View Full Version : Containers for Joe's Ancient Mead

09-28-2009, 09:16 AM
I'm looking at setting on a large batch of Joe's Ancient Recipe and was wondering what kind of containers are appropriate. Glass demijohns are very expensive, and plastic buckets from my local brew shop are not that cheap. Is it possible to use 5L plastic bottles that you can get mineral water in?

09-28-2009, 10:29 AM
Those 5L jugs are unfortunately quite oxygen permeable, so they're not good for long-term storage. Since JAO has you leave the mix in a single carboy until it is done and ready to drink, glass is really your best option, with specialty plastics (such as tlose used in the manufacture of "better bottles") a close second. You can use the water jugs, but they will allow enough O2 to migrate into the mead that some oxidation will take place. If you plan on serving/drinking the mead relatively soon after fermentation, then maybe that won't be too much of an issue. But if you plan on bottling and subsequent aging, then I'd recommend you save up some money to purchase a demijohn/carboy.

09-28-2009, 10:32 AM
Sam, look at the bottom of the bottle for the recycle code. It must be recycle code one, PET or PETE to be impermeable to oxygen, and thus useable for aging. Recycle code 2, HDPE is ok for fermenting, but not for aging your mead.

09-28-2009, 11:08 AM
Actually, just being PET (Polyethylene terephthalate, recycle code 1) is not enough to confirm that a plastic vessel is OK for fermentation or storage. The specific version of PET used in things like Better Bottles have a slightly different copolyester included in the formulation which cuts gas permeability significantly. That version of PET is NOT generally used in water bottles, since it is unnecessary to water storage.

So, unless the product says that it is an effective oxygen barrier, don't assume that it is, regardless of the recycle code printed on the container.

Dan McFeeley
09-28-2009, 03:31 PM
A demijohn is not only expensive, it's heavy. Water is about 8 pounds per gallon, your finished mead may be a bit denser depending on your finishing gravity, factor in the weight of the glass and container, maybe about 140 lbs or more.

You might do better looking at 3 five gallon carboys, especially if you can get a good price on them. Easier on the wallet, and easier on the back! ;D

09-28-2009, 04:02 PM
The gallon jugs you can buy filled with wine or juice are a great bargain. The premium you pay for a glass container is basically your realized cost, and that usually comes out to only a few dollars. You can ferment the juice you get too; I have made several ciders & cysers by doing that. Gallon jugs are also easy to handle and only weigh about 10-11 lbs when full.

09-30-2009, 06:19 PM
Thanks for all the very helpful feedback, looks like they are out of the question.

I haven't had any luck with juice bottles and the cheapest glass carboys I can find are 15 for a 1G ($25)however...

My Dad has got a 25L plastic bottle used for keeping water in whilst camping, I cannot find any code on it to say what kind of plastic it is made of but it's got very thick sides and is made to be used over and over. Could this maybe be used?

Thanks again,

09-30-2009, 06:36 PM
Chances are good that it's either PP or PE. Wall thickness helps cut down the gas transfer. Whether it is enough to keep your mead safe or not ... who knows?

If cost is an issue and you really want to get started, personally I say go for it with what you have on hand. You might find out that it turns out fine, or you might get more oxidation than you care for. Either way it gets you going and you can decide whether or not you want to pursue meadmaking with more pricey equipment.

How much oxidation is too much is very subjective. I have tasted wine & mead that was so horrendously oxidized I wouldn't even swallow it (spitting wine out can be rude in the middle of a party...ah well). The person next to me thought it was fine. (lucky them!) So don't let us discourage you too much, get the bug first and then you'll be searching out more and more containers. ;)

10-03-2009, 12:42 PM
Screw-top wine bottles are a great way to store and age. And you can usually get them for free, 750 ml, 1.5 L, and 3 L. I get mine from an associate of my wife's, who drinks a lot of cheap wine :p

Other ways to obtain them? I don't know how it works in the UK, but locally our recyclers don't take green glass. So we have a lot of well-intentioned people with wine bottles piling up in their garages. If I put out a note on our internet classifieds (check out "freecycle") I am sure I would have more than I knew what to do with. Maybe there is something like that for your locality?

10-03-2009, 08:46 PM
Talk to the owner or manager at your local pubs. See if they would be willing to save you some wine bottles, I woudn't know if they larger than 1.75L bottles though, but it would still be a starting point. As long as there isn't some weird law the would prohibit the bar owner from giving you empties.

You should be able to find large glass jugs of cider or wine.

The internet is your friend, a quick google search for "home brew in the uk"




Whats your price range?

And comparing something you by for 15 GBP there to the 32 USD that the currency exchanges for isn't a good way to look at price, unless you can ship over seas for cheap(not likely) then getting a 15 USD fermenter from the US for about 10 GBP shipped would be nice. BUT locally 15 GBP to you is like what 15 USD to us, sort of hehe.

But from what i've seen from those sites, that about how it looks, close to the same currency unit, even tho 1 GBP exchanges for 1.59 USD in the world trade market, yada yada.

Sorry I couldn't use the symbol for GBP, my keyboard doesn't have one...