Author Topic: Glass or Plastic  (Read 5381 times)

Offline hbrewer

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Glass or Plastic
« on: January 15, 2011, 01:20:57 PM »
I am a relatively new home brewer and am try to accumulate equipment to get things going.  One item I continue to get hung up on is the price difference between glass carboys and the plastic one's.  Are there any serious downfalls to using plastic for secondary fermentation storage??  I feel like I can double my storage capacity going with plastic but do not want to waste the money if glass is worth the price.

Offline tubercle

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Re: Glass or Plastic
« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2011, 01:40:57 PM »
I am a relatively new home brewer and am try to accumulate equipment to get things going.  One item I continue to get hung up on is the price difference between glass carboys and the plastic one's.  Are there any serious downfalls to using plastic for secondary fermentation storage??  I feel like I can double my storage capacity going with plastic but do not want to waste the money if glass is worth the price.

 1. Unless you are planning on brewing unusually high gravity beer that requires extended fermentation no "secondary" is necessary.

 2. Plastic
« Last Edit: January 15, 2011, 01:45:40 PM by tubercle »
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Offline hbrewer

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Re: Glass or Plastic
« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2011, 02:01:07 PM »
I have typically gone from the boil, after the wort is cooled, to a 6 gallon plastic bucket for fermentation then siphon it out to a carboy to get it off of the sediment at the bottom.  Would this not be recommended??  Sorry if these questions seem elementrybut I am relatively new to this.  I appreciate all of your expertise.

Offline euge

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Re: Glass or Plastic
« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2011, 02:24:33 PM »
I recommend a food grade plastic fermenter from a homebrew supply. Avoid generic HDPE buckets such as the one's from Lowes or HD.

Glass is great except it is heavy and actually quite dangerous.

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Offline capozzoli

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Re: Glass or Plastic
« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2011, 02:33:02 PM »
Plastic. glass is way to heavy.
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Offline euge

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Re: Glass or Plastic
« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2011, 02:52:21 PM »
If you want to "store" your beer do it in glass bottles or cornie kegs.
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline Malticulous

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Re: Glass or Plastic
« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2011, 03:09:45 PM »
I use six gallon buckets form a food storage place (no LHBS here.) I use them mostly because they take less space in my chest freezer and they are cheap. I secondary in kegs, glass or a better bottle.

Offline tumarkin

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Re: Glass or Plastic
« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2011, 03:42:16 PM »
Food quality fermentation buckets provide an inexpensive & adequate solution. Just not good for long fermentations/storage. Glass carboys are easy to clean & good for long term. However, they can break & are potentially quite dangerous. Still, they're used by many of us. The newer Better Bottle plastic carboy is the new option. Safer, lighter, supposedly good for long term ferments. I haven't got any yet, but plan to. Another option (less used) is to ferment in corny kegs.

The whole question of siphoning into a secondary is another issue. Many use secondaries, but others have come to believe (me too) that secondaries aren't necessary. You can achieve great clarity, with no risk of yeast autalysis, in a primary alone. Less work, less risk of oxidation or infection (though good technique makes this somewhat moot). I have concerns about using buckets as secondaries for long term ferments (big barleywines, RIS, meads, etc). Glass is better in this regard. I don't know about long term in Better Bottles, though others report good success.

Mark Tumarkin
Hogtown Brewers
Gainesville, FL

Offline richardt

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Re: Glass or Plastic
« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2011, 05:37:00 PM »
For safety reasons, I will NOT use glass.  I only use food-grade HDPE buckets (I use bottling buckets) or PET (i.e., Better Bottle) for primary fermentation.
For price reasons, the food-grade HDPE buckets and spigots are the way to go.  Plan to clean and dry them well after every use and replace them every year or so.
For storage reasons, the food-grade HDPE buckets are the way to go.  The spigots disassemble and you can stack multiple buckets when empty.  Your spouse will appreciate that. 
For use in fermentation fridges, the food-grade HDPE buckets are the way to go (go for the taller, narrower one [6.9 gallon, 12 inch base vs the 7.9 gallon, 14 inch base] if you have space concerns in your fridge).  It has a convenient handle already and is shatterproof.  Here's an example:
http://www.midwestsupplies.com/6-5-gallon-plastic-fermenter-with-lid.html
For cleaning reasons, the food-grade HDPE bucket is the way to go.  The ease of access to the interior of the fermentor cannot be beat.  Just take the lid off, soak the bucket in some water and clean with a soft sponge.
I have two better bottles.  I don't use them anymore.  Transfers are more difficult into carboys and cleaning them afterwards is more work--the buckets are just plain easier.
If I want to secondary, I have plenty of 5 gallon SS corny kegs which offer all the desirable qualities (and more) that a glass carboy does (like protection from oxidation and light exposure), with none of the negative qualities (like shattering if bumped or dropped).  I also don't have to protect it from bumps or sunlight and it takes up a lot less room in my fridge--I can put 4 corny kegs minimum in my smalles fridge whereas I can only put one bucket or Better Bottle).  They do offer corny keg lids that have been adapted to accept a stopper and airlock.

Forget the glass carboy. 
Consider also passing on the Better Bottle unless you like watching the fermentation process (which admittedly is kind of cool).

Offline hbrewer

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Re: Glass or Plastic
« Reply #9 on: January 15, 2011, 06:13:43 PM »
Thanks for info and insight.  I feel like I have enough information to make a decision for now.

Offline hokerer

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Re: Glass or Plastic
« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2011, 06:24:15 PM »
Fermenters aren't really about storage.  Once fermentation's done along with any bulk aging you want, if any, you'll be getting your brew out of the fermenter and into bottles or kegs.  As far as glass vs plastic, there's really nothing wrong with plastic.  There're lots of benefits and about the only down side is that they are slightly oxygen permeable but it's so little as to not really matter.  You'll be fine with plastic.  Oh, and that means a real plastic fermenter not just an old plastic water jug.  There is a difference.
Joe

Offline ipaguy

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Re: Glass or Plastic
« Reply #11 on: January 16, 2011, 08:03:38 AM »
I've avoided the better bottles because of the difficulty of cleaning them without scratching.  I use the 6.5 gal plastic buckets for most things & don't worry about O2 for less than 3-4 wk. total time in fermenters (primary or secondary).  I usually don't do a secondary unless I'm doing a fruit beer, or am dry hopping.  I do have glass carboys that I occasionally use as secondaries.  I recommend that anyone using glass invest in a sturdy canvas carboy bag for a little more safety.
Primary: gotlandsdricke/alt/dunkel hybrid
Secondary: pale barleywine,
Bottled:  Gotlandsdricke
               Oatmeal/blackberry stout
               Honey Kolsch

Offline majorvices

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Re: Glass or Plastic
« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2011, 08:13:01 AM »
Neither glass nor plastic. Stainless. ;)

Offline beerocd

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Re: Glass or Plastic
« Reply #13 on: January 16, 2011, 08:36:24 AM »
Plastic. glass is way to heavy.

Glass. If you can't lift your carboy maybe you should take up knitting.
The moral majority, is neither.

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Re: Glass or Plastic
« Reply #14 on: January 16, 2011, 09:20:47 AM »
Plastic. glass is way to heavy.

Glass. If you can't lift your carboy maybe you should take up knitting.

Hey, that's MY line!   ;)  And FWIW, I started with glass, switched to plastic, and never looked back.
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