Anyone brewing in aluminum pots? good or bad please let me

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Anyone brewing in aluminum pots? good or bad please let me

Postby stumpwater » Sat Apr 06, 2002 3:05 pm

I just acquired a 64 litre/68 quart aluminum pot. I plan to use it next week in brewing my first batch of all-grain beer. It has thick sidewalls, but I will be using a propane burner so if anyone has a horror story about a similar set up, please tell me now...
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Postby l48shark » Sat Apr 06, 2002 8:37 pm

The following is from

Aluminum Fears...

No part of brewing is safe from controversy. Even the equipment you use to brew can be controversial. For example, some homebrewers claim that using plastic fermenters is an invitation for infection because bacteria can hide in the small scratches that plastic buckets invariably accrue. More seriously, some people claim that one type of material used in some breweries may have serious health consequences. Specifically, it has been suggested that using aluminum pots during brewing can lead to Alzheimer's disease.

...Are Justified?

Alzheimer's is a degenerative brain disease that primarily affects older people. Symptoms include memory loss and dementia. Autopsies of Alzheimer's sufferers have shown that Alzheimer's patients had an unusually high concentration of aluminum in their brain tissue. A British medical journal, The Lancet, even published a paper linking aluminum in drinking water to Alzheimer's.
One potential source of aluminum exposure is from cookware, especially cookware used to cook food that have low pH values. At lower pH values, aluminum can be leached from cookware into food. The pH of wort is optimally between 5.2 and 5.6, not as low as tomato sauce or other high-acid foods, but potentially low enough to cause concern if aluminum were a health risk. Some people jumped to the conclusion that using an aluminum brewpot would lead to aluminum in your beer.

...Are Not Justified!

Critics were quick to point out that finding elevated aluminum levels in the brains of Alzheimer's suffers does not mean that aluminum caused the disease. It is possible that high aluminum levels are a symptom of the disease, not a cause. The change in brain tissues caused by the disease may lead Alzheimer's sufferers to retain more aluminum than non-affected people.
In addition, researchers also pointed out that aluminum is an abundant element. In fact, it's the third most abundant element on earth. The average person receives almost 21 mg of aluminum per day in their diet. Aluminum is found in baking powder. Likewise, antacids may contain up to 50 mg of aluminum. Following the directed dosage, an upset-stomach sufferer may ingest up to 1000 mgs per day. Using aluminum cookware increases the daily amount of aluminum injested only slightly (some sources say by less than 0.5 mg). Critics of the aluminum-Alzheimer's link say that if aluminum really did cause Alzheimer's, cookware would be the least of our worries.
Follow-up studies to the original study have been inconclusive. Some researchers claim to have found a general link between age and aluminum levels in the brain. Thus, the aluminum found in the brain tissue in the original study may have been there due to age, not Alzheimer's. Other studies have found no link between suffering from Alzheimer's and the presence of aluminum in the brain. Still other researchers have suggested that the metal found in the neurofibrillary tangles of Alzheimer's patients in the original study actually came from the water used to prepare the tissue samples. They claim the aluminum was introduced by the experiment.


Researchers have judged the studies linking aluminum ingestion to Alzheimer's to be inconclusive at best. Almost no one who studies Alzheimer's believes aluminum is a primary factor that causes the disease. Most, in fact, think it has nothing to do with Alzheimer's. The evidence that aluminum contributes to Alzheimer's is disputed by most major Alzheimer’s researchers and support groups. If you have an aluminum brewpot, there is no health-related reason to worry about it. Some homebrewers claim that using an aluminum pot adds a metallic taste to their beer, but that's another controversy for another time.

And in Conclusion...

As a beginning homebrewer, I would frequently read about some homebrewing controversy and decide I needed to change my brewing practices. These days, when I read about these controversies, I think, "Do I really need to worry about this?"
Before rushing off to change the way you brew, pour yourself a homebrew and ask, "Do I need to change my brewing practices ... or does my beer taste fine?" It's easy to get caught up in theoretical arguments about brewing procedures. (Hell, I think it's fun to get caught up in theoretical arguments about brewing procedures!) But keep your eye (or tastebuds) on the beer you are producing. The point of homebrewing is to brew quality beer . . . and to tell other homebrewers that they're doing it wrong. Homebrewing can be as simple or as complex as you make it. Some brewers just follow the directions on their extract kit. Others make up their own recipes and fine-tune their brewing procedures in an effort to brew superior beer. Whatever your attitude towards brewing, there is a set of lab equipment for you.
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Postby BillyBock » Sun Apr 07, 2002 9:04 am

When I made my initial upgrade in capacity, I picked up one of the Walmart turkey fryer things for $70. With it I made about 7 batches--I've never detected any off tastes. I was a little worried about all the controversy, but as the other post mentions, you'll ingest significantly more aluminum from an antacid tablet that you'll get from your brewpot.

Now I will tell you that my current brewpot is a 15 gal SS "Polarware" from St. Pat's with pickup tube and drain valve. However, the reasons are twofold: (1) I was upgrading capacity and needed one with a drain valve to adapt to the 2-tier system I was making, and (2) durability to cleaners. As far as #2, I once had a very tiring brewing session, I started late at night and finished up at 5am. I was tired and wanted to sleep. I got everything else cleaned except the pot, I was to save that for when I woke up. I left the immersion chiller in the pot with whatever little amount of wort and trub was left over. When I came out to clean it 4 hours later, there was galvanic corrosion pitting at the bottom of the pot!

Moral of the story: I wouldn't be too concerned about use of the pot and any "tastes" from it. I don't think there would be any. However, I'd be more worried about it's long-term care and the choice of cleaners you use. As long as you're careful cleaning it, it should last you quite a while.
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me old fella uses one

Postby Fraoch » Tue Apr 09, 2002 3:10 am

I used to boil in aluminium and it was fine until i started scrubbing it to clean it, after that i noticed a slight metallic taste, i now use S.steel. However me old man boils in aluminium and NEVER scrubs his, only rinses out. He goes on the sumise of the chinese tea pot, in that it tastes better over a period of time. He only does the darker style beers mind ( no lager), He brews bloody good beer and ive never tasted a metallic tang to any of his brews, he is also of sound mind.
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Postby stumpwater » Tue Apr 09, 2002 2:22 pm

Thanks for all your help! I did a test run last night with a batch of extract and was really pleased with how the set-up performed. No scalding and really fast at coming to boil. I especially appreciate all the advice on the cleaning. For $82 Canadian (about 50 U.S. dollars) you can get a really nice aluminum pot.
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Used one for years..

Postby hophead » Wed Apr 10, 2002 3:03 am

I've used an aluminum pot for years without any problems, although, I keep forgeting the recipes:)
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