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Starter kits

Brand new here and to home brewing in general. Looking to get myself set up with a starter kit and see plenty of options, online and at my local shop.

  1. What’s the benefit of going with a carboy as the fermentor instead of a bucket?

It appears from what I’ve read here that the glass makes for easier cleaning, but it seems that the carboy would be tougher to clean than a bucket. But the bucket would keep light away from the contents more effectively. Not sure which way to go.

Hoping to pick up a kit in the next week or so, and start brewing.



The benefit of glass is you can see what’s going on in there. Other than that IMO buckets are the way to go. I started with the two bucket system they sell on NB just add a hydrometer and your ready to go. Get a pot and start saving bottles.

The glass carboys are difficult to clean and to fill (little opening). I would go with the essential starter set with the buckets, and get an extra bucket. If you’re like me, you’ll want another fermenter to keep the goodness flowing. Also get a pot and bottles. Welcome to the obsession.

I started with the glass carboy. It cracked along the bottom after the third brew. I switched to buckets and am very happy with the decision. Plus, I can get a bucket and cover at my local shop for $15. Much cheaper than glass. I got extra buckets for storing starsan and for containing my gear. Buckets is the way to go.

+1 for the bucket

Be warned… buckets scratch very easily. Scratches harbor bacteria. Bacteria cause infections. Just sayin’ you were warned.

I took advantage of NB’s Father’s Day Special. Purchased the 20 qt pot and the Wheat Ale recipe, and the beginner’s kit was free (chose the Caribou Slobber recipe with the kit). It came with buckets and most of what you need to get started. I really like the convenience of buckets for cleaning. Sometimes there was no activity in the air lock due to probably a less than ideal seal which concerned me at first but I got over that. If I can tell there’s krauzen formed, I’ve let it ride without a problem.

I also purchased the gravity testing kit (highly recommend) at the same time and started for under $100 with shipping. Since then, I’ve acquired an additional bucket and a couple of plastic carboys (6 and 6.5 gal). From the stories I’ve read about glass shattering due to user error or slipperiness due to cleaning, I’ve avoided glass carboys. Some swear by them and I can’t blame them, but I can be klutzy so I haven’t gotten any glass cause I know I’ll end up with stitches. Plastic can potentially harbor bacteria if scratched, but if you’re careful and don’t use abrasives when cleaning, it should be ok. If you’re concerned and not klutzy, glass might be a good plan.

One other thing I got was a 5 gallon food grade bucket from Lowe’s. About $5 with the lid. I use it to keep Starsan solution for reuse. After a few batches of beer or a few months, I make up a new batch. I started out making 5 gallon batches of Starsan, but now make 2.5 gallon batches since I don’t need to fill up everything to get the benefit. The liquid just needs to coat all the surfaces to be effective so I put enough in and swirl it around and pour back into the bucket.

Thanks for the tips. Looks like the buckets are the least expensive and easiest to start with. I can always add carboys to my setup later.

This is why I went with glass carboys.

They aren’t that difficult to clean. A good soak in warm water with PBW for an hour gets most if not all of the gunk off the sides.

I have been using the buckets for a year now and never had any issue with infections. I guess it requires a certain amount of caution to not scratch the plastic. But you need to exercise at least as much care to not break the carboy. So the penalty for breaking the carboy is much worse than the penalty for scratching the bucket.

I have glass carboys, plastic ‘bubbler’ carboys, and buckets. Buckets are by far the easiest to fill, clean and carry but for some reason I tend to go to the glass first, plastic second and buckets when most other options have been exhausted. Not sure why. Maybe it’s the voyeur in me.

Glass carboys are heavy and I am more concerned about breakage all the time. I’ve had mine for 2+ years and one has one of those handles around the neck. I keep thinking one day that thing is going to just snap off and the carboy will open up into 3 big jagged pieces and try to eat one of my appendages.

Carboys are not really that hard to clean though, I just run water inside them, hit the grimiest parts with the 90 degree carboy brush(glass ones only!) then let them soak overnight full of PBW. Rinse then sanitize before next use.

It is easy to clean out a bucket with a soft sponge or microfiber cloth though!

I’m fermenting for the first time in a glass carboy. I hope what Danny says is right and it’s not that bad to clean! :cheers:

If you are starting out I would opt for the carboy. Watching the wort ferment is both fun and interesting. I agree that carboys are not hard to clean. Throw a dish cloth in with your Oxiclean or PBW with a small amount of water and shake. PET carboys have a larger opening than glass, are lightweight and obviously don’t shatter.

I guess the carboys can’t be too tough to clean, or they wouldn’t be used as much. I guess there’s less chance of atmospheric infection with the smaller opening, but must also be more of a challenge to get the wort in there too, and dry hopping, or not?

I got the buckets origanly to try the hobby without a huge investment. Figuring I could always upgrade later. Never did. I always find other things more important to buy. I only try to spend money on things that improve my beer. Get a chiller and a hydrometer for sure. Carboy or bucket is your choice you can make good beer in either.

One advantage of buckets - you’re a lot less likely to freak out and question whether you have an infected batch when fermentation is just getting started or is coming to a close. Some of the things that happen during fermentation can be a little weird.

I’ve pretty much switched to buckets only for primary fermentation, and use my glass carboys for secondary. Especially if it’s going to be sitting awhile, it’s nice to be able to top off a glass carboy to the neck and not have to worry about excessive headspace.

You can certainly dry hop. A lot of people just toss whole hops or pellets loose in their secondary first, then siphon their beer onto them. I’d agree that it’s easier in a bucket if you want to dry hop in bags instead of just loose. Bags won’t fit in the carboy neck easily.

I don’t get the “small opening, hard to pour” thing. I siphon beer out or drain wort from a valve on my kettle. It’s always in a tube. All of the tubing I use easily fits inside the mouth of the carboy. If you don’t have a valve on your kettle, you can pour into a funnel in the carboy.

Do be warned about glass breaking. I’ve heard horror stories. I am overly cautious and have the carboy slings for mine now. I also have a handle I use on empties. Word of advice, if you use the handle to get a full carboy off the ground move slowly then always grab the carboy from the underside with your other hand. I have heard of people slinging around full carboys by the handles and the necks breaking and the rest of the glass body shattering on the floor.

Buckets are super cheap, so why not get both? :slight_smile: I may just get one to see if it’s much easier.

I started with two glass carboys and have since moved to plastic carboys-much lighter weight and safer. I now reserve the glass carboys for sours. I love the big mouth plastic carboy because you get the best of all the designs–lightweight, easy to clean, safe, and you can see what’s going on. They are more expensive than buckets, but for me it was worth it.



This is why I went with glass carboys.

They aren’t that difficult to clean. A good soak in warm water with PBW for an hour gets most if not all of the gunk off the sides.[/quote]
Scatches only harbor bacteria if they are very deep AND your cleaning & sanitation is poor. I started with carboys then switched to buckets. Much better in every respect. Been using the same two buckets for six years now, and don’t have problems with infections.

Anybody know the diameter of the tubing that comes in the starter kits? I have to replace one that got too caked with debris and it does not want to come clean. Of course I forgot to bring it with me

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