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General Category => Equipment and Software => Topic started by: olcurt on November 08, 2010, 04:05:03 PM

Title: Kettle Questin Beginner
Post by: olcurt on November 08, 2010, 04:05:03 PM
What are the advantages of a stainless versus aluminum kettle for a beginner?
Title: Re: Kettle Questin Beginner
Post by: theDarkSide on November 08, 2010, 04:15:11 PM
Biggest advantage of aluminum is cost.  SS is more durable. 

I use a SS kettle that has a sandwiched layer of aluminum on the bottom for better heat dispersion.   
Title: Re: Kettle Question Beginner
Post by: BrewArk on November 08, 2010, 05:54:02 PM
There's debate about this in backpacking circles.  There the major concern is weight.  Anodized aluminum seems to be the current favorite.


Aluminum: transfers heat better, weighs less, costs less, is less durable, and there's debate about leaching into food.
Titanium: has poor heat transfer, light weight, costs much more, and is durable.
Stainless steel: has poor heat transfer, weighs more, costs more, is durable.

note: the order of the list above is arbitrary.
Title: Re: Kettle Questin Beginner
Post by: bluesman on November 08, 2010, 06:02:01 PM
I am a fan of SS eventhough I believe aluminum is perfectly fine.

If you search the forum you'll find more opinions.

Here's a great thread from another forum debating the issue.

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f11/faq-aluminum-pots-boil-kettles-49449/
Title: Re: Kettle Questin Beginner
Post by: euge on November 08, 2010, 06:21:11 PM
I use aluminum. And haven't noticed any adverse affects. It's cheaper and if you decide to go and drill a hole in your kettle it's also easier than SS.

Alzheimer's arising out of using aluminum has been debunked as an urban myth as far I can tell.
Title: Re: Kettle Questin Beginner
Post by: mabrungard on November 08, 2010, 09:11:05 PM
I question the contention that aluminum is less durable than other options.  I've got a 15 gal aluminum pot that is from the food service industry.  Its nice and thick and I'm not sure how I would damage it, short of going after it with a baseball bat!  Given the heat-transfer issue, I'd say that thick aluminum pots are the way to go. 

I'm not sure about the aluminum effects on health.  But to hedge my bets, I never scour my pot too strongly or expose the metal.  Just enough to remove all the trub and debris.  There is a nice brown patina in place in my pot...a reflection of its continued use!  Oh wait, there is no reflection.
 
Title: Re: Kettle Questin Beginner
Post by: BrewArk on November 08, 2010, 09:40:14 PM
Question for those of you w/aluminum:  Do you get any pitting?  I know that some of my aluminum saucepans have over the years become pitted.  I know my stainless doesn't seem to get pitted as much in the kitchen.

The pH of wort is probably higher than some of the tomato sauces that I cook, so I don't know if that matters in brewing.

One observation that I have made is that in the craft breweries I've visited, they use stainless.
Title: Re: Kettle Questin Beginner
Post by: olcurt on November 08, 2010, 09:50:44 PM
Can I readily find fittings to be welded to the aluminum pot? I have a friend who can TIG
Title: Re: Kettle Questin Beginner
Post by: BrewArk on November 08, 2010, 10:01:38 PM
Lots of weldless ones on the net.

Would electrolysis be a problem?  If so, you could solve that by removing the fittings between sessions.
Title: Re: Kettle Questin Beginner
Post by: richardt on November 08, 2010, 10:56:56 PM
You could always anodize the aluminum pot and make it Caphalon-grade.
http://www.focuser.com/atm/anodize/anodize.html (http://www.focuser.com/atm/anodize/anodize.html)
Site has some interesting background and photos--very instructive for DIY-types.
Title: Re: Kettle Questin Beginner
Post by: hopfenundmalz on November 08, 2010, 11:30:00 PM
Aluminum has a much greater heat transfer coefficient than SS.  In practice my brew day is not longer using my SS kettles.

Title: Re: Kettle Questin Beginner
Post by: olcurt on November 08, 2010, 11:44:08 PM
ok...now a really stupid question....could one use copper for the kettle? i have a friend who says he could do that.
Title: Re: Kettle Questin Beginner
Post by: hopfenundmalz on November 08, 2010, 11:50:49 PM
You sure can.  It was even shown on a historic setup on the AHA page.  Tratitional European systems were copper.  Not good on the cold side, though, as the beer pH is low enough that you get off flavors from the copper.
Title: Re: Kettle Questin Beginner
Post by: olcurt on November 09, 2010, 12:33:36 AM
Jeff
By the cold side do you mean it would be fine to boil in but  I would have to transfer ta another pot to coolly down?
Title: Re: Kettle Questin Beginner
Post by: hopfenundmalz on November 09, 2010, 12:59:27 AM
Hot side is everything before chilling, cold side after.  Copper is fine for mash tun and boiling vessels, and even the chillling device.  Once cold and yeast is pitched, the ph drops during fermentation.  You do not see copper fermenters, bright tanks, piping, other devices after the kettles (and sometimes chillers).
Title: Re: Kettle Questin Beginner
Post by: olcurt on November 09, 2010, 02:00:48 AM
ok...now for 5 gallon batches like
I will make, is it worth it to go copper? I like being unique,  but if there is an advantae to the brew being in stainless or aluminum, it would be silly not to do that!
Title: Re: Kettle Questin Beginner
Post by: Hokerer on November 09, 2010, 02:23:32 AM
ok...now for 5 gallon batches like
I will make, is it worth it to go copper? I like being unique,  but if there is an advantae to the brew being in stainless or aluminum, it would be silly not to do that!

Guess it depends on how much uniqueness is worth to you.  Ten gallons is the perfect size for five gallon batches and, from poking around a bit, it looks like ten gallon copper kettles start around $400.  You can get a sandwich bottom stainless ten gallon kettle for $100.
Title: Re: Kettle Questin Beginner
Post by: Mark G on November 09, 2010, 02:51:29 PM
I use aluminum for my kettle. Boil water in it for 30 minutes or so, and you'll have an oxide layer that withstands all but the toughest scrubbing. Check this one out: http://www.foodservicewarehouse.com/update-international/apt-40/p4857.aspx (http://www.foodservicewarehouse.com/update-international/apt-40/p4857.aspx), 10 gallons for 40 bucks. It's what I use, and it's heavy gauge aluminum, sturdier than most SS kettles I've seen. I could drop it from my second story windows and I'd be surprised if it even dented.
Title: Re: Kettle Questin Beginner
Post by: olcurt on November 09, 2010, 04:32:27 PM
I LIKE that kettle. If I went with weldless bulkheads/valve setups should I use a stainless or brass with this aluminum pot?
Title: Re: Kettle Questin Beginner
Post by: euge on November 09, 2010, 05:21:32 PM
I LIKE that kettle. If I went with weldless bulkheads/valve setups should I use a stainless or brass with this aluminum pot?

I went with stainless on my aluminum kettle. Noticed a little bi-metal corrosion where the nut pressed against the bulkhead- so put another o-ring on the inside. Seems to have solved the problem for now.

You'll need to pickle brass before it's first use.
Title: Re: Kettle Questin Beginner
Post by: 1vertical on November 11, 2010, 06:35:53 AM
IMO aluminum would make a fine HLT....just IMO...