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Beginner Question: 2 Gallon Buckets

My first batch (Caribou Slobber) is a week in the bottle, but I had what appears to be a common problem… a blowout using the 1 gallon carboy.

I’m not yet ready to brew 5 gallons but want to avoid problems with my future 1 gallon batches. I’ve read many suggestions to use a 2-gallon bucket, but reviews on the Midwest site indicate these do not usually have an airtight seal.

Two Questions…

  1. Just how big an issue will this be… assuming the seal is not completely airtight?

  2. If I go to a 3 gallon carboy, will it be big enough to ferment 2.5 gallons?

A good seal doesn’t matter too much as long as you bottle within a couple of months. On the other hand, glass is preferred to plastic, IMHO, which leads to the next response…

Yeah, a 3-gallon carboy should be able to handle a 2.5-gallon batch without significant issues except perhaps when an extremely vigorous yeast is used (e.g., hefeweizen). Personally I use all 3-gallon carboys to brew batches ranging in size from 1.7 to 2.1 gallons. But 2.5 gallons shouldn’t be an issue, 95% of the time anyway. You can even do 1-gallon batches in your 3-gallon carboy – what’s it going to hurt? There’s not all that much contact with oxygen in glass – it is not permeable to air like plastic is, so if you don’t mess with it too much, the CO2 produced during fermentation will stay in there.

Go to your local grocery store which also does cake decorating. Some frostings come in 2.5 gallon buckets with rubber seals. Here in town they are $1 apiece.

I can get them from a gas station bakery for free.

With these, you will need to drill a hole to fit a rubber stopper or rubber grommet. You should be able to find a grommet at the local hardware store. ... opper.html

Like dmtaylo2 said, I would not be concerned about the seal being lax. Sometimes they are not the best on the 6 gallon pails either.

The 3g glass or Better Bottles are a good option. The costly compared to a pail.

Thanks guys! I appreciate the help. At least I can make an informed decision now.

Last Sunday I graduated to five gallon batches. Prior to that I was doing one gallon batches. Like the OP I had a blowout (more of an overflow) with my first batch. Fortunately I only live 3 miles from the Milwaukee NB store so I stopped in and asked for advice. They suggested I use a 2 gallon pail for primary fermentation and the 1 gallon carboy* for the secondary. I haven’t had any blow-off problems since. I can even squeeze in a little more wort because I don’t have to worry about head space.

    • at 1 gallon size is it still called a “Carboy”?


    • at 1 gallon size is it still called a “Carboy”?[/quote]

It can be called a carboy, but I would call it a jug, if it has the handle at the neck. Carboys traditionally were between 5 and 15 gallons (the larger ones also were referred to commonly as demijohns, especially if they had wicker or plastic carrying baskets). Now in our context, carboys are virtually any vessel that is used to ferment homebrew.

And by the way -'welcome to the forum and hobby/lifestyle/obsession of homebrewing!

When I use buckets for fermentors (and I do this alot) I now try and transfer the beer to a more airtight container (carboy or jugs) when the peak of fermentation is done but there is still some bit of activity. I think some of the more delicate styles and the malty beers, can show oxidation if you leave them in buckets that leak air through the tops. Most of my buckets leak. I try and use a carboy that I can fill to near the neck, but even if its 2gal in a 3gal carboy I think this is a better situation than a bucket.

I’m not saying I have definitive evidence that this makes a =big difference but its something I’ve been trying as I attmept to get better malt flavor in my beers, and it does seem to make a difference.

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