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Glass primary?

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rightwingnut

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Why don't I hear about using a glass carboy for primary fermentation? Is it just too dangerous to use glass for the most active part? And what's all this "danger" of a blow off tube getting clogged and the carboy exploding? Wouldn't the stopper just blow out, releasing the pressure? It IS the weakest point.
 

crum

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I use a glass carboy for my primary. Granted I just finished my first batch, but I did not have a problem using a 6.5 gallon primary with an airlock. I think if you use a 5 gallon primary there may be a problem with the blow off tube, but I could be wrong.
Hopefully more experienced people can comment on this also I am curious.
What dangers have you heard of?
 
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rightwingnut

rightwingnut

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I read in a homebrew book that the blowoff tube can become clogged, and possible cause the carboy to blow. For some reason, an airlock did not appear to have the same concern. I don't believe it...but I won't be trying it until I'm sure.
 

zprime

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Well......recently(like this week) I had my airlock get clogged on a carboy, and it ended up blowing the stopper out. There are other things to keep in mind, while your stopper should be the weakest link in the chain if the carboy is glass and has had scalding hot water put in it for years and weakend it (there was a guy at the local brew shop that had one just collapse as he was cleaning it) it may be possible for the glass to give in the sides before the stopper goes and you'd end up with a good mess on your hands.

Personally, I won't go back to the plastic brew bucket because I've had so many problems with them, my first three or so batches picked up some funky flavors, after we switched to glass nothing but good brews.

My blown stopper this week caused me to have to rack into a new carboy sooner than I would have liked because the top of the carboy was covered in krauzen[sp?] and I didn't want anything that may have been exposed to get pushed back into the brew and contaminate it. So I acquired a Better Bottle (made out of the PET stuff) and I'm going to see how that works out.
 

JEM Australia

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rightwingnut said:
I read in a homebrew book that the blowoff tube can become clogged, and possible cause the carboy to blow. For some reason, an airlock did not appear to have the same concern. I don't believe it...but I won't be trying it until I'm sure.
I have a book called "Brew Ware" by Lutzen and Stevens and it talks extensively about using a carboy for a primary fermenter. They even use one upside down with a special cap and 2 vent tubes which enable you to drain away the yeast sediment from the neck after primary fermentation (ie avoiding the rack).

Difficulties they seem to mention about carboys are: cleaning the primary gunk out, aerating the wort before pitching, thermal stress if you transfer hot wort into it without using a chiller, breaking it while trying to move it around.
 

arachnyd

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prevent breaking carboys while moving them around! I have a plastic milk crate for each of my carboys and always keep the carboy in the crate except while cleaning - this prevents anything from banging against them. Also, never ever pick up a full carboy by the neck - those carboy handles are a great convenience, but they should not be used to carry the weight of the carboy - pick up the crate so the carboy is supported from the bottom.

A full carboy breaking in your arms could be rather disastrous - if the carboy should happen to break while you are moving it in a crate, at least the glass will be contained and you will run less risk of injury.

bottom line - handle them as if they were made of glass :)
 

uglygoat

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get a 6.5 gallon carboy to ferment in. it is tall enough if you are only making five gallons a batch. the foam would have to grow nearly 12 inches to reach the neck so you basically eliminate the need for a blow off.

they cost 25 us bucks. no a whole lot. mine seem pretty thick walled too, i don't anticipate them collapsing like that guy described, but i do worry about smackin' up against something.

i'll be hanging out behind the convient stores to swipe some milk crates.
 
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rightwingnut

rightwingnut

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Thanks much, guys. I need another primary so I can brew 2 batches at a time...so I'll pick up a carboy.
 

zprime

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I've got 2 carboys now and will probably pick up another 2 next weekend, I ordered a orange blossom mead kit and DARK CHERRY STOUT....with a batch in brewing now, a Scottish Wee Heavy. So I'll have 2 doing their primary, 1 as a secondary and another one to rack into if necessary....I'm going brew fanatical here :).
 

Janx

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Great tip on the milk crates!

We use a 14 gallon glass demijohn (carboy) for the primary. Only disadvantage I see is cleaning the darn things. Buckets are way easier to clean.

And I agree. I can't imagine a carboy exploding from a clogged lock. Those corks want to bounce out half the time for no reason at all.

Janx
 

strat40

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If one is expecting a vigorous fermentation, get some 1 inch pvc tubing, and use that for a blowoff. You could pass a bucket of peach pits through that no problem! Also, if one wants to duplicate a conical fermentor using a glass carboy, use a Fermentap. Its used with the carboy inverted. One can easily drain the trub, cultivate yeast, etc. AND you don't have to shell out a ton of buckos either.
Tom
 

Witbier

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I had a blow off tube get clogged on me once. It blew out the stopper and left a nice brown circle on the white textured ceiling and a little river of brown ale running across the floor :D I had used leaf hops and hadn't strained them all out. Enough of them found their way to the hole in the stopper .. then blam.
 

NUCC98

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strat40 said:
If one is expecting a vigorous fermentation, get some 1 inch pvc tubing, and use that for a blowoff. You could pass a bucket of peach pits through that no problem! Also, if one wants to duplicate a conical fermentor using a glass carboy, use a Fermentap. Its used with the carboy inverted. One can easily drain the trub, cultivate yeast, etc. AND you don't have to shell out a ton of buckos either.
Tom
Brewed up my Imperial Stour on Saturday. Fermentation started going buck frikkin' WILD on Sunday. Much like the Steelers to The Patriots, I had no idea what to do, and it was getting the best of me. I took my siphon tubing and put one end in the hole on the fermenter, and the other into a beer bottle, 1/4 full of water. It worked for about an hour, until the fermenter lid had reached its limit. Luckily, it didn't blow up, just managed to leak around the sides. Only thing I could think of doing was just leave the cover off for the night. Taking a risk, but I figure the fermentation is so over the top, it's probably ok. Monday morning, I had a little bit of a mess to clean up, but I was finally able to replace the cover, and airlock without any signs of problems. It's finally starting to slow down as far as bubbling goes, but man...what a wild ride. Any new brewers who have yet to experience this, it's no joke. I think you need to attempt a stronger brew with more malt, because the ones I brewed from kits, I never had this problem. I think that, had I planned ahead of time for this, it wouldn't have been that big a problem. Next strong brew I make is getting that PVC treatment...
 

Janx

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Bigger fermentor is even better. They make big food-grade buckets, 7 gallon carboys, 14 gallon carboys etc...then you have no worries :)

I always wanted a big glass bucket. It could be nested in plastic bucket for protection, but just something big and glass that you could reach inside to clean easily...
 

sause

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I have never had a problem with a glass carboy. I use a 5 gallon carboy with a blow off tube taht fits right in to the hole on the top, no stopper or anything, never had a tube clog up, i think it's a 1.25 tube fits perfectly and it would have to be a very big clog to really do some damage.
 

D-brewmeister

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t1master said:
get a 6.5 gallon carboy to ferment in. it is tall enough if you are only making five gallons a batch. the foam would have to grow nearly 12 inches to reach the neck so you basically eliminate the need for a blow off.
I remember reading that you actually want a controlled quantity of blow off, as it forces impurities such as excess hops, trub, etc, out of the fermenter, thus reducing off flavors. I have always tried to judge the space from the top of my wort to the neck of my carboy so that the Krausen reaches it when the brew is in at its peak, and allows a pint or so of stuff to blow out the tube into a bucket next to the carboy. I have never had a blowoff tube clog, but it is usually pretty full of gunk by the time I am ready to rack into secondary. If anyone can verify the benifits of this process, I would love to know.
 

Janx

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I think this is one of those homebrew myths, personally. I never have blowoff. It's a messy pain. Commercial breweries certainly don't have blowoff, and that's good enough for me.

It's much more important to rack to a secondary within a week. I honestly can't imagine what difference a bit of blowoff would make except a mess and a little less beer.
 

DeRoux's Broux

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i'm with Janx on this one. i always use a 7 g plastic primary bucket w/ ferm lock and have never had a problem w/ blow off. plenty of head space and easy to clean. i've never read that you want blow-off? could'a missed it though? just always be careful not to scratch-upthe inside of the bucket, and clean/sanitize real good. plus, my boxer would probably drink all the sanitized water in a blow-off set-up! :p

DeRoux's Broux
 

NUCC98

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DeRoux's Broux said:
i'm with Janx on this one. i always use a 7 g plastic primary bucket w/ ferm lock and have never had a problem w/ blow off. plenty of head space and easy to clean. i've never read that you want blow-off? could'a missed it though? just always be careful not to scratch-upthe inside of the bucket, and clean/sanitize real good. plus, my boxer would probably drink all the sanitized water in a blow-off set-up! :p

DeRoux's Broux
I had a huge blow-off w/ my Imperial Stout, but I think it had to do with the massive amount of malt in the wort....
 

ESPY

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D-brewmeister said:
I remember reading that you actually want a controlled quantity of blow off, as it forces impurities such as excess hops, trub, etc, out of the fermenter, thus reducing off flavors.
You're not crazy...I just read that the other day in "Complete Joy..." He said something about fusel oils adding to bitterness and "beer headaches" and that it's advantageous to get rid of the krausen if it can be done sanitarily.

But it must be one of those things that's such a minor difference that it's mostly unnoticed.

SP
 

Janx

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I wonder how Charlie P would explain how commercial breweries don't need to do this step?

Sounds like another of the many needless steps he illustrates that worry new brewers, all while saying, relax, don't worry :D

In this case, the potential for infection, and the total lack of a difference in flavor it would make outweigh any interest I have in skimming or blowing off. A timely rack to the secondary will take care of everything.
 
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