Destroyed Carboy.....

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FlyBoyKnight

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Hello everyone. After homebrewing for a year or so, I decided to upgrade from my plastic bucket to a glass carboy. After much excitement and anticipation, I purchased said carboy and then my worst nightmare happened.

Upon my very first attempt to clean out the carboy on brew day, even with a carboy handle installed and in use, the carboy slipped out of my hand and fell the maybe 1 inch to the floor and shattered instantly on impact! :eek:

After sulking and weeping all day and resigning to using my old "Ale Pale" with a not-so-good lid seal one more time, I've decided I want to get another carboy.

Since I'd obviously like to avoid this nightmare from happening again, I was wondering how others clean and sanitize their carboys before use. My episode happened in the bath tub where the carboy slipped and hit the metal drain plug sticking up so.... I gather no more bath tub cleaning.

Any advice would be great.

PS. Any leads on CHEAP carboys would be appreciated too ;)
 

Eugenio

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Hello everyone. After homebrewing for a year or so, I decided to upgrade to a glass carboy. After much excitement and anticipation, I purchased said carboy and then my worst nightmare happened.

Upon my very first attempt to clean out the carboy on brew day, even with a carboy handle installed and in use, the carboy slipped out of my hand and fell the maybe 1 inch to the floor and shattered instantly on impact! :eek:

After sulking and weeping all day and resigning to using my old "Ale Pale" with a not-so-good lid seal one more time, I've decided I want to get another carboy.

Since I'd obviously like to avoid this nightmare from happening again, I was wondering how others clean and sanitize their carboys before use. My episode happened in the bath tube where the carboy slipped and hit the metal drain plug sticking up so.... I gather no more bath tube cleaning.

Any advice would be great.

PS. Any leads on CHEAP carboys would be appreciated too ;)
So after hearing all the horror stories, ive decided to use either plastic carboys, or Pyrex carboys. I got 2 2.5G, and 1 5gal pyrex carboys that I found on craigslist, and I think they are way beefier than regular glass. They are also VERY old, so im hoping that means they stand up better to abuse.
 

Psycotte

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Avoid getting the outside of the carboy wet while working with it. I use a funnel to put water in and then use the carboy scrub brush to clean. I do this while it sits on a sound surface like the floor. I use 2 hands to carefully dump and I use starsan to sanitize it. Just be careful and you will be fine.
 

m_stodd

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Why are you 'upgrading' to a carboy? The lid on my 'ale pale' is super tight, maybe you need to try another one if it's the lid that bothers you.
 
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FlyBoyKnight

FlyBoyKnight

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So after hearing all the horror stories, ive decided to use either plastic carboys, or Pyrex carboys.
You know, I've heard others doing the same thing because of all the mishaps / unfortunate events happening to their (expensive) carboys. After the carboy broke, I bought a new bucket lid with a grommeted airlock hole predrilled for $3 so it is a thought in my mind to stick with the bucket. I dunno... I guess every semi-serious home brewer goes through this debate with themselves at some point.
 

LandoLincoln

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I don't mean to sound mean or rude, but my first piece of advice is this: if you're a klutz, then glass carboys are not for you. Stick with buckets or better bottles.

But if you're not a klutz, then my second piece of advice is this: never use those neck handles. They can stress the neck and cause your carboy to break. Use the nylon strap "brew haulers" or milk crates for moving carboys around.

As for cleaning them and being safe, my only advice is to be careful and take your time.
 
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FlyBoyKnight

FlyBoyKnight

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Why are you 'upgrading' to a carboy? The lid on my 'ale pale' is super tight, maybe you need to try another one if it's the lid that bothers you.
Yeah, I ended up getting a new lid for my bucket and it works fine now. The only concern I have (and frankly, the only reason I want a GLASS carboy over the PLASTIC bucket) is the residual taste / discoloration on the inside of the bucket from its repeat usage. Compared to my bottling bucket, the inside of the fermenter is ever-so-slightly discolored. (The two buckets are identical except for the spigot hole at the bottom of the bottling bucket)

Do you have any discoloration in your fermenter bucket? Do you think this affects your beer?
 

Bobby_M

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I keep my glass carboys in the square style milk crates almost 99% of the time. I DO have the neck style handles but they are never used to lift. I use the handle to stabilize at the top while lifting from underneath if I ever need to dump it. I will soak it with PBW, which requires it to be full, but I'd never try lifting it to pour the PBW out. Lift it up onto something by holding the milk crate, then siphon the PBW out with a large hose. When sanitizing, I spray the interior with a small amount of starsan and that's the only time I lift it and invert to drain the bulk of the starsan out. It's dangerous but a calculated risk. I tend to do this over grass.
 

The10mmKid

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So far I've been fortunate to clean my glass carboy out in the yard.
Fill it with water and PBW the night of bottling and clean it the next morning.

Winter is pert near :(, so my game plan may change.

Sucker is heavy though. I have no desire to lift it full . . . . none!

'da Kid
 

m_stodd

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Yeah, I ended up getting a new lid for my bucket and it works fine now. The only concern I have (and frankly, the only reason I want a GLASS carboy over the PLASTIC bucket) is the residual taste / discoloration on the inside of the bucket from its repeat usage. Compared to my bottling bucket, the inside of the fermenter is ever-so-slightly discolored. (The two buckets are identical except for the spigot hole at the bottom of the bottling bucket)

Do you have any discoloration in your fermenter bucket? Do you think this affects your beer?
Mine is discolored, I've been using the same one for about two years. I don't think it's affects my beer to any noticeable degree. If you think about the amount of residue discoloring your fermenter compared to the amount of beer in it, that's an extremely small amount. Molecule for molecule, I bet there's much more starsan in my beer than beer residue from previous batches.
 

johngaltsmotor

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I keep mine in the nylon sling (homemade brewhauler) most of the time. It might be overkill when you only have a few ounces of water in it for rinsing, but I'd rather feel like a moron than kick myself for being cocky.
I agree that the discoloration and hop aroma that my plastic fermenters have acquired over the years don't give me a warm fuzzy feeling, but I still typically reserve the glass carboy for secondary.
 
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I started with buckets. I agree with the residual staining and scents.

I moved on to glass carboys. They are great for long-term secondaries, but I was very uncomfortable lugging them around because of the breakage issues.

I switched to Better Bottles and I haven't looked back. they are great. They don't stain and they don't seem to hold odors either.
 

Homercidal

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I use buckets almost exclusively. I prefer the ease of carrying and cleaning. I have a 6.5 gallon carboy for secondary/wine, and a 3 gallon for smaller batches. I use the glass pretty much ONLY for long term aging, such as for wine or for very big beers.

IMO a bucket is great because I rarely secondary my beers and the supposed downside to buckets (They leach O2) isn't even a factor for the 2 weeks I normally ferment for.

That said, I think your best bet is to buy a Better Bottle or equivalent and use a crate or brew hauler to carry it around. A crate is nice for a carboy-shaped vessel because it's got a rigid bottom and handles. I don't worry too much about the bottom flexing and sucking air in. It's going to get racked or bottled at that point anyway, so lots of contact with air doing that anyway. You just want to be sure not to SPLASH the air into the beer.

Also with a BB you can watch the ferment happening too. A nice bonus for some people.

Another nice feature of a bucket is the opportunity to line the bucket with a 5 gallon clear bag, which makes cleanup a SNAP! Just siphon beer and pitch the bag in the trash. Or you can collect yeast by lifting it out and snipping a corner out of the bag and draining the yeast into whatever you are going to use to rinse the yeast in.
 

Cottonmouth

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I use buckets almost exclusively. I prefer the ease of carrying and cleaning. I have a 6.5 gallon carboy for secondary/wine, and a 3 gallon for smaller batches. I use the glass pretty much ONLY for long term aging, such as for wine or for very big beers.

IMO a bucket is great because I rarely secondary my beers and the supposed downside to buckets (They leach O2) isn't even a factor for the 2 weeks I normally ferment for.

That said, I think your best bet is to buy a Better Bottle or equivalent and use a crate or brew hauler to carry it around. A crate is nice for a carboy-shaped vessel because it's got a rigid bottom and handles. I don't worry too much about the bottom flexing and sucking air in. It's going to get racked or bottled at that point anyway, so lots of contact with air doing that anyway. You just want to be sure not to SPLASH the air into the beer.

Also with a BB you can watch the ferment happening too. A nice bonus for some people.

Another nice feature of a bucket is the opportunity to line the bucket with a 5 gallon clear bag, which makes cleanup a SNAP! Just siphon beer and pitch the bag in the trash. Or you can collect yeast by lifting it out and snipping a corner out of the bag and draining the yeast into whatever you are going to use to rinse the yeast in.

Great idea
 

mikescooling

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I'd get a better bottle. I have 4 glass carboys and they scare the crap outta me. My brewery will go all SS soon
 

BBBF

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So after hearing all the horror stories, ive decided to use either plastic carboys, or Pyrex carboys. I got 2 2.5G, and 1 5gal pyrex carboys that I found on craigslist, and I think they are way beefier than regular glass. They are also VERY old, so im hoping that means they stand up better to abuse.
I broke a Pyrex carboy once. It cracked, but it still held together. It was empty at the time, but I decided to take it outside and fill it with water and the thing still didn't leak. I wish I could get more of them.

For the most part, I just use buckets. I have a few glass carboys for extended aging of wines and meads. I try to keep them in milk crates at all times and my preference is to was them outside on the lawn. I fill them up with water and oxyclean, let them soak in the sun and then gently tip them over and let most of the liquied drain out before I need to pick them up.
 

QuercusMax

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If you are concerned about the discoloration / smell from bucket reuse, give it a bleach/vinegar treatment. I use 1/3 cup plain household bleach for 5 gallons of water, mix that well, then add about the same amount of white vinegar. (MAKE SURE YOU MIX THE BLEACH IN FIRST before adding vinegar! Otherwise you can gas yourself!) Let it sit for a couple minutes, dump it out, rinse well, then use your starsan or whatever. Looks good as new, smells fresh.
 
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FlyBoyKnight

FlyBoyKnight

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Thank you all for the responses and advice. I think I am going to re-evaluate my thoughts on the glass carboy. Hearing so many people that still use basic buckets and the better bottles, they do seem like viable long term options.

I appreciate all of your words of wisdom!
 
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