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Old 06-23-2006, 04:41 PM   #1
mcliffor
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Default Plastic water jugs as carboys

This seems like the kind of question people would ask all the time, but I can't find it anywhere on the forum. Can you use 5 gallon plastic water jugs designed for office water coolers as fermenters? They're the right size, light, clear, and most importantly, they're free. I don't want to spend $100 on glass carboys if I don't need them. Will the plastic give the beer a bad taste? It doesn't with water, but then again, water doesn't have alcohol in it.

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Old 06-23-2006, 05:03 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcliffor
This seems like the kind of question people would ask all the time, but I can't find it anywhere on the forum. Can you use 5 gallon plastic water jugs designed for office water coolers as fermenters?
I'm going to try them as secondaries, but not as primaries. There's not enough room for the krauesen. If you did 3 gallon batches, you'd be fine.

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I don't want to spend $100 on glass carboys if I don't need them. Will the plastic give the beer a bad taste? It doesn't with water, but then again, water doesn't have alcohol in it.
Glass carboys are under $20. Plastic pails are even cheaper. Are you sure you're getting them free? Sounds like you're going to steal office supplies. Your company is charged for the jugs so I doubt that they're giving them away.
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Old 06-23-2006, 05:23 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheesefood
I'm going to try them as secondaries, but not as primaries. There's not enough room for the krauesen. If you did 3 gallon batches, you'd be fine.



Glass carboys are under $20. Plastic pails are even cheaper. Are you sure you're getting them free? Sounds like you're going to steal office supplies. Your company is charged for the jugs so I doubt that they're giving them away.
My LHBS sells 5 gal glass carboys for $17. Most of the water jugs I've seen have contours that look like it would be difficult to clean. With my plastic ferment bucket at least I can get my arm in there with a sponge to clean it carefully. How would I do that with a jug? More chance to scratch the plastic I think. Scratched plastic is a great place for bacteria to build up. I'd stick with glass.
Then again, I'm new also....so maybe I'm wrong.

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Old 06-23-2006, 05:37 PM   #4
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My LHBS sells 5 gal glass carboys for $17.
My LHBS is getting either $25 or $27 for a 5 gallon carboy. Grr.

On the good-news front, I discovered that there's ANOTHER LHBS that I wasn' aware of. Both are about an hour from my house, one to the East, one to the West. Gonna take a trip to the *new* one (which appears to have been around for years and years) this weekend. Looking ideally for some 3-gallon carboys; want to split a 5 gallon batch in half, ferment one half according to the standard directions (Brewer's Best kit) and add some either some fruit or some maple syrup to the other half. I liked the first HBS a lot, except the prices; hoping the other is a little more reasonable.
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Old 06-23-2006, 05:44 PM   #5
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Well the water jugs will work... just not as well as a glass carboy. They are different than those they sell "Better Bottles"... The reason you would use glass or these new plastic ones is they do not allow O2 to get into the beer. The plastics that they use for the water will.
I would not suggest using the water jugs. I would say buy a carboy and a bucket as a primary...

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Old 06-23-2006, 05:48 PM   #6
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Yeah I just check BYO.com and they don't have anything close to you..
http://www.beer-winemaking.com/ is the closest but that's way down in North Hampton..

Too bad you are that far out.. the one that I go to has 3 gallon carboys..
http://www.home-brew.com/index.html?token=1228241237-1364202592-219840980&A=9&B=PRODUCTS

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Old 06-23-2006, 06:13 PM   #7
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Yeah I just check BYO.com and they don't have anything close to you..
http://www.beer-winemaking.com/ is the closest but that's way down in North Hampton..

Too bad you are that far out.. the one that I go to has 3 gallon carboys..
http://www.home-brew.com/index.html?token=1228241237-1364202592-219840980&A=9&B=PRODUCTS
NoHo's a little more than an hour, but it's a nice drive and it's such a great place to hang out for an afternoon, anyway. The NoHo place is the one I didn't know about until recently. The one that I have been frequenting is Hennessy Home Brew outside of Troy, NY, just about the same drive. Don't recall them having anything smaller than 5 gallon in stock.

I'm not even sure whether I should be using a 3 gallin carboy as a primary for 2.5 gallons, or whether I should be using a pair of 5s. I'm thinking now that probably my smartest course of action is a pair of 5s for primary, pair of 3s for secondary. Sound right?
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Old 06-23-2006, 06:21 PM   #8
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If you are added stuff very often that is done after the primary when you transfer to the secondary. Reason being at this time there is active fermentation and an alcohol content that will help with unsanitized things such as dry hopping or fruit.. If I were doing Maple syrup I would think about putting that in earlier since you don't want to mix the wort at that stage..

What I would do if you want to do smaller batches is to do the primary all in one bucket. Then when it is ready to go into the carboys transfer it into the two smaller batches...

I wouldn't make small batches myself because if a batch comes out really good I will be upset that I don't have more but if it's crappy I would prolly be glad that I didn't have 5 gallons of the stuff to drink.. (can't throw it out.... )

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Old 06-23-2006, 06:32 PM   #9
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Well, this is all experimentation from me, making my own mistakes!

I'm thinking syrup in the primary (I'll boil it with a little bit of extra water first) because I do want this to ferment. Pretty sure I read that about two-thirds of the sugars are fermentable. I want the maple flavor, but not so much the sweetness per se.

The concern that I would have doing fruit in the secondary is that I want all the gunk to have a chance to fall out before it's time to bottle. Don't really want to do a three-stage fermentation, I ain't THAT patient. If I do anything with fruit this time around, it would be some frozen raspberries or something that I would maybe not boil, but bring up to ~ 170 degrees or so for a while to make sure they were sanitized. Not sure about this, gotta do some more research, would prefer to not have more pectin haze than is necessary...

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Old 06-23-2006, 06:36 PM   #10
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(oh, and sorry for the hi-jack... prolly should have started a separate thread)...

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