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Water bottles for sours

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jalgayer

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What does everyone think about using those water cooler style bottle s for a sour? I know they say not to for beer but would they be ok for sours?
 

jessup

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if it's not a better-bottle then i would be reluctant to use one at all! according to the sour beer geek bible, page 220, HDPE (high density polyethylene) buckets allow over 415 times more O2 based on the units of cc/L/yr. that means okay for primary and short term but not secondary unless you really like vinegar. a lot :D
 

jessup

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I know they say not to for beer but would they be ok for sours?
you should reverse this way of thinking altogether. you should ask yourself, "just because it's okay for regular beers, is it okay for a sour?"
 
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jalgayer

jalgayer

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Great points, Jes. I was just thinking that the oxygen permeability might be like that attained with an oak dowel. Just throwing an idea out there! Thanks for reeling me back in
 

Revvy

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*Groan* All the oxygen permeablilty BS has also been long since debunked...There's a million threads on here about using water bottles, and now since the BPA recalls over the last few years, more and more water bottle manufacturers are making number 2 and 1 hdpe water jugs, in fact the better bottle company has actually been subcontracted by spring water companies to make more bottles for them...it's all been readily documented on here. INCLUDING the fact that when calculated the oxygen permeability turned out to be not too much different than glass carboys them selves, i.e. NEGLIGABLE, leading many intelligent folks to actually belive that that whole argument was MAYBE just a ploy by the glass carboy manufacturers, when facing competition, to dissuade folks from using them.

So can we please drop this BS pleeze???

Now dropping all that crap off the table, seems to me that using a water bottle for a wild fermentation and pitching it later is a really good idea. It keeps the rest of the gear untainted.

In fact, I've been too nervous to play with wild critters, but it never occured to me til now to go "disposable."
 

Calder

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With the exception of 'Better Bottles', I have not seen any data or claim that other plastic containers are similar to glass in their O2 permeability.

I don't think it is BS.

Personally I would be concerned with leaving any beer in plastic for anything more than a couple of months.
 

Oldsock

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With the exception of 'Better Bottles', I have not seen any data or claim that other plastic containers are similar to glass in their O2 permeability.

I don't think it is BS.

Personally I would be concerned with leaving any beer in plastic for anything more than a couple of months.
Here is some good info: http://www.babblebelt.com/newboard/thread.html?tid=1108752780&th=1208531897&pg=&tpg=1

I've had great results with aging in Better Bottles for years, no off flavors or other issues (like shards of glass in my foot).
 

El_Exorcisto

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Somehow, beer has been aged in OAK barrels for millenia... It seems to me that is oxygen permeability were an issue, then England, Belgium, and Germany would be covered in clay vessels, not old barrels. Stop quoting outdated theory, stop parroting garbage you have never experienced, and start being part of the solution. If plastic BAGS permitted that much gas exchange, they wouldn't be such a problem when they are zip tied over your head. I'm sure a plastic bucket or bottle will be just fine.
 

MalFet

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This

stop parroting garbage you have never experienced
plus this

If plastic BAGS permitted that much gas exchange, they wouldn't be such a problem when they are zip tied over your head.
equals awesome. How do you know it IS a problem? Are we to conclude that you've been murdered, gangland-style :D

FWIW, I'm inclined to agree with your ultimate point that the dangers of oxygen permeability have been overblown, but every word in your post is insanity.
 

SumnerH

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Somehow, beer has been aged in OAK barrels for millenia... It seems to me that is oxygen permeability were an issue, then England, Belgium, and Germany would be covered in clay vessels, not old barrels.
Oak barrels have only been widely used (for anything) for about 2000 years, but palm and other barrels go back a while earlier.

Most British and German barrels were lined with pitch to help make them oxygen-impermeable, but there's some evidence of unlined barrel aging going back a pretty long time (centuries) in Czech breweries in particular.

For wild brewing of lambics and Flanders reds, oak barrels have been used for about as long as those styles have existed (which is less than a millenium, but still centuries). People who use glass or stainless fermenters often go out of their way to use staves in place of corks or other methods of getting some oxygen exchange ongoing--Flanders reds, in particular, need some amount of O2 to motivate the acetobacter.
 

El_Exorcisto

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Insanity yes, I'll grant you that. But so is the neurosis behind: sanitation, oxygen permeability, yeast pitching, mashing temps, stuck fermentations, secondary, etc... The point being that oak permits measurable amounts of air to pass. If a dowel is cut with the grain right, you can blow through a red oak dowel. White oak much less so, but infinitely greater than plastic. If oak worked, then plastic should work wonderfully.
 

certaut

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I have done low budget quick beers in a water bottle, that I got the water in.
I only rinsed after racking and returned it when I bought another bottle of water(no cleaning)
 

MalFet

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El_Exorcisto said:
Insanity yes, I'll grant you that. But so is the neurosis behind: sanitation, oxygen permeability, yeast pitching, mashing temps, stuck fermentations, secondary, etc... The point being that oak permits measurable amounts of air to pass. If a dowel is cut with the grain right, you can blow through a red oak dowel. White oak much less so, but infinitely greater than plastic. If oak worked, then plastic should work wonderfully.
Not insanity like iconoclastic, but insanity like incoherent. Are you claiming that plastic isn't meaningfully oxygen permeable, or that oxygen isn't a problem for beer. Your first post seems to imply the former and this one the latter. Arguing that plastic is a good fermenting vessel material is one thing, but claiming that oxygen won't hurt beer is something else entirely. Maybe you don't mind the taste of oxidized beer, but I find it pretty unpleasant.

More to the issue at hand, though, I used a Poland Springs bottle for a 6 month ferment not long ago with no ill effects. Not that this is definitive proof or anything, but it's another vote for using something like this for a sour. Let us know how it goes :mug:
 

Nowuries

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I have done low budget quick beers in a water bottle, that I got the water in.
I only rinsed after racking and returned it when I bought another bottle of water(no cleaning)
I completely agree!
One of my best brews to date (Oatmeal Stout), I ended up aging in a used water carboy for two months and it was wonderful!:rockin:
 

Nowuries

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slightly off topic... Big breweries as well as many homebrewers do open fermentations, no airlock, and many with out anything covering the brewing vessel .... It does make for a different tasting brew... but wonderful none-the-less. So oxygen permeability doesn't seem like that big of a deal to me.

Besides, it would seem to me that during fermentation (and often well into aging) you have positive pressure from the co2, how can air leak in when co2 is fighting to get out? Am I looking at that wrong?
 

rodneypierce

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what they are saying Nowuries, is that the plastic water bottles are oxygen permiable, IE: they actually let oxygen THROUGH the plastic. Do I buy all that jazz?? no. Do they let oxygen in? Sure, im sure they do, but not enough to matter IMHO. Its a huge debate of garbage as far as im concerned. I have 3 brews going in plastic water bottles as we speak, and I will put money on them turning out just great, and not have some "horrid VINEGAR taste" to them. I think its blown out of proportion, and over rated. Just my .02
 

MalFet

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Besides, it would seem to me that during fermentation (and often well into aging) you have positive pressure from the co2, how can air leak in when co2 is fighting to get out? Am I looking at that wrong?
Not that I disagree with your broader point, but I think the concern is about aging. The CO2 pressure differential quickly drops out relatively soon after fermentation ends, especially if there are changes in temperature (even relatively modest ones).
 

Nowuries

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what they are saying Nowuries, is that the plastic water bottles are oxygen permiable, IE: they actually let oxygen THROUGH the plastic. Do I buy all that jazz?? no. Do they let oxygen in? Sure, im sure they do, but not enough to matter IMHO. Its a huge debate of garbage as far as im concerned. I have 3 brews going in plastic water bottles as we speak, and I will put money on them turning out just great, and not have some "horrid VINEGAR taste" to them. I think its blown out of proportion, and over rated. Just my .02
Ok, that's what I thought... Yea, doesn't make much sense to me either.
 

Nowuries

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Not that I disagree with your broader point, but I think the concern is about aging. The CO2 pressure differential quickly drops out relatively soon after fermentation ends, especially if there are changes in temperature (even relatively modest ones).
I can see that with long term aging. One I let go for a long time had suck back in the air lock from temp change. So I can see permeability being an issue over long term.
 

Ovidsmuse

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I second this, just finished a year of ageing cider in a better bottle, no signs of oxygenation and still had pressure on the airlock.
 

robbiex0r

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what they are saying Nowuries, is that the plastic water bottles are oxygen permiable, IE: they actually let oxygen THROUGH the plastic. Do I buy all that jazz?? no. Do they let oxygen in? Sure, im sure they do, but not enough to matter IMHO. Its a huge debate of garbage as far as im concerned. I have 3 brews going in plastic water bottles as we speak, and I will put money on them turning out just great, and not have some "horrid VINEGAR taste" to them. I think its blown out of proportion, and over rated. Just my .02
Science really really disagrees with you. The O2 permeability of any plastic is easily researched. Science uses a lot less anecdotal evidence and a lot more... science and numbers.
 

Oldsock

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I think the bucket scare thing is more about how well they close. I had an airlock run dry for a week or two and noticed vinegar production pick up quickly, I can only imagine what a poor seal on a bucket lid would do in a year or two.
 

Bensiff

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Wow, this is an awesome thread. Half the posts seem to come from the realm of forum education as opposed to actual research. The question isn't whether or not you can use a food grade plastic bucket for fermenting...hell you can get a Brute garbage can and make great beer. However, when it comes to letting the beer sit in it for 2 years you have a different creature. If you go to Better Bottles website they have a few published research articles you can look at. Better Bottle does not publish their oxygen permeability because it is so low that they cannot differentiate if it is from the stopper or micro oxygenation through the plastic itself. This is possible because of how they form the plastic, which the research paper goes into specifics about. After reading it one should begin to understand that not all plastic is made equally, not all PET plastic is made equally. The PET plastic production process used to make a Better Bottle is specifically used to limit oxygen permeation. The process someone else uses to make a PET bottle may or may not be the same and yield different results. That said, unless you contact the manufacturer and find out how their bottles were produced you won't know exactly what you are dealing with. If you are going to go through all the work to make a funky beer it seems to me that it would make sense to have a good idea about the container you use so you aren't surprised with malt vinegar after 2 years of waiting.
 

MalFet

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Science really really disagrees with you. The O2 permeability of any plastic is easily researched. Science uses a lot less anecdotal evidence and a lot more... science and numbers.
I hear this sentiment a lot, but I don't hear a lot of "science and numbers" from either side on the issue. I'm baffled by how vitriolic this conversation always gets. NERDIEST. FIGHT. EVER. :D

I'd love to see some numbers on this issue because, as you say, I don't have anything other than anecdotal experience, and I've often wondered about the kinds of scales involved in material permeability. I don't think anybody is disputing that a sheet of HDPE allows more oxygen to permeate than a sheet of glass, but I think the question of whether or not it is a practically meaningful difference is an interesting and (as far as I've seen in my limited experience) unsolved one. So, rather than just being sarcastic, why don't you get the ball rolling for us with some data?

The process someone else uses to make a PET bottle may or may not be the same and yield different results.
This is key. It is broadly meaningless to talk about the oxygen permeability of plastic, because that makes it seem like high density PETG and garbage bags will demonstrate similar characteristics. Another interesting factor is whether the wall of the vessel is actually where most oxygen permeation is possible, in contrast to other things like the stopper. Anyone have any data?
 

SumnerH

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I hear this sentiment a lot, but I don't hear a lot of "science and numbers" from either side on the issue. I'm baffled by how vitriolic this conversation always gets. NERDIEST. FIGHT. EVER. :D

I'd love to see some numbers on this issue because, as you say, I don't have anything other than anecdotal experience, and I've often wondered about the kinds of scales involved in material permeability. I don't think anybody is disputing that a sheet of HDPE allows more oxygen to permeate than a sheet of glass, but I think the question of whether or not it is a practically meaningful difference is an interesting and (as far as I've seen in my limited experience) unsolved one. So, rather than just being sarcastic, why don't you get the ball rolling for us with some data?
Oldsock's done that in the past. http://www.themadfermentationist.com/2008/05/aging-sour-beers-in-better-bottles-and.html has some of his info; he also brews a ton of sours, and has used glass, Better Bottles, and other fermenters, which makes the bolded somewhat more meaningful than if someone who's only done a couple brews had posted it:
The Better Bottle website says "Virtually impermeable to oxygen"

According to Raj Apte ( http://www2.parc.com/emdl/members/apte/GingerBeer.pdf ) the material Better Bottles are made of (PETG) has an oxygen permeability about 1/6 as much as HDPE. A standard 5 gallon HDPE bucket lets in 220 cc/L per year, I assume the Better Bottle will let in about 1/6 of that or 37 cc/L per year. A regular wine barrel lets in about four times less at 8.5 cc/L per year.

I think you can reasonably assume that a barrel may let in a bit more than the math says because as a small headspace develops due to evaporation the wood above it will dry out and become more permeable.

This is all just a back of the envelope scratch calculation to give you an idea of approximately how much oxygen is getting in there. I sent an message to the folks at Better Bottle requesting any oxygen permeability stats they have, hopefully they will get back to me with some hard data.
And then:

After a series of emails with Walter, Better Bottle Tech guy, I have some interesting things to report. First they believe that the 400 cc-mil/m2-day-Bar Raj gives for PETG is probably for a “extrusion blow material” which is different from what Better Bottles are made from, this is good news as it drags the oxygen permeability down closer to that of a regular barrel (how close I don’t know). They believe that the minimal amount of O2 coming through the plastic is dwarfed by the amount coming from the airlock/stopper which are made of much more permeable materials.

He also shot down my Brett lives on the walls because there is O2 argument. Apparently it is a biofilm, which is just something that some microbes form on wet surfaces when they are in a low nutrient environment (like fermented beer). I have seen this before on infected bottles of beer, but I have never seen it before on a carboy/fermenter.

I still think Better Bottles are a great choice for aging sour beers because it really comes down to the results.
And
Some of my sour beers get pellicles, others don't. I actually don't notice much flavor difference between the ones that do and the ones that don't.

I'm still very happy with my results from aging in better bottles and glass carboys with airlocks. I think micro-oxygenation is one of the last issues you need to worry about.

Good luck!
 

Oldsock

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Man I'd completely forgotten about that post... good stuff.
 

El_Exorcisto

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Good god... I stand corrected, and am totally blown away at the fact that an oak wine barrel lets in that little oxygen compared to plastic.
 

MalFet

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Good call, SumnerH. I completely forgot about that post, but now that you bring it up I remember that it's what made me decide to buy better bottles for the first time.

OldSock, they should feed you a commission.
 

Bensiff

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Good god... I stand corrected, and am totally blown away at the fact that an oak wine barrel lets in that little oxygen compared to plastic.
Again, it all depends on the barrel. The bigger the barrel the less oxygen. Small 5 or 10 gallon barrels let in a lot of oxygen. However, I don't think anyone can argue with the results of products coming from 60 gallon barrels so obviously that level of permeability is a good target. If you listen to Vinnie from RR talk he recommends against using small barrels for long term aging, the numbers published in Wild Brews give a clear indication as to why.
 

rycov

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If plastic BAGS permitted that much gas exchange, they wouldn't be such a problem when they are zip tied over your head. I'm sure a plastic bucket or bottle will be just fine.
LMFAO. not arguing one way or the other. though i do think for any regular (read session) beer, plastic would be fine. but i thought this was particularly hilarious. kudos exorcisto. this came close to having me piss my drunken pants
 

El_Exorcisto

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rycov, I'm glad I could oblige. The argument for sours has been pretty well dealt with, but I stand by my gangland murder analogy in reference to your standard issue, sacc fermented beer.
 
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