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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > Glass Carboy vs plastic bucket
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Old 08-19-2012, 05:57 PM   #1
Rickytan
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Default Glass Carboy vs plastic bucket

Hello everyone,

Brand new to home brewing. About to get the necessary materials to start brewing (reading The Joy of Home Brewing in the meantime). Quick question. The local home brew supply starter kit provides two 5 gallon plastic buckets among other things. As a newbie, would it be beneficial to have a glass Carboy over one of the plastic buckets? Any advice would be great.

Thanks

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Old 08-19-2012, 06:04 PM   #2
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You will find lots of opinions, but I think the majority of us use buckets 90% of the time. I only use my glass carboy if I need to age something a long time and do not want to tie up a bucket. I never use it for "normal" beers. Plus, there are a lot of horror stories about the carboys breaking and doing serious damage to legs, hands, arms. If you get one, get a milk crate or the "carboy hauler" strap thingy. They are heavy and slippery.

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Old 08-19-2012, 06:05 PM   #3
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A 5 gallon class carboy will let you rack the beer out of the fermenting bucket and into the carboy for a secondary. If you are going to get a 5gal glass carboy get one in addition to both buckets. There is some debate amongst folks if a secondary is necessary. If you plan on bottling your brew you will want both buckets.

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Old 08-19-2012, 06:08 PM   #4
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Good answers......I agree.
Glass is hard to work with, and so much heavier. I used them decades ago but quickly tired of glass. Now I use plastic buckets (Ale Pale's) and Better Bottles. My beers have only gotten better and it's not because of the fermenter I'm using. Keep things clean and you'd be surprised how hard it is to frack up beer.

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Old 08-19-2012, 07:14 PM   #5
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Buy plastic carboys(better bottle), not glass ones...I don't understand the point of glass ones when we have plastic, then are so much safer to use and cheaper so you can get more. I understand glass is easier to clean, but honestly I've never had an issue cleaning one.

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Old 08-19-2012, 07:32 PM   #6
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Buckets are fine for most stuff. For using a secondary (if you decide to do that) go with a carboy because you want as little surface area as possible because oxidation is a greater risk during secondary as your yeast won't be producing co2 and pushing the oxygen out.

I second the recommendation of better bottles!

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Old 08-19-2012, 08:40 PM   #7
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Quoted from the "This vs. That" thread:

Quote:
Originally Posted by llazy_llama
Fermentation vessels: Buckets Vs. Better Bottles Vs. Glass Carboys Vs. Plastic Water Bottles Vs. Corney Kegs
(Please note that this list does not include conical fermenters. Odds are, if you are willing to invest that kind of money, you probably already know the sweeping benefits of a conical. That, and I'm poor, and can't afford a conical, so I have no experience there.)

Buckets:
Pros:[*]Cheap[*]Readily Available[*]Opaque, which prevents skunking[*]Easy to modify if they aren't pre-drilled for an airlock[*]Light weight[*]Built in handle[*]Wide opening makes cleaning a breeze[*]Wide opening also makes sanitation a breeze. Spray it with sanitizer, then just flip it upside down to drain
Cons:[*]Unimpressive looking[*]Lids often seal poorly. While this isn't a bad thing for people who know what they're doing, it often scares the new folk when they don't see their airlock bubbling[*]Plastic scratches easily, which can harbor bacteria[*]Opaque, so you can't see the beauty of fermentation[*]Some use gaskets instead of drilled stoppers. These gaskets love to fall into the beer when an airlock is added.[*]Can't use a wort wizard with a bucket[*]Even with careful handling and proper care, a bucket won't last you a lifetime[*]If you do get an infection (which is uncommon, borderline rare with proper sanitation) you'll most likely have to throw away any plastic equipment to prevent further batches from becoming infected.[*]Generally they have a lot of headspace. This isn't a problem for primary fermentation, as CO2 will displace the air in your bucket. It can, however, pose a problem if you're using it for a secondary. You can boil a few thousand marbles to sanitize them, then rack your beer on top of that. Seems like more hassle than it's worth to me, but I don't usually secondary
Better Bottles:
Pros:[*]Less expensive than glass carboys[*]Transparent, so you can watch the fermentation[*]Firm seal with a cheap stopper, so you can be sure to get that happy music out of your airlock[*]Wider mouth than glass carboys. You can insert a seriously massive blowoff tube.[*]Light weight. Easier to move and cheaper to ship than glass carboys. Also easier to sanitize than glass carboys if you use the Llama method of 1 gallon of water, Star San, and shaking the **** out of it for a few minutes[*]Has a handy indentation on the underside. This makes aeration a breeze if you stick a tennis ball underneath and just spin it like mad[*]Looks pretty cool compared to a bucket[*]Can come with a built in racking set up[*]Easier to drain Star San out of. If you fear the foam, you can flip it upside down over the sink and give it a few gentle squeezes. That puffs most of the foam out[*]Nearly indestructible. Edwort made a nice video on Youtube about how tough they are. Video Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kP6ZEenvRho
Cons:[*]The racking modification easily doubles the price[*]More expensive than buckets[*]Transparent, which can allow light in. Easily remedied by draping a dark t-shirt over the BB[*]Cannot handle negative pressure. You can still use a wort wizard with them, but you have to burp them a few times[*]Made of plastic, which can become scratched if you try to use a carboy brush on them[*]Only available in 3, 5, and 6 gallon sizes. If you're making a big beer, and using a 6 gallon primary BB, you can expect a decent blow off. If you're using a 5 gallon BB for primary for just about any beer, you can bet on blow off 90% of the time[*]If you make a post about how much you love better bottles on HBT, someone will inevitably chime in about oxygen permeability[*]If you do get an infection (which is uncommon, borderline rare with proper sanitation) you'll most likely have to throw away any plastic equipment to prevent further batches from becoming infected.[*]Any plastic gear you use will eventually need to be replaced. Sorry, but it just won't last forever
Plastic Water Bottles:
Pros:[*]You can find them anywhere[*]Cheap[*]Less expensive than glass carboys[*]Translucent, so you can watch the fermentation[*]Firm seal with a cheap stopper, so you can be sure to get that happy music out of your airlock[*]Light weight. Easier to move and cheaper to ship than glass carboys. Also easier to sanitize than glass carboys if you use the Llama method of 1 gallon of water, Star San, and shaking the **** out of it for a few minutes[*]You can drill a hole and install a bulkhead to create a racking modification similar to that used with better bottles[*]Some of them have built in handles
Cons:[*]Some aren't made of #1 or #2 plastic, making them unsuitable for our purposes[*]IMHO, they look cheaper than the buckets[*]If you do get an infection (which is uncommon, borderline rare with proper sanitation) you'll most likely have to throw away any plastic equipment to prevent further batches from becoming infected.[*]Translucent, which can allow light in. Easily remedied by draping a dark t-shirt over the bottle[*]Made of plastic, which can become scratched if you try to use a carboy brush on them[*]Cannot handle negative pressure. You might still be able to get away with a wort wizard if you burp it as with a BB[*]Any plastic gear you use will eventually need to be replaced. Sorry, but it just won't last forever[*]Does have higher oxygen permeability, so you might not want to bulk age in a water bottle for more than a few months
Glass Carboys:
Pros:[*]They just plain look awesome. If you're going for the mad scientist look, glass is the way to go [*]They can be cleaned with a carboy brush. You can scrub the crap out of them without fear[*]Can handle negative pressure, if you use a wort wizard[*]With proper care, they can outlive you[*]Transparent, so you can watch the fermentation[*]You get a great seal, so your airlock will bubble away happily[*]Most any homebrew store will have tubing that fits straight into the neck for a pretty big blowoff tube[*]Most any homebrew store will sell accessories specifically made for glass carboys. Carriers, caps, blow off tubes, etc...
Cons:[*]Drop it once, and it's a dead carboy[*]Many people have had to go to the hospital because of glass carboys. Gotta be careful with these things[*]Most expensive fermenter on this list[*]Heaviest fermenter on this list. Makes cleaning and aeration harder, and makes shipping much more expensive[*]Recently glass carboys have seen a huge degradation in manufacturing quality. We've seen a few break for what seemed like no reason

Cornelius Keg
Pros:
1. No glass carboys to break.
2. No delicate plastic surfaces to scratch and consequently harbor bacteria.
3. No UV worries.
4. Very tolerant to temperature.
5. Convenient carry handles.
6. Interchangeable vessels/ streamlined process. I can ferment, age, bottle and serve from all the same containers.
7. Not finicky to sanitize, I can use whatever product I want.
8. Dented cornies can be hammered back out with a rubber mallet.
9. Can be stored sanitized and pressed with a little CO2 more or less indefinitely, thus I can brew anytime without having to check if the primary is clean.
10. All one container type. I usually wait until I have three or four (used, rinsed) backed up before I bother breaking out the OxyClean.
11. Since I can harvest yeast out of cornies I am somewhat less interested even in conicals.
12. Can tolerate spunding valves/ pressurized primary ferments.
13. Carboy brush is quaint reminder of bygone era.
14. Cornies tolerate sharpie marker labels directly on bare steel, cleans up easily with hot water, OxyClean, green scrubber. Just to the side of the black post in case of drips...

Cons:

1. More expensive than buckets, more expensive than carboys. Cheaper than conicals though ;-)
2. O-rings are less durable than glass.
3. Several parts to keep track of, organizational skills required.
4. Multiple surfaces means cornies are less forgiving of marginal sanitation pratices.
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Old 08-19-2012, 09:46 PM   #8
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Where's Revvy?

Everyone uses what they want to use. A fermentation can happen in any vessel. I think glass carboys look better but I am afraid for my safety every time I bump it against the sink while cleaning.

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Old 08-19-2012, 09:48 PM   #9
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I agree, I just thought that piece of info was worth sharing...I should have linked to it, but my app wouldn't let me

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Old 08-19-2012, 09:52 PM   #10
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I prefer glass and stainless steel.
Others prefer plastic buckets.

With enough Starsan/Iodophor you can ferment in a kangaroo's pouch.

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