6.5 Gallon Pail as Secondary Fermenter?

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Active Member
Dec 30, 2007
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South Georgia
Would a 6.5 gallon plastic pail work as a secondary fermenter for a 5 gallon batch? I have several 6.5 gallon plastic pails but no 5 gallon carboy. I have read a lot about whether secondary fermentation is even necessary, but I plan on starting a lager in a week or two and want to experiment with this. I have also read that lagers benefit from a secondary due to the length of time that they should remain in the fermenters and the potential for off flavors if it has to sit in the primary for that long.

What are the pros and cons of using a 6.5 gallon pail as a secondary for a 5 gallon batch? Anyone have any other thoughts or experiences? Many thanks for any help.
If you rack your beer to another bucket, you will increase your chances of oxidation as you will now have a huge head space filled with air instead of CO2. If you want to lager, you want as little head space as possible. A bucket is not a good lagering vessel anyway as it is oxygen permeable as well.
How long would your beer have to be in a bucket secondary before oxygen became a problem? Assuming you used a 5 gallon bucket to minimize head space. Is this a days, weeks, or months issue?

5 gallon buckets are easy to get (and free to me), but any brew specific equipment has to be shipped in.
I just would not secondary in a bucket. Great for primaries and bottling, but long term aging and lagering should be done in a carboy or keg.
Are food grade buckets really oxygen permeable? I didn't think they where. I think I will invest in a 6.5 gal carboy (glass not BB) or stop leaving them in the primary for 2 - 2.5 weeks if this is true.