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Old 02-24-2010, 03:35 AM   #1
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Default Why carboys?

...instead of cheap 5-gallon water containers?

Is there an advantage?

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Old 02-24-2010, 03:41 AM   #2
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depends on the plastic the water container is made with. If you have #1 plastic, chemically speaking, you should be fine. #2 plastic, there is some debate on, but more people fall on the side of it's OK to use. Any other types of plastics (especially #7) leach a chemical called BPA into any acidic environment (including beer). This chemical can cause some health issues.

Aside from the chemical argument, many folks have a problem with using the water container because the user doesn't really own it - you are technically leasing it from wherever you acquired it, with the implicit agreement that you will bring it back, and get a new container. That argument doesn't hold any water with me as #1 I've paid money for it (albeit a small amount) and #2 the cost of production is much less than what I've paid for it. But I may not struggle with my moral dilemas as much as some.

Other than those areas of concern, mechanically, they will work just fine. They even will fit a standard better bottle topper to hold the airlock. The one reason I don't use them for anything other than cider, however, is that when you use a 5 gallon container (better bottle, carboy, or water jug) for beer, you almost always have trub at the bottom and accounting for volume loss, you usually end up with about 4.5 gallons for bottling. I like to get more than that from my batches.

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Old 02-24-2010, 03:48 AM   #3
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I will also add that mead should bulk age for a long time. Water jugs are oxygen permeable and glass carboys are not.

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Old 02-24-2010, 02:45 PM   #4
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You're looking at $40-60 dollars worth of honey. Carboys are inexpensive and re-usable.

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Old 02-24-2010, 03:58 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cimirie View Post
depends on the plastic the water container is made with. If you have #1 plastic, chemically speaking, you should be fine. #2 plastic, there is some debate on, but more people fall on the side of it's OK to use. Any other types of plastics (especially #7) leach a chemical called BPA into any acidic environment (including beer). This chemical can cause some health issues..

What about #3 plastic?

I have a 3 Gal spring water one I once got at Lowes (no longer offered), and I am planning on making it a small-batch fermenter, not keeping stuff in it for long.
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Old 02-24-2010, 04:40 PM   #6
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I had planned on using a brewer's bucket for the first 4-5 months and then racking it into a carboy and letting it sit in there for a year. Will the time spent in the bucket be that negative towards the flavor?

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Old 02-24-2010, 04:51 PM   #7
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I have used plastic ones with no problems, even with bulk aging up to 9+ months... then one day I was at my local recycling center and low and behold there were two glass 6 gallon carboys sent by the beer & mead gods waiting for me

I do prefer the glass ones, because I dont have to worry about scratching up the inside when cleaning after a really messy fermentation... downside is that they make a 5-gallon batch a few pounds heavier than it already is...

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Old 02-24-2010, 09:50 PM   #8
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Quote:
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I had planned on using a brewer's bucket for the first 4-5 months and then racking it into a carboy....
While meads (especially traditionals) are not nearly as prone to oxidation as beer or many wines, there is absolutely nothing to be gained from leaving it in a bucket for 4-5 months. Bucket lids are notoriously leaky, and the HDPE is quite permeable to oxygen which just penetrates through the side of the bucket at a rate many time greater than through something like a barrel. An environment with plenty of oxygen is a spoilage organisms best friend, so even if the flavor of the mead is not harmed directly by the oxygen, the chance of developing spoilage and increased volatile acidity goes way up.

It can be done, and you can get away with it, but I wouldn't recommend it.

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Old 02-25-2010, 01:16 AM   #9
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I would stick with food grade brew buckets for the short term. Glass for bulk aging. Or just bottle and age in the bottle. I generally use the buckets if I have something messy or in a large mesh bag that would need to be pulled out.

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Old 02-27-2010, 09:57 AM   #10
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Just reading through, and while there's comment about the leaching of plasticisers into a brew, there's also the issue that the alcohol itself, is a pretty potent solvent.

Hence it does seem to be fine to actually ferment stuff like PET, but it seems that to age a brew, it's better to transfer to glass.

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