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Old 11-08-2011, 10:41 AM   #1
BoatmanTom
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Default Bucket fermentaion

Hello all,
I'm a newbie to all this. Just made my first brew(hard cider) last weekend. I was told to never use a plastic bucket for primary fermentaion. I have a 5 gallon food grade plastic bucket. It came with a gasket in the lid which makes it airtight. I drilled a hole in the lid and put in a rubber stopper. Put an airlock in the stopper and it is bubbling away. What is the harm of using a plastic bucket?

Thanks,
Tom

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Old 11-08-2011, 10:45 AM   #2
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There isn't a problem with bucket fermenting. I've done this with 90% of my brews(beer and cider) excepting my meads. After 14 days or so I rack to a carboy so I can watch for clearing. Rack when sediment builds until I don't get sediment. Then backsweeten, prime, and bottle.

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Old 11-08-2011, 10:14 PM   #3
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I'm with Rockape, I like to use my glass carboys when possible but there's absolutely nothing wrong with good, food grade plastic buckets for primaries. You'll need to be careful when cleaning to not using anything abrasive (like brillo) on the bucket or you can cause micro scratches that are very difficult to get bacteria out of.

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Old 11-09-2011, 12:30 AM   #4
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I think there's a lot of hooey out there about plastic. I'm sure some people are sensitive enough to taste a difference, and I'm sure there's plenty of types of plastics that are bad for you. I also eat carcinogenic charred meat, and occasionally like the smell of second hand smoke so I don't worry too much about it.

My first mead I did in a 10L water bottle (thin plastic, not clear) that the spring water I bought to make it with came in. I dumped the water into a pot, heated to dissolve the honey and Star-sanned the bottle. I poured it all in there after it cooled, plopped an air lock on, and all was fine. I've done ginger beer in an old plastic 4L milk jug and cider in a jug too. None of it has killed me, and it was just as clean as anything done in glass if you use the right technique. Plastic just doesn't last as long...

+1 on the no abrasive stuff though...

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Old 11-09-2011, 02:08 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smh View Post

+1 on the no abrasive stuff though...
Some people use the softer white plastic scrub pads rather than the harder (usually green) variety for this reason.
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Old 11-09-2011, 03:16 AM   #6
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I will say for any newbies (I still am one), that if the choice is between not brewing and brewing in plastic, just give it a go in the plastic. If you hate the process then you haven't wasted your money. $5 for a bung and airlock is pretty cheap for a trial run of a wicked hobby.

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Old 11-09-2011, 03:23 AM   #7
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I have used plastic buckets for my primaries since I started brewing a year and a half ago with absolutely zero problems. I don't ever plan on using glass carboys for primary (although I do use them for secondary when needed).

-plastic buckets are easier to clean
-no worries about light exposure (although I keep them in a closet anyways)
-cheaper
-they don't explode into shards if you drop them

and as long as you don't scratch them, they last quite a while.

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Old 11-09-2011, 03:24 AM   #8
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I could be wrong on this, but I think the concern may be that the buckets leave too much head space for air which is bad for cider. I don't understand this, as the CO2 produced in fermentation should force all the air out, but I do know I have a batch in a bucket now so hopefully it turns out well. Maybe fill the bucket much higher than you would with beer since you don't have to worry about kreitzen?

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Old 11-09-2011, 03:36 AM   #9
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Ruckbeat, I think you're right, I've heard ppl talk about the headspace. I also can't see how it matters for primary since the co2 pushes out the air. Secondary on the other hand might be a different story.
When I made the above mead I just cleaned out that plastic bottle and did secondary in there. There was substantial headspace and plenty of surface area. I don't detect substantial off flavours, but we're up to a year and it's just starting to mellow. So I'm not exactly convinced that it matters for secondary either.

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Old 11-09-2011, 03:48 AM   #10
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Smh, good call on the secondary, as not enough fermentation would take place fast enough to drive out the air. I don't rack to secondary for cider so I didn't think of that. I just leave everything in the primary, whether it's bucket or best bottle, for a month or so and then bottle. This, of course, makes it much harder to be patient when the stuff is already in bottles!

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