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General Category => Extract/Partial Mash Brewing => Topic started by: 2lbrew on April 09, 2011, 06:31:33 PM

Title: Aluminum Stock Pot
Post by: 2lbrew on April 09, 2011, 06:31:33 PM
Does anyone use an aluminum pot? What are your thoughts? Does it heat evenly? If I am doing extract brewing, will it burn? Any and all help would be greatly appreciated.

Kevin
Title: Re: Aluminum Stock Pot
Post by: bluesman on April 09, 2011, 07:20:26 PM
Aluminum pots are fine for brewing beer. Just don't polish them clean after use. You want to see an oxidation layer on the bottom, kind of a brownish layer is desired to keep the metal's integrity. They transfer heat very well and will last a lifetime if maintained properly. Me personally, I prefer stainless but it's a personal choice.
Title: Re: Aluminum Stock Pot
Post by: jwaldner on April 09, 2011, 09:11:24 PM
I used aluminum as my first brew pot for years.  It heats quickly, is lightweight and served me well until I upgraded to stainless.  It's a great starter pot.

Cheers!
Title: Re: Aluminum Stock Pot
Post by: euge on April 09, 2011, 11:35:40 PM
They are dirt cheap. Buy bigger than you think you'll need. instawares.com (http://www.instawares.com/aluminum-stock-pots.6853.4.7972.0.0.8.htm)
Title: Re: Aluminum Stock Pot
Post by: gmac on April 10, 2011, 02:01:43 AM
They are dirt cheap. Buy bigger than you think you'll need. instawares.com (http://www.instawares.com/aluminum-stock-pots.6853.4.7972.0.0.8.htm)
I bought a 60 quart so I can boil 10 gals with room to spare.  Not sure how I ever did it before in a smaller one.  I've done a few brews in this one now and it works just fine.  I'm following the advice above and basically wiping out the pot after the boil but not scrubbing it and it is working just fine.
I couldn't spring for stainless of this size, it was 2-3X the cost at my local restaurant supply.  Nice to have but not need to have.
Title: Re: Aluminum Stock Pot
Post by: Malticulous on April 10, 2011, 02:25:30 AM
I still use the 30qt aluminum turkey pot for a HLT. I got a dirt cheap 60 qt SS for the boil. Some times I have to use my 60qt for the strike with 11 gallon batches. The 30 is still big enough for the sparge.
Title: Re: Aluminum Stock Pot
Post by: 2lbrew on April 11, 2011, 02:56:35 AM
Thanks for the info guys. I appreciate.

2L
Title: Re: Aluminum Stock Pot
Post by: frochild on May 26, 2011, 09:05:30 AM
So why is the use of aluminum so discouraged?  When I bought my stuff,  I went by Charlie Papazian's recommendations and he says not to use one.
Title: Re: Aluminum Stock Pot
Post by: thomasbarnes on May 26, 2011, 11:51:58 AM
So why is the use of aluminum so discouraged?  When I bought my stuff,  I went by Charlie Papazian's recommendations and he says not to use one.

Some years back there was a scare that aluminum cookware might be responsible for Alzheimer's Disease, so that might have been it.

Aluminum transfers heat well, is lightweight and  inexpensive, so in theory it's a good metal for cooking. By contrast, stainless steel doesn't transfer heat nearly as well, so stainless pots are more prone to producing hot spots. That's why upscale stainless steel pots have copper bottoms, since copper transfers heat extremely well.

The drawbacks of aluminum are that most aluminum pots are fairly soft, so are vulnerable to scratching and denting. They can also be depassivated or pitted if you use particularly harsh cleansers on them. Finally, aluminum also isn't good for cold-side usage because long-term exposure to acidic solutions (i.e., beer, which has ~ pH 3.2 - 4.8, or wort, which has pH 5.6 or lower) leach metal ions into your beer, giving metallic off-flavors.

Stainless is preferred in commercial breweries because of its durability and ease of cleaning, but there's no reason you can't use aluminum or even copper for your hot side operations.
Title: Re: Aluminum Stock Pot
Post by: richardt on May 26, 2011, 01:59:34 PM
Most SS pots these days have tri-clad bottoms, i.e., a 3 or 4 mm Aluminum disc sandwiched by thin sheets of SS.  As aluminum is so much more conductive than SS, this helps with thermal transfers and even heating along the bottom of the kettle.  When you can afford it, I think it is worth springing for it.
Title: Re: Aluminum Stock Pot
Post by: frochild on May 26, 2011, 05:49:26 PM
I assume it is the off flavor that dissuades people.  Thanks
Title: Re: Aluminum Stock Pot
Post by: denny on May 26, 2011, 05:56:29 PM
I assume it is the off flavor that dissuades people.  Thanks

What off flavor is that?
Title: Re: Aluminum Stock Pot
Post by: hamiltont on May 26, 2011, 05:58:12 PM
I assume it is the off flavor that dissuades people.  Thanks

Not really. I've been using a 60 qt. Aluminum Pot for years with no off flavor.  Cheers!!!
Title: Re: Aluminum Stock Pot
Post by: euge on May 26, 2011, 06:16:19 PM
I assume it is the off flavor that dissuades people.  Thanks

Not really. I've been using a 60 qt. Aluminum Aluminium Pot for years with no off flavor.  Cheers!!!

Me too. If I get off-flavors I certainly look to other causes.

The old Alzheimer's myth is probably what most people think of when associating aluminium and cookware.
Title: Re: Aluminum Stock Pot
Post by: thomasbarnes on May 26, 2011, 11:20:32 PM
Most SS pots these days have tri-clad bottoms, i.e., a 3 or 4 mm Aluminum disc sandwiched by thin sheets of SS.  As aluminum is so much more conductive than SS, this helps with thermal transfers and even heating along the bottom of the kettle.  When you can afford it, I think it is worth springing for it.

The higher quality SS pots do have tri-clad bottoms. The cheap ones don't. Generally, you can determine the quality of a SS pot by weight - thicker walls and clad bottom. And, yes, it's worth paying for - especially if you have a really powerful burner under your pot.
Title: Re: Aluminum Stock Pot
Post by: tubercle on May 27, 2011, 01:49:23 AM
I assume it is the off flavor that dissuades people.  Thanks

What off flavor is that?

 I second that.
Title: Re: Aluminum Stock Pot
Post by: bluesman on May 27, 2011, 02:00:55 AM
I assume it is the off flavor that dissuades people.  Thanks

What off flavor is that?

 I second that.

That's correct. As long as the pot has developed an aluminum oxide coating from usage, there will be no off flavors.
Title: Re: Aluminum Stock Pot
Post by: darkmorford on May 27, 2011, 08:35:13 AM
Most SS pots these days have tri-clad bottoms, i.e., a 3 or 4 mm Aluminum disc sandwiched by thin sheets of SS.  As aluminum is so much more conductive than SS, this helps with thermal transfers and even heating along the bottom of the kettle.  When you can afford it, I think it is worth springing for it.

The higher quality SS pots do have tri-clad bottoms. The cheap ones don't. Generally, you can determine the quality of a SS pot by weight - thicker walls and clad bottom. And, yes, it's worth paying for - especially if you have a really powerful burner under your pot.

The 20-quart stainless brewpot I have doesn't have the tri-clad bottom. It works well enough on my apartment stove, but will it be a problem if/when I upgrade to a propane burner? The pot isn't going to melt or anything, is it?
Title: Re: Aluminum Stock Pot
Post by: thomasbarnes on May 27, 2011, 10:18:30 AM
The 20-quart stainless brewpot I have doesn't have the tri-clad bottom. It works well enough on my apartment stove, but will it be a problem if/when I upgrade to a propane burner? The pot isn't going to melt or anything, is it?

You'd have to work very hard to melt stainless steel, and it's certainly not going to happen if you've got liquid in the pot. The problem with thin stainless steel pots (or any pot) in direct contact with electric burners, or over really powerful flames, is that they can develop hot spots which can scorch your wort.

If you're an AG brewer with a relatively clear, clean wort, this isn't so much of a risk, but if you're an extract brewer or are adding adjuncts to your kettle, it's easier for the concentrated stuff on the bottom of the kettle to scorch. A lesser hassle is very strong direct heat can darken your wort, which is a potential problem if you're trying to brew a very light-colored beer. That's one of the reasons why homebrewed light lagers almost never come in as light as commercial versions.

If you have trouble with scorching, the quick solution is to put a "flame tamer" of some sort under your pot which acts as a heat diffuser.
Title: Re: Aluminum Stock Pot
Post by: Kit B on June 02, 2011, 03:35:31 PM
There's nothing wrong with aluminum pots, but be sure you're not scrubbing &/or using cleansers that remove the oxidation.

Personally, I prefer stainless & got 2 of these:
http://www.waresdirect.com/products/Restaurant-Supply/Update-International-/60-Qt168824

But...Like I said...There's nothing wrong with aluminum.
I chose stainless, due to durability.
The aluminum pot I have is just too easily dented & I'm not as careful as I should be.
Title: Re: Aluminum Stock Pot
Post by: Slowbrew on June 02, 2011, 06:08:46 PM
There's nothing wrong with aluminum pots, but be sure you're not scrubbing &/or using cleansers that remove the oxidation.

Personally, I prefer stainless & got 2 of these:
http://www.waresdirect.com/products/Restaurant-Supply/Update-International-/60-Qt168824

But...Like I said...There's nothing wrong with aluminum.
I chose stainless, due to durability.
The aluminum pot I have is just too easily dented & I'm not as careful as I should be.

+1

If you like to keep your cooking pots nice and shiny then aluminum isn't for you.  Take a look in a restaurant kitchen sometime and see what color their big pots are.  They'll be a whitish grey color inside and out which is what yours should like too.

Stainless is purty, aluminum is less expensive but better in some ways.

Paul
Title: Re: Aluminum Stock Pot
Post by: Rhoobarb on June 02, 2011, 07:33:09 PM
I love my Aluminum pot!  When I went all grain, I bought an 8mm, 40 qt. aluminum pot with lid for under $50.00 and used it for all of my brews for three years before getting a keggle to do 10 gal. batches.  I still use it as my HLT.  It is thick-walled and very durable, yet lightweight.  In fact, I've been seriously considering getting rid of my keggle and getting a 60 qt. aluminum pot from the same manufacturer (Trade Advantage).

Here's that 40 qt. on it's very first day.  Cue Barbra Streisand..."Mem'rieees..."

(http://pageproducer.arczip.com/markpan/BrewDay%2011.jpg)
Title: Re: Aluminum Stock Pot
Post by: afacini on June 07, 2011, 05:05:00 PM
Aluminum is great for brewing -- durable and heat-conducive.
Something to consider is high-quality oven mitts, because every darn piece (including the handles) of an aluminum pot will inevitably be above 200-degrees while you brew. You'll need something that won't let the heat through for the crucial 30-60 seconds you'll be holding the pot for xfer.

Can't think of a worse choice -- instinctively drop the scalding pot as your oven mitts reach their limit, or risking third-degree burns to save your beer (and probably, more burns).
Title: Re: Aluminum Stock Pot
Post by: hopfenundmalz on June 07, 2011, 05:32:37 PM
Aluminum is great for brewing -- durable and heat-conducive.
Something to consider is high-quality oven mitts, because every darn piece (including the handles) of an aluminum pot will inevitably be above 200-degrees while you brew. You'll need something that won't let the heat through for the crucial 30-60 seconds you'll be holding the pot for xfer.

Can't think of a worse choice -- instinctively drop the scalding pot as your oven mitts reach their limit, or risking third-degree burns to save your beer (and probably, more burns).
Some of us never lift the hot wort or water.  Just saying that pumps can do the liquid transfer.
Title: Re: Aluminum Stock Pot
Post by: Will's Swill on June 07, 2011, 11:15:55 PM
So can spigots/siphons and gravity.  I rarely move hot wort and never move hot kettles.  But you may need/want that in your process, and it's all good.
Title: Re: Aluminum Stock Pot
Post by: hopfenundmalz on June 08, 2011, 02:25:19 AM
So can spigots/siphons and gravity.  I rarely move hot wort and never move hot kettles.  But you may need/want that in your process, and it's all good.

I should have said single tier for my set up.  Mr. Gravity does not pay much attention to my system, but since I am an old man, my back likes the pump.

Different ways to make beer.  We all have to remember that.
Title: Re: Aluminum Stock Pot
Post by: Kit B on June 08, 2011, 02:50:00 PM
Quality oven mitts come in handy, regardless of the system setup.
Title: Re: Aluminum Stock Pot
Post by: afacini on June 08, 2011, 08:33:34 PM
Cost of good oven mitts vs. cost of a pump. One before the other, and it seems the OP is looking to get a new brewpot for extract brewing, so my bet was on him not having/planning to get a pump.

But I'll tell you it's certainly on my own personal list for the future!
Title: Re: Aluminum Stock Pot
Post by: tschmidlin on June 08, 2011, 08:56:18 PM
I really like the Pit Mitt (http://www.amazon.com/Charcoal-Companion-Ultimate-Barbecue-Mitt/dp/B003FZAVZ6/) that I got.  It's no good for wet applications, but for picking a hot keggle up by the bottom it's awesome.
Title: Re: Aluminum Stock Pot
Post by: bluesman on June 08, 2011, 09:17:02 PM
It's definitely a smart move to have some heat resistant gloves on hand in any event. I keep a pair fireplace gloves from Lowes around while brewing. Better safe than sorry.
Title: Re: Aluminum Stock Pot
Post by: Hokerer on June 09, 2011, 01:04:25 AM
It's definitely a smart move to have some heat resistant gloves on hand in any event. I keep a pair fireplace gloves from Lowes around while brewing. Better safe than sorry.

Yep, my woodstove gloves is what I use
Title: Re: Aluminum Stock Pot
Post by: OrangeSnow on June 16, 2011, 02:07:30 AM
With a stock pot, aluminum or SS, does shape play much of a role?  Would a tall, thin pot or a short, wide pot be better?
Title: Re: Aluminum Stock Pot
Post by: Hokerer on June 16, 2011, 02:18:08 AM
With a stock pot, aluminum or SS, does shape play much of a role?  Would a tall, thin pot or a short, wide pot be better?

I find the kind that come with the turkey fryers to be too thin to work in easily - not enough room to maneuver .  What could be considered an advantage, though, is that a thinner pot will tend to have less boiloff.  Personally, I prefer my Megapot - just the right combo of width and height.
Title: Re: Aluminum Stock Pot
Post by: OrangeSnow on June 16, 2011, 10:54:46 AM
Hmmm... Well, perhaps I'll just have to get one of each and brew two batches!  It certainly doesn't hurt to experiment.
Title: Re: Aluminum Stock Pot
Post by: Slowbrew on June 16, 2011, 12:18:47 PM
It really comes down to surface area.  The more area that is open the atmosphere, the more you will boil off.  Wide, low pots are nice for making sure you boil off DMS but they do require you start with greater volume in the pot to reach your target volume.

Tall, narrow pots will not boil off as much volume (and probably don't affect DMS that much either) so you can start with less in the pot. 

I, personally, weigh economics and access.  My 12 gallon boil kettle is nice and wide and easy to work in but it takes a bit more gas to heat it up.  Everyone makes their own choices.

Paul
Title: Re: Aluminum Stock Pot
Post by: euge on June 16, 2011, 05:03:11 PM
Also consider how one is going to chill the wort. With an IC you'll want a pot that's tall enough so the coils will be completely submerged. This depends on the IC obviously, but coordinating of how the the two pieces of equipment will work together and in the brewspace beforehand will save some heartache. For this reason I favor taller as opposed to wider. My 20 gallon pot with 12 gallons of cooled wort still has about 4-5" of IC jutting above the surface.

Get out the tape-measure before committing to any purchases.
Title: Re: Aluminum Stock Pot
Post by: OrangeSnow on June 16, 2011, 09:25:10 PM
I'm going to give a shot to the taller thin SS pot.  My IC fits well in it and I'm hoping it holds a boil well.  I had a wider aluminum pot for my first batch, and it didn't like to boil unless it was covered.  :-\ 
Title: Re: Aluminum Stock Pot
Post by: newrocset on June 17, 2011, 05:48:01 AM
I've heard copper and stainless steel are resistant to bacteria and I guess that's why it is a requirement for commercial kitchens and breweries to use stainless.

I'm guessing that would be a basis to support the use of stainless over aluminum. 

Anyway, I've brewed plenty of great beers with the aluminum pot that came with my turkey fryer until I switched to a keggle and  I really don't see a difference in flavor.
Title: Re: Aluminum Stock Pot
Post by: Will's Swill on June 19, 2011, 01:18:27 PM
I had a wider aluminum pot for my first batch, and it didn't like to boil unless it was covered.  :-\ 

That's probably due to an insufficient heat source rather than the geometry of the pot. 
Title: Re: Aluminum Stock Pot
Post by: OrangeSnow on June 21, 2011, 10:51:23 AM
I had a wider aluminum pot for my first batch, and it didn't like to boil unless it was covered.  :-\ 

That's probably due to an insufficient heat source rather than the geometry of the pot. 

That's very likely.  Is there any way to increase the heat output of an electric stove without burning the house down?
Title: Re: Aluminum Stock Pot
Post by: tschmidlin on June 21, 2011, 03:52:33 PM
I had a wider aluminum pot for my first batch, and it didn't like to boil unless it was covered.  :-\ 

That's probably due to an insufficient heat source rather than the geometry of the pot. 

That's very likely.  Is there any way to increase the heat output of an electric stove without burning the house down?
Lots of things are possible but are still not good ideas.  This seems like a particularly bad idea.
Title: Re: Aluminum Stock Pot
Post by: euge on June 21, 2011, 05:57:16 PM
Electric ranges are pretty much universally insufficient for boiling more than a couple gallons. If you can and the pot is big enough try placing the kettle over two elements. It'll be lame but there should be some extra btu's there for ya.
Title: Re: Aluminum Stock Pot
Post by: OrangeSnow on June 21, 2011, 10:52:35 PM
I figured as much.  I miss my old gas stove.  I'll have to make do with what I have for the time being.  I'll just have to keep my boil volumes down and see how the final product turns out.
Title: Re: Aluminum Stock Pot
Post by: Kit B on June 22, 2011, 03:55:39 PM
That's very likely.  Is there any way to increase the heat output of an electric stove without burning the house down?

With the time/money you'd invest in this project & the danger involved, you're better off getting a propane burner.
Title: Re: Aluminum Stock Pot
Post by: richardt on June 22, 2011, 04:44:05 PM
I agree.  Once the size of the bottom of your pot exceeds the size of the burner, you're not going to be efficient in heating up the pot of wort.  Assuming that you're using a ceramic/glass-top stove, half of the pot could be heated by the "burner" and half of the pot could be sitting on room-temp glass. 

Anything more than a 5.5 gallon stock pot (for a 2.5 gallon batch) would probably be better off on a propane burner outside, IMO.
Or make an electric brew stick out of a 110v water heater element to supplement the process.
Title: Re: Aluminum Stock Pot
Post by: rightasrain on July 17, 2011, 02:45:14 AM
They are dirt cheap. Buy bigger than you think you'll need. instawares.com (http://www.instawares.com/aluminum-stock-pots.6853.4.7972.0.0.8.htm)

This store is great! A lot better prices than I have seen elsewhere. Thanks for posting.
Title: Re: Aluminum Stock Pot
Post by: tygo on July 17, 2011, 02:50:24 AM
They are dirt cheap. Buy bigger than you think you'll need. instawares.com (http://www.instawares.com/aluminum-stock-pots.6853.4.7972.0.0.8.htm)

This store is great! A lot better prices than I have seen elsewhere. Thanks for posting.

That's where I got my 60 qt stainless steel kettle.  Very heavy but very nice and at a good price.