Buckets VS Carboys

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

ff186

Member
Joined
Dec 8, 2007
Messages
7
Reaction score
0
Location
Colorado
Hey All

I have been brewing for the last few months (Rookie). I have used glass carboys and want to get some additional equipment so i can make more than 1 batch at a time. So my question is, are glass carboys the only to go or can you use buckets and get the same results. I'm just trying to save a little $$$
Thanks for the advise


Jason


EGH
FTM
 

wilserbrewer

BIAB Expert Tailor
HBT Sponsor
Joined
May 25, 2007
Messages
11,264
Reaction score
2,849
Location
New Jersey
Buckets work great for short term projects...I would use them w/out hesitation for quick maturing lighter ales. Anything over 3-4 weeks might benefit from something less"open".

Buckets certainly posess no glamour, but they will service most of your fermentation needs quite well!
Mike
 

FlyGuy

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 13, 2007
Messages
3,604
Reaction score
227
Location
Calgary, Alberta
Buckets work great too -- in fact they can be nice because they are often a little bigger with more headspace and therefore, make it harder to generate a messy blow-off.

The big downside is that plastic scratches easily, and if you are not careful, a bucket can harbour nasties, even after washing and sanitizing.

The other (small) downside is that you can't watch your active fermentation.

It just comes down to personal preference. Buckets are definitely a cheaper option in the short-term, but in the long term, a glass carboy can last a lifetime if properly cared for.
 

Finn

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 21, 2007
Messages
202
Reaction score
2
Location
Albany, Oregon
Well ... my local braeuershaus has buckets for $13 and 6.5 carboys for $24 and with that kind of a price spread, I couldn't justify buying plastic. If your situation is similar, I'd scrape together the extra $11 and go with glass.

I've got some four-gallon food-grade buckets that I bought strawberries in last summer, and I use 'em for cider batches (three gallons at a time). After a couple batches they smell like cider and the odor can't be cleaned out of 'em. Not that I mind the smell, but glass is just a better material. Harder to store, though, when not in use.

Cheers!

--Finn
 

Jonnio

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2007
Messages
1,489
Reaction score
10
Another thing to consider when deciding is the ease of use of buckets. I much prefer them over carboys for primaries. Put some sanitizer and all your tools in them, brew, empty sanitizer. Once the wort is ready it is a lot easier for me to take my batch off the stove, cool it and then dump from a good distance into a bucket to aerate and transfer in one step. Top it off, pitch the yeast and your good to go.

To do a carboy primary your either siphoning or pouring through a funnel, both of which helps to have a second pair of hands, and your sanitizing in a second container.
 

ajf

Senior Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Oct 29, 2005
Messages
4,648
Reaction score
119
Location
Long Island
I prefer carboys. They cost about twice as much as buckets to buy, but I've never had a bucket that lasted more than 3 - 4 years, and my carboys last indefinitely. At least 5 of them are over 20 years old.

-a.
 

wilserbrewer

BIAB Expert Tailor
HBT Sponsor
Joined
May 25, 2007
Messages
11,264
Reaction score
2,849
Location
New Jersey
Carboys can break and cause damage and serious bodily injury...therefore I don't own any. Typically, I am comfortable accepting a known risk, but visions of a wort tsunami crossing my carpeted basement floor as my blood pressure is dropping rapidly has steered me away from glass. No doubt it is the better material, just not for me. Better Bottles are an option for long term aging.
Mike
 

JimiGibbs

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Dec 23, 2005
Messages
325
Reaction score
1
Location
Asheboro, NC
Two words ..... Better Bottles. I just got through cleaning my first better bottle that I used as a secondary and I sold. No more glass carboys.... Something to be said for holding the thing in one hand while you spray water in with the other. I'm ordering two more tomorrow. :rockin:
Jimi

..... this is not a paid advertisement.
 

NitrouStang96

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 7, 2007
Messages
576
Reaction score
2
Finn said:
Well ... my local braeuershaus has buckets for $13 and 6.5 carboys for $24 and with that kind of a price spread, I couldn't justify buying plastic.
I feel robbed!

Plastic Buckets - $11
6.5 Glass Carboy - $36
 

SixFoFalcon

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 12, 2007
Messages
498
Reaction score
12
Location
Flourtown
Bucket pros - cheap, "open" (you can physically get in there and scrub it out), stackable, lightweight
Bucket cons - plastic scratches easily (sanitation concerns), gaskets frequently seal poorly, can't see the fermentation

Glass carboy pros - last forever if you don't drop them, you can watch the fermentation, completely impermeable (to gases, off-flavors, etc.), and they really aren't difficult to clean at all
Glass carboy cons - drop one and your dirty undies will be the least of your worries, more expensive than a bucket, heavy

"Better" bottle pros - you can watch the fermentation, almost as impermeable as glass, lightweight, when you drop them they just make a cool noise instead of severing a major leg artery.
"Better" bottle cons - they CAN scratch (not as easily as a plastic bucket, though) so they are a bit harder to clean than a glass carboy, not cheap, and when you carry them they tend to flex so when you set them down they inhale through the airlock
 

Surly

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 10, 2007
Messages
986
Reaction score
89
Location
Prairie Farm
I use glass. But...

I also am into cheap brewing and want to get into lagering. Therefore....

My next purchase for a primary will be a bucket. I can then use it in an ice cube cooler for lagering and expand the number of brews I have moving through my brewery. I will also then be adding lagering as an option.
 

lustreking

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 11, 2006
Messages
780
Reaction score
35
Location
Bethlehem, PA
wilserbrewer said:
Carboys can break and cause damage and serious bodily injury
Here's a list of stories from people who have been seriously injured by broken glass carboys.
http://brewing.lustreking.com/articles/brokencarboys.html

I use plastic. Both buckets and Better Bottles. I still have a couple glass carboys that I use for extended aging (a year or more), but I'm not buying any more big glass carboys.
 

Finn

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 21, 2007
Messages
202
Reaction score
2
Location
Albany, Oregon
The safety issue is a great point, especially considering many of us celebrate the process of brewing a new batch with a pint or two of the old.

I prefer glass despite this issue, for reasons I can't really justify or defend. But I will say this -- if you go with glass, DON'T CHEAP OUT and skip the orange handles that clamp on at the neck! They really aren't safe to handle without those handles when they're full. They cost five bucks and they <b> slash</b> (sorry 'bout that) your chances of dropping a full carboy, tripping over the wreckage and getting hepatitis C from the ensuing blood transfusions at the hospital ...
 

lustreking

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 11, 2006
Messages
780
Reaction score
35
Location
Bethlehem, PA
Finn said:
DON'T CHEAP OUT and skip the orange handles that clamp on at the neck! They really aren't safe to handle without those handles when they're full.

Whoa! You aren't suggesting to lift a full carboy with one of those handles, are you? That is just asking for trouble!

Please don't use carboy handles to lift/carry a full carboy!
 

FSR402

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
May 30, 2007
Messages
2,808
Reaction score
30
Location
Jenison, MI
lustreking said:
Whoa! You aren't suggesting to lift a full carboy with one of those handles, are you? That is just asking for trouble!

Please don't use carboy handles to lift/carry a full carboy!
Yes don't lift with those unles they are empty.
I use a "brew hauler" and they work great.

As for buckets <> carboys. I use buckets most of the time and carboys for clearing. I will use the better bottles I have berfore I use the glass ones.

Some time this summer I will be switching over to 15 gallon stainless fermenters that I'm building now. :D
 
Joined
May 5, 2007
Messages
4,471
Reaction score
35
lustreking said:
Whoa! You aren't suggesting to lift a full carboy with one of those handles, are you? That is just asking for trouble!

Please don't use carboy handles to lift/carry a full carboy!
Of course you are correct. But I don't think Finn is advocating lifting by the handles, but rather that the handles give you somewhere to properly grip the top of carboy while your other hand supports the weight from below. Otherwise they can be a very slippery thing to hang onto.

I've been using buckets for primaries and glass carboys for secondaries, but after a few scary moments I'm starting to become a believer in Better Bottles. I bought one a few months ago after I noticed a network of fine cracks in the bottom of my 6.5 gallon carboy, and liked it enough that I just bought another.
 

Finn

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 21, 2007
Messages
202
Reaction score
2
Location
Albany, Oregon
BlindLemonLars said:
Of course you are correct. But I don't think Finn is advocating lifting by the handles, but rather that the handles give you somewhere to properly grip the top of carboy while your other hand supports the weight from below. Otherwise they can be a very slippery thing to hang onto.

I've been using buckets for primaries and glass carboys for secondaries, but after a few scary moments I'm starting to become a believer in Better Bottles. I bought one a few months ago after I noticed a network of fine cracks in the bottom of my 6.5 gallon carboy, and liked it enough that I just bought another.
Oops, crap! :mad: Thanks for the correction. Yes -- right hand gripping handle, left hand under the base. Dramatically reduces possibility of glass slipping out of your grip and eliminates any need to "squeeze" the bottle to hang onto it.

Unless, of course, you're carrying two at once. :drunk: In which case, grab the handles, lift with your back and start rehearsing your acceptance speech for your Darwin award ....
 
Joined
Nov 6, 2007
Messages
62,016
Reaction score
6,919
Wow, Unitl reading this post I wanted to get glass carboys. I admit mainly because they look cooler than the plastic bucket plus I really wanna see my beer. I got my first batch fermenting adn It's driving me nuts only seeing water bubbles as an indication that something is happening. I wanna know what it looks like. After reading this I believe I'll be going the BetterBottles route.
 
Joined
May 5, 2007
Messages
4,471
Reaction score
35
IrregularPulse said:
After reading this I believe I'll be going the BetterBottles route.
I believe this is wise. For years I've used glass with no worries, but recently I've nearly dropped a few full carboys, and I smacked one HARD onto my sink the other day while cleaning it. Now that I've tried the Better Bottles, I'm kind of loathe to use my glass ones!

Initially, I worried about cleaning, since you can't use a brush on plastic bottles. I'm happy to say it's not an issue...just soak for awhile with oxiclean, and all the nasty stuff slowly breaks down and sinks to the bottom, leaving a sparkling clean bottle. I had heard the same, but had my doubts...seeing is believing!
 

mysterio

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 7, 2005
Messages
698
Reaction score
4
Location
Glasgow, Scotland
I do all my ales in a 12 gallon plastic airlocked vessel, leave it there until fermentation has abated, then fine and rack to kegs. I have a glass carboy but I never use it, too difficult to move when full and a PITA to clean.
 

CBBaron

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 9, 2007
Messages
2,780
Reaction score
21
Location
Cleveland
I mostly use buckets because the are cheap and easy to use. However I do have a glass carboy that I use as a secondary. My solution to reduce risk of accident with a full glass carboy is to never move the carboy while full. I transfer the beer into the carboy in the store room where my beer ferments. Once I'm ready to transfer the beer out of the carboy I carefully pick it up onto a table right next to the carboy and transfer the beer. No more carrying 5 gals of beer in a glass container for me.
I usually do the same with my Better bottles as they are just as difficult to carry, even if they are a little lighter.
Craig
 

FSR402

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
May 30, 2007
Messages
2,808
Reaction score
30
Location
Jenison, MI
brewhead said:
this post discriminates against 15 gallon fermenters :D

Hey that's what I'm building now. I have two kegs I did not know what to do with so I'm doing what you did but without the extention on top.

Very :cool:
 

SteveM

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 23, 2005
Messages
1,573
Reaction score
15
Location
Philadelphia area
RichBrewer said:
Use buckets for your primaries and carboys for your secondaries. I know an outstanding brewer who makes great beers this way.
Second this. And the concerns about sanitation in plastic buckets are (in my experience) a non-factor. It is pretty trivial and inexpensive to get adequate sanitation in a plastic bucket.

Just for fun, ask about the best method for sanitizing! :D
 

Beerthoven

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 4, 2007
Messages
2,173
Reaction score
39
Location
Cary, NC
I'm in the process of selling my glass carboys and replacing them with buckets to use as primaries. For secondaries I'll use better bottles. Glass is too scary since I have to carry my beer between the house and (detached) garage to rack or bottle.
 

sirsloop

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2006
Messages
2,587
Reaction score
25
Location
South River, NJ
I use 7.9 gallon plastic bucket primaries, and 6.5 gallon plastic bucket secondaries. I rarely secondary the beer... most cases its straight from the primary into a keg. The 6.5 bucket work great for apfelwein when there is some down time.
 

FlyGuy

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 13, 2007
Messages
3,604
Reaction score
227
Location
Calgary, Alberta
SteveM said:
And the concerns about sanitation in plastic buckets are (in my experience) a non-factor. It is pretty trivial and inexpensive to get adequate sanitation in a plastic bucket.
I'll share my experience here, because it speaks against this comment. I picked up an infection from a locally-produced no-boil wort kit that infected my equipment. It ruined 3 or 4 subsequent batches of beer because no amount of cleaning could get rid of it, and I had to replace everything. The bucket was the likely culprit since they scratch easily and can be hard to clean. I now ONLY use glass, although Better Bottles are looking attractive.

Having said this, I would not discourage anyone from using a bucket as a primary, but please recognize that the concerns over sanitization with a bucket are real. Specifically, if you get an infection, you must be prepared to replace all your plastic gear (especially buckets). Had I done this, I would have saved a lot of money in the long run.
 

blacklab

Banned
Joined
Nov 2, 2007
Messages
2,379
Reaction score
50
Location
Portland, ME
RichBrewer said:
Use buckets for your primaries and carboys for your secondaries. I know an outstanding brewer who makes great beers this way.
Thanks for the plug RichBrewer!;)

+1 on buckets for primaries/carboys for secondaries. Also, it's much easier to clean krausen out of a bucket than a c-boy.
 

blacklab

Banned
Joined
Nov 2, 2007
Messages
2,379
Reaction score
50
Location
Portland, ME
FlyGuy said:
I'll share my experience here, because it speaks against this comment. I picked up an infection from a locally-produced no-boil wort kit that infected my equipment. It ruined 3 or 4 subsequent batches of beer because no amount of cleaning could get rid of it, and I had to replace everything. The bucket was the likely culprit since they scratch easily and can be hard to clean. I now ONLY use glass, although Better Bottles are looking attractive.

Having said this, I would not discourage anyone from using a bucket as a primary, but please recognize that the concerns over sanitization with a bucket are real. Specifically, if you get an infection, you must be prepared to replace all your plastic gear (especially buckets). Had I done this, I would have saved a lot of money in the long run.
Hey Flyguy - as noted in my previous post, I use plastic for primaries. The kind of bucket I use is a food grade bucket which my LHBS specifically sells for this purpose. It is supposed to be inert and should not pick up flavors/aromas from each batch. I find them easy to use and clean.

Is this the type of bucket you used? Was there a visible scratch?

You've got me all nervous now!
 

FlyGuy

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 13, 2007
Messages
3,604
Reaction score
227
Location
Calgary, Alberta
blacklab said:
Hey Flyguy - as noted in my previous post, I use plastic for primaries. The kind of bucket I use is a food grade bucket which my LHBS specifically sells for this purpose. It is supposed to be inert and should not pick up flavors/aromas from each batch. I find them easy to use and clean.

Is this the type of bucket you used? Was there a visible scratch?

You've got me all nervous now!
I used the same plastic primaries that most people buy with a first beer-making kit. It had a Wine and Beer Making logo on the side.

No, there were no visible scratches, but it takes VERY little to harbour nasties. Just cleaning with a plastic brush or scrubby is said to be enough to scratch it.

But like I said, my situation was rare and you don't have to worry MUCH about this as long as you take care of your equipment. However, if you do get an infection with plastic gear -- just be prepared to replace it all (bucket, hoses, etc.).

Cheers! :mug:
 
OP
F

ff186

Member
Joined
Dec 8, 2007
Messages
7
Reaction score
0
Location
Colorado
Hey All

Thanks for the input. I have purchased two buckets and have a wheat beer brewing as we speak. I will continue to use the glass I have for secondary use only. Hey FLYGUY any time you want to talk fly fishing let me know. If you ever come to Colorado look me up.

Jason
 

FlyGuy

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 13, 2007
Messages
3,604
Reaction score
227
Location
Calgary, Alberta
ff186 said:
Hey All

Thanks for the input. I have purchased two buckets and have a wheat beer brewing as we speak. I will continue to use the glass I have for secondary use only. Hey FLYGUY any time you want to talk fly fishing let me know. If you ever come to Colorado look me up.

Jason
Good stuff. Where in Colorado are you? PM me, if you like.

I used to live in Fort Collins and fished all the local streams, although it was a few years ago.
 
Joined
May 5, 2007
Messages
4,471
Reaction score
35
modenacart said:
Why do so many people use plastic for primary and glass for secondary?
I suppose it's because plastic is more permeable to oxygen, and generally beer spends more time in secondary than in primary.

Personally, I think you'd have to leave beer in plastic a VERY long time before oxidation becomes a factor. Besides, these days many people leave their beer in primary for much longer, and skip the secondary.
 

SteveM

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 23, 2005
Messages
1,573
Reaction score
15
Location
Philadelphia area
modenacart said:
Why do so many people use plastic for primary and glass for secondary?
That's my system also. I think others have mentioned some of the reasons:

Convenience - buckets are perceived to be less likely to have blow-outs and are easy to clean krausen out of. For a primary stage, this is more of an issue than for a secondary.

Oxygen permeability is unlikely to be much of a real consideration - but there are those who have experience that suggests this will be an issue if the beer is left sitting for extended periods (a month or more). Therefore, many people will switch to a carboy for the second stage to reduce the risk.

I don't discount anyone's experiences with trying to sanitize a plastic bucket that has become infected. It must be very frustrating. I will only say that I use No Rinse sanitizer and I will put four gallons into my bucket a couple of hours before I pour in my wort. EVERYTHING that touches my brew is immersed in the bucket and I am careful to make sure that the entire inside of the bucket is well rinsed, and the lid (which always seems like a easy place for microbes of various type to hide) is fully immersed for an extended period of time. I've not had a problem in years of brewing, but I don't discount that luck might also be a factor.

This, plus my normal mix cat piss and lye, seem to do the trick.
 

bensyverson

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 25, 2008
Messages
148
Reaction score
0
Location
Chicago
lustreking said:
Whoa! You aren't suggesting to lift a full carboy with one of those handles, are you? That is just asking for trouble!

Please don't use carboy handles to lift/carry a full carboy!
:drunk: Really?

That's what I've been doing with my 5g carboys... The handle is tightened so that there's no way it can slip over the lip of the carboy. It seems a lot safer to me than lifting it all the way up into your arms... Carrying it by the handle, it hovers about 6 inches off the ground, and lowers you center of gravity, adding stability -- drop it, and you've only dropped it 6 inches, probably not enough to crack it. Carrying it in your arms, it's way off the ground, and it makes your center of gravity much higher -- I would think you'd be more likely to slip, trip, or drop it, with potentially gory results.

Perhaps some carboys have a differently shaped lip than mine, but the handle (designed specifically for the 5 gal carboy) is really not going to magically slip off. The key is to let the handle rotate and pivot freely, so it doesn't buckle at some inopportune moment... When I got my first one, I over-tightened the handle with it pointing up, and when I was pouring out the sanitizing solution in the sink, the handle suddenly pivoted down, which was startling. If I had been holding it differently, I definitely could have dropped it...

Anyway, what do I know, I'm a newb. :)
 

FSR402

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
May 30, 2007
Messages
2,808
Reaction score
30
Location
Jenison, MI
bensyverson said:
:drunk: Really?

That's what I've been doing with my 5g carboys... The handle is tightened so that there's no way it can slip over the lip of the carboy. It seems a lot safer to me than lifting it all the way up into your arms... Carrying it by the handle, it hovers about 6 inches off the ground, and lowers you center of gravity, adding stability -- drop it, and you've only dropped it 6 inches, probably not enough to crack it. Carrying it in your arms, it's way off the ground, and it makes your center of gravity much higher -- I would think you'd be more likely to slip, trip, or drop it, with potentially gory results.

Perhaps some carboys have a differently shaped lip than mine, but the handle (designed specifically for the 5 gal carboy) is really not going to magically slip off. The key is to let the handle rotate and pivot freely, so it doesn't buckle at some inopportune moment... When I got my first one, I over-tightened the handle with it pointing up, and when I was pouring out the sanitizing solution in the sink, the handle suddenly pivoted down, which was startling. If I had been holding it differently, I definitely could have dropped it...

Anyway, what do I know, I'm a newb. :)
It has nothing to do with it slipping off. It has to do with the neck of the carboy is not ment to be strong enough to hold that kind of weight and thus it can snap off.
 
Top