Sunday 20 June 2010

Brewers objects of beauty no2 - pipe fittings

I'm afraid that it might be Freudian, but I have a fetish for pipe fittings. I could try and convince myself that it's due to my time as an Instrument Technician working with pneumatic based systems on a nuclear plant, but I'm certain that it's Freudian. I used to work in a place where they took nuclear fuel out of reactors and dissolved it in boiling nitric acid. The resultant liquid was then put through various treatment plants to recover any useful material from nasty stuff. My job was to look after various pressure measuring instrumentation, which by the nature of the place, tended to consist of much stainless steel piping. High grade stainless steel pipe, and the fittings used to join it together, gets me all excited.

It has bothered me for sometime that there were bits of ordinary copper and brass plumbing in my brewery. I know that there is a widely held belief that such things are not only harmless but positively helpful to a brewery. Copper reacts with sulphur and so removes this snatch producing element from the beer. That is true in a brewery where the water used contains sulphur, but in Cumbria sulphur is not a problem.

Copper is a pain if the brewer uses peracetic acid as it corrodes the metal at an alarming rate producing a green liquid. For that matter beer itself is quite acidic and will attack copper and take it into solution. The levels of copper, if the brewer is not very careful, might very well exceed maximum permitted levels in the finished product. I also worry about the fact that copper can become pitted due to the corrosion and so create infection traps.

Recently I bought a whole load of stainless steel and plastic pipe fittings. I don't like plastic as much, but it's easier to work with and a lot cheaper. BSP and RJT, John Guest and Hepworth, the box arrived, which was much too small for the amount of money. Still, it was fun getting the nice shiny smooth fittings out of the box, feeling the nice tight insertion tolerance and the sure knowledge that the fluid can now be directed exactly where I want it to go with a level of satisfaction. Like I say, Freudian.


Bebedores do Gondufo said...

very good.

Brewers Union Local 180 said...

You must be flush with cash now.

Unknown said...

Flush with cash? Hardly, we've committed to spend a whole load more money on bigger kit, that'll be the end of the cash.