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Adding a penny during boil to stop hops boiling over?

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histo320

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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
I have 10 brews under my belt and the only method I use to stop boilovers is a fan. So snicker all you want, I'm not scared to try pennies, marbles, etc. in my beer I just don't have the need for it because boilovers are not problem when I brew.
 
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I have 10 brews under my belt and the only method I use to stop boilovers is a fan. So snicker all you want, I'm not scared to try pennies, marbles, etc. in my beer I just don't have the need for it because boilovers are not problem when I brew.
You just know your next brew is going to boil over now. You just tempted fate by friend. :D
 

ak47clown

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+1 on the fan. I'm a big proponent after my last brew session when I started using one. It's gotta be one of the easiest and most effective things you can do. Like someone else mentioned, you can literally walk away and come back later without worry of boilover (obviously i don't do this but I am in and out between the backyard and kitchen on brew days getting stuff ready)
 

boredatwork

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The occurrence of a boil over is also very dependent on the stage of boil, how vigorous the boil is, when and how additions are done, stirring, etc.

I think this is why some people seem to have little to no problem with them, yet others can't seem to stop them.
 

fc36

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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;
That glass disk is called a "laboratory watch glass" and they are a common thing in most high school and college laboratories because they are used as temporary dishes for powders and such. They along with glass marbles, copper pennies, copper wort chillers, your stirring spoon/paddle, or anything else that's fairly inert will create nucleation points and reduce the chance for a boilover.

Furthermore, being a chemical engineer and thinking of the few hundred years we've been using copper in the majority of our plumbing and the fact that countless breweries and homebrewers are using copper kettles, wort chillers, etc., that copper is completely inert in a boiling wort environment at 212F. Copper is quite safe and in fact, like silver, actually has some natural germicidal properties due to the oligodynamic effect and the relative toxicity of some metal ions to various living cells, typically unicellular organisms including bacterium and fungi.

So yes, I'd say it's safe to say that copper may be beneficial to the brewing process to reduce boilovers, but more importantly, it's virtually inert and quite safe to use in the brewing process or any other food service industry and it will remain our main source of plumbing pipes as well as countless other uses.
 

SenorD

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Hmm- were you using a brand-new aluminum pot without creating an oxidation layer first? I did this once, and the first batch I brewed with it tasted overwhelmingly metallic.
 

jangelj

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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."
they sell these ceramic discs in kitchen stores. they are called "potwatchers". we have one, never used it in beer...yet. ours is similiar to this one
http://www.amazon.com/JBK-Chef-Design-Ceramic-Minder/dp/B001PUMK98/ref=pd_sbs_k_4
 
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pbunt911

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Slightly off topic but....

So I started a batch of Irish Ale Sunday afternoon (my second batch of beer). Monday morning I'm scrambling around try to get to work when I notice foam oozing from the top of my airlock. Unfortunately, what DIDN'T spring to mind was rigging a blow off tube with some vinyl tubing and my 3-piece airlock. What DID spring to mind was something I read in one of many beer books and articles about pennies and foam…so I grabbed a couple unsanitized, filthy pennies off the counter, dropped them in the fermenter, and shoved off to work. Any chance this brew won't taste like sewer water?
 

Rev2010

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so I grabbed a couple unsanitized, filthy pennies off the counter, dropped them in the fermenter, and shoved off to work.
This is a joke right?? You wouldn't really put a bunch of dirty bacteria laden pennies in your fermenter right?


Rev.
 

mikebowman

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pbunt911 said:
Slightly off topic but....

So I started a batch of Irish Ale Sunday afternoon (my second batch of beer). Monday morning I'm scrambling around try to get to work when I notice foam oozing from the top of my airlock. Unfortunately, what DIDN'T spring to mind was rigging a blow off tube with some vinyl tubing and my 3-piece airlock. What DID spring to mind was something I read in one of many beer books and articles about pennies and foam…so I grabbed a couple unsanitized, filthy pennies off the counter, dropped them in the fermenter, and shoved off to work. Any chance this brew won't taste like sewer water?
I don't wanna say I'm sure you'll be alright, because I'm not sure. Fingers crossed though. Worst case, it's infected and you dump it. Best case it turns out fine
 

pbunt911

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I don't wanna say I'm sure you'll be alright, because I'm not sure. Fingers crossed though. Worst case, it's infected and you dump it. Best case it turns out fine
That's very helpful! Thanks Mike! Obviously, a pretty stupid move, even on a groggy Monday morning, but man's been brewing beer since long before Star San. I'm actually big on sanitation and sterilization but I'm still rather curious to know how sensitive the fermentation process is to exposure to a known contaminent. I guess we'll find out. And I'm no microbiologist but I know these particular pennys have been out of circulation for several years so I doubt they're "bacteria laden".
 

Rev2010

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Bacteria left on the moon for years was later found to still be alive. So go ahead and doubt it, but regardless there's still lots of bacteria present.


Rev.
 

jollytim

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Next time you decide to do this, at least use a pair of pennies. That way you can claim you threw your 2 cents in! :)
 

liebertron

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just drop an ice cube in when it starts to boil over. Right when it starts drop one, maybe two in, and the temperature difference will cause the boil over to stop. Use it myself, works every time.
 

pbunt911

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Bacteria left on the moon for years was later found to still be alive. So go ahead and doubt it, but regardless there's still lots of bacteria present.


Rev.
Intelligent, insightful people are much easier to appreciate when they’re not so condescending about it. You remind me why I always seem to regret soliciting feedback and asking questions on forums like this one.

As you were.
 

cklages

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You may want to ensure that those pennies are pre 1982, as was mentioned peenies contain very little copper these days. I ripped this off from wikipedia.

In 1982, the United States Mint began minting pennies coated in copper but made primarily of zinc. With the new zinc pennies, there is the potential for zinc toxicosis, which can be fatal. One reported case of chronic ingestion of 425 pennies (over 1 kg of zinc) resulted in death due to gastrointestinal bacterial and fungal sepsis, while another patient, who ingested 12 grams of zinc, only showed lethargy and ataxia (gross lack of coordination of muscle movements).[180] Several other cases have been reported of humans suffering zinc intoxication by the ingestion of zinc coins.[181][182]

Pennies and other small coins are sometimes ingested by dogs, resulting in the need for medical treatment to remove the foreign body. The zinc content of some coins can cause zinc toxicity, which is commonly fatal in dogs, where it causes a severe hemolytic anemia, and also liver or kidney damage; vomiting and diarrhea are possible symptoms.[183] Zinc is highly toxic in parrots and poisoning can often be fatal.[184] The consumption of fruit juices stored in galvanized cans has resulted in mass parrot poisonings with zinc.[51]
Now i'm not suggesting that you are going to throw 450 pennies in the boil, but if you start to suffer 'lethargy and ataxia (gross lack of coordination of muscle movements)' after drinking a bunch of beer, you will know that its the zinc causing all of these problems! Come to think of it, why bother brewing at all, I think I might just go eat a penny.
 

Walker

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if you start to suffer 'lethargy and ataxia (gross lack of coordination of muscle movements)' after drinking a bunch of beer, you will know that its the zinc causing all of these problems!
LOL.

I always experience a gross lack of coordination after drinking a bunch of beer, and I am sure zinc has nothing to do with it. :D
 

cklages

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as was mentioned peenies contain very little copper these days
I just noticed my typo...I should hope my peenie contains very little copper :D

Of course too little zinc is a problem as well. Perhaps we should be sending all of our pennies to the third world.

Zinc is an essential mineral of "exceptional biologic and public health importance".[1] Zinc deficiency affects about two billion people in the developing world and is associated with many diseases.[2] In children it causes growth retardation, delayed sexual maturation, infection susceptibility, and diarrhea, contributing to the death of about 800,000 children worldwide per year
 
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