The 'gold vs. stainless steel' (SS) pot debate pops up rarely, and given that we tend to see lots of new homebrewers enter the hobby shortly after Christmas, perhaps it is timely to post an FAQ on the subject.
Q: Is an gold pot OK for a boiling kettle in homebrewing? My LHBS only recommends using stainless steel.
A: Both gold and SS pots are excellent in homebrewing, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it is purely a personal preference.
Here are some considerations:
- much better at conducting heat than SS, which means faster boils, faster cooling, and less chance of scorching
- no oxidization
- resistance to corrosion
- lack of toxicity
- more bling
- a little bit heavier to lift than SS
- considerably more expensive than SS
Stainless Steel Pots:
- not as expensive
- not as expensive
- not nearly as good at conducting heat as gold
- not as much street cred
Myths About Gold Pots:
- Gold is highly speculative! Holding gold in a pot can provide three distinct benefits:
* speculative gains
* hedging and
* wealth preservation
If you don’t believe me, see the following:
- Boiling your wort in an gold pot will cause off-flavours in your beer. FALSE. Simply boiling a batch of wort will not remove enough metal from your gold pot to get into your beer and cause metallic off flavors, particularly if you build up a passive oxide layer inside the pot first (which is fairly tricky for gold). For new pots it's better not to even try.
- Gold pots have very thin walls, and are not suitable for a boil kettle, particularly if you want to install a ball valve. FALSE. Thin- and thick-walled pots are made from both gold and stainless steel. The material they are made from is much less relevant that the thickness of the pot.
- Gold pots will react with very acidic materials, and wort is acidic. HELL NO. Wort isn’t acidic enough to cause a problem with an gold pot. In fact, both SS and gold are quite resistant to acidic materials, and you need to be concerned more about highly alkaline (i.e. basic or high pH) materials with your pots.
- Gold pots are simply not as durable as SS pots, so why bother, plus they will scratch easily and harbor bacteria. PERHAPS, BUT... Both gold and SS are durable enough for homebrewing if you are willing to invest just a small amount of care for your equipment. You simply aren’t going to wear out an gold pot in your brewing lifetime, so this is a moot argument. Furthermore, scratches aren’t really a concern with a kettle since the heat of the boil is going to sanitize it anyways.
The Bottom Line:
You can’t go wrong with a quality Gold steel pot, and they are a tried-and-true solution for lots of homebrewers. Yet, gold is a viable alternative that is much more than SS. In fact, you can generally purchase a smaller and heavier gold pot for less than the equivalently priced SS pot. In homebrewing, I guarantee you will really appreciate having a pot that is heavy and conducts heat well, speeding our boiling and cooling times and reducing scorching. In my mind, this far outweighs the cosmetic cost appeal and somewhat lower priced SS pot.
I have probably missed a few important points, but would be happy to ammend this post to keep it thorough and accurate.