DIY primary Glass Fermenter

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Jan 22, 2008
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First of all let me note that I am interested in primarily brewing mead. I have already done my First batch with less than prefect results. My "carboy" was a shoddy DIY project, and I attribute some of the results to that. So I'm going at it again and refining my process, making a better "carboy."

When I first began to think about brewing mead I read as much as I could find online about mead (which admittedly isn't all that much). I'm in college and I thought brewing might be a fun hobby (which it is), but I didn't have much money to start with. I certainly couldn't afford (or really didn't want to spend money on) a 5 gallon batch for something that might just go belly up (as well as buy the carboy, air lock, and other materials that I might need).

So I began to investigate cheap possibilities. I wanted to do a 1 gallon batch, and I wanted to do it in glass (I had heard horror stories about mead eating through plastic and ruining batches).

Tooling around in my local grocery store one day I noticed dill pickles came in 1 gallon glass containers (eureka!). I bought one for $3 bucks which I really don't count into my costs because I like pickles anyways and ate them for lunch.

So I had the glass container, but I needed to make it so air could get out and not in. There where no local brewing shops (I live way up in the boonies of Maine) So I had to improvise. I went to the local hardware store to see what they had.

I found a brass fitting which had a "nipple" on one end that accepted hosing and threading on the back. I can't remember the exact name but that isn't all that important. I then got two rubber washers and a bolt that fit on the backside of the fitting. I a two foot section of food grade hosing that fit on the nipple end of the brass fitting. It ended up costing me roughly $3.50 for all of it.

I took my find home and began my project. I poked a hole through the top of the pickle jar with a screw driver and then began to file the hole a little larger with a round metal file (the type they use to sharpen chain saws). The lid is made of a softer metal that is quite thin so it went quickly. every so often I would hold the fitting up to the hole in the lid to give an idea about how much I needed to file off and where.

when the hole was the correct size I fed the fitting through it placing the rubber washers on either side of the lid. I then tightened the backing nut until I was comfortable with it. I took the 2 feet of hosing and fed it over the nipple and volia I have my completed "carboy."

I haven't started this next batch as I am still playing around with Ideas about the next recipe, but the idea is that I'll fill the pickle jar with my brew and then screw on the top. I'll feed the tubing into a glass of water and tape around the lid to make sure no air can get in, but it can get out.
Next time just get yourself a jug of cheap wine, go on a bender with some buddies and polish it off, splurge on a .50c #6 stopper, and a .99c airlock. I like your creativity tho... its what this hobby is all about! ;)
For primary fermentation plastic is fine, but for secondary glass is preferred for a number of reasons. At a home brewer's shop they'll sell you a 7.9gal plastic bucket for like, $20. I made one exactly the same (though the bucket wasn't the nice big 7.9gallon thing) for $1.35. Here's what I did:

I asked at Giant Eagle's bakery and they gave me 1x 3gal and 1x 4gal plastic bucket. Then I found what size Rubber Grommet is needed to accommodate an airlock, here is the size:
Outer Width: 5/8"
Inner Width: 3/8"

I drilled a 3/8" hole in the top of the bucket because that was the biggest drill bit I could find at the time. That was not big enough so I had to widen it. I suspect the right size hole is either 1/2" or 5/8". My hole was a little sloppy because I didn't have the right size drill bit, but it is definitely very airtight, and it is exactly like the bucket you can buy for like $20 (bucket, lid) at a winemaker's shop.

All in all, it cost me:
Rubber Grommet at Do-It Best: 35¢
Airlock at the local Winemaker's shop (you can get it online too): 90¢
Bucket at Giant Eagle's Bakery: Free
Total = $1.25 / bucket

could you post that pic a little larger please?;)
I like what you did with the glass jar. I have a gallon glass jar that I got my honey for a mead in. I just might have to give this a try. You should post some pics.
Nice. I dig em both.