Boil Kettle and IC

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Well-Known Member
Apr 14, 2022
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Been reading this site for a while to help find ways to improve my brewing. It’s kind of been an obsession. I won’t go into details about my process until asked but will relay what I feel is my issue and what I have done on my last batch to try to correct it. It’s still in fermenter by the way. The problem I feel like I been having is a slight medicinal taste on the back of my tongue. I can’t can’t detect by smell.

This last batch improvements made where water chemistry and fermentation temp control. I hit all my numbers including ph.

So after reading a bunch lately on this site I have 2 concerns now.

1. Boil kettle
2. Immersion chiller.

My boil kettle is stainless steel with riveted handles. I’m sure the rivets are aluminum. At end of brew day I fill the kettle with PBW to soak all my equipment in to do a cleaning, including my copper IC. I notice on the rivets a corrosive build up on them but I clean them off real good or at least I think I do. When I boil the wort, the wort level is above the rivets. Also the IC will end up looking brand spanking new.

After reading this site, I’m thinking that the IC should have a patina on it to keep the copper from leaching into the wort.

Could the aluminum rivets and or the shiny clean IC be creating this perceived metallic flavor?
Could the aluminum rivets and or the shiny clean IC be creating this perceived metallic flavor?

I am pretty surprised that you have aluminum rivets on a stainless kettle. That could lead to galvanic corrosion and indeed you said that you noticed "corrosive build up." If that's what's really happening, I wouldn't be too surprised by a metallic taste. (Also, I would have expected to see the corrosion to appear on the stainless rather than on the aluminum, but I'm not a metallurgist.

Also, people have reported pitting when using PBW on aluminum (even though the manufacturer says it's safe for aluminum).

You initially described the taste as medicinal. Are you by any chance using a belgian yeast strain? Also, if you are brewing with tap water, are you removing chlorine/chloramines first? The last possibility that comes to mind is a wild yeast infection, so... how's your sanitation?
Your copper IC is most likely not the culprit. When I had one, I did worry some about water from the inside getting spit out when it heated up in the wort or dripping from the fittings. As long as you have a bend near the in and out with some extension out over the rim shouldn't be a problem. Also, put it in 15 minutes before flameout. I'm sure you can get by with less time but it's an easy point to remember to do it. As long as you are using the chiller regularly it'll stay shiny like that, wort is acidic.
The two batches on tap right now were both fermented with Safale 05. Before I posted earlier I sampled each and could barely tast it. I left a little sample of each to warm up and just sampled again but could not taste it. I have a local on my third tap and definitely do not taste it in that one.

I fell that my sanitation is spot on, but I’m sure we all feel that way. I soak and/or spray anything that touches from end of boil on.
Deadalus, I don’t put the IC until flameout. I’ll use you recommendations on next batch.
I am using 25% tap and 75% distilled. I do use campden tablets. However, I do not let it sit all night. I always used campden even when using 100% tap water. The brown on tap is the first time using the 25/75 mix. The red on tap is 100% tap with no water treatment.
Deadalus, I don’t put the IC until flameout. I’ll use you recommendations on next batch.
Just be careful about the hoses, particularly if more permanently connected and your heat rises up the sides (flames for instance). On the flip side, the ends of the chiller can get hot so be careful. And if there is any water inside the IC it may spit out as it boils so position the ends appropriately.
I put my kettle in the sink for an ice bath as well. The spitting thing is why I put IC in after flameout. The return will be hanging over the other sink. I fell that the wort is still hot enough to sanitize the IC. Am I off base here.
Probably fine for the coils but the parts sticking out, maybe not. How hot do they get? If something was on there that's right where the IC gets picked up and maybe something gets dropped into the now chilled wort. Probably minor risk but what I always considered helpful was that it was set up before the end of the boil. The less stuff needing to be done at boil's end the quicker you can deactivate bittering hops by removal or chilling.

If you can hang it upside down the water will drain out, but that requires a place to hang it while it drips which is usually no where convenient.