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Plastic vs Glass for primary fermentation?

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ochocki

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So I have read all over the internet that glass is pretty much universally better than plastic. I am looking to get a system set up where I have one primary fermentor and 2 secondary fermentors basically for faster brewing. I know for sure that i want a couple of carboys for my secondary's but for my primary I am still unsure. It is much cheaper to go with say a 7+ gallon bucket and with all that extra space blow off is much less of a concern. My concern lies in sanitation issues, typically how long can I use a plastic bucket before sanitation issues begin to occur, scatches for example?
 

david_42

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I've been using the same three plastic buckets for 7 years. No problems.
 

Ol' Grog

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I too just started getting "into" this hobby and went through the same kind of questions. After brewing a couple of batches, I'm glad I went plastic for the primary. Why? Plastic is WAY easier to clean up. Most of nasties will reside in your primary phase. Secondaries serve for basically clearing up your brew and they don't get as dirty. You may have some slight trub in the bottom, but can be easily cleaned up in the sink with some hot water. I'm glad I went with plastic for the primary. At least I got something right.
 

mmm beer

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I use a pail also, although Im new to home brewing I Have been making wine forever. My local wine store sells disposible bags that fit in your pail. I used these for many batches of wine and for both batches of beer I have made. You dont have to sanitize the bags because they a hermetically sealed and are sanitary. They are also very inexpensive, I get three for a dollar. It has been worth it. Take my advice with a grain of salt, its what I choose but it might not be right for you.:mug:
 

rdwj

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I like glass. You have to be very careful with plastic because it can scratch. You have to be careful with glass because it can break. Glass isn't hard to clean if you have a brush - it's actually quite easy.

I also like to see the fermentation process - you can't do that with buckets. It's a pretty amazing thing to watch
 

EdWort

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I use plastic for all my brewing needs. A 7.9 gallon primary bucket with a lid and spigot and 5 gallon Better Bottles for secondary fermentations. Racking from a bucket is as easy as spraying some Star San on the spigot a few times in 10 minutes, hooking up a hose and opening the valve. Better Bottles don't break and they are much easier to clean and my back loves them very very very much!
 
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ochocki

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I think that's the main reason i want a glass primary, I really want to see the fermentation process, i think it's so cool looking.
 

Walker

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There are things called Better Bottles that are made of transparent plastic (and they have spigots on them, too). Lots of people like those bottles.

Anyway, there is no clear-cut, black-n-white answer to the question of which is better (plastic or glass). There are benefits to both materials, so it just depends on what you want out of your fermenter.

-walker
 

chillHayze

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ochocki said:
I think that's the main reason i want a glass primary, I really want to see the fermentation process, i think it's so cool looking.
Remember you can get a Better Bottle 6 gal primary and still watch the process. I would have to guess my 6 gal Better Bottle weighs less than a pound.
 

uglygoat

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glass ftw!

just my personal preference.

i like hucking around heavy galss objects that can easily break :)
 

Brewsmith

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I've got both bucket and glass. The plastic is easier to carry and transfer and is less fragile. The glass is easy to clean, easier to control the temperature, and you can easily tell what's going on inside.
 

rcd

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Brewsmith said:
I've got both bucket and glass. The plastic is easier to carry and transfer and is less fragile. The glass is easy to clean, easier to control the temperature, and you can easily tell what's going on inside.
why is it easier to control temperature with glass?
 

david_42

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I don't get "you have to be very careful not to scratch plastic"? What do people use to clean them, belt sanders? Hot water, soap & a sponge. What's there to scratch with?
 

Carne de Perro

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I scratched my bucket the first time I cleaned it, used a "no scratch" scrubber to get the brown ring off and BOY was that sponge mislabeled! Haven't had any problems w/ it but still mainly use glass cause I like to watch the ferment. :mug:
 

Brewsmith

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rcd said:
why is it easier to control temperature with glass?
It's easy to put the glass carboy in to a water bath to regulate the temperature. A little more difficult with a bucket with a spigot. Plus plastic insulates more than glass. I'm in southern california and never have a problem with "too cold". It's usually trying to get it and keep it low enough that's the problem. This time of year is perfect though.
 

Wheat King

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i use a plastic bucket for primary, and 6.5 gal glass carboy for secondary. i plan to get a Better Bottle mainly for a 2nd secondary, so i'll have 1 of each option.
 

Ol' Grog

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I was going to say, if you use a sponge, not a scrubber, you shouldn't scratch the plastic. One thing I have noticed is that there is still a brew smell in the bucket after cleaning. They also stain.
 

SteveM

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Brewsmith said:
...A little more difficult with a bucket with a spigot...
My primary has no spigot (using a plastic bucket with or without a spigot for a primary - that's a whole different discussion).

I have both and have used both and for me, a plastic bucket is better for the primary. I can see how some would want to watch the process, and for that, plastic fails.

The advantages of plastic include easy cleaning and sanitizing (as noted by many above). I use hot water, a sponge, and one of those soft plastic dish scrapers (made for taking things like dried scrambled eggs off of no-stick pans). I make up three to four gallons of sanitizer in my bucket (more if I am bottling, less for just fermenting) and use the bucket to sanitize my equipment and (if I am at bottling day) my bottles, six at a time. The convenience of this is what drives the train. My plastic tub is a couple of years old and it is fine.

Mine has no stains - careful post-brewing cleaning will tkae care of that - and the mild beer aroma is not objectionable to me, and does not affect sanitizing.
 
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