This past week has been one of pondering the universe of fermentation from a beginners point of view. I have a few brews under my belt but I still have a lot to learn! So...here goes nothing:
1. Acceptable lifetime of a plastic bucket fermenter - I do one gallon batches and use two gallon buckets as fermenters. I just bottled a beer that was the second beer in a certain bucket. The inside of the bucket is discolored and has a beer like smell to it. I am not sure if I want to use it again because of the color/smell. So...what is the acceptable lifetime of one of these buckets?
2. If these buckets have short lifespans, does anyone make a two gallon carboy? I have seen three gallon but I feel like that is overkill for a gallon of beer!
3. Hydrometers are useless to a one gallon brewer. It steals too much beer to be useful to me. I have looked into getting a refractometer but don't know about these conversions and such. There are ones on amazon that have the conversions built in. Are they worth it?
1) Buckets are good for a long long time. yes, they may get stained and always have the fermenting smell. If it really bothers you, let it sit outside for a period of time. The UV sun rays will take the smell away. Otherwise just soak in oxy between uses and make sure there is no gunk. The stain and smell will not affect your beers.
2) I have only seen the 3 gallon carboys
3) Lots of people use refractometers, I would go that route for your small batch size.