Sierra Moonshine, The New Monitor, Missing Batteries, and Aluminum Boilers

Today saw me leaving my comfortable and well-fed digs high atop the Sierras, to perform my standard dog-and-pony show and Making Fine Spirits book-signing at Sierra Moonshine Brew Supply, in Grass Valley California.

The long route took me through the heart of California’s gold-rush country, on roads a lot twistier than I remembered, so twisty, in fact, that I’m pretty sure those marks on my rear bumper were made by my front bumper.

I got to Sierra Moonshine a bit early, because I knew I had to unpack and set up my new monitor for the Power Point presentation. Had to buy the new monitor when I found that I’d left the power supply to my oldĀ  monitor at home, and it was too special to replace. Of course, when I unpacked, I didn’t see the remote’s batteries, so I had to drive a few miles to find some and buy them. (I found the factory-supplied batteries after I got “home”.)

Although attendance was light, everyone kindly waited for me to get my presentation set up and working, and I ran through the graphic part of the presentation. We had some spirited discussions in the Q&A part. Interestingly, I ran into a bit of resistance with my assertion that you can’t change the temperature of a boiling liquid just by changing the heat input rate. I’m sticking with Roualt’s law of partial vapor pressures (I see it as a law rather than an opinion), so we agreed to disagree.

Similarly, there was disagreement on the safety of using an aluminum still boiler, something I’ve done (off and on) for close to 40 years with no flavor or corrosion (or Alzheimers, that I recall) problems. Nonetheless, I spent a lot of time later on the internet, studying the possibility of volatile aluminum compounds, on the assumption that if it isn’t volatile, it won’t come through the still (an argument I made to myself when I started using aluminum).

From everything I could find, it appears that volatile aluminum compounds are mostly lab curiosities, and formed by rare reactions and/or reagents I don’t expect to see in my still.

All told, a long, hard, lean day, and I was happy to get back to Echo Summit and a good bed.


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