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Old 03-17-2005, 11:46 AM   #1
Majikcook
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Default Plastic vs Glass Primary, The Ultimate Question

Ok boys,
we've been through this before but I wanted one last time to discuss the pro's and cons to plastic bucket fermenting vs glass carboy before I buy another primary.

1.The bucket is much easier to handle, and at 7.5 gallon capacity is more than enough to handle a 5 gallon ferment.

2.The carboy is sexier with the view and all, but does it really brew better beer? (the $1,000,000,00 question)

3. At 6.5 gallon carboy capacity, does't the 1 gallon difference of the pail mean less blow off opportunity? simple question deserves simple answer, I know

4. Does the plastic actually affect the taste or is it our own reasoning that we want the cooler looking things that sway our judgement to glass?
(guilty as charged)

5. I've been told that glass will clean easier, and does not scratch leaving pockets of places for the nasties to hide until later. Again, what can be easier than being able to put your entire arm and hand into cleaning a silly bucket? And unless I'm brewing beer with gravel as a fining agent, how am I scratching it?

So at the end of the day.... it all seems to come down to this. Does the plastic HONESTLY impart off flavors to the primary?


All good questions to lose sleep, ponder for days and possibly start a minor third world skirmish over... Would appreciate any non-biased opinions please!

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Old 03-17-2005, 12:45 PM   #2
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Personally, I use plastic for primary and use glass for secondary. I have heard horror stories about carboys breaking and causing some serious injuries. I don't believe that with good sanitation and a regular schedule for brews, plastic is not a bad thing. How much O2 do you can actually get in through the plastic?

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Old 03-17-2005, 01:10 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hatzie
How much O2 can actually get in through the plastic?
This is going to be the "Car-Boys" leg to stand on... If it truly is a valid point...
I'd say chalk one up for the Pail

Pail - 1 Carboy - 0

And by the way, Biased opinion are welcome.. I really want to know
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Last edited by Majikcook; 03-17-2005 at 01:44 PM.
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Old 03-17-2005, 03:03 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Majikcook
This is going to be the "Car-Boys" leg to stand on... If it truly is a valid point...
I'd say chalk one up for the Pail

Pail - 1 Carboy - 0

And by the way, Biased opinion are welcome.. I really want to know
Well, in my experience, I have always used the plastic primary. I clean it well, sanitize it well, and I have had no evidence of a "bad batch" from it. It is easier to move around on brew day, and lift to elevate for racking, kegging. What I don't like, is not being able to see all the work going on during primary fermentation. That part is just sooooo cool. I usually don't take original gravity readings, so I watch bubbles before I rack to the secondary. In my brew club, people use both, and have good results w/ both.

Just to give you an idea of "relax, don't worry, have a homebrew", a guy in my brew club just won a gold medal with a brew he mailed in to a San Diego competition. The big joke is, he stirred the wort with a stick he found laying in his yard while brewing! Now, I don't know what that says about the competition, or the judges!

Cheers!
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Old 03-17-2005, 03:27 PM   #5
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Pail - 2 Carboy - 0

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Old 03-17-2005, 03:56 PM   #6
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Speaking from my experience, I have to go with neither. I recently bought a 6 gal "better bottle" which I use for my primary. I dislike the plastic buckets because the first 4 or 5 batches I made were done in the bucket and all turned out with off flavors. I then switched to glass carboys, and the quality of my beer definitely improved, though I did experience a few bad situations with blow off (admittedly this was mostly my fault for only using a 5 gallon carboy). After that I bought a "better bottle" with a racking port for the primary. It's easy to clean and no syphoning for me...well at least until I go from the secondary to the bottling bucket.

Just my $0.02

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Old 03-17-2005, 04:48 PM   #7
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Glass is definitely better. It cleans more thoroughly, doesn't get scratched (you don't have to use gravel...normal cleaning WILL scratch your bucket), you can see the fermentation, which is essential in my book...not some need for sexy equipment.

It doesn't matter how much O2 gets in the beer through plastic because it's more than glass allows through (none). So is glass better on this count? Yes it is. It just is, folks.

The only benefit I can see to a bucket besides cost is that you can get your hand in it to clean it. I've always thought a glass bucket shaped fermenter would be ideal, but I've never seen one.

The point is, you can debate the degree to which glass is better all day. But it is better to some degree...maybe to a large degree. If plastic were as sanitary as glass or stainless, commercial breweries would use it. It doesn't have to be about off-flavors. For many reasons, it's just not as suitable as glass in terms of making a fermenter.

Will you notice differences in your beer? Maybe not. Will you bucket last as long as a carboy? No way. So, the real question is, do you want to save some money because even though plastic is worse, as you aknowledge, you won't notice its flaws? Or do you want the best option, which you already seem to understand is, in fact, glass.

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Old 03-17-2005, 05:19 PM   #8
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Are you an attorney Janx?
Pail - 2 Carboy - 1 BB - 1

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Old 03-17-2005, 05:55 PM   #9
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The defense rests

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Old 03-17-2005, 06:33 PM   #10
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glass, i prefer glass. i have two primaries now. a 6.5 and 6.0 gallon.... very nice. three secondaries, all 5 gallon. i used the bucked twice to ferment, i was not satisfied with the results of the bucket, it does not give a real good seal imo, i could push down on the lid and hear it suck air in, and not through the air lock. i just started buying glass carboys pretty cheap... 16 bucks for the five gallons, and about 24 for the six...

glass is better imo, cause like janx said you can see what is going on in your primary. it is critical to be able to see what is going on or what has gone on, especially if you think you gots a stuck fermentation.

glass is better imo, cause i can rack a new batch of wort right atop the yeast slurry from the previous batch. this you cannot do with plastic cause it will likely get infected.

chemicals eventually eat their way into plastic, especially if you are doing long soaks to remove odors/flavors...

bottom line, i prefer glass, and rest my defence with janx

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