Cracking the Carboy Conundrum

Discussion in 'Article Comments' started by BeerAdvocate, Apr 10, 2018.

  1. BeerAdvocate

    BeerAdvocate Founders (17,823) Aug 23, 1996 Massachusetts
    Premium Member

    Big, heavy, awkward glass objects and hard surfaces do not play well together. Fortunately for clumsy homebrewers, Ross Browne and Gavin Quigley of Next Level Brewing have developed the Carboy Bumper.

    Read the full article: Cracking the Carboy Conundrum
     
  2. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,451) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member

    “[It happened] after setting down a carboy full of perfectly-aged Russian Imperial Stout I was getting ready to bottle for competition, alas just a little too hard,” says Ross Browne of Arizona-based Next Level Brewing, a company that designs innovative products for homebrewers, by homebrewers. “What started as five gallons of medal-worthy beer (or so I hoped) ended up a pile of broken glass and a sticky brown mess.”

    Thankfully the only damage here is a broken carboy and the loss of 5 gallons of beer. I have read many posts of shattered glass carboys and seen horrific photographs of folks getting multiple stiches from nasty cuts from the shards of glass.

    Glass carboys break in ways other than hard ‘bumps’ when reaching the floor. Folks have discussed how they slipped out of their hands during cleaning, when one carboy gently tapped into a carboy next to it, etc.

    A ‘better’ solution is brewing in plastic such as a Better Bottle Carboy. Plastic does not shatter and you will not be visiting an emergency room to get stiches for nasty cuts.

    Cheers!

    [​IMG]
     
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  3. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (830) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member

    I've fermented in glass almost exclusively over the past 13 years and have never broken a single carboy. Just gotta be extra careful when cleaning and carrying them, is all.
     
  4. MostlyNorwegian

    MostlyNorwegian Zealot (548) Feb 5, 2013 Illinois

    I hate the extra risk; not too mention coupla extra pounds of weight involved with carrying and cleaning glass carboys. And that's the main reason I don't use it at home.
    Stainless, or plastic carboy.
     
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  5. JohnnyChicago

    JohnnyChicago Crusader (792) Sep 3, 2010 Illinois

    When I worked at the homebrew shop, I remember one customer with a serious scar. He was bear hugging a carboy full of hot PBW over his slop sink and it cracked right under his arm. Hundreds of stitches; it looked like a shark bite.

    My problem with better bottles/buckets is they eliminate carboys’ biggest advantage: oxygen impermeability. Stainless for me.
     
  6. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,451) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member

    Better Bottles are quite impermeable to oxygen diffusion:

    “They are made of special virgin PET and they are made in a manner that packs the plastic molecules very tightly and creates a delicate balance between microcrystaline and amorphous regions.1 The success of the BetterBottle PET fermentation carboys and fittings is empirical evidence that they have extremely low permeability for oxygen…”

    http://www.better-bottle.com/technical.html

    You can go to the website and read the technical papers where this is quantified.

    Cheers!

    P.S. Oxygen impermeability is really only an issue for long term storage. I primary ferment in HDPE buckets and for this purpose they work just fine
     
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  7. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,346) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    I use milk crates.
     
  8. JohnnyChicago

    JohnnyChicago Crusader (792) Sep 3, 2010 Illinois

    Perhaps my math is off, but they found .5mL/L daily O2 ingress, which they call ‘negligible’. Isn’t that 50ppm/day? Seems like a legitimate concern.

    You are right, of course, this probably won’t affect most homebrewers, especially if you are a big pale ale/ipa/crusher brewer, but if you are brewing beers that you intend to set aside for some time, I definitely think glass/stainless is worth consideration.
     
  9. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,451) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member

    What I read was 0.05 ml O2 per liter per day.
    Do you have more technical details here?

    Lots of folks have long term aged their beers and wines using Better Bottles. I have not read negative reports. If you have more information here I would like to read it.

    Cheers!

    http://www.better-bottle.com/pdf/CarboyPermeabilityStudy.pdf

    P.S. Did you take note of: “Significantly less oxygen permeates through the walls of BetterBottle carboys than permeates through liquid-filled air locks and many types of closures, especially closures made of silicone rubber or plasticized PVC.”

    The concept of “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link” comes to mind.
     
  10. JohnnyChicago

    JohnnyChicago Crusader (792) Sep 3, 2010 Illinois

    Sorry, my math apparently was right, but my writing was wrong. That's a first!:grin:

    Double-checked with this:
    https://www.easycalculation.com/unit-conversion/ppm-ml-conversion.php

    Industry standards for O2 can be found here (page 2):
    file:///C:/Users/Brewers/Downloads/US%20LIT2149_How_To_Measure_DO_In_Brewery.pdf

    Unless I'm missing something major, 50ppm/day seems like a massive amount of O2 when < 50ppb is the target.

    I did read that bit about airlocks, ect. and honestly it sounds like a "this is bad, but it could be worse" argument. I also don't use airlocks for this reason.
     
  11. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,451) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member

    But homebrewers do use airlocks. So...

    Cheers!

    P.S. But those homebrewers who use Better Bottle Carboys have the option to use a Better Bottle dry trap closure:

    “BetterBottle engineers determined that DryTrap air locks are more effective at blocking the passage of oxygen than conventional water-filled air locks.”

    http://www.better-bottle.com/products_master.html

    Cheers!
     
  12. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,451) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member

    This Blichman 14 gallon stainless steel fermentor utilizes an airlock (3 piece airlock).

    Cheers!

    [​IMG]
     
  13. JohnnyChicago

    JohnnyChicago Crusader (792) Sep 3, 2010 Illinois

    Not all of them... :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

    [​IMG]
     
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  14. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,451) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member

    But the Blichman vessel that I posted above does use an airlock so...:innocent:

    Cheers!
     
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  15. JohnnyChicago

    JohnnyChicago Crusader (792) Sep 3, 2010 Illinois

    Yeah, they also have a section on their fermenter FAQs making excuses for their use of weldless fittings and trying to argue for their superiority over welds. :rolling_eyes:

    For the price they charge and John Blichmann’s reported smarts, they make some...uh...interesting decisions.
     
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  16. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,451) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member

    I wish I could afford to purchase Blichmann equipment. Like the vast majority of homebrewers out there my homebrewery is very modest in comparison (e.g., a 7.9 gallon plastic bucket as my primary fermentor).

    Despite the modest nature of the equipment the quality of he resulting product (i.e., beer) is very high. Not absolute need for stainless steel in my opinion.

    Cheers!
     
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  17. JohnnyChicago

    JohnnyChicago Crusader (792) Sep 3, 2010 Illinois

    Homebrewing means something different to every one of us and what works for one, won’t necessarily work for another. You certainly don’t need a mini-pro brewery to produce great beer.

    For me, when I was first getting into the hobby, there was an over abundance of the RDWHAHB stuff, to the point of misinformation and downplaying of legitimate concerns.

    I just want to put the information out there for homebrewers to see and use it as they please. :slight_smile:
     
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  18. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,451) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member

    Fair enough.

    I have been homebrewing for over 20 years and I have batch number 414 in my primary right now but I agree that additional information can be useful.

    We are all the head brewers of our homebreweries and we all get to choose how to brew in our breweries.

    Cheers!
     
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  19. Ranbot

    Ranbot Zealot (505) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    I definitely did a double-take when I read "PORON" in the article. 3M should seek outside counsel for naming their products.

    Although I'm not a homebrewer...... Foam pads permanently adhered to a carboy seems like it would present a problem if you needed to clean them after spill or overflow..... old beer absorbed into foam. :nauseated_face: Your carboy is probably going to get wet during any cleaning, so drying the pads will take longer too. Good luck if you ever want to remove the pads and their industrial-strength adhesive.

    It seems like a better solution would be a protective rubber slip-on/slip-off "boot" or a shock-absorbing rack. :thinking_face: Some other enterprising person can run with that idea. You're welcome.

    EDIT: or @JackHorzempa's plastic carboy, but I know some people have a gut-level aversion to plastic

    Hell... wrapping several old towels/large rags around the bottom of your carboy and securing them with string, rope, or bungee cord would probably do the trick too. If anything spills, just throw the towels in the washing machine. Done.

    I feel like we have tendency to over-engineer solutions to minor problems.... But as I said in the beginning, I'm not a homebrewer... maybe I know nothing.
     
  20. IBUBrew

    IBUBrew Aspirant (225) May 6, 2017 Vermont
    Beer Trader

    They didn’t own a towel?
     
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  21. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,451) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member

    I read where some homebrewer totally encased his glass carboy using Packing Tape. His goal was not necessarily to protect the glass carboy from breaking but to contain the shards of glass if the carboy every did break. I have read stories where folks lost their grip and the carboy fell from a distance and apparently glass carboys have a tendency to 'explode' into a million pieces of glass/shards.

    To repeat what was posted above:

    "He was bear hugging a carboy full of hot PBW over his slop sink and it cracked right under his arm. Hundreds of stitches; it looked like a shark bite."

    I have read other similar stories but the above situation of "hundreds of stitches" is likely the 'winner' (or loser?) here.

    Pardon me being repetitive here but: just get over your aversion to using plastic. Beer brewed in plastic turns out just fine.

    Cheers!
     
  22. Ranbot

    Ranbot Zealot (505) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    Bu-bu-But CHEMICALS! :scream:

    :wink:
     
  23. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,451) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member

    But isn’t 75% silicon dioxide (SiO2), sodium oxide (Na2O) from sodium carbonate (Na2CO3), calcium oxide, also called lime (CaO), and several minor additives chemicals?:thinking_face:

    Cheers!
     
  24. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (5,040) Sep 24, 2007 Washington
    Beer Trader

    How about making a giant sized "coozie" out of neoprene? Easy to put on, take off, and clean.
     
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  25. captaincoffee

    captaincoffee Meyvn (1,387) Jul 10, 2011 United Kingdom (England)

    $19 sticky foam pads...was this an article or an advertisement?
     
  26. Squire

    Squire Poo-Bah (1,840) Jul 16, 2015 Mississippi
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    At those prices I could just buy some beer already made.
     
  27. billandsuz

    billandsuz Disciple (331) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    Yet.
    But you will.
    Add Broken Carboy to Death and Taxes.
     
  28. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (830) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member

    Ehh . . . some of my carboys are even used and they're just fine. One 6.5 gallon is from 1996 and I have a 5 gallon one that's from the 70s, I think. I take care of them and they take care of me.
     
  29. DrMindbender

    DrMindbender Savant (951) Jul 13, 2014 South Carolina
    Beer Trader

    So funny...who would REALLY buy this?

    Most brewers I know dont use glass anymore, so the market is shrinking and there are only so many in that market that would possibly buy this product. It's cheaper to buy a bucket, lid and airlock than it is to buy this silly "product" and you'd still have no fermenter!

    Worst Ad/Article BA has ever done IMO!
     
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  30. TomFoley

    TomFoley Aspirant (207) Mar 19, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Me too, been using them for years, easy to slide around on the floor.
     
  31. chipawayboy

    chipawayboy Devotee (457) Oct 26, 2007 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    Used em for 15 years and almost killed myself one Saturday while rinsing before a brew session.. With all the alternativs available today — I have no clue why folks persist in using carboys. Based on the number of replies here — there’s clearly a following - to each his own. Cheers.
     
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  32. chipawayboy

    chipawayboy Devotee (457) Oct 26, 2007 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    Getting tough tell across the BA platforms these days.....
     
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  33. dbrauneis

    dbrauneis Site Editor (6,828) Dec 8, 2007 North Carolina
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    There has long been a section of the magazine that features new/innovative products... I remember seeing a watch that featured a bottle opener on the buckle and one for brewbicle beer storage going back to something like 2012.
     
  34. Prep8611

    Prep8611 Aspirant (254) Aug 22, 2014 New Jersey

    Buckets ftw! A wine supply shop has wine fermenting buckets with a runner gasket lid for 7 dollars. Best deal ever and I don't want a spigot since it's just another thing to clean. I have been thinking about getting an anvil stainless fermenter as soon as I get my kegerator taps I want.
     
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  35. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (830) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member

    Wouldn't you know it? Was cleaning a 6.5 gallon carboy after the primary of my newest NEIPA and it broke.

























    JK. It's just fine. Just like always.
     
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  36. Prep8611

    Prep8611 Aspirant (254) Aug 22, 2014 New Jersey

    lol such a troll @EvenMoreJesus. Ive had one break but I didn't drop it. It was actually a glass demijohn for wine (10 gallon)My brew partner was walking by it with the burner and the regulator hit the neck and broke it. Needless to say those demijohns are quite expensive to replace and it looked sharp as hell so I switched to buckets after that day.
     
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  37. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (830) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member

    Wow . . . that sucks. Those wine demijohns are awesome AND expensive.
     
  38. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,451) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member

    You are a wise person.

    Cheers!
     
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  39. pat61

    pat61 Poo-Bah (4,739) Dec 29, 2010 Minnesota
    Premium Member

    I used 10 5 gallon carboys for about 10 years and never had a problem but then there is a world of difference between a 30-40 year old guy moving 50 lbs of glass and beer around and a 60 - 70 year old guy attempting the same. If I were to try it now I would either use the bumpers, find plastic containers to use for a secondary, or figure out how to use pumps.
     
  40. TrojanRB

    TrojanRB Meyvn (1,132) Jul 27, 2013 California
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    Buckets are the way to go. Safer, lighter, easier to carry, easier to store (they nest)! Plus you can get them with a valve for easy transfers so you don’t have to siphon.