From the HBD Archive
From: Pete Soper <>
Subject: aluminum, Vienna malt
Date: 1990-05-07 23:14:06 GMT

>From: hplabs!polstra!jdp (John Polstra)

>I knew I'd regret fanning the embers of the aluminum controversy again :-(

I certainly don't feel hot over this topic, just a bit self conscious at
the moment. I think that all of your major points are valid - especially
about the relative importance of aluminum verses other brewing issues. I
remain unconvinced about a few details but certainly can't argue with your
results, assuming the judges of your beers are not "aluminum acclimated" :-).
After typing almost this whole reply I just looked back at my earlier
posting and see that the only part of your posting I quoted was the flipping
health issue piece from UC. My apologies, since this was just a distraction
that annoyed me.
As for the health issue, yes, let's leave that alone! My thought was simply
that aluminum-organic compounds from food reactions might undergo a lot of
changes and go to very different parts of the body in comparison to relatively
stable inorganic salts. I just thought the UC statement about Tums was a
gross oversimplification. Likewise, the reactions with aluminum and wort
to generate off-flavors might be non-trivial and explain why some people
report them and some don't.

>As has already been pointed out in this forum, wort is much less acidic
>than many foods, e.g., tomato sauce. Also, wort is not cooked for as long
>as many sauces and soups.

Surely we are not arguing over whether or not aluminum gets dissolved by
acidic solutions but simply the concentrations and rates involved, right?
As Dr. Beer pointed out, some off-flavors are caused by very low concentrations
of things. So the fact that pits don't appear in the side of a boil pot,for
instance, doesn't say much to me in this context. But at the same time the
concentration in a normal wort boil seems to be undetectable for you (and we
don't know the threshold for taste or smell of "aluminum____" anyway). So why
don't commercial breweries use aluminum, especially if it heats so evenly?
I'm not trying to be contentious but instead asking *under what circumstances*
can aluminum create noticeable defects in a beer's quality?
If the answer is "never if you avoid such and such practice" then
somebody needs to write to "Zymurgy" and get the demythologizing started.
I wonder about the effect of the oxide layer on old aluminum surfaces,
which is relatively inert. Perhaps it acts as an insulating layer in this
case? It might be useful to know if you ever use an abrasive to clean your
pot and if so, do you use it just prior to brewing or just after brewing?
Perhaps Dan Krus could add "not recently scratched pot" and
"just scoured pot" as additional variables for those tests he mentioned?
I predict this would produce a significant difference and might shed some

>>(me): But it is interesting to read that you taste no difference.
>I didn't say that. I said I haven't noticed any off flavors/aromas that
>seemed to be related to the aluminum. Neither did numerous judges in
>various competitions.

Sorry I missed the distinction.

>>(me): Others have said the impact on beer flavor is drastic.
>I have never heard *anybody* say that the impact was "drastic". The

I was recalling some of the postings the last time this came up and
specifically the harsh words Dr. T Andrews had about the flavor
effects of aluminum cookware. I just assumed he and others have senses
of taste very highly tuned to the flavor of aluminum compounds. Actually
this might have been part of the last Usenet-based aluminum debate
rather than something in the Digest; I can't remember.
- -------------------------------


>Could I interrupt the great Al debate for a simple question? Can someone
>out there tell me the difference between Munich and Vienna malts? I've

Vienna malt is simply kilned at a higher temperature than Munich. It
has a more color and flavor and less enzyme content. It is usually
based on European 2 row lager malt. There is a recipe for home-made Vienna
malt in the back of the Miller "Complete Handbook etc" book. If you use
this home-made method, however, IMHO you'd better have an additional source
of enzymes for your mash. In fact I can't figure out how Miller's "Marzen"
recipe can convert with home-made Vienna.
- ----------
Pete Soper ( +1 919 481 3730
Encore Computer Corp, 901 Kildaire Farm Rd, bldg D, Cary, NC 27511 USA

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