I have to admit, I am a glass carboy lover. Yes they are more dangerous and yes they are more expensive but something about them just feels right as compared to a plastic bucket or plastic bottle. However I am also extremely lazy and like to make everything as simple as possible.
One of the brewers in the local beer club asked if I had ever used the plastic buckets with a spigot. I told him I had, but only for bottling, never to ferment in. Long story short, he convinced me to give the bottling bucket a try as the fermenter.
They have some major upsides, while I still use glass a lot I find myself slowly switching over.
Here is why:
- Kegging only requires sanitizing a short tube and the spigot.
- Nothing is placed in the beer to transfer (It just feels wrong to stick things in the beer…)
- spigot is above the yeast cake so very little crap is transfered
- taking a gravity reading no longer requires sanitizing anything. Not that I do this very often during fermentation.
- Cleaning is so much easier since I can stick my arm in the bucket easily with a soft rag.
- Carboy brushes rust quickly here (I store it in the garage), so not having to buy them is great
- I have yet to have to use PBW to clean even the most stubborn, dried krausen residue. (I had to 1 out of probably every 5 batches on the glass carboy) (Except the occasional lid)
- I have broken 1 glass carboy over the years, no injuries but it could have been very dangerous
- Buckets are cheap
- The handle makes it so much easier and safer to carry
- No need for a drilled stopper
- Drilled stopper cannot fall in the carboy
Its not all rainbows and sunshine though, on the downside:
- Can not see the fermentation happening as easily… its so pretty
- The spigot can leak if not sealed well
- I had 1 spigot break already (it was 2+ years old though)
- If the krausen reaches the lid it is a huge PITA to clean all those little notches, so it may requires a pbw soak.
- By the way, who the hell put so many notches on these lids anyways!
While I still use the glass carboys also I have given into the lazy ways of the plastic buckets with bottling spigots.
On a side note, why would anyone ever use a better bottle plastic carboy? It seems like the worst of both worlds.