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Old 03-30-2011, 05:01 PM   #1
btighe428
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Default 55 gallon plastic barrels: decreasing permeability

Hola,

First post here, I was wondering if any of you folks could help me out. I've been looking at fermenting in 55 gallon plastic barrels as they are quite cheap and convenient. However, I've heard issues about fermenting with them, breeding bacteria in scratches, and having permeability issues leading to off flavors in beer. My question is, would it be possible to alter these barrels in anyway to significantly decrease their permeability to get it close to that of glass or stainless steel? I was thinking a thick film, like a self adhesive, food safe Mylar around the inside of the barrel, and maybe one on the outside. I know that it would be tough to get it to conform to the bends at the top and bottom, but even if you covered 90% of the interior, would this have a significant impact on the air permeability? It's not possible for me to conduct any type of laboratory study, what I was wondering if anybody had any ideas!

Thanks brew friends!

-Brian

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Old 03-30-2011, 05:06 PM   #2
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I don't think there is a significant amount of oxygen that will enter the beer if you only leave it in the barrel for a couple weeks. People leave beer in plastic 7 gallon buckets for months with no issues.

As long as it is food safe plastic I dont see a major problem. Scratches are another issue....

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Old 03-30-2011, 05:35 PM   #3
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I remember reading of people fermenting in 15 gallon buckets and with food-grade plastic liners in them.

I also don't think oxygen permeability is a big issue, and the liners will help prevent bacteria in scratches getting into the beer.

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Old 03-30-2011, 06:31 PM   #4
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I see, so not much chance of air permeability at fermentation temperatures. What about mylar for decreasing the leeching of chemicals from plastic for say, a hot liquor tank or mashing tun at temperatures around 160f??

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Old 03-30-2011, 06:33 PM   #5
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Are you talking about food grade barrels or something else?

If they aren't food grade I just wouldn't use them. Any money you'd spend on liners and whatnot would be better off spent getting food-grade versions, assuming you plan to use them more than once.

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Old 03-30-2011, 06:50 PM   #6
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55 gallons is a seriously large amount of brew, you need to make sure you do it right. You do not want to be dealing with liners and so forth if you are using it as a MLT.

Food grade plastic usually comes with a temperature rating. For instance, I believe that the 6-7 gallon Ale Pails we all use and love can handle near boiling liquid without leaching chemicals. Look up "no-chill" brewing.

I would think that if you can guarantee that your plastic is food-grade, that it should be able to handle 160F.

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Old 03-30-2011, 07:01 PM   #7
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We ferment wine in these barrels, that being said we do have the tops cut off and we just cover them with a cloth. This is so we can push down the cap. Sorry off on a tangent, I don't think oxygen permeability is a big issue, just follow your normal sanitation schedule and you'll be ok.

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Old 03-30-2011, 07:02 PM   #8
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Hi,

Yes, I'm definitely talking about food grade barrels. I know dealing with liners would be a total PITA. I was thinking maybe a permeant adhesive mylar liner on the inside to help increase the stability/permeability even more, but it sounds like the consensus is food grade alone is fine. I've seen other people saying they were scared about any type of plastic, especially at temperature, but you know how those people on the internet are, haha.

Thanks

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Old 03-30-2011, 08:00 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by btighe428 View Post
Hi,

Yes, I'm definitely talking about food grade barrels. I know dealing with liners would be a total PITA. I was thinking maybe a permeant adhesive mylar liner on the inside to help increase the stability/permeability even more, but it sounds like the consensus is food grade alone is fine. I've seen other people saying they were scared about any type of plastic, especially at temperature, but you know how those people on the internet are, haha.

Thanks
Just a question, what are planning on brewing in these, and what for? Like I said before, that is ALOT of beer! I don't think I would brew that much of one batch until I had an excellent recipe downpat. Even then, you are going to run into issues with processes such as mashing/sparging/draining/etc.
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Old 03-30-2011, 08:14 PM   #10
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Not planning on anything of this size yet, just thinking a ways ahead. I'd like to fabricate my own kettles and mash tun, and use 55 gallon plastic barrels to save on getting a conical fermenters and HLTs.

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