HDPE vs Glass for large-batch fermentation

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explosivebeer

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I've recently stepped up my production capacity from 5-gallon batches to about 13-gallon batches, thanks to the addition of a keggle and an outdoor burner. Since I don't have a giant fermentation vessel, my last batch is split into three carboys. It's cool that I can play with different yeast strains and see a direct side-by-side comparison but ultimately I'd like to do single-vessel fermenting again.

I was recently at a manufacturing trade show and came across several suppliers of large food-grade HDPE containers - basically over-sized ale pails. Obviously it is more ideal to ferment in glass or better bottles, but as I have yet to find a 15-20-gallon option of those two, how detrimental would it be to use a large HDPE drum? I can get 15-gallon drums for $22 and 20-gallon drums for $25.

Or the other option is that I have some sanke kegs laying around that I was going to convert to a three-tiered system, but I might be able to use those for fermentation.

Anyway, I'm sure I'm not the first person to come across this quandary but I haven't found any good solutions so I was curious what other people with experience have done. Thanks for your input.
 

Moonpile

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I'm in a similar situation in that we just went AG and to a keggle system. I asked about a certain 16.5 gal fermenter and here's the thread.

I ended up getting 2x 6.5 gal carboys in an craigslist score, so now that we have three, I'm going to just hang with those for a while.
 
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explosivebeer

explosivebeer

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Moonpile said:
I'm in a similar situation in that we just went AG and to a keggle system. I asked about a certain 16.5 gal fermenter and here's the thread.
Thanks Moonpile. That's an interesting solution. I may have to get an open-top drum and find some food-grade plastic bags. Going back to my original concern about using plastic fermentation vessels, is there any concern about oxidation? I know that glass and PET (Better Bottles plastic) are fairly impermeable but HDPE (the majority of food-grade plastic containers) breaths a slight amount. I just didn't know if it was significant enough to worry about, or if using a plastic liner quells those concerns.
 

Moonpile

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We almost all had or have a plastic bucket fermenter. I wouldn't worry about it as long as it's food grade. It's not in there very long, and when it is it's putting off CO2.
 
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