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Fermenting Containers

I have been holding off getting into bigger batches of brewing due to the cost of some of the equipment but I was wondering what is the big difference between using a glass carboy as opposed to using a large plastic bucket with a lid to accomplish at least the primary fermentation. After all when looking at the equipment to buy one could easily save quite a bit of cash just going to a home improvement store and buying one of their lidded 5 gallon buckets, as I have seen recommended elsewhere, going to a bakery and asking to purchase their used frosting buckets.


If it’s food safe it’s fine. Problem with 5 gal buckets is they limit your volume to 3 1/2-4 gals max due to the lack of head space.

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Many use plastic buckets for the primary fermentor. You do need to be cautious about what the bucket is made of. Some plastics are air permeable, but the most important consideration is whether or not chemicals or dyes can leach from the plastic into your beer given beer has a pH around 4.6. It will be well worth your time to look up the different kinds of plastic and what they can be used for.

Usually plastic buckets used in winemaking are larger than beer fermenting buckets.

How big do you want to go? Father-in-law just picked up some 55 gallon plastic drums for a few dollars each. He plans to collect rain water in them. They were pre sanitized since they had held hydrogen peroxide. Would be ideal for large brews.

I am looking to graduate from 1 gallon batches to either 2.5 or 5 gallon batches. I am seeing 5 gallon (actually 6 gallon) carboys starting at about $100. Kind of cost prohibitive.

What a price!! Go to the Northern Brewer website. Four big mouth bubblers, with spigot, for $99. don’t remember time limit. Might only be 24 or 48 hours.

through 11:59 pm CST on 7/21/2016

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For a 2 1/2-3 gal batch a 5 gal food safe bucket is perfect. You can actually get them at some of the big box stores very cheaply or as you mentioned try bakeries/groc stores for their discarded buckets.

I’ve been moving from glass carboys to buckets. I have a couple of bubbler plastic carboys, not the big mouth variety. They’re OK but hard to clean since you can’t use a brush like on glass. Buckets are so easy to clean it’s ridiculous. I hit them with a sponge and hot water right after racking the beer out and that’s all that’s needed until I rinse them in starsan prior to the next use.

I felt like if I’m going plastic it’s got to be cheap and easy to clean.

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If you brew a lot you will eventually go buckets.

I do use carboys. Big mouth bubbler. Wich me not happy. Or. One plastic bucket what came with the first brew kit i ever did buy. Me happy with it perfect seal. But we are moving to compleet glas carboys. Right now only for second fermenting. To many issue with the big mouth. Dont know about the new version

I tell everyone this… Use the plastic 6.5 gal Carboy from Northern Brewer. Get the psyphonless big mouth bubbler. I have been using these for a while now and found they are light and easy to carry, very easy to clean, inexpensive, makes bottling and racking from primary to secondary a breeze, easy to drop in dry hops, and they are clear (Unlike a bucket). They sell them in glass also, but I use the plastic. I would have to say that the only disadvantage I have found with these is the lid. The screw on lids have been good to me, but the new push on lids like to push up.

And your right, this stuff can get expensive!!!

I have done quite a few brews in a keg… Now my plastic and one last glass carboy just take up space. I move the wort into a keg by pump, and after that, I use CO2. Primary, and secondary if you will, all in the keg. Yes I limit my brews to 4 gallons into a keg, but if you buy in bulk, you can simply adjust yer grain bill. They do not take up as much space, foot print wise, as a carboy too! Think of how tight it can git in yer freez-menter… Sneezles61

Seems that would not be optimal surface to depth ratio. Iv read width should be close do depth or less. I think you can get fast and complete fermentao splitting into two buckets. Need space for that. I’m only concerned about my Belgians I ferment those on the floor anyway. Just curious if you notice your beers take longer to ferment in the keg

I check my gravity at about the same schedule as I did in the carboy and haven’t noticed a difference. The reason I’m doing that is from a comment one of the big brewers made I talked to. His brews never see daylight until its poured. So that became my experiment, and is still ongoing, nothing has changed that I can detect, good or bad…. Sneezles61

Your right on a small scale it wouldn’t make much difference. I believe it was in the book brew like a monk. Of course the Belgian do some open air fermentation also or at least a coolship stage. I just read about splitting your 5 gslllons into two 5gal buckets with no airlock to ferment Belgians. Something else to experiment with.

I read that book also. I would be hesitant to open air ferment around my neck of the woods as I’m sure the wild yeasts won’t produce what may have taken centuries to do over in Belgium. I learned a lot from that book, note taking is a great one I took away from that book. Sneezles61

I just racked a Vienna Lager out of a plastic bubbler carboy. Last time I’ll use that POS. Impossible to clean. I even tried the carboy brush and couldn’t get the krauesen line off after 12 hour soak of PBW.

Just buckets going forward for me.

I haven’t tried to look yet, but I wonder if there is a SS bucket? I whole heartedly agree with trying to clean those carboys. Sneezles61

Use an 8 gallon ss pot 3/8 hole in lid for an air lock. Wrap electrical tape around to seal. Cheap and easy. And oh yeah you can boil in it.

Another experiment. Boil , chill and pitch.

Someone on here a while back chilled and pitched in their kettle. Covered it in plastic wrap I think…maybe it was @beersk?

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