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Old 04-25-2012, 12:43 AM   #1
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Default Copper lines for Jockey Box

I'm planning on working on my jockey box in the near future one option being a 2 gallon rubber maid cooler. Problem is there isn't much room inside for a coil and ice. Copper conducts about the best, and is easier to bend than stainless.

My question is how bad is the copper for you?

The most that would be served from this jockey box to a smaller group at one time would be about 5 gallons over a weekend maybe 5gal to a very large group in an evening. I like the look of this smaller cooler with a tap tower mounted on top. At most I'll be using this about 4 times a year. With me drinking from it every time. (most exposure on me)

I think I could easily fit a 20-25' coil in this cooler with plenty of room for about 3lbs of ice, maybe more.

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Old 04-25-2012, 12:47 AM   #2
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I have a 4-tap jockey box I made. I went with a cold plate like this:

http://www.micromatic.com/draft-keg-...s-cid-671.html

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Old 04-25-2012, 12:52 AM   #3
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Those are nice. Was hoping to get it done for less... might see if I can find a small used single on ebay.

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Old 04-26-2012, 06:21 PM   #4
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the use of copper post-fermentation is a no no

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Old 04-26-2012, 06:58 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by audger View Post
the use of copper post-fermentation is a no no
Why is that? You may be right but I've been brewing a while and I've never heard that.

I did build a jockey-box a few years back with small 1/4" copper in a small cooler. It worked fine and never had any issues with using copper instead of SS. The only reason I stopped using it is that I decided to add a tap to the fridge and scavenged the tap off the cooler (I was only using the cooler 2-3 times a year).
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Old 04-26-2012, 07:12 PM   #6
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Quoting from another (3 year old) thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by HomebrewJeff View Post
Here is some more info:

FDA/CFSAN FDA 1997 Food Code - Annex 3: Public Health Reasons/Administrative Guidelines
Quote:
4-101.14 Copper, Use Limitation.*

High concentrations of copper are poisonous and have caused foodborne illness. When copper and copper alloy surfaces contact acidic foods, copper may be leached into the food. Carbon dioxide may be released into a water supply because of an ineffective or nonexistent backflow prevention device between a carbonator and copper plumbing components. The acid that results from mixing water and carbon dioxide leaches copper from the plumbing components and the leachate is then transferred to beverages, causing copper poisoning. Backflow prevention devices constructed of copper and copper alloys can cause, and have resulted in, the leaching of both copper and lead into carbonated beverages.

Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc and contains lead which is used to combine the two elements. Historically, brass has been used for items such as pumps, pipe fitting, and goblets. All 3 constituents are subject to leaching when they contact acidic foods, and food poisoning has resulted from such contact.

The steps in beer brewing include malting, mashing, fermentation, separation of the alcoholic beverage from the mash, and rectification. During mashing, it is essential to lower the pH from its normal 5.8 in order to optimize enzymatic activity. The pH is commonly lowered to 5.1-5.2, but may be adjusted to as low as 3.2. The soluble extract of the mash (wort) is boiled with hops for 1 to 2½ hours or more. After boiling, the wort is cooled, inoculated with brewers yeast, and fermented. The use of copper equipment during the prefermentation and fermentation steps typically result in some leaching of copper.

Because copper is an essential nutrient for yeast growth, low levels of copper are metabolized by the yeast during fermentation. However, studies have shown that copper levels above 0.2 mg/L are toxic or lethal to the yeast. In addition, copper levels as low as 3.5 mg/L have been reported to cause symptoms of copper poisoning in humans. Therefore, the levels of copper necessary for successful beer fermentation (i.e., below 0.2 mg/L) do not reach a level that would be toxic to humans.

Today, domestic beer brewers typically endeavor to use only stainless steel or stainless steel-lined copper equipment (piping, fermenters, filters, holding tanks, bottling machines, keys, etc.) in contact with beer following the hot brewing steps in the beer making process. Some also use pitch-coated oak vats or glass-lined steel vats following the hot brewing steps. Where copper equipment is not used in beer brewing, it is common practice to add copper (along with zinc) to provide the nutrients essential to the yeast for successful fermentation.
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Old 04-26-2012, 07:33 PM   #7
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Ok - so it seems that there is some scientific guidance on acidic liquids (namely soda) and its ability to leach copper and lead from copper pipes. Then it starts to talk about brass (which is in, I'm guessing, 90% of beer taps).

The PH of soda is in the 2.5-3.0 range. Keeping in mind the PH scale is logarithmic that makes soda at least 100 times more acidic than beer.

While with anything safety related knowledge of what you're getting into is better than doing something blindly but IMO I wouldn't anticipate the amount of copper that MIGHT leach from a coil over the span of a weekend to be significant (if even detectable).

Then again - I'm not a scientist and I didn't stay at a holiday inn last night either.

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Old 04-26-2012, 07:51 PM   #8
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I just wouldn't want the first beer of the morning that had been setting in the copper over night.

More info:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copper_toxicity

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Old 04-26-2012, 08:02 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by camiller View Post
I just wouldn't want the first beer of the morning that had been setting in the copper over night.

More info:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copper_toxicity
But you'll drink from a brass beer tap, yes?

Got it - copper at toxic levels, bad.
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Old 04-26-2012, 10:43 PM   #10
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The ale house I work at has all SS taps; reading about all that wikipedia stuff makes copper not sound to great.

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