I don't know why the hell I do this kind of stuff and stir up the usual HBT flamers, but here goes anyway. I read an article that I thought was interesting and I thought I would share it.
I want to make a couple of things clear from the get-go:
1. Yes, lots of people ferment in buckets and do just fine.
2. Yes, lots of people ferment in buckets and win bjcp comps.
3. Yes, you ferment in a bucket and your beer is awesome.
4. If you like your beer and you ferment in a bucket, great. Soldier on.
5. If you ferment in a bucket and notice some premature staling, then this thread is for you.
6. Yes, I am sure this topic has been beaten to death, but what the hell. This forum is for discussion, isn't it?
7. If you are just going to chime in to flame, then don't bother. You don't add anything to the conversation.
8. If you are just going to chime in to say that I don't know what I am talking about because I am not a premium supporter, then don't bother.
9. If you are only going to chime in to say that "we have beat this topic to death and we aren't discussing it anymore" than don't bother. Only those who want to discuss it, should discuss it. If you don't want to, then don't. It just adds a lot of BS posts for the rest of us to weed through.
10. If you are going to pick and choose which lines to read in this post rather than reading the whole post for what it is(just sharing information) in order to create a straw man which you can then proceed to knock over and show your superior intellect, then don't bother.
Now that the required HBT controversial topic disclaimers are out of the way....
I am sure I'm not the only one who has seen this article on oxygen permeability for plastic containers used for fermented beverages. According to the research that they did for this paper, they found that in a 190L HDPE tank, they were able to record 2.15mg/L of dissolved oxygen per month making it through the walls of the container.
Now a 190L container has much more surface area than a ~24L(~6.5 gallon). Just converting that down linearly would equate to .2688 mg/L of dissolved oxygen making it through the bucket per month into the beer. Now there may be some variables that alter this number slightly, but it should be close enough for discussion's sake. If my math is correct, this would equate to 268.8 ppb of dissolved oxygen per month absorbed into the beer for every month of storage. In a personal conversation with Dave Berg, head brewer at Schell's brewing, he stated that you want under 50 ppb of dissolved oxygen to help prevent premature beer staling.
I know that the yeast may take up some of this oxygen even after fermentation is complete, but I suspect that they don't take up all of it.
I have a very low taste threshold for oxidation in my beers, and I was noticing some premature oxidation character in my beers while I was using plastic buckets. Sure, I won some comps with those beers, but maybe my taste threshold is lower than some people for oxidation. I have since switched to glass and that oxidation character has disappeared.
As always YMMV, and do whatever you think is good for you. I just wanted to share this information.
Let the flames begin...