Glass Big Mouth Bubbler, a no nonsense review

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A few weeks ago, I noticed this new product on the market from multiple online retailers. Unfortunately, my LHBS did not carry them nor was he interested in carrying them. Therefore. I threw caution to the wind and ordered both the 6.5 and 5 gal.

Just on first impression, I love these things. They're not kidding when they say you can fit your arm down inside them plus cleanup is a breeze. And anyone who has ever used regular glass carboys will really appreciate that. They come with just about everything you need, with reasonably priced extras.
Included in the packaging:
1 screw on lid
1 screw on cap
1 #5.5 drilled stopper
1 unique new airlock
1 microfiber cleaning cloth

Extras you can buy include:
A set of 5 spare gaskets for the cap and the lid
A harness for each size
A hose for a blowoff setup

As with all worthwhile purchases, there are both positive and negative points to consider before making a final decision. The following is a list of positive points I believe to be the most important. Then you will find a list of the negative points to consider, some of which you may already know just from looking online. Consider both carefully, but I think you will see the pros far outweigh the cons.
First, the positives:
Ease of cleaning. Until now, I've used a mix between regular carboys and buckets. Big Mouth Bubbler's seemed like a good mix of both. They exceeded my expectations in ease of cleaning/sanitizing. Being able to reach your arm in and clean it manually has proven invaluable; and a huge time saver. With the microfiber cloth, the days of inverting your carboy and letting it dry overnight are over. After wiping down the inside of the Bubbler with one of those it is dry and ready to store sealed up with the lid and center cap.

The lid. I have heard and seen some negative reviews concerning the lids. The reality is that they have not leaked at all for me. They do take several turns to finally get them screwed on and secure, but that's a small price to pay. The gaskets, although foam, appear to work well. The cap to cover the hole in the middle for the airlock also has a gasket. I didn't think much of it at first, but it has been really nice. It's ranges from being able to seal up the carboy and shake the sanitizer around in it, to sealing up your freshly cooled homebrew until you're ready to pitch your yeast. I consider this to be a huge bonus for me personally.
The harness available to purchase. First, it's made in the USA and I love that. Second, these harnesses work great because they are far more secure than my brew haulers ever were. The strap that wraps around the neck allows for easy pouring without the worry of it slipping out of the harness.

Now, on to the negatives:
The lid. Yes, I am mentioning the lid in both. This lid has one big drawback, the size of the smaller opening for the airlock. I feel like this was an oversight by the manufacturer and not intentional. The hole is not big enough for you to put an auto-siphon through or any kind of a thief that I know of. It is inconvenient, but not a deal breaker for me.
The glass. It has proven sturdy so far, but it definitely seems thinner than a carboy. Personally, I was already very cautious with my original carboys, so there's no real change in how I treat them. It is glass after all. Also, a pretty consistent theme with these is the manufacturing defects. In almost every review I've read, and anyone I talked to about them, there were several bubbles in the glass. After receiving mine, I can verify that. There are several in both I own. However, none of them are very big, and they don't appear to effect the integrity of the glass when carrying liquid. I have noticed no cracking or changing of the bubbles after multiple uses.

The blowoff tube. This item is available from the retailers as an add on to your original purchase. Personally, I did not care for this accessory. The tube fits very poorly in the hole on the lid. When sprayed with star san to test for leaks, it leaked like crazy and could easily be slipped out with very little force. I wouldn't trust it. However, this was not a deal breaker for me due to my alternative blowoff setup I had used with my bucket in the past. With this fix, I just tossed the blowoff tubing in storage.

The new airlock. I personally did not like this addition. It works, but I found it more tedious than it was worth. In my temperature controlled fermentation space I found myself topping off the sanitizer every 24-48 hours. Although this isn't a big deal, I'd rather just use a 3 piece airlock and be done with it. Hands off so to speak. Also, removing the lid for gravity readings was made more difficult by it, trying not to spill the sanitizer.

All that being said, I think these new carboy replacements are a good buy. I love change with equipment just as much as I love changes in brewing techniques. I find both very exciting and I am first on the bandwagon to try something new and just see how it goes. I had made some better decisions than others, but this was a good one, without question. These fermentors are great! They are VERY easy to clean, easy to sanitize, and easy to store.
All in all, I vote buy it and if you are still on the fence then take it from this homebrewer - give them a shot. You won't regret it!
Pretty cool article and the most in depth about this product. Thanks for posting it.
As for the lid and not being able to use a thief for gravity readings, could one just drill out the hole big enough to slip a thief into it? I'm thinking one could just drill it out to use the same size stoppers as the traditional carboy too if they don't like the airlock that's on them. I don't know why this wasn't thought of. It would have made the carboy more universal and a home brewer wouldn't have to buy the unnecessary accessories either.
I love this new carboy, but the price and it being glass keeps me from taking the plunge. I would love to see a Better Bottle version of this carboy.
Yeah I agree about the better bottle idea. Personally I just prefer glass or stainless steel. You could definitely drill out the center hole with a dremel tool or something like that, really wouldn't be that hard. Which I have thought of. However, with my blowoff setup that I already have, I don't really find it to be worth drilling it out.
I've been using these for quite a few jobs now and I basically agree with the original review on every point. For me, the two points that I would really like to see improved upon are:
* Glass quality. The bubbles I've got rather worry me
* The hole in the lid. It just isn't a good size for much of anything. Even the stopper they include with it isn't a good fit. Had they added an extra 1/4 inch it would be perfect for auto-siphons and the stopper. An extra 1/2 inch would be necessary for most beer thief tubes.
Great article and an even better product. I love mine. As for the blow-off tube, I use a 1 inch ID tube around the thread of the hole and it fits more than snug. I normally have to get the tube warm before it will even fit around it. Just for extra security, I use a hose clamp to keep it on. Not sure what size they sent you, but grab a 1in ID tube at a hardware store, it works wonders.
Thanks for the review. I've looked at these for a bit now and have been interested in getting one, but not really ready to drop the $$ on it when I have other things I need more first.
If they were plastic, it would be nice, but that's not a deal-breaker. I really like that you can wipe it out with a washcloth and get everything clean.
The size of the opening on top is not a deal breaker, since I already remove the entire top of my buckets to take a reading or rack. Or at least pop one side.
But, it does seem like an oversight. They would have to weld both halves of the mold to make it larger, or make a whole new mold or insert. None of these is a cheap solution. But like I said, it's not a dealbreaker to me.
With a couple of improvements, I can see myself interested enough to buy one or two. Until then I am pretty happy with my buckets, which are durable and easy to move around and clean up just as easily.
I would like to see some studies on Dissolved Oxygen using one of these vs a traditional carboy vs a better bottle. I think that would be some good info to have.
My first Big Mouth Bubbler arrived by UPS, and when the driver placed it on the floor in lobby, the person that was there to sign for it said "That doesn't sound good". He could tell it was in a million pieces inside the box.
NB was awesome as far as customer service, and took care of the whole UPS claim and also sent another one out right away.
The 2nd Big Mouth Bubbler came in one piece this time, and I actually fermented 1 batch. After fermentation was completed, I transferred the contents to the bottling bucket and brought the fermenter outside to clean it.
That's when I noticed in the sunlight there were stress cracks in the threads for the lid. NB took a look at the photos that I sent, and referred to the cracks as "fractures". Again NB was awesome for their customer service and asked whether I simply wanted a credit this time.
So I took the credit and IMOP at this point I purchased a 6gal plastic Bubbler, 3 piece air lock, and a brew hauler for basically the price of just the Large Mouth Bubbler alone.
The concept of the Big Mouth Bubbler is great. But I think the MFG first needs to provide better packaging methods, but more importantly refine the design of the glass thickness and molding process.
Nice review.
I have used mine twice now, and am buying another when NB gets more in stock.
My advice to anyone thinking of buying one - DO IT!
You will not regret it. The cleaning is soooo much easier. I used a shower head with hot water and stuck the whole head into it, and could easily move it around inside of it - clean as a whistle.
As for the lid...yes it needs further engineering. And when they come out with it, I'll buy the better one.
Nice. This seems like the ultimate fermenter. The best part, it isn't going to reek like whatever you last brewed like a jinky plastic fermenter.
These guys are made in either Korea or China as fermenters for fruit liquor, kimchi and whatnot, so the manufacturer has no insight into the western homebrewing market. That explains why the hole in the lid doesn't seem to fit anything "standard" for us homebrewers like an autosiphon, wine thief, etc, and the funky airlock that comes with them. Other than those odd things and the well-documented thinner and bubbled glass, I like the 5 and 6.5 gallon BMBs I got. They both fit in plastic milk crates for easy handling and protection, and as someone else mentioned above, a 1" ID hose fits perfectly on the threaded neck of the smaller lid for a perfect blowoff. Here's one of mine: http://imgur.com/a/JN4KK#0
Other interesting related links:
http://www.alibaba.com/product-detail/8L-10L-12L-16L-18L-20L_1410805570.html <---Notice the larger ones seem to have metal spigots... Hmm.
The glass thickness of the Big Mouth Bubbler that I got was way, way, too thin ... and it failed after only one use. The glass was literally the thickness of an egg shell in some places.
The first time I went to clean it, I had it half-full of Star San and lifted it by the mouth ... and it imploded. Came apart right in my hands.
Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-uzjdZ-wwY&lt
Now ... I really like this product but the one I got had serious quality problems.
I called today and I'm getting a replacement for free. No haggling ... no questions asked. They are just going to send me a new one.
So ... I'm happy about that.
I have a 6.5 Gallon and I had a 5 Gallon. I was test fitting them into my freezer and why the 5 gallon did a light tap against the 6.5 gallon the bottom dropped off. BE CAREFUL. I have not called about it but will be more careful in the future. I still love this fermenter.
I just took a look at Midwest's site and they have PLASTIC BMB's in stock. $28 for 5 gallon and $30 for 6.5 gallon!
@tx_shooterI think northern Brewer has the plastic ones, I've been wanting some glass ones, good report on these!
Good call on the concern for the air bubbles, I just bought 4 of these from Northern Brewer and all 4 are bad. If you run your finger across the bubbles inside the container you may find as I did in all 4 that there are open pockets where the air bubble broke and left a hole for bacteria to grow in. Check out Magic-Rats youtube video where he was cleaning his and had some Star San in it , when he picked it up by the rim it broke. Probably because of a void in the glass. There should be a consumer recall on these things, they are dangerous because the glass is not thick enough and full of air bubbles. Northern Brewer is taking care of me on this but these should not be sold. If you have one definitely put it in a milk crate to carry it.