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Old 08-29-2007, 02:52 PM   #1
Aug 2007
Posts: 19

As you can put together buy looking at my recent posts, I am new to homebrewing and have probably had some success at totally screwing up my first batch of beer. I was given a "True Brew" kit by a friend who gave up after his initial disaster. I am willing to spend some money on this so I am wondering if I should invest in a glass carboy before going any further. First off, I would like to be able to see what is going on inside my fermenter instead of having the constant compulsion to peak in, thereby risking bacterial infection. What are the advantages and disadvantages of glass vs plastic?

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Old 08-29-2007, 02:59 PM   #2
bradsul's Avatar
Sep 2006
Ontario, Canada
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If you're just talking about the primary fermentation stage I don't think there's any appreciable difference. Plastic is cheaper, glass can break and cause serious injury. Personally I use plastic buckets for primary and better bottles for secondary. I don't like the glass carboys because they're far too fragile and heavy.

There is a wiki article comparing glass carboys vs better bottles you might want to review. In the end if you want to view fermentation that makes the decision against buckets for you. Then you just have to decide if you want better bottles or glass carboys. As far as the beer is concerned there is no difference between the two so you just need to decide which you would prefer.
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Old 08-29-2007, 05:37 PM   #3
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Jun 2007
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if you do primary in a carboy (glass or plastic) you want at least 6, if not a 6.5-7gallon carboy.

otherwise you'll need a blow off tube, and you'll loose a quart or two during high krausen.

or stick to $15 buckets that are already 6.5-7 gallons.
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Old 08-29-2007, 06:28 PM   #4
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Nov 2006
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I personally only use glass carboys, but I have no experience with better bottles

Yes they are glass, but it's pretty heavy duty glass and it would take quite a bit to break one. As for glass being heavier than plastic - well I don't know any different so my full glass carboys seem normal to lug around.

I know that didn't answer your question, but the consensus around here seems to be that there is no consensus on which is better. It's really a matter or personal preference.
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Old 08-29-2007, 06:36 PM   #5
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Apr 2007
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I prefer glass to plastic due to cleaning. That being said, you could read a million posts and still have about a 50/50 between glass carboys and better bottles. If you use a brew hauler or a milk crate, then the weight and fragility of glass are some what negated.

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Old 08-30-2007, 03:36 PM   #6
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Dec 2006
Newnan, Georgia
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Originally Posted by ohiobrewtus
I personally only use glass carboys, but I have no experience with better bottles

Yes they are glass, but it's pretty heavy duty glass and it would take quite a bit to break one. As for glass being heavier than plastic - well I don't know any different so my full glass carboys seem normal to lug around.

I'd have to disagree with that statement based on a post here earlier this year. I forgot who it was. But the poster tapped his glass carboy with the metal end of his water hose with no apparent damage. Until he went to pick it up and then it came apart on him. He was lucky he wasn't injured, but he lost 5 gal. of wort and at least a half day's labor.

With glass you just don't know. You can drop it or set it down so hard that you just know it's gonna break and sometimes it will be just fine. Other times a slight whack in the wrong place and it's history.

I'd also have to disagree with Drunkensatyr statement that using a milk crate negates the weight factor of a glass carboy. While it certainly makes handling a slippery glass carboy easier. The weight does not change as it is still one heavy rascal to lift.

Couple all that with the fact that a broken glass carboy could easily cause serious injury and a day in the ER. I think the disadvantages of glass far out weigh the disadvantages of Plastic.

Also having a blow off is not a big deal and according to at least 1 brewing book writer makes the beer better. And if you collect your blow off in a sanitized container with sanitary or distilled water you can reuse the yeast from the blow off in your next batch.

As for cleaning: an overnight soak in Oxyclean Free or PBW and warm water then a quick rinse should take care of any left over residue.

If I had it to do all over again I would probably go with Better Bottles instead of glass. But hindsight is always 20/20.
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Old 08-30-2007, 03:46 PM   #7
Kevin Dean
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Jul 2007
Frederick, MD
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I use a plastic bucket fermeneters, glass carboys and Better Bottles.

I like the Better Bottles best simply because I brew for fun, and watching my beer do it's thing is more fun that watching a white bucket sit on the counter.

That's the real difference from my perspective.

If you're concerened about glass carboys breaking, look into Better Bottles. When people discuss weight of glass vs plastic... I sometimes wonder if there people realize that the beer is often the heaviest part of that whole equation... 5 gallons of beer is "heavy" no matter what it's in.

The carboys and better bottles clean up about as easily for me. The plastic bucket is nice too, since i use my bath tub to clean them after use. I'd rather throw a new batch in a bucket fermenter than wait for my Better Bottles to become free.
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Old 08-30-2007, 04:01 PM   #8
Jun 2007
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I am also a new brewer. I'm only brewing my 3rd batch tonight actually. Although I do have 2 apfelweins, 2 meads, and 2 wine kits now under my belt. Those however, are not really "brewing" like beer is, or I guess should say they do not require as much input and also do not seem to have as high a chance of failure (not at my level, obviously once you make mead and wine for real then you can have LOTS of problems).

As far as the glass vs plastic and its use as a primary, its kind of like paper vs plastic at the grocery store. I have yet to try the glass as a primary fermenter, but if you do, make sure you use the 6.5 gallon carboy just in case. Krausen can get pretty big, especially if you're a fan of wheats like I am. I am thus far pleased using buckets for primaries. They are easier (IMO) to siphon out of. I have yet to break any of my carboys despite my beginning brewer clumsiness. The glass is also pretty easy to clean surprisingly. Like others have said, hot water and what ever kind of cleaner you use. Often the carboy brush is not even necessary, although I'm the paranoid type and swoosh it around in there anyways. If you're looking for a fun way for this hobby to take up more time, but do not yet want to take a crack at All Grain (I'm wanting to but holding myself back on that one), start playing with your yeasts. Get yourself a stir plate, make big starters, start harvesting cakes from your brews! It can look complicated but its kind of fun in my opinion. Granted I'm a student so I'm looking for distractions/ways to practically apply what I'm being taught in class.

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