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Old 12-16-2012, 11:24 PM   #1
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Default Copper pipe adding nutrients for yeast?

I was just back home in England and went to a small brewery and had a good long chat with the brewer while he was mashing.

He suggested that every thing pre boil, mashing and sparging, should be ran through copper pipe.
Then use all stainless post boil.
the copper is supposed to add nutrients for a healthy fermentation.

I was wondering if any one had any comments or thoughts about this.

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Old 12-17-2012, 12:13 AM   #2
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I also feel that a modest amount of copper equipment in contact with the wort is an important feature that all breweries should have. There is a report from a brewery that converted to all stainless equipment from a copper kettle and immediately started to have fermentation problems. They resolved it by incorporating a length of copper tubing in the wort circuit to add a bit of copper to the wort. I now tell my professional brewing clients that they should add a bit of copper to their system too. Just a short length of copper tube in the kettle is all that is needed. It doesn't need to be hooked to anything. Its just there to add copper ions to the wort.

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Old 12-17-2012, 03:52 AM   #3
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Copper is a co factor for many yeast enzymes - mostly those that are involved in respiration but it also improves fermentation performance of yeast. OTOH it is toxic in excess so only very small quantities are wanted. Guys used to throw a few pennies into the kettle and that was effective in the days when pennies were made of copper and they still are but it is a thin layer of plating over zinc. Therefore, hanging a piece or 2 of stripped copper wire (10 or 12 gauge) over the edge of the kettle may be a more practical means of getting a little copper into the wort. Certainly easier to fish out. Use of an immersion wort chiller would certainly get some copper into solution. In my rig the steam coils are copper so I get plenty that way.

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Old 12-17-2012, 03:30 PM   #4
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My old RIMS was all copper and probably had about 2 ft of 1/2" and 2" copper tubing. I now have an all stainless RIMS and about 2 ft of 1/4" copper tubing that serves as the wort outlet tube in my kettle. That seems to be enough. I don't think there is much worry with excess copper in wort since all copper kettles used to be normal equipment in brewing.

By the way, copper is an important factor in reducing sulfurous compounds in the finished beer. If you are having eggy or sulfurous odors, add copper into the system to add ions.

I've thought about using a penny to supply zinc in wort since they are reported by the Mint to be virtually all zinc. Is the copper alloyed into the metal or is it just a copper plating? My understanding is that its alloyed into the metal, but I've never filed off an edge of a penny to see if it has another color underneath the surface.

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Old 12-17-2012, 03:44 PM   #5
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I have always been a big fan of using copper. Not only does it act as a cofactor in many enzymatic processes for yeast, as mentioned by ajdelange, it is naturally antibacterial as well.

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Old 12-17-2012, 03:47 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mabrungard View Post
Is the copper alloyed into the metal or is it just a copper plating? My understanding is that its alloyed into the metal, but I've never filed off an edge of a penny to see if it has another color underneath the surface.
It is plated. You can file the edge of a penny to expose the zinc, then immerse the penny in a strong acid and dissolve out the zinc core. You get pretty cool thin penny shell.
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Old 12-17-2012, 03:50 PM   #7
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Now that is pretty neat! What acid would you suggest to try that at home?

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Old 12-17-2012, 03:59 PM   #8
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Now that is pretty neat! What acid would you suggest to try that at home?
Hydrochloric acid. It is commonly sold as Muriatic acid at hardware stores or swimming pool supply shops for pool pH adjusting.

Do this outside, as the fumes (although just hydrogen gas) are rancid.
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Old 12-17-2012, 04:06 PM   #9
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The core is an alloy of mostly zinc (above 98%) but there is a wee bit of copper in it as well. But much of the copper is plated onto the core.

In beer sulfides (jungbuket) are usually sufficiently removed by scrubbing during conditioning. However in the wine business the finished product is often conveyed to the bottling area via a copper chute for just this purpose.

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Old 12-26-2012, 01:13 PM   #10
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Sounds like fabricating a kettle drain pick up out of copper tubing will be a good thing as I build my next kettle. I almost bought a new stainless drain unit, but since I have plenty of 1/2" copper in my plumbing stash, copper is it!

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