Adding a penny during boil to stop hops boiling over?

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wgentzel

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So I read somewhere on these forums that it would be a good idea to add a penny to your brew after you add the hops as it will help to stop the hops from boiling over.

I did so on my last batch of beer and now I am fairly certain that it reeks of and tastes like copper. Was I just supposed to dip the penny in for a second? Has anyone else tried this and what is your experience with it?
 

FlyGuy

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Your brew didn't pick up off flavours from the penny. That's certain. A lot of older commercial breweries actually have copper boil kettles. I think a commercial brewer would pick up off flavours from an entirely copper kettle before you would detect the effect of a penny! :D

And the penny in the kettle isn't a bad idea. It provides nucleation points for the boiling liquid. You need to toss in a bunch to make it effective, and even then, it doesn't help a great deal.

However, getting some copper in your wort is a very good thing for the yeast. That's another (perhaps better?) reason to put in the (clean) pennies. A piece of real copper pipe would be even better.
 

TelemarkBrew

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did you clean it first? when people use a immersion chiller they put the copper coil in the pot for the last 15 min or so of the boil and even as some copper comes off as a result of the acidic wort adding some nutrients to the wort, I haven't experienced it adding copper taste. just a penny for your thoughts. (stupid pun i know)
 

HenryHill

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Pennies after 1982 have .0005", half a thou, of copper. If you broke thru that plating, you were dissolving ZINC.

I thought that was a cooking trick-I would not use that for brewing. Just watch the BK.
 

FlyGuy

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Pennies after 1982 have .0005", half a thou, of copper. If you broke thru that plating, you were dissolving ZINC.

I thought that was a cooking trick-I would not use that for brewing. Just watch the BK.
Zinc does leach an off-flavour into beer. Good call.
 

jmulligan

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Keep a cup of ice cubes next to your boil pot, chucking one in as it approaches boil over, and it will do the same thing without getting years of dirt into your wort.
 

Ballistic

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Just imagine if you'd stumbled upon some alchemist's secret of propogating precious metals? You can bet your bottom dollar I'd be throwing my gold in there!
 

flyangler18

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There are two things that I've done to prevent boilovers:

- Use FermcapS. One of the best products EVAH.
- Aim a small desk-sized fan at the surface of the boiling wort. Works a mint.
 

Gosassin

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I have put my IC in for the boil well before flameout (like 30 minutes) and have never had any coppery taste imparted to my beer. I think Jamil did a podcast where he talks about it; evidently a small amount of copper will dissolve into the boil and provide yeast food. The yeast will take it out in fermentation and you shouldn't have any metallic taste. I wonder if there were something on the penny?
 

yeasty

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There are two things that I've done to prevent boilovers:

- Use FermcapS. One of the best products EVAH.
- Aim a small desk-sized fan at the surface of the boiling wort. Works a mint.
been boiling stuff a long time. no need for that. keep your flame a little lower, you can lightly blow on the foam to knock it down instead of a fan, and by all means keep stirring when you put the hops or extract in, dont let it form a "cap" that traps hotter wort and bubbles below it.....that is when you get explosive boil-over as the hot wort and bubbles try to break through that "cap" JMO.
 

FlyGuy

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been boiling stuff a long time. no need for that. keep your flame a little lower, you can lightly blow on the foam to knock it down instead of a fan, and by all means keep stirring when you put the hops or extract in, dont let it form a "cap" that traps hotter wort and bubbles below it.....that is when you get explosive boil-over as the hot wort and bubbles try to break through that "cap" JMO.
Your method works, too -- but you have to be constantly watching and attending to the boil.

Use foam control drops/Fermcap and a fan, and you can letter boil and go have a nap for an hour. Seriously.
 

bsay

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Spray bottle of water on the mist setting also works great. Just spray the foam and it will subside.
 

BubbaK

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did you clean it first? when people use a immersion chiller they put the copper coil in the pot for the last 15 min or so of the boil and even as some copper comes off as a result of the acidic wort adding some nutrients to the wort, I haven't experienced it adding copper taste. just a penny for your thoughts. (stupid pun i know)

You are supposed to drop the wort chiller into the brew pot before its ready to cool? I clean and sanitize the chiller, then dunk and cool. I haven't boiled it yet... :confused:
 

yeasty

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Your method works, too -- but you have to be constantly watching and attending to the boil.

Use foam control drops/Fermcap and a fan, and you can letter boil and go have a nap for an hour. Seriously.
i guess my technique is not advanced enough yet for that amount of relaxation ! i am usually busying myself with other "brew" stuff while it boils !;)
 

Munsoned

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You are supposed to drop the wort chiller into the brew pot before its ready to cool? I clean and sanitize the chiller, then dunk and cool. I haven't boiled it yet... :confused:
My understanding is that putting the wort chiller in about 10-15 minutes BEFORE the end of the boil was a generally accepted practice, as it is an easy way to make sure that you don't contaminate the wort with any bugs on the chiller. I was also wondering about whether doing this would let the copper react with the wort, but I read somewhere that as long as you don't keep it in too long, the copper won't react (maybe it was Palmers book?). Maybe the penny the OP used was just in the boil too long and it DID end up reacting? :confused:

I just made an IC and haven't used it in practice yet, although I did boil it in a few gallons of water and some white vinegar (for about 30 minutes) the other night to clean it for first use. It came out very shiny!!! :)
 

llazy_llama

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You are supposed to drop the wort chiller into the brew pot before its ready to cool? I clean and sanitize the chiller, then dunk and cool. I haven't boiled it yet... :confused:
There's no real reason to waste sanitizer on the chiller. Clean it, by all means, but it's easier and cheaper to just toss it into the wort with 15 minutes remaining in the boil.

Plus, you can use it to stir up the wort.
 

SumnerH

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My understanding is that putting the wort chiller in about 10-15 minutes BEFORE the end of the boil was a generally accepted practice, as it is an easy way to make sure that you don't contaminate the wort with any bugs on the chiller.
I've heard this before, but why 15 minutes? HTST pasteurization requires 15 seconds above 161F to pasteurize. Surely even if you dropped it in just before turning it on, it'd get well above that temperature for a lot longer than required?
 

carnevoodoo

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I've heard this before, but why 15 minutes? HTST pasteurization requires 15 seconds above 161F to pasteurize. Surely even if you dropped it in just before turning it on, it'd get well above that temperature for a lot longer than required?
15 minutes is just what has always been written, so i think people follow it. If it ain't broke...
 

bull8042

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I started out following the sheep and did the 15 minute thing. I have since come to realize after some discussion here that a few minutes is all that is required. Even now that I use a CFC, I still only recirculate about 5 minutes to take care of the sanitizing.
 
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wgentzel

wgentzel

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woohoo! Thanks for all the good answers guys. Penny was clean...could be zinc... or my imagination! I'll let everyone know after it's bottled a few days and I have more than a sip.
 

Munsoned

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15 minutes is just what has always been written, so i think people follow it. If it ain't broke...
This.

I don't doubt that 15 minutes is overkill. But remember, pasteurization is meant to kill certain types of microbes, not ALL types of microbes. Some stuff lives through 161*. Of course, we're not shooting for sterilization here, but with the ease of just throwing an IC into a full boil for the last 5 - 10 minutes, I say: why not? No harm done (the copper shouldn't react), it's easy enough to do, and it is by definition going to destroy more microbes than a few seconds at 161*F. (Even if it's only 1% more, since it's so easy to do, why not?) If you're working with other cooling technologies like CFCs, that's of course a different story. Just my $0.02.
 

talenos

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Wort chillers displace a lot of volume though, so I wouldn't use it for that purpose. I go after the foam on top with a skimmer, just because it keeps me entertained, that should cut down on it as well.
 

Zul'jin

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I've seen a glass disk placed in a pot and allowed to rest on the bottom used to prevent boil overs. In search for the name of this thing I found this at wisegeek;

"Boil over tends to occur whenever a ingredient added to hot water sheds a starchy coating. This coating floats on the surface of the water and forms a foamy layer over time. The foam, most notably from rice or pasta, tends to prevent natural ventilation, which makes the liquid become superheated. When the liquid becomes too hot and the foam is not skimmed off or stirred in time, a boil over can occur. In theory, an effective boil over preventer would absorb this extra heat and keep the temperature below or at the "

They also had this to say about the glass disk;

"A common boil over preventer found in many stores looks like a glass or ceramic disk. This type of boil over preventer is placed on the bottom of the cooking pot before the water and other ingredients are added. Eventually the boil over preventer will absorb any excess heat build-up created by an unchecked layer of foam. As long as the ceramic or glass boil over preventer is in the water, it should not be able to reach superheated temperatures and boil over the side."
 

boredatwork

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The best solution is foam control drops. All of these other exotic approaches are really a lot more effort then a few drops in your kettle before boil. I tried the penny tried the penny trick and it didn't work.

A lot of people have suggested the drops for a while now, but it seems like that advice gets ignored. I know I did. But after using them for a few batches now, I don't know why I didn't use them earlier. It really does make a world of difference.

I used to sit by the kettle for the whole hour with spray bottle in hand. And even then you still get some boilover. Now, I barely even sit by the kettle except when I need to throw something in. In retrospect sitting there with little spray bottle for the whole hour seems really silly.
 

FlyGuy

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Never put anything in your beer except for "Beer Approved Ingredients."
If you are too scared to try it, that's fine -- homebrewing is about following your own rules.

But the rest of us using foam control will be silently snickering at you standing over your boiling wort for that whole hour with that spray bottle nervously held in your hand the whole time! :D:D
 

beerthirty

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I have used SS bolts in the boil, the threads provide plenty of nucleation points. I recently found out from another thread(which I can't seem to find right now) that fermcap is nothing more than Simethicone, which is infant gas releif. Any drugstore carries this and the store brand is very inexpensive.
 

david_42

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Fermcap-S is dimethylpolysiloxane and sodium metabisulphite.

Simethicone is a mixture of polydimethylsiloxane and silica gel. The silica gel will require filtration. (There are brewing anti-foam agents that use silica. They also require filtration.)
 

Beau815

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yeah and holding a penny under your tongue will help you pass a lie detector test too... right
 

Ice9

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I'm using Fermcap-S for the first time tonight. No foam, no boilovers, 7 gallons in a 7.5 gallon pot!!! This stuff freakin' rocks!!
 

Beau815

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I thought it was for passing a breathalizer test
NO lol def wont do that! It was a myth that the copper did something to the spikey drawing thingy on a lie detector... made it calm or something... a myth... no penny will get you out of blowing a point 2 :drunk:
 

SumnerH

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NO lol def wont do that! It was a myth that the copper did something to the spikey drawing thingy on a lie detector... made it calm or something... a myth... no penny will get you out of blowing a point 2 :drunk:
Yeah, but after the lie detector thing was disproven the myth got recycled for breathalyzers. It's equally untrue there.
 

histo320

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I find that just putting a fan within 20 feet of the brew pot blowing almost directly on it stops boil overs.

Also, just being attentive and stirring like crazy while adding your extract slowly before the water even boils stops boil overs.
 
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Many have used simethicone without filtering.

Having a hose nozel on mist and spraying the wort when it starts to boil over will bring it back and give you time to turn down the heat.

Tree brewing showed me this trick.
 
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