Here in the lovely tropical Kingdom of Thailand glass carboys do not exist, there simply are none to be had. So I must find some other option for fermenters.
From what I can see my options are plastic or stainless steel. Aluminum pots are around but I don't think I'm down with aluminum as I'm looking at doing some fairly acidic brews, fruit juice wines, meads and mutant hybrids of the two.
There are plenty of fairly cheap ($3-4 usd) 19 liter water bottles that are made from a white plastic that I am pretty sure is Polypropylene (PP), and also slightly less cheap ($6-8 usd) 19 liter ones made from blue tinted polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Both of these types of bottles look just about like the 5 gallon water delivery bottles you would see in the states, except the PP ones you cannot see through and the PET ones are really blue.
There are also some larger, bucket shaped, insulated PP water coolers in various sizes up to about 50 liters. They are a good deal more expensive than the 19L water bottles. The one I priced today I am pretty sure was 50-60 liters and they were asking about $25 usd for it.
There are also countless 6 Liter clear PET water bottles to be had that are essentially free when you buy the water, but 5 liters of must seems kind of a puny batch.
Then there are the stainless steel pots, I've seen 40 liter stainless cooking pots made from nice heavy gauge steel for about $60 usd. They come bigger, but that seemed to be about the biggest that would be easily handled. The steel was thick enough that I'm pretty sure I could get it drilled and tapped for a stainless ball valve if I wanted to as well.
I'm sort of leaning towards either the big PP cooler or the SS pot for a primary fermenter and then going with the PET 6L guys for secondaries. The 6L are a nice convenient size to handle, in fact they come equipped with handles. If they get scratched or funky I can replace them for essentially nothing, as the water that comes in them is what I plan to brew with anyway.
The 6L seem too small for primaries though despite the obvious cost advantage. 19L seems OK for a primary but I don't like the idea of trying to clean a bottle for reuse that I cannot see inside of (the PP bottles) and even the PET 19L bottles seem like they might be a pain to clean, or at least clean without scratching up.
The big PP cooler would be easy to get inside of to clean but more easily scratched up. It is also insulated, which could be a problem in the hot weather here as I'm more interested in my must being able to shed heat than hold onto it.
The biggest downside I see to the SS pots is initial cost and difficulty in sealing the lids. But doing meads and fruit wines I'm not sure having a super tight seal is as big a deal as with beer, and the SS will last pretty much forever. As soon as I funk up or scratch the 7th PET 19L carboy I will be spending more than I would have on that 40L SS pot.
What do you think you would do if glass was not available?