Glass vs plastic

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Jackstraw79

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Hey all, im new to this place and plan on ordering my equipment soon. I just wanted some opinions on glass carboys vs better bottles. Im pretty sure im gonna order glass, just wanted to hear what everyone thinks about the plastic. Thanks everyone
 

rycov

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type in carboy vs better bottle in the search area. there are some threads on it already
 

osagedr

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This is a very common question that often evokes strong feelings on both sides. I use glass myself but many others use plastic. I encourage you to experiment with the forum's search function (try "plastic vs. glass") as I bet you will find a lot of old threads on this very topic.

Good luck!
 
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Jackstraw79

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Thanks everyone, i appreciate your opinions, still exploring everything here
 

rycov

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i'll go a head and give my opinion anyway. i have a glass carboy and some ale pails. i love my carboy. its just ****ing cool, thats it. in the future i will probably go with better bottles just because they are lighter and i'm clumsy. but i already have one glass and will continue to use it. if it breaks i may even get another just so i have one. i like it alot. but i don't think it makes the beer any better than in my ale pails.
 

jsweet

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I'll give ya an answer that I bet nobody else gives you:

Having read the pros and cons, I think plastic is almost definitely better. It's lighter, it's just as sterile, with modern plastics oxygen permeability is not an issue, and it's waaaay cheaper. The only significant practical disadvantages to plastic are that it doesn't last forever, and (relatedly) if it gets any scratches at all you have to chuck it, because the scratches can harbor bacteria.

That said, I exclusively use glass and probably always will. It just looks cooler, for one. And even though my head tells me that plastic is just as sanitary, it just doesn't feel sanitary to me somehow and I don't like that. The added cost for glass is not enough to deter me (yet -- maybe as I get more into the hobby it will start to add up) and the other advantages of plastic have me shrugging my shoulders.

So yeah, either is fine, it's really personal preference. Plastic is probably objectively better, but not by much; I prefer glass for purely personal reasons.
 

osagedr

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If I had to buy a new carboy, I would definitely buy plastic, just to give it a try. I've never broken a glass one but I'm almost sure it will happen sooner or later.
 

reim0027

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I may be paranoid, but the thing that gets me about plastic is the scratching. Small scratches can potentially harbor bacteria that can infect your beer. I am afraid I'll miss a scratch and my beer will get infected.
 

OHIOSTEVE

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I use glass exclusively for beer.. start all my wines in plastic....the reason I use glass for the beer is that I have a ton of carboys I got for almost nothing. They are heavy and awkward and dangerous...they are cool looking though..... and yes I have had a break once.
 

edmanster

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I'll give mine too.. better bottles pros, they don't always break when dropped.. Cons, hard to clean, can't pick them up without causing suck back from the airlock unless you use the "S" style but then sometimes you still do especially with the brew hauler... Glass pros, their just awesome to see what's going on for primary if not using a bucket... Cons, they break! I only have a 5 gal better bottle so I don't ferment in it...
 

NorthRiverS

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I vote plastic w/spigots all the way. Never having to siphon makes brewing very, very easy. No spills or leaks yet.

NRS
 

stevo155

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Better Bottle advocate here. Carry mine around in milk crates to prevent the sucking effect. Light, not as breakable as glass, clean them thoroughly with oxiclean soak and shake.

But as Revvy says, personal preference is the key.
 

Kaz

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I go with Better Bottles and/or Buckets. I've never had a problem cleaning a better bottle, a good soak in hot PBW solution gets all the gunk out. Better Bottles don't seem to hold the odor that the buckets do and the fact that you can easily stick stuff in the bucket leads me to think that its easier to scratch the bucket. I've never stuck anything other than a thief in my better bottles. I have a pair of glass carboys that were given to me and knowing a guy that almost had his thumb cut off because of a glass carboy dropping incident, makes me very cautious of using them.
 

Homercidal

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I use buckets for nearly everything. Glass carboy for wines and mead.

Frankly, I couldn't care any less if my fermenter looks cool. A better bottle is just as easy to clean as a glass carboy, and you should never be able to scratch the inside if you clean it properly. If you go nuts with a brush, then yeah, maybe think about something else.

BBs are lighter, less apt to break and MUCH less apt to cut you hand off if you do break it (if you think this is a joke, do a search on carboy accidents).

I prefer the benefits that a plastic bucket give me for making beer. There are other advantages to using a plastic carboy, and you may choose that route if they mean more to you.

Glass may be "cooler", but unless I am planning on keeping something in a fermenter for many months, I choose the other options. A glass carboy is very slippery when wet!
 

OHIOSTEVE

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How'd it happen, if you don't mind my asking?
This is a weird one.....I have a commercial beer cooler in my house. One of the big glass door ones. I had a carboy setting in front of it which my youngest son did not see for some reason. He opened the cooler door into the EMPTY carboy and CRACK, there went the carboy.
 

seabass07

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Whole foods carries #1 PE 5 gallon carboys (water cooler type) for $16.99. That's what I'll be using for my fermenters. They also have #7 with a "FDA approved amount of BPA" so make sure you get the right one.
 

reim0027

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Yeah, with a glass carboy, a brew hauler is a must.
 

ThickHead

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I say stainless steel. Oh wait...that wasn't an option.:p

My advice it to use both and develop your own preference through experience.
 

Revvy

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Jackstraw79, you'll find out that just about any question about brewing that can be phrased as a -vs- "argument" the answer is usually, "it doesn't matter, they all work, it's a matter of preference." The pro-con analysis thread is a good indication of it, you can see the reasoning behind it, but in reality, it's all about what will work for you. In brewing we talk about developing your own individual brewing process. You try different things, and figure out what works for you and what doesn't.
 
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Jackstraw79

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Thanks everyone, i just wanted to hear what yall thought! Ill get back after i get my equipment...what im getting has two secondaries so i plan on doing an IPA for my first batch then a stout for my second
 

ThickHead

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TWO secondaries?! You don't even need one...

(inside joke; don't worry about your order)
The best thing about having too many carboys (if there is such a thing), is the urge to fill them. :mug:
 
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Jackstraw79

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Well secondaries or primaries..either way you wanna look at it!! I want to keep pumpin out the brews...were thirsty around here! Hahahaha
 

brewd00d

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i have both glass and plastic i made the same type beers exactly and i as far as fermenting, i saw difference.

plastic is lighter and retains some smell of previous beers

glass doesnt retain any smells but its heavier

thats my take on it.
 

diamondg2

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I use both, I have 6 gal glass carboys and 25 gal plastic drums that were olive barrels. Half inch drill bit drill a hole in the top and get rubber grommets from lowes cheap. I can brew 10 gal batches, ferment and move over to another 10 gal carboy for conditioning. Can purchase on eBay, Oh, and they are so easy to clean with a soft sponge
 

northernlad

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Whole foods carries #1 PE 5 gallon carboys (water cooler type) for $16.99. That's what I'll be using for my fermenters. They also have #7 with a "FDA approved amount of BPA" so make sure you get the right one.
Except you can't ferment a proper batch of beer in a 5 gallon container...
Spend the extra $8 and get equipment that will fit your needs.

I have a bucket, a 6 gallon BB, and a 6.5 gallon Glass carboy.
The M#$%^@F&*([email protected]& glass is heavy. The BB has a loose bottom, and the pail stinks.
 

LakewoodBrew

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I say stainless steel. Oh wait...that wasn't an option.:p

My advice it to use both and develop your own preference through experience.
Drop a carboy or two while washing with soapy hands and you will develop a preference pretty quick. My brew-buddy did that to two... (he still has fingers tho) I don't use glass anymore.
 

Gwitz

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I wouldnt mind plastic if they didnt suck air when you pick them up. But I think revvy and a few others hit it on the head. Iv used plastic, glass and stainless, none of them made bad beer, so use what you can get your hands on, if you dont like it try something else. And you might eventually get to the point where you debate plastic verse stainless conical. :D
 

rycov

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Suck air??
i think its a minor thing. since they are more flexible the bend a little when you pick them up. causing the space inside to be a little smaller and possibly sucking a little air in. if you have the S shaped airlock or have taken your airlock off then it shouldn't be an issue. also if you don't move your fermenter it shouldn't be an issue
 

ThickHead

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Drop a carboy or two while washing with soapy hands and you will develop a preference pretty quick. My brew-buddy did that to two... (he still has fingers tho) I don't use glass anymore.
Yup...some people don't do well with glass. A certain respect must be paid. Glad to hear your buddy's fingers are intact.
 

seabass07

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Except you can't ferment a proper batch of beer in a 5 gallon container...
Spend the extra $8 and get equipment that will fit your needs.

I have a bucket, a 6 gallon BB, and a 6.5 gallon Glass carboy.
The M#$%^@F&*([email protected]& glass is heavy. The BB has a loose bottom, and the pail stinks.
It's no different than a 5 gallon BB, or glass carboy, or 5 gallon PE bucket. To each his own. You can't make a 5 gallon batch in one, but you can make a 4.5 gallon batch, which is easy enough to do the math and adjust ingredients.
 

houndsbreath

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I'm retiring this bottling bucket/ fermenter. All the mold on the outside has me worried about contamination. i havent had any contaminated batces but this thing just looks nasty and wont get totally clean! For $15 i dont mind replacing after 10 batches. If i could only afford a conical! Anyone ever try the V-vessel for beer?

image-1807280056.jpg
 

kwksilver

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I know this is a topic that has been beaten to death, but I am surprised that the plastic nature of things is rarely visited in terms of heat.


It is true that one must be very specific and cannot just blanket hate plastic things, but if you want to be safe here is a very reliable rule of thumb. A plastic is a polymer it is a repeating chain of the same units. All plastics are made by mixing the basic unit with a radical that propagates radical formation and allows this to polymerize. There is not a single plastic on gods green earth whose chain ends are not ready to react!. It never was and never can be inert. The warmer the plastic the more reactive that last unit.
Our DNA just so happens to also be plastic :p that is not the reason free radicals damage it, but its one of those populistic things you can mention to raise the "worried factor". Now under cool and more or less ph neutral conditions most plastics don't interact much with food. However the amount of bisphenols that are leeched in for example tomatoe canned products are outright criminal and the body of scientific literature that supports it is pretty clear. That doesn't mean its illegal although very harmful to you. The main problem here is the acidity. "saran" wrap is vinyl based. it is a very soft plastic that is very reactive and should under no circumstance be incontact with hot food. Nor is it microwave safe. Of course every restaurant and cfeteria spans that right over their incredible hot food trays where it melts and sags right onto the food. I see it every day. Officially thats for your food safety. its carcinogenic and thats not a maybe or a hippie green freak statement. My point? examine your beer solution as a whole. check:

1.) tubing
2.) mashing tun
3.) fermentation vessels

Your carboy holds cool liquid only. That is your smallest problem. I wouldn't transfer my hot wort through vinyl tubing NSF stamped or not if you held a gun to my head. You could use thermoplastic tubing as that is a lot LESS reactive at such temperatures. But at that price point you have no reaosn not to use latex or silicone do you? Your CO2 line or beer line in your kegerator can be that vinyl stuff and I wouldn't care. In fact mine are.

The other very impressive thing to me are those rubbermaid mashing tuns. Yup they are cheap. Yup they don't harm your taste. THAT plastic sure as chicken stew is not food safe at those temperatures. I don't point that out to people who do this unless they ask me for their opinion. Its obnoxious to lecture others about their plastic safety. Unless a plastic item has been specifically designated as heat safe it NEVER is. If you don't know for sure and want to find out send the item you are questioning through the autoclave and see how it does.

I hope I didn't open pandoras box here
 
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I hope I didn't open pandoras box here
No, you didn't. It's been opened for a long time. You just stirred the fear soup again. Thanks for all the thought-provoking info.

I agree with not heating in plastic (I have a SS mash tun), and also with moving hot liquids in silicone tubing. But I continue to prefer the plastic better bottles for fermentation.
 

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