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Old 12-22-2014, 09:10 PM   #1
Mattsbay18
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Default Carboy question

I'm new to brewing so I bought a Brewers Best deluxe kit complete with glass carboy thinking that I would use it for my main fermenting vessel.

My questions;
1) is a 5 gallon carboy big enough for primary fermentation?

2) should I stick with fermenting in the 6.5 gal bucket or upgrade to larger carboy?

3) or should I transfer my beer to the 5 gallon carboy after a few days in the primary fermenting bucket?

Thanks in advance for your help,
Matt

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Old 12-22-2014, 09:23 PM   #2
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1) A 5-gallon carboy is too small for primary fermentation of batches larger than 4 gallons or so. I like a gallon of headspace for fermentation, unless I use Fermcap to suppress foaming, in which case I can leave a half-gallon of headspace.

2) I would stick with the bucket since you already have it, although I prefer carboys. 6-6.5 gallons is good for primary.

3) I, and many other homebrewers, do not transfer our beer to a secondary fermenter unless adding fruit or extended aging. I would recommend letting the beer sit in the primary for 2-4 weeks and then package for consumption, unless you are aging it or putting it on fruit, then transfer to the 5 gallon carboy. If you do want to transfer your batches to the 5 gallon carboy for secondary 'fermentation' (no fermentation occurs unless sugars are added), I would give a minimum of 2 weeks in the primary before transferring for ales.

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Old 12-22-2014, 09:27 PM   #3
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First, welcome to brewing. Second, opinions vary on the bucket-vs-carboy, to-secondary-or-not, etc. My 2 cents, though:
1- Not for a 5 gallon batch. You need headspace for the beauty of fermentation to take place (e.g. krausen).
2- I have a >5 gallon better bottle, and 3 6.5 gallon buckets. I like the ability to clean the buckets easily, and that they are generally (for me) easier to move around. And if one gets banged up, who doesn't need an extra work bucket around?
3- Depending on what you're brewing, the need to rack to a secondary vessel is debatable. Brewing a giant RIS? Sure, you want that guy to age off the yeast cake (and likely want that fermentor). I generally don't transfer to a brite/secondary vessel unless I am planning (or just want the option) to bulk age for an extended period, or am adding a lot of things post-fermentation.

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Old 12-22-2014, 09:53 PM   #4
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Thanks for your responses. I'm excited to get started. Brewing has been something I've been wanting to do for a long time.

1) As I learn more about the brewing process, the more I'm learning about what can wreck a batch of beer. I guess I'm worrying too much about possible oxidization when fermenting in a bucket. To me, the bucket doesn't sound like it would be as good as the glass carboy at keeping oxygen out. Am I reading too much into oxidization?

2) When cleaning your buckets, are you worried about bacteria getting caught in between scratches? How do you clean your buckets?

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Old 12-22-2014, 10:06 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mattsbay18 View Post
Thanks for your responses. I'm excited to get started. Brewing has been something I've been wanting to do for a long time.

1) As I learn more about the brewing process, the more I'm learning about what can wreck a batch of beer. I guess I'm worrying too much about possible oxidization when fermenting in a bucket. To me, the bucket doesn't sound like it would be as good as the glass carboy at keeping oxygen out. Am I reading too much into oxidization?

2) When cleaning your buckets, are you worried about bacteria getting caught in between scratches? How do you clean your buckets?
1) HDPE does have a higher permeability, but shouldn't make any difference unless you are aging for a very long time (years I think).

2) Don't scrub your buckets with anything that will scratch them. I would soak in PBW or oxy-clean free (don't get the scented stuff) and spray out. You can wipe down with a sponge, or just shake vigorously for the carboy (be careful with the glass, I only use plastic because I can be clumsy at times and don't want to risk cutting myself).

My typical cleaning routine is soak in PBW solution for several hours, shake with top on, rinse with warm water several times, and let air dry upside down. Then just rinse and sanitize next brew session. Just make sure you clean your fermenters right after you empty them.

I have carboys and have never scrubbed them, so I have no scratches. If I had a scratch, I would clean really well and use until I had an issue with contamination. Best strategy is to not get any scratches on the interior if you can help it.
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Old 12-23-2014, 01:22 AM   #6
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Thanks for the info on cleaning and sanitizing. I will stick with the buckets for now. I'll upgrade when I start perfecting the craft

Cheers

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