It's finally here, the Plastic Big Mouth Bubbler!

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A couple of months ago, the Glass Big Mouth Bubbler was released. I was so excited that I sold off my glass carboys and purchased a pair of them immediately. I was, and still am, enamored with these things. The ability to stick your entire arm down into your carboy not only makes cleaning faster, but much easier.
However, I found myself wondering what it would be like if a plastic version of these were to be produced. Low and behold, not even a month later my dreams came true. The Plastic Big Mouth Bubbler was born!

At a glance, carboys are awesome! I have been using solely glass for so long; I forgot how light a fermentor could really be. They are nice and rigid as well. The first thing to catch my eye, and the most exciting part for me I think was the lid.

The lids are made of HDPE material. I fully expected these lids to be kinds flimsy, not knowing anything about what HDPE was, but work nonetheless. Boy was I wrong, the lids are really solid. I have absolutely no fear of them breaking, or having an issue with screwing the ring down tightly to make a good seal.
Another thing I was worried about, how easy are the disc part of the lids to set? Is it just a smooth bottom that you have to get just right to screw it on? Nope! It has a nice ridge right on the underside of it that lets you get it perfectly on the mouth of the bottle effortlessly.
Also noteworthy, no need for any gaskets. This lid seals perfectly without the need for any gaskets. Reducing any recurring cost, albeit a rare one.
My favorite thing about the lid? The dual ported option you can purchase.

This carboy is awesome. It will allow for so many options. Thermowell, taking gravity samples without removing the lid, etc. The lid is large enough to fit any siphon and thief that I own. Sampling is now a breeze.
Which brings me to my next point, the punted bottom.

I figured this would be a nice addition, but I did not anticipate how much I would actually fall in love with it. With either lid my 1/2" siphon sits in the punted bottom surprisingly securely. I carried it up the stairs to take this picture with the siphon inside and it didn't move an inch; resting in the indent perfectly.

Also, a side note. Other than some extreme hopping there is plenty of space around the indent for everything to fall, leaving you with crystal clear wort for your secondary.
Next is the harness. If you have been looking into the glass Big Mouth Bubbler, and loved the harness that came with it you are in luck. I am not sure if it is the exact same harness, but the similarities are obvious. It secures exactly the same, with added support around the neck for pouring (which I love). Much easier to tightly secure than the Brew Hauler. The harness is also made in the USA, which is an added bonus.
Last but not least. The volume markings. These were a really nice touch for those that don't have a sight glass on their kettle, or just want conformation. I have an accurate sight glass on my kettle so I don't really need this per se, but I found myself liking it being there just so I can double check my volumes. Would have been nicer if there were some numbers next to the markings, but I feel that is just me being nit-picky.

All that being said there are some disadvantages still.
Flexing of the plastic. Yes this is still an issue, same as the previous PET bubblers. However, this does have 3 big anti-flex ribs. It helps, but it doesn't eliminate the problem. I have noticed the 5 gallon is significantly more rigid than the 6.5 gallon as well. I personally find this to be a minor problem, easily solved by using a solid stopper when moving the carboy.
Long-term aging. It has been known for a long time that air permeates plastic. This PET plastic is better yes, but not immune. I find this problem solvable by aging any beer you're going to have in there a while in glass, or like me in a keg if possible. I prefer to get a blanket of co2 on it anyway if dry hopping or other additions aren't a concern.
In summary, I find these new fermentors to be a great leap forward in portable and affordable fermenting gear. They're light, almost invincible, and pretty cool looking to boot. If you're trying to decide between these and glass, keep an eye out for my next article. However, if you have your mind made up on the plastic version, you won't regret it!
I picked mine up from Northern Brewer. I got the 6.5-Gallon and the 5-Gallon. (Their customer service has always been excellent to me, and with the flat rate shipping you really can't beat the price.)
Keep an eye out for my next article where I will compare the glass vs plastic and hopefully help you decide which is best for you.
question: what makes the clear PET better than say a bucket with a gamma lid? I read your review and was thinking these sound good but then started wondering how they are better than that.. must be some reasoning on that right? is PET less permeable or easier to clean or what? I think I am trying to convince myself I need these.
It is supposed to be yeah. However, I wouldn't call myself an expert on the topic. The PET plastic is designed to be significantly less permeable as I understand it. Definitely easier to clean in my opinion, everything seems to come right off of it. It's described as being "hydrophobic" as well which I believe makes everything come off easier. All I had to do was lightly scrub with a sponge and the krausen crap came right off. No staining either, that's a big reason I don't trust my buckets a whole heck of alot.
Hmmm, I moved from carboys to buckets, and am perfectly content, but I do miss being able to see the yeast in action. I think I'll get one or two of these to satisfy my voyeurism!
I was told by the owner of my local home brew store, to fill my secondary 5 gallon carboy up to its narrow neck, to minimize oxygen contact with the beer, since fermentation was finished, and co2 no longer being produced. I have avoided using a six gallon carboy for my secondary of a five gallon batch for that very reason. How does this work with a wide mouth carboy? I suppose if you had co2 you could squirt some of that in there, but lacking co2 ??
I'm sure if i had one of these i'd really like it but it just looks like NB has reinvented the bucket. Even most 6 gallon better bottles are cheaper than this bucket. I don't manually scrub anything anymore so getting my arm down in there is of no advantage, i just oxyclean/pbw. Anyhow i like the write up and the detailed review. Good Stuff!
I don't really have any serious issues with buckets, I just don't like the staining. Also, I like being able to watch the yeast do their thing. This is just the best of both worlds to me. I find myself prying the lid off to look at what is going on a fair amount lol.
I just really love these things. In most cases I'm cool with using plastic because the beer isn't in there long enough for it to matter. However, if I were to age a beer I'd still prefer glass or stainless.
I did not notice any leaks. I turned it upside down and shook around sanitizer in it with no issues. I just plugged the ports with solid stoppers like the picture showed. Airlock worked perfectly as if a good seal was being maintained.
Because the big mouths are taller and narrower, you can store more of them in a given space than you can buckets. I can only fit 3 of my buckets in my chest freezer, but 4 Better Bottle carboys will fit. I'm hoping I can at least fit a 5th big mouth in there. If not, no big deal as these will be easier to clean than my Better Bottles.
About the volume markings not being numbered.....order some vinyl decals from Bobby M. Problem solved.
Thanks for the article!
The dual ports has me thinking of using a SS coil as a coolant loop, immersed in the beer. Drill a third hole for a grommet and airlock.
Thanks for the review!
I have to admit, it looks great, considering the fact that I have a 5 gallon better bottle which has some yeast sediment from a cider I made, and I can't clean it off because I can't physically wipe it off. (It seems resistant to baking soda water mixer, and starsan.) So a wide neck is very appealing to me. Anyone want to buy me one for my birthday? :)
I would like to see a comparison of this vs. a Speidel fermenter.
The Speidel is a few dollars less (given you are buying the carrying strap) and it also comes with a spout/spigot to pretty much eliminate the need to siphon. I have not personally used either one, but I have seen the Speidels in person and they sure do look nice. Probably going to purchase one soon. This Big Mouth Bottle does look pretty damn nice though.
My only concern with the speidels would be whether or not they had a racking arm. The spigot already attached is great. Without a racking arm I would either find a way to attach one or probably choose something else.
Glad everyone likes the article :)
ps. to kenpotf - I am not sure of the blowoff tube size, I believe it is 15/16" ID though
Is there any chance these don't old smells like a bucket? I've only tried plastic a few times and hated every bit of it. Couldn't see anything and worse, it held smells for ever, literally forever. I had a bucket smell like a fresh ipa a brewed for months after washing 3 times in pbw. It's used for grains now... I had another I tried a mead in. It has smelled like strawberries for over a year after it being retired as a fermenter. I use it to mix up nutrients and water hop plants now. After a year, it still smells like that mead.
are the punted bottoms suppose to be smooth? Mine feels a little rough and slightly jagged. Not sure if I'm being overly anal or if I've got a defect.
One thing I learned the other night with plastic, is not to rush things no matter how late I get.
I got a late start and by 1am, I just wanted to be in bed. I got to cooling and instead of the 45min - 1hr ice bath my mind said "Throw it in the carboy and pitch in the morning".
Every side immediately caved in, and the plastic just melted. It was probably 180 degrees...