Jump to content
Mr.Beer Community
Sign in to follow this  
Sluggo

bucket vs. carboy

Recommended Posts

Sure this one has been discussed, but I've never seen it.

I'm graduating to 5 gallon batches. What are the pros and cons of

1) plastic bucket ($14 + $4 for the lid)
vs.
2) glass carboy ($42)

Massive price difference, but is there a difference in the end product. I kind of like the idea of glass carboy just so I can peep the action. But the price difference is pretty massive at the LHBS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One is inexpensive and makes great beer, the other one will shatter and cut your fingers off. 'Nuff said. If you want a transparent fermenter, get a Better Bottle (PET carboy).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have six or seven 5 gallon carboys, and a 3 gallon one that I use...

Had the fivers from when I started making wine almost 20 years ago...

They're great!

Except...

They're heavy...

They're very slippery when wet...

They're heavy... Did I mention that they're heavy?

Worst of all, they're glass... Blown Glass... Think giant lightbulbs...

Did I mention they are, heavy, slippery and as fragile as lightbulbs?

But, dems what I haz... I do like the 3 gallon one though, for experimenal batches and meads...

But I suspect if I was buying new, (unless I could get some very cheap in CL or EB) I would defer to russk's wisdom and go with pails or better bottles.

:)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's a detailed comparison from another site (not written by me) that I saw some time ago:

Fermentation vessels: Buckets Vs. Better Bottles Vs. Glass Carboys Vs. Plastic Water Bottles

Buckets:
Pros:

Cheap
Readily Available
Opaque, which prevents skunking
Easy to modify if they aren't pre-drilled for an airlock
Light weight
Built in handle
Wide opening makes cleaning a breeze
Wide opening also makes sanitation a breeze. Spray it with sanitizer, then just flip it upside down to drain

Cons:

Unimpressive looking
Lids often seal poorly. While this isn't a bad thing for people who know what they're doing, it often scares the new folk when they don't see their airlock bubbling
Plastic scratches easily, which can harbor bacteria
Opaque, so you can't see the beauty of fermentation
Some use gaskets instead of drilled stoppers. These gaskets love to fall into the beer when an airlock is added.
Can't use a wort wizard with a bucket
Even with careful handling and proper care, a bucket won't last you a lifetime
If you do get an infection (which is uncommon, borderline rare with proper sanitation) you'll most likely have to throw away any plastic equipment to prevent further batches from becoming infected.
Generally they have a lot of headspace. This isn't a problem for primary fermentation, as CO2 will displace the air in your bucket. It can, however, pose a problem if you're using it for a secondary. You can boil a few thousand marbles to sanitize them, then rack your beer on top of that. Seems like more hassle than it's worth to me, but I don't usually secondary

Better Bottles:
Pros:

Less expensive than glass carboys
Transparent, so you can watch the fermentation
Firm seal with a cheap stopper, so you can be sure to get that happy music out of your airlock
Wider mouth than glass carboys. You can insert a seriously massive blowoff tube.
Light weight. Easier to move and cheaper to ship than glass carboys. Also easier to sanitize than glass carboys if you use the Llama method of 1 gallon of water, Star San, and shaking the **** out of it for a few minutes
Has a handy indentation on the underside. This makes aeration a breeze if you stick a tennis ball underneath and just spin it like mad
Looks pretty cool compared to a bucket
Can come with a built in racking set up
Easier to drain Star San out of. If you fear the foam, you can flip it upside down over the sink and give it a few gentle squeezes. That puffs most of the foam out
Nearly indestructible. Edwort made a nice video on Youtube about how tough they are.
Video

Cons:

The racking modification easily doubles the price
More expensive than buckets
Transparent, which can allow light in. Easily remedied by draping a dark t-shirt over the BB
Cannot handle negative pressure. You can still use a wort wizard with them, but you have to burp them a few times
Made of plastic, which can become scratched if you try to use a carboy brush on them
Only available in 3, 5, and 6 gallon sizes. If you're making a big beer, and using a 6 gallon primary BB, you can expect a decent blow off. If you're using a 5 gallon BB for primary for just about any beer, you can bet on blow off 90% of the time
If you do get an infection (which is uncommon, borderline rare with proper sanitation) you'll most likely have to throw away any plastic equipment to prevent further batches from becoming infected.
Any plastic gear you use will eventually need to be replaced. Sorry, but it just won't last forever

Plastic Water Bottles:
Pros:

You can find them anywhere
Cheap
Less expensive than glass carboys
Translucent, so you can watch the fermentation
Firm seal with a cheap stopper, so you can be sure to get that happy music out of your airlock
Light weight. Easier to move and cheaper to ship than glass carboys. Also easier to sanitize than glass carboys if you use the Llama method of 1 gallon of water, Star San, and shaking the **** out of it for a few minutes
You can drill a hole and install a bulkhead to create a racking modification similar to that used with better bottles
Some of them have built in handles

Cons:

Some aren't made of #1 or #2 plastic, making them unsuitable for our purposes
IMHO, they look cheaper than the buckets
If you do get an infection (which is uncommon, borderline rare with proper sanitation) you'll most likely have to throw away any plastic equipment to prevent further batches from becoming infected.
Translucent, which can allow light in. Easily remedied by draping a dark t-shirt over the bottle
Made of plastic, which can become scratched if you try to use a carboy brush on them
Cannot handle negative pressure. You might still be able to get away with a wort wizard if you burp it as with a BB
Any plastic gear you use will eventually need to be replaced. Sorry, but it just won't last forever
Does have higher oxygen permeability, so you might not want to bulk age in a water bottle for more than a few months

Glass Carboys:
Pros:

They just plain look awesome. If you're going for the mad scientist look, glass is the way to go
They can be cleaned with a carboy brush. You can scrub the crap out of them without fear
Can handle negative pressure, if you use a wort wizard
With proper care, they can outlive you
Transparent, so you can watch the fermentation
You get a great seal, so your airlock will bubble away happily
Most any homebrew store will have tubing that fits straight into the neck for a pretty big blowoff tube
Most any homebrew store will sell accessories specifically made for glass carboys. Carriers, caps, blow off tubes, etc...

Cons:

Drop it once, and it's a dead carboy
Many people have had to go to the hospital because of glass carboys. Gotta be careful with these things
Most expensive fermenter on this list
Heaviest fermenter on this list. Makes cleaning and aeration harder, and makes shipping much more expensive
Recently glass carboys have seen a huge degradation in manufacturing quality. We've seen a few break for what seemed like no reason

One thing that isn't noted is that the buckets are much, much easier to clean after a batch.

All things considered, I'm using two 6.5 gallon buckets and like them. I added Italian spigots to each for easy hydro readings.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"BigPapaG" post=356644 said:

I have six or seven 5 gallon carboys, and a 3 gallon one that I use...

Had the fivers from when I started making wine almost 20 years ago...

They're great!

Except...

They're heavy...

They're very slippery when wet...

They're heavy... Did I mention that they're heavy?

Worst of all, they're glass... Blown Glass... Think giant lightbulbs...

Did I mention they are, heavy, slippery and as fragile as lightbulbs?

But, dems what I haz... I do like the 3 gallon one though, for experimenal batches and meads...

But I suspect if I was buying new, (unless I could get some very cheap in CL or EB) I would defer to russk's wisdom and go with pails or better bottles.

:)


Those old ones were much better quality... Hold on to those.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with russki I have a carboy and bucket. I use the bucket most because I have seen the aftermath of a glass carboy. Mine were gifted to me but I gave 1 to my brother in law and kept 1 but I am thinking of giving him the other one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"russki" post=356647 said:

"BigPapaG" post=356644 said:

I have six or seven 5 gallon carboys, and a 3 gallon one that I use...

Had the fivers from when I started making wine almost 20 years ago...

They're great!

Except...

They're heavy...

They're very slippery when wet...

They're heavy... Did I mention that they're heavy?

Worst of all, they're glass... Blown Glass... Think giant lightbulbs...

Did I mention they are, heavy, slippery and as fragile as lightbulbs?

But, dems what I haz... I do like the 3 gallon one though, for experimenal batches and meads...

But I suspect if I was buying new, (unless I could get some very cheap in CL or EB) I would defer to russk's wisdom and go with pails or better bottles.

:)


Those old ones were much better quality... Hold on to those.

Agreed, these older ones were made in Italy, although some of the new ones are as well...

But these do seem to be more substantial... Ie: Thicker, and heavier... Than the bulk of the newer ones...

Still, they demand respect.

I have fitted all of mine with handles, and now that I'm older, I only lift them when empty or half full...

I have set up my process with a 1ft high step stool and the carboys stay low to the floor to avoid incident.

:cheer:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"BigPapaG" post=356644 said:

I have six or seven 5 gallon carboys, and a 3 gallon one that I use...

Had the fivers from when I started making wine almost 20 years ago...

They're great!

Except...

They're heavy...

They're very slippery when wet...

They're heavy... Did I mention that they're heavy?

Worst of all, they're glass... Blown Glass... Think giant lightbulbs...

Did I mention they are, heavy, slippery and as fragile as lightbulbs?

But, dems what I haz... I do like the 3 gallon one though, for experimenal batches and meads...

But I suspect if I was buying new, (unless I could get some very cheap in CL or EB) I would defer to russk's wisdom and go with pails or better bottles.

:)

I happened to be present when somebody else bumped 2 carboys together. I also helped clean up 10 gallons of soon to be beer and glass. I couldn't really look at glass after that.

I have BetterBottles and I like them because they do make 3 gallon sizes which just fit my small apartment way better than any of the 5 gallon equipment does.

Buckets do seem to be cheaper and they work just fine so it's up to you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My fermenter chamber (upright freezer w/ STC-1000) is in the basement. I'd be quite scared to haul a full glass carboy up or down those concrete stairs.

If I ever do start using a bottle-type fermenter, it's probably going to be a Better Bottle.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like my buckets. They are easy to clean and that white makes it easy to spot anything that finds it's way into the bucket during storage, ie; spider, dog hair, speck of what in the heck is that thing, etc

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I recently got one of these that I'm using for the first time (2 weeks fermenting). The 30L holds more than enough heads space for 6 to 6.5 gallons without a blow off tube. It's got handles, easy to clean, a huge airlock and is made in Germany. They are always out of stock and I waited 2 1/2 months for this.
I won't use it every time but so far, it's great and is exactly what I wanted. $48 so it's 3 or 4 times the price of a bucket but my buckets only seem to last 18 months or so before I need to replace them. I think this will be around for years.


[attachment=12423]Capture.PNG[/attachment]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I love that those Speidel fermenters go from 3 gallon all the way up to a full barrel (31 gallon). Though I'm not sure I have the equipment to handle 30 gallons of wort...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Beer-lord" post=356710 said:

I recently got one of these that I'm using for the first time (2 weeks fermenting). The 30L holds more than enough heads space for 6 to 6.5 gallons without a blow off tube. It's got handles, easy to clean, a huge airlock and is made in Germany. They are always out of stock and I waited 2 1/2 months for this.
I won't use it every time but so far, it's great and is exactly what I wanted. $48 so it's 3 or 4 times the price of a bucket but my buckets only seem to last 18 months or so before I need to replace them. I think this will be around for years.


[attachment=12423]Capture.PNG[/attachment]


One of the great features of this fermenter is the design of the spigot. I would think the chance of spigot failure is slim to none, unlike the Italian spigot (or similar designs).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My 5 gallon glass carboys are about 50 years old. I also have 2, 10 gallon stone crocks that are over 60!! What do I use plastic buckets and better bottles. The buckets are fine for short term you have CO2 pushing out but once that pressure leaks out O2 comes in

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The thought of moving up to 5 gallon batches has been on my mind quite a bit here lately. I've recently started doing AG batches and so far, I really like the process. But for the amount of time it takes, I really should be doing 5 gallons instead of the LBK size batch.

There are a couple of obstacles that keep this from being an easy decision for me. Living on the 3rd floor of an apartment complex is perhaps the biggest. Space is one consideration. Another is wort chilling. And another is whether the electric stove could boil 6 gallons of wort.

Back to the topic on hand......I'm fairly certain that I would avoid the glass carboy and probably the better bottle as well. More than likely, I'd lean towards the bucket without a spigot (the only 100% guaranteed way to avoid spigot failures). I must admit though, those Speidel fermenters look sweet and I would give one of these serious consideration.


Rick

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When the Space Alien died, I replaced it with the Bucket used for secondaries. No spigot hole, just a hole in the lid for a vent. It's a 7 gallon bucket, but really only 6 gal max useable space (which is pushing it). I connected a blow off tube. I don't feel the need to perv the brew, as they all pretty much look the same. I will be using a siphon tube to bottle the beer with. My fermenters aren't for show, so why should I worry about what it "looks' like. I got it to ferment beer. it works. I got to spend more on the fix'nz than the fermenter.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@rickbray66

I have noticed a misconception from time to time wherein it is believed that in order to make good brew in 5 gallon batches, one must boil 6 gallons of water.

I'ld like to go on record as saying that I have made award winning brews with partial volume boils...

Generally, boiling only 3-3.5 gallons...

These are typically extract, extract with steeping, pm and biab, but good beer with partial boils none the less.

Most of the brewing software lets you set the batch size, boil size and top off volume so the rest of the math (IB's, SRM, etc.) works out.

And you don't need a bucket, better botyle or carboy...

All it takes is two LBK's!

Hopefully this nudges you toward five gallon batches...

:)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"BigPapaG" post=356772 said:


I have noticed a misconception from time to time wherein it is believed that in order to make good brew in 5 gallon batches, one must boil 6 gallons of water.

How true. BYO's begining brewer guide has an excellent article on the subject. Good brewing software is a must but especially for this style of brewing. It is a lifesaver for brewers in apartments or no access to sufficient BTU's to do full boils.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I never did full boils until I started brewing all grain. Frankly I have no idea how I would do a partial boil brewing all grain.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I nearly used my glass carboy today as a secondary, but there wasn't enough room in my lagering chamber, so I used a keg instead.

I have one of the old Italian made glass carboys that someone was talking about earlier, but I only use it as a secondary. I brew in my kitchen, and ferment/lager in my basement, so I find that even with a handle, ti's soooo much easier to carry the plastic ale pale or even two MrBs (split batch) down the stairs.

They're a lot easier to clean as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"BigPapaG" post=356772 said:

@rickbray66

I have noticed a misconception from time to time wherein it is believed that in order to make good brew in 5 gallon batches, one must boil 6 gallons of water.

I'ld like to go on record as saying that I have made award winning brews with partial volume boils...

Generally, boiling only 3-3.5 gallons...

These are typically extract, extract with steeping, pm and biab, but good beer with partial boils none the less.

Most of the brewing software lets you set the batch size, boil size and top off volume so the rest of the math (IB's, SRM, etc.) works out.

And you don't need a bucket, better botyle or carboy...

All it takes is two LBK's!

Hopefully this nudges you toward five gallon batches...

:)

Thanks for the encouragement!!

I am currently doing partial boils, even with the 3 AG that I've done recently. Being able to top-off the LBK with refrigerated water really helps with cooling. It seems to work pretty well. I do wonder about the smaller amount of sparge water being used and how much (if any) it might affect efficiency. Some of my numbers have come out skewed, but as I mentioned in another thread, I believe it was due to other variables. And I'm not so much concerned with the amount of efficiency, but instead more of a consistent efficiency (or close to it) for preparing grain bills and hop amounts.


Rick

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...