Ale Pail Problems

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Ale Pail Problems

Postby Legman » Mon Feb 11, 2008 3:50 pm

Has anyone ever experienced the lid on an "Ale Pail" not sealing up correctly?
I've got one that when the lid is on all the way, there is a couple of spots that still leak unless I pinch them together. But when I let go of them, it leaks again.
The guy at my brew shop says he's never experienced this in 15 years. I don't think he believes me.
I got a new lid. It didn't fix the problem.
Anyone had this problem? Any solutions?
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leaking pail cover

Postby slothrob » Mon Feb 11, 2008 4:35 pm

It's a pretty common problem.
It's not really anything to worry about.
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Solution - Carboy

Postby brewmeisterintng » Tue Feb 12, 2008 6:56 am

I'm a little fuzzy on why people are using plastic buckets when there is glass available.
Buckets are cheaper but have a shorter life.
Buckets will scratch and harbor bacteria.
Glass allow the brewer to observe without opening. Just be cautious of extended exposure to UV light.
You can dry hop in both but easier with a bucket.
Carboys will break if dropped.
Buckets are OK for starters but I would classify carboys as an upgrade.
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Buckets

Postby slothrob » Tue Feb 12, 2008 8:44 am

I think that a lot of people have gone back to buckets after hearing horror stories of people being cut when a carboy breaks.

As well as being safer, they're lighter, cheaper, easier to clean, and they block light.

Buckets really are fine for all but long term aging. I think people should be comfortable using whatever they have a prefernce for. I think the big glass bottles are kind of cool, and it's fun to watch the yeast, but there's no real reason that I use them instead of buckets for what I brew.
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Re: Solution - Carboy

Postby billvelek » Tue Feb 12, 2008 1:22 pm

I just happened to mention in another thread how I had used buckets in the past but had not done so in awhile, and that now I really need to start doing it again. I'll now comment on each of brewmeisterintng's points:
Buckets are cheaper but have a shorter life.
Buckets are actually FREE if you don't mind doing a SMALL amount of work to clean them out (I just worry about cleaning the inside real good and don't bother removing labels on the outside). In fact, I picked up another free bucket at the bakery section of Walmart last Sunday; it still had a few handfuls of icing inside which I didn't bother to scrap out. I just set it under the faucet in the bathtub and filled it with hot water, let it sit for 5 minutes to melt the icing, dumped it, repeated the process again which stripped it of all icing. Squirted some dish soap inside, refilled with hot water, soaked until the water cooled enough to put my hand inside, and then took a dish cloth and worked the inside pretty good to get rid of any fats and oils. Rinsed. Felt "squeaky", so I figure it's good enough. I'll use it to transfer PBW and/or Oxiclean from carboy to carboy a few times [after using a solution in one carboy, I dump it into a bucket and then from the bucket through a funnel into another carboy], and then use it for a bleach solution to remove bottle labels a few times, and after that I can't imagine there will be enough residue of anything -- fat/oil or dish soap -- to affect my beer. They probably do have a limited life -- handles crack -- but I've got buckets that are ten years old and can't see any other deterioration. Because they are free and easy to prep, I certainly don't care if they have a limited life.
Buckets will scratch and harbor bacteria
But they can be sanitized. While I admit that I've seldom used buckets, whenever I did I never had a problem with santitation or infections. IIRC, the stories about infections due to scratches have been relegated to urban myths, ... at least if a person cleans them well and takes sufficient steps to sanitize. For instance, I could fill the bucket about three-quarters with sanitizer several days before brew day, let it soak one day while upright, flip it upside down and let it soak another day to sanitize the lid and upper sides of the bucket. If that's not good enough, I could then dump the sanitizer and set the bucket in the tub and fill it to the brim with boiling water, set the lid on top, and soak for an hour -- gradually cooling off -- but no doubt effectively pasteurizing the bucket. Any microbes that survive that will then need to contend with the antibacterial quality of my hops, and also be so minimal in number that a good starter should completely overwhelm it before it has a chance to get anywhere. Come on folks, people aerate with unsanitized air all the time with no problems. I wouldn't even bat an eye at using plastic. Even though I've never bothered with the boiling water part, above, I routinely dumped enough boiling water into a bucket so that I can swirl it around and shake it a bit to rinse sanitizer a couple of times before adding wort; BE VERY CAREFUL DOING THAT because the hot water will expand the air inside and make it want to spurt boiling hot water at you. I also know they won't melt because many folks use them as a KETTLE -- actually boiling their wort right inside of them with a heat wand or built-in heating element.
Glass allow the brewer to observe without opening. Just be cautious of extended exposure to UV light.
After many years of brewing, I don't really care to look. Other than a quick peek to make sure fermentation has started, I just brewed and then forgot about it until time to rack to secondary.
You can dry hop in both but easier with a bucket.
And you can also clean the inside of a bucket easier than a carboy, although my methods make that pretty easy, too.
Carboys will break if dropped.
I broke one a few months ago by one tapping against another when I was soaking two of them in the bathtub at the same time.
Buckets are OK for starters but I would classify carboys as an upgrade.
I think they're commonly considered as upgrades because many kits come without carboys, and then they are a subsequent purchase; also, it was common for people to use a bucket for primary and then a carboy for secondary, which seems to most folks to be a step up the ladder.

If I go back to buckets (probably will now that I'm down to just five carboys after breaking that one), I'll use them for primary and then rack to glass for secondary because I'm not sure that the plastic is impermeable to oxygen. I don't think that matters much during high krauesen and very active fermentation because the CO2 which is generated is probably scrubbing the oxygen from the wort or the yeast is using it, too. Racking to glass later is easy, and will not only eliminate potential oxidation problems, but the carboy will remain very easy to clean because it won't have any dried krauesen sticking to the glass (can't think of the word for it).

Just my two cents.

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Bucket vs Carboy

Postby brewmeisterintng » Tue Feb 12, 2008 7:02 pm

Thanks for the insight Bill. You have been probably brewing for more years than most of us. I guess the bottom line is to use the equipment that you feel comfortable with. I have been counseled on the way that I lay my carboy in my lap at a 45 degree angle to aerate the wort, however I am very careful when I do it. Some folks use O2 and some use fish pumps with a filter. Again, it is what ever you feel comfortable with.
I am happy that you found a source for buckets but most will pay 10 bucks for one with a lid at the LBS. I myself have never brewed in a bucket so I can not comment on the life of a fermentation bucket. Back when I was bottling I bought a bottling bucket (with spigot) but have not use it since I moved on to kegging. These days my bucket is the holder of my hoses, auto-siphon and wine thief.
Some of the comments that I made were based on others. As I said, I have never used a bucket to ferment. Maybe it's just me but I am infatuated with each batch that I make and enjoy the show that the yeast puts on. I watch over each batch like a mother.
People often think carboys are hard to clean. Those are the guys that leave it for another day. I clean mine after I empty it utilizing a carboy brush. Not a big deal... maybe five minutes.
So, as I began this post... brewer's choice.
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Re: Bucket vs Carboy

Postby billvelek » Tue Feb 12, 2008 9:10 pm

brewmeisterintng wrote:Thanks for the insight Bill. You have been probably brewing for more years than most of us.
On the other hand, lots of experience doesn't necessarily mean that a person is doing things right, either, including myself. I hope I'm not coming across as some big mouthed know it all; I just try to share the useful info that I have learned from others and what has worked for me.
I guess the bottom line is to use the equipment that you feel comfortable with.
Absolutely.
I have been counseled on the way that I lay my carboy in my lap at a 45 degree angle to aerate the wort, however I am very careful when I do it. Some folks use O2 and some use fish pumps with a filter.
I never aerate my batches at all anymore ... at least not intentionally. I aerate my starters, and I've learned that as long as you pitch a sufficently large and healthy starter, there is no need to aerate. As a matter of fact, by not aerating, I am encouraging my yeast to more quickly focus on alcohol production rather than only incidentally doing it while reproducing (the crabtree effect); my alcohol levels therefore rise quicker and the sooner alcohol increases, the quicker we create an inhospitable environment for bacteria.
I am happy that you found a source for buckets but most will pay 10 bucks for one with a lid at the LBS.
That may be true, especially if you are talking about just a single bucket. On the other hand, there is no more work involved in getting and cleaning a bucket to save ten bucks than there is in getting and cleaning a case of empty beer bottles to save the ten bucks or so that a case of new bottles costs at the LHBS. Same difference in my book, and most people clean bottles to save the ten bucks. Besides that, I've use a lot of buckets for a lot of things (including gardening), such as soaking bottles, storing grain, transferring beer (kettle to bucket through a sieve, and then to carboy via funnel), transferring and storing cleaning solutions, etc. I don't want to be looking for a bucket to help transfer my beer from kettle to carboy, only to find that they are all in use for other things, so I usually pick one up when I'm in Walmart and think of it. The number of buckets that I have around the house would have literally cost me well over a hundred dollars at ten bucks a piece.
People often think carboys are hard to clean. Those are the guys that leave it for another day. I clean mine after I empty it utilizing a carboy brush. Not a big deal... maybe five minutes.
So, as I began this post... brewer's choice.
As soon as I empty a carboy, I _immediately_ cover it with a baggie and rubber band just in case I get distracted and forget it while I focus on more important stuff -- like bottling what I just racked into the bottling bucket. At least the seal keeps the carboy from drying out, but even when cleaned immediately, the krauesen is usually harder for me to remove than a quick swirl of the brush. I therefore do this:
1. partially fill with water, shake, and dump to get rid of the trub;
2. partially fill with water, cover with a bucket, turn upside down to soak and loosen the trub; the whole bucket with inverted carboy can be moved from the bathroom into a better place to soak for however long I want to leave it;
3. remove the bucket and use the carboy brush to easily remove the visible krauesen;
4. partially fill with oxiclean solution and soak upright and then upside-down;
5. partially fill with PBW solution and soak upright and then upside-down;
6. add some no-rinse sanitizing solution, shake well to coat all of inside, and then drain;
7. use the carboy immediately, or else seal it with a baggie and rubber band for storage.

Cleaning and sanitizing solutions are saved in sealed buckets and are used for several brewing sessions, hence the need for so many buckets. :mrgreen: I guess I'm being cheap (I prefer "frugal"), but it also saves me the trouble of measuring and mixing the stuff over and over unnecessarily, and I also store my hoses, funnel, spoons, etc., in a sealed bucket of sanitizer so they never develop mold and are ready to go as soon as I need them. My methods are VERY effective and not too much trouble. The only hassle with the carboys is pouring the liquids into a bucket and then from the bucket into a carboy via a funnel, but I'm usually drinking some homebrews and listening to music so I'm cool with it ... and this is just part of the hobby. However, cleaning and sanitizing a bucket would still be a WHOLE lot easier. Sorry this post has been so long; I tend to go on a bit sometimes, but hopefully someone will benefit from this.

Cheers.

Bill Velek
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Carboy Horror Stories

Postby slothrob » Wed Feb 13, 2008 12:31 pm

Here's a list of broken carboy horror stories, for anyone interested.
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Re: Carboy Horror Stories

Postby billvelek » Wed Feb 13, 2008 1:33 pm

slothrob wrote:Here's a list of broken carboy horror stories, for anyone interested.
Man, that is definitely some scary stuff; I probably won't do away with my glass carboys, but I sure will try to be a lot more careful with them. And if I switch back to doing my primaries in a plastic bucket, that will dramatically reduce my handling of glass, so I'm definitely going to look over my buckets and select the nicest ones for my next brew day. Thanks, slothrob.

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Re: Carboy Horror Stories

Postby slothrob » Wed Feb 13, 2008 3:42 pm

billvelek wrote:Man, that is definitely some scary stuff; I probably won't do away with my glass carboys, but I sure will try to be a lot more careful with them.

Yeah, I haven't thrown mine away either, but I'm aware of every move I make with them.
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OK Got It

Postby brewmeisterintng » Thu Feb 14, 2008 7:11 am

I read the reports on injuries associated with the glass carboys. There is a potential for injury as a result of bumping, dropping and trying to catch, dropping ect. I was thinking what could be done that would reduce the potential for injury still utilizing a glass carboy. Right now, my best answer is paint on bed liner. It will protect the carboy from the occasional bumping together as well as retain the glass if it were to break by dropping as well as provide a UV barrier. The only down sides I see right not is that heat would have a hard time dissipating from as transferred warm wort and cleaning unseen areas. Maybe that removable neoprene jacket wouldn't be a bad idea. What are you guy thoughts?
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Fish net to protect you from broken carboys??

Postby billvelek » Thu Feb 14, 2008 10:44 am

There are probably many solutions. I don't know what it would cost, but I think that perhaps some synthetic fish net sewn together in the right size so that you could slip your carboy down into it would work to keep the largest shards of glass from flying out at you; I would think that the large pieces are of the greatest danger, and the little pieces are unlikely to pierce clothing or do as much damage. The net would also keep the carboy from being slippery, and you could leave it on while cleaning it, too, and be able to see through it to check for dirty spots or see how the fermentation is going. It shouldn't have much effect on heat retention. It might provide a modicum of protection from minor bumps, too. But I probably won't bother with it because, although concerned, I'm not exactly paranoid about injurying myself from a broken carboy.

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Postby slothrob » Thu Feb 14, 2008 1:37 pm

I've been considering using a clear plastic coating on the outside of the bottles. We get vinyl dipped glass for the lab, but I think that's pretty expensive, but that plastic coating for tool handles might work at home.

Alternately, I wonder if polyurethane floor finish would help hold the glass together if dropped? I might try it with a glass jelly jar.
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Saran Wrap might work

Postby billvelek » Thu Feb 14, 2008 1:49 pm

I think that maybe Saran Wrap could work if you could find a way to keep it from coming off.

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Gamma Seals

Postby Legman » Sun Feb 17, 2008 7:12 am

I was just browsing the internet and ran across this.
http://www.gammaplastics.com/new/GSL.html
Looks interesting. I wonder how well that would work for leaky bucket fermenters. Just drill a hole for an airlock and it's done.

Anyone ever seen or used it before???
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