Carboy v. Bucket

Buying, building and using brewing equipment and apparatus. Product reviews and questions.

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Carboy v. Bucket

Postby Jargent » Fri Aug 17, 2001 4:01 am

Hey folks,
Again, I'm new to homebrewing. Wondering the differences between Carboys and Buckets other than the shape. I've done three brews succussfully with just buckets. Do carboys impart any special characteristics that I don't know of? They seem harder to work with.
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glass vs plastic

Postby bredmakr » Fri Aug 17, 2001 6:02 am

The biggest and most significant difference between buckets and carboys is the difference between glass and plastic. Plastic fermentors are great and I have used one successfully for many, many batches of beer. However, over time the inside of the buckets, no matter how carefull you are, will get scratched and become more of a contamination concern. Bacteria and other nasties can hang out in the scratches and contaminate your beer resulting is sometimes strong off-flavors. So because the carboys are made of glass they are by nature a lower risk container for contamination and easier to keep clean. Having said that I have used buckets successfully for many batches of beer by following one rule: keep everything clean. After primary fermentation I clean the bucket and then leave about a gallon of water with sanitizing solution in the bucket to help keep the nasties away between uses. So, you can use buckets as long as you keep them clean. Long term though, glass carboys are the answer and they allow you to observe the convection currents within the fermentor during fermentation. Which is really cool. I'd use the 6.5 gallon size for fermentation and 5 gallon for secondary. Have fun!!!
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O2 and Conditioning

Postby andytv » Mon Sep 03, 2001 7:01 am

I have read the other posted response and agree that over time, plastic becomes more difficult to sanitize, however, I am still confident using plastic pails as primary fermentors so long as they are in good shape. Try not to use any sort of abrasives while cleaning and you will be OK.

The other major difference between glass and plastic is oxygen permeability. Plastic is oxygen permeable, glass is not. This may not matter when your beer is in the primary fermntation stage, there are too many things going on for oxygen to have a noticeable affect. During secondary fermentation, the yeast is not as active, most of the sugar has been converted and they are looking for new things to digest. This is one of the reasons for pulling the beer off of the trub for secondary fermentation. You want to eliminate any factors that will react with the yeast and contribute to off-flavors. You want slow, consistent conditioning. Excess oxygen is not required for 2nd ferment, hence the use of a glass carboy is preferable.

As far as cleaning carboys; I've found that rinsing them right after use and filling them up with a bleach & water solution makes cleaning a snap before the next use.
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