Carboys plastic vs glass

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Tnoodle

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Which is better? I know glass will let less O2 in and will probably sanitize easier but dropping $60 on 2 3 gal carboys? The plastic carboys would be around $40 but will it make a difference in the way my cider turns out?
 

Schnitzengiggle

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Go plastic, if you arent going to be aging for years, eff the glass. There are glass people here that swear it is the holy trinity and then some, but PET is just as good IMO.

FWIW, BMW has some awesome smooth sided 6 gallon PET garboys for ~$26 I recommend them, they are thicker than BB's, and have faint graduation marks if that makes a difference to you, they are recycle #1 as well.

Anyhow, glass is great for ease of cleaning and sanitation, but it is heavy as all jeebus, and IMO a safety hazard, if it breaks you could be in for a trip to the ER if you don't bleed out first. Most have no issues w/glass, but it is sensitive to impact and heat, so that is why I choose plastic, YMMV.
 

lumpher

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i have both a 5g better bottle, and a 6.5g glass. i'd pay double for another glass than another better bottle. my better bottle (might be something wrong with it) oxidizes beer in about a month. the glass carboy can be ok forever
 

phidelt1499

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There are pros and cons to each... and you'll find several convincing arguments on this site that promote each

How long will you be holding your cider in the carboy? In my opinion, oxygen permeation isn't really an issue if you're not storing for too long...
 
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Tnoodle

Tnoodle

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I don't plan on keeping the cider in the primary for more than a month or two and then the secondary for about the same. I just don't want the plastic to hold the flavors from the previous batch.
 

lumpher

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I don't plan on keeping the cider in the primary for more than a month or two and then the secondary for about the same. I just don't want the plastic to hold the flavors from the previous batch.
it won't
 
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Tnoodle

Tnoodle

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Thanks for the advice. SWMBO is giving me a look that says dang more stuff.
 

adanac58

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I've kept wine in a plastic carboy for months aging no problems . Plastic does have bigger pores than glass but they're not big enough to oxidize I do nt think
 

CidahMastah

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I recommend glass head over heels.

Glass is the superior product, period - even you discount the whole debate on oxidation it is still superior.

Easier to clean, longer lasting (lasts a lifetime), doesn't scratch, the list goes on.

If you can't lift an empty glass carboy, not drop it on the floor, etc. you probably shouldn't be brewing or making cider.

Take your time and buy good long lasting equipment. Either go cheap (HD bucket style), or glass. There is no reason to even consider PET bottles. Why would you pay over half the price of glass for a glorified HD bucket in the chape of a carboy?!
 
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Tnoodle

Tnoodle

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I get your point the only thing with the bucket is you can't see what's happening I guess it's kinda a newbie thing but I thinks it's cool. We will see thanks
 

CidahMastah

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I get your point the only thing with the bucket is you can't see what's happening I guess it's kinda a newbie thing but I thinks it's cool. We will see thanks
I disagree with you... ;) I love watching the ferment too - that is why I bought all glass. You will make your money back the more you brew (especially if you AG or BIAB it).

Trust me, make the investment on glass and you won't regret it. Do youself a favor and go for the 6.5 gallon fermenters for primarys.
 

wildman

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are you doing a sweet or dry cider? Dry ciders really benefit from aging so I use a glass only system. There is just to much risk on my investment to do otherwise. I would cry if it came spring and my cider tasted like cardboard because I put it in a big pop bottle.

If you were doing a sweeter cider I think regular 5 gallon buckets would be fine as there is little risk of oxidizing.

I myself think your 4 months aging in plastic is really pushing it especially if your going to rack it. 2 months would be borderline for me. YMMV.

Cider gets to be an expensive hobby and if your better half is not supportive it can be tough. Getting her involved and trying to make something she likes could go a long ways.

Two years ago my exwife threw a fit on pressing day and I had to tell her to get over it because ill be doing this till the day I die. Last year I drug the grinder and press on the front lawn and she kicked my ass out a couple days later and then divorced me. Now I can spend way more on my brewery.
 

CidahMastah

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I agree with the getting her involved in stuff. Take this advice....

Keep working on making something that she loves until you get three or four things she looks forward too.

Try to get her involved, but i have found that my SWMBO likes the tasting, not the making. So I try to plan it in when she has other things to do, working pretty good so far.

I will say annually we do a big pressing event. Family oriented, and simple grill foods like hot dogs etc. It was a huge hit and we have done it ever since. Now she is proud to be on board for the cider.

Tough break wildman. If she was willing to walk for that little, you should have helped her to the door with a boot on her @ss - ha
 

JayAre

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If you ever think you'll buy glass in the future, then just get it now. There's nothing worse than upgrading and being left with useless equipment.
 

wildman

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It wasn't just the cider but it really didn't help either. Ya I would have left her long ago but kids complicate things. Oh well, I get to build a bigger press this summer and add 4 15 gallon carboys or more to my collection and not have to worry about feeling guilty. I'm going for broke this fall. I never want to run out of cider again.

Gallon for gallon the 15 gallon glass carboys are just as cheap as better bottles. And they come with a tough plastic light proof case so the getting hurt because of breaking glass argument loses some validity. They are the best and cheapest long term storage solution for me.
One drawback is moving 120 pounds of liquid is never fun. I only move them up onto something so I can siphon, otherwise they stay put once they are full.

I myself went through the whole plastic vs glass thing and just couldn't justify the minor savings in a hobby that I love so much. I'm really happy I went glass.
 

gregbathurst

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Plastic is fine for larger containers but for small sizes you need glass. I wouldn't go smaller than 15gal for cider in plastic. In small containers the big surface area means cider will slowly go downhill after a few months.
 
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Tnoodle

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I'm fermenting a blackberry batch in my mr. Beer right now, I hope my wife will like it. I plan to bottle it in mason jars with no carbonation. Any pro's or con's with this?
 

roadymi

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We have all glass. We currently have 2-6 gal, 1-5 gal, 3-3gal and 5-1gal. I just ordered 2 more of the 6 gal ones on Amazon for $28 ea w/free shipping.

My wife makes wine, I make cider and mead, and I often participate in my sons beer brewing. I feel that glass is simpler to clean and avoid cross-contamination of flavors from all of the different products.
 

bhambrewer

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I personally make gallon batches at a time. And I found that the Gallon and a half Carlo Rossi wine jugs work perfectly for this.


For $9, you get wine and a carboy. Pretty good deal IMO.
 

CvilleKevin

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I've got 6 glass carboys, four of which I've had for about 15 years, and 11 better bottle carboys, most of which I've had for about 5 years. I find the BBs a lot easier to use, especially for primaries. They are lighter, easier to transport and seal better. When adding honey or sugar you can put a gum rubber stopper in them and roll them on the floor without worrying about the stopper popping out. They are easier to clean and easier to store in the off season. They dont pick up any smells or flavors if you clean them properly. Last year I sold two glass carboys so I could get a couple more BBs

I've never had a problem with oxidation in BBs, although the max I've kept a cider in one is about 4 months. I had much more oxidation back when I was using all glass, just due to sloppy practice and overhandling. I'd be very surprised if anyone's process is so tight that you could tell the difference between BB and glass after 6 months.

BBs do have a few cons. You cant move them with an airlock and you cant turn your water heater up past 150F or they will warp. You have to be a little more careful when cleaning them and after 5 years they will yellow a bit.

The main advantage to glass IMHO is aesthetics. I do think they look better. That and nostalgia are the main reason I've held onto 6 of them. I fully expect that in another 10 years my BBs will look like crap, but I really dont care. Even if I only got 5 years worth of use out of them, I wouldnt replace them with glass, because they are so much easier to deal with.
 

KevinM

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I would definately prefer glass for the look and the non-scratch/longevity except for two things.
Breakage should it slip out of my hands (which most things do, even computers. My laptops are always covered in ducttape and have some broken ports, and I've snapped 3 power cords on this last one alone by dropping it on the end.) And weight since a disk or two went splat a few years ago.

As it is right now, I don't want to give up this hobby, so it's going to be BB for me, except for the 1 gallon jugs. Or make some friends who want to move carboys around every time I brew, rack or bottle in exchange for some drinks.
 
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Tnoodle

Tnoodle

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Have any of you ever bottled in mason jars? That's my plan, I have a ton of 8 oz and quart jars laying around. I don't plan to carbonate my cider so I think it will be ok.
 

CidahMastah

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I considered this too. Ended up getting wine bottles from friends (and saving ours). No issues with the jars, I just found that wine bottle collection was easier in the end for me.

Just keep a minimal headspace. I would rec 30PPM kmeta before bottling.
 

kc_in_wv

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We have a local grocery store that offers 1 gal glass jugs of cider with no preservatives in it. The cost for is $6.99 A # 8 stopper fits them perfect
 

CidahMastah

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the BBs are lighter, easier to transport and seal better. .
I don't understand how BB would seal better than glass - I have never had an issue with sealing as long as you use the correctly sized stoppers.

They are easier to clean and easier to store in the off season.
How could they possibly be easier to clean than glass?
The fact that they discolor shows that they are not being completed cleaned. Does glass ever discolor?

I had much more oxidation back when I was using all glass, just due to sloppy practice and overhandling.
So are you saying that it is harder to avoid oxidation with glass? This is simply not true.

You have to be a little more careful when cleaning them and after 5 years they will yellow a bit.
This contadicts your first statement about them being easier to clean.

The main advantage to glass IMHO is aesthetics.
There are some huge advantages to glass, that far outweigh asthetics.

Your glass will be around for you to give to your sons and daughters in your will, the better bottle will not.

IMHO BB's are no easier to clean than glass, in fact, they are harder because they take up color with staining.


I get that this is your opinion and you like BB over glass. But some of your statements are misleading.

Not trying to stir something up, just sayin'. Preference doesn't and shouldn't overwhelm facts about each product type (in particular seal-ability, oxidation, cleaning, longevity).
 
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Tnoodle

Tnoodle

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Thank you all for the info, I went with 1 gallon glass jugs. I'm just trying it out now and SWMBO loved the blackberry batch I made in them. So I might move to a 5 gallon when payday comes. The jugs were $4.25 at the HBS

image-1734058035.jpg
 

CvilleKevin

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I don't understand how BB would seal better than glass - I have never had an issue with sealing as long as you use the correctly sized stoppers.
The seal between a stopper in a glass carboy is adequate for fermentation, but not for heavy handling. Gum rubber or white rubber stoppers will pop out of glass if subject to any amount of pressure and the red/orange rubber blow off caps leak. OTOH, a #10 gum rubber stopper crammed into a BB will not come out until you pry it out with your fingertips. Almost as good as a barrel bung

Why does this matter? For a couple reasons. First, when going to the orchard to get juice, the carboys are in the back of my truck for an hour each way. I often pick up cider for my friends so I have a mix of plastic and glass in the truck. The plastic carboys are never a problem. But the glass carboys are prone to having their bungs pop out during the trip. Its not a size problem, they just dont stick as well. After a few trips of arriving home with half the glass carboy bungs in the bed of the truck, I now put cellophane and a rubber band over the stoppers for glass carboys so that this doesnt happen. That is a PIA

Glass carboys are a PIA when going to the orchard for other reasons also. They need to sit in a milk crate for protection, so they dont pack as tight, and are a good 15lbs heavier than BB. The difference between 50lbs and 65lbs may not seem like much, but after loading 20+ carboys in and out of the truck, its a big difference. Every time I make a trip to the orchard I tell myself no more glass carboys because they are extra work. For some of my friends glass is all they have so I put up with it, but probably not for much longer.

Next - if I add honey or sugar to the cider before the pitch, I will put a gum rubber stopper back in the better bottle and then lay it on it side and roll it back and forth on the floor to dissolve the honey/sugar. I frequently do this with 4-6 carboys at a time, rolling them together on the floor. This is much, much easier and faster than any other way of dissolving sugar/honey and there is simply no way to do this with a glass carboy - no matter what stopper you use, it will pop out of glass if you lay the carboy on its side.

Finally, while cold crashing, a little pressure will often build in the carboy before the yeast shut down. With a gum stopper in a better bottle, this is no problem. With a glass carboy, the pressure will pop the stopper out.

During fermentation, I use the white rubber drilled stoppers. They dont seal as well as gum stoppers, but they seal plenty tight for fermentation and dont pick up any smells.

How could they [BBs] possibly be easier to clean than glass?
Well, for starters, they are light and unbreakable. When I clean my BBs, I rinse them out completely first. Then I put about a quart of 1-Step solution in each and slap in the gum rubber stoppers. Next I grab the carboys two at a time, by the neck and agitate them for about 2 minutes, which is twice the contact time required for sanitation. I swing them up and down like barbells, which is easy because they are so light and after 2 minutes of this, I have two completely clean carboys. Next, I let them drain into a clean pint glass, which I can set anywhere. Try doing this with glass. With this method, I can clean 8 carboys in 15 min with time to spare, and dry them in minimal space, with no special equipment. Agitating a glass carboy takes both hands and more effort. Because all of my glass carboys have carboy handles, drying them takes a special stand. Glass is easily twice the work to clean.

The fact that they [BBs] discolor shows that they are not being completed cleaned.
No, PET discolors slowly due to UV exposure. It is hard to notice unless you compare a 5 year old carboy with a brand new one.

So are you saying that it is harder to avoid oxidation with glass? This is simply not true.
No, what I was saying is that when I was a noob, I used all glass (which was the "conventional wisdom" of the time), and this did not prevent me from making the typical noob mistakes that result in oxidation. Now that my process is tighter, I see no difference in oxidation between glass and BB.

This [You have to be a little more careful when cleaning them] contadicts your first statement about them being easier to clean.
I should have been more specific - What I was referring to is that if rinsing does not wash out all the debris from a BB, and you need to use a bottle brush (which is rare) then you need to be careful only to let the bristles of the brush touch the BB and not let the metal end of the brush scrape the side of the BB. BBs are easier to scratch which is a con, but an avoidable one.

Your glass will be around for you to give to your sons and daughters in your will, the better bottle will not.
I am much more concerned about whether I will be able to keep doing this when I am 70 then what happens to my equipment when I am gone. At 50lbs for a full six gallon BB vs 65lbs for full six gallon glass carboy, I'll take BB any day. Having good looking brewing artifacts is nice, but I am more concerned about making good cider with minimum effort.

Preference doesn't and shouldn't overwhelm facts about each product type
I agree. Having used glass for over 15 years and BBs for the past 5 years, and seeing first-hand how they perform side by side over hundreds of batches of cider, I can say based on experience that the BBs are much easier to work with and perform just as well.

If you want to use glass, that is fine, but dont confuse 2nd hand talking points about the supposed superiority of glass with "facts" about which is better.
 

wildman

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Well that's about the best arguments I've heard for better bottles. I still couldn't bear the thought of leaving mine in anything but glass for 6 months.
 

CidahMastah

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I think that while you have your preference, I have mine. You use your better bottles in different ways than I do (bring them to the orchard, roll them on the floor, etc). I press all my stuff at home, so they never leave my cider room. If I add adjuncts I simple do so in a bottling bucket, then dump into the carboy when things are mixed in - easy peasy.

I am a big enough guy that the 10-15lb difference between glass and plastics weight simply isn't an issue for me. Frist off, I hardly ever lift filled carboys, based on how my home set up was thought out. I also work with 15 gallon demijohns which hold 3x the cider of my 6 and 6.5 gallon carboys. If you think through your process you can eliminate unnecessary lifting. My point is, for your use you like the lighter aspects of the BB.

Material wise, I just don't think plastic in BB's is superior to glass (my personal opinion).

Yes there are some nice aspects to each, I just prefer glass because like you, I created habits from years of cider making and adapted in the product that worked the best for me (glass). I wouldn't call any of the things I spoke of second hand talking points. They are based on my first hand experience.
 

CidahMastah

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Those gallon jugs are a great way to start (that was would I did back in college).

Ease into it and buy quality stuff as you go - glad you sorted it out!
 
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Tnoodle

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Yeah I bought 4 for $20, and that gives me a secondary for each batch I make. That way when I rack onto the secondary I can start a couple new batches and when it's time to bottle I'm ready to rack the other batches to the secondary.
 

drj

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I use the 3 and 5 gallon plastic containers for drinking water (they sell them in Walmart back in the hardware section). The advantages over the traditional PET carboys is that they have molded in handles that make it easier on the back when moving, and they are certified not to absorb flavors (read chemicals, so no discoloring) or release molding agents (read chemicals) into the "water". Here's a picture of what I am writing about :

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-315...-of-drinking-water-on-a-white-background.html

A number 6 stopper seals it and they come with a screw on lid that is useful for cleaning.
 

CidahMastah

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Bet you they are way cheaper than better bottles too!

I think as a primary they aren't a bad source if you are in a bind. I think for long aging I get nervous in plastic. Though it is probably unwarranted :mug:


Having a secondary (an empty one to rack into) is key. It sucks, but every year I have one 15 gallon demi-john empty floating around as a racking fermenter. However, it just makes life easier than racking into homer buckets, then cleaning demijohn, then back into demijohn.
 
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