your equipment since your last brew day. Sanitizing is using a chemical like Starsan to kill any of those microorganisms.
I’ve never met a homebrewer that loves cleaning and sanitizing isn’t exactly the sexiest part of homebrewing, but both have to be done thoroughly to ensure that your beer isn’t infected.
Later this week, I’ll describe exactly how to clean and sanitize homebrewing equipment.
Make sure you follow Passion For The Pint on Facebook or Twitter so that you can keep expanding your homebrewing knowledge. If you’re looking to take it a step further, there’s an online course for homebrewing called the HomeBrew Academy. I’ll be reviewing it later this month.