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crimsondrac
07-14-2010, 12:57 PM
Ok, just want to know what others are using to do primary fermentation. I am looking at 5 gallon containers.

I have looked at the Carboys, but do not like the narrow mouth on them. Easy enough to put stuff in, but probably much harder to get it out and to clean and sanitize the inside.

I have looked at the 5-6 gallon plastic buckets but it seems you have to go through a few steps to remove any lingering smells or tastes after the first use. Also, I would prefer something that you can see through. Though, I can find translucent buckets, I can find none that are transparent.

Finally, I came upon these
http://www.zesco.com/products.cfm?subCatID=1410&PGroupID=ZP99180004

They make a 22 Quart container, out of food grade polycarbonate and have a double seal lid available. They are graduated and are crystal clear. Being a big square bucket, it should be easy enough to add/remove solids, clean, sanitize, etc. Has anyone ever used any tubs similar to this? Just wondering if it would work for fermenting mead.

IanB
07-14-2010, 02:29 PM
Is that the plastic is very hard and if it get's scratched (say during aeration) the scratch may be difficult to clean, also the 'sealing' of that container to keep out the spoilage organisms is tough.

Honestly, glass is your friend in this one, it is easy to sanitize and they sell brushes that help you clean the glass of 'left-overs' (and the brushes work, just get the biggest one they sell!). Sanitizing is really easy, and it is very resistant to scratches. I also notice MANY people using glass, and few people choosing another container for fermentation.

Why change what isn't broke?

crimsondrac
07-14-2010, 02:51 PM
Thanks for the reply. I value all suggestions and opinions.

The thing is, is that I do consider glass carboys as a broken technology. People use them because that is what the first guy used and every guy since then has been following his lead. Why has no one attemped to make a 5 gallon glass jug with a bigger mouth? There have to be better designed containers out there that don't require an oversized baby bottle brush to clean.

Trust me, I prefer glass as well, but it seems past a certain size, no one makes a large glass jar with a wider mouth. So, I have to fall back on plastic. Surely, these tubs should not be any harder to clean then a plastic bucket, and the harder plastic seems it would be harder to scratch. And they do sell a double sealed lids for these for a few dollars more.

Medsen Fey
07-14-2010, 02:55 PM
That container looks like it would work just fine as a primary fermenter. It has a lid so you can keep it covered, or if you want to, you can rig an airlock to it. For myself, I do most fermentation in either a 7 gallon bucket or a 10 gallon pail. I decided that the best way to avoid an MEA is have a lot of room.

Edit - For secondary and aging, I use stainless steel kegs most often. Indestructibility trumps everything else when you have butterfingers.

AToE
07-14-2010, 02:57 PM
These look like a decent plan to me if you want to be ablle to see through them. I dissagree with Ian, A LOT of people use plastic buckets (even food grade trash cans) for primary fermenation because you can get one that's bigger than you need and have lots of headspace (no more mead gysers when aerating), and if you have, say a 6 gallon secondary carboy, you can make a little extra and have enough after primary to completely fill the carboy.

I haven't had any issues at all since switching to a plastic bucket for primary, and keeping out spoilage organisms isn't really a problem. I haven't had a residue that was tough enough to require brushes that might scratch the plastic either, but that might become an issue eventually.

As much as I miss being able to see through the sidewalls, using a bucket has made my life a million times easier for fruit additions and aeration.

d.j.patterson
07-14-2010, 02:59 PM
I started out using my glass carboys for primary fermentation,but now that I have been using buckets I would never go back. I find buckets to be essential gear for doing melomels. I now have a 2, a 6.5, and a 7.6 gallon food-grade bucket all with grommeted and solid lids. I was able to find all of these at my local 6 pack shop / homebrew store, and their normal stocking is woefully deficient. I wouldn't think that these should be too hard to find.

Prices are extremely reasonable as well
2g w/ both lids $6.59
6.5g w/ both lids $15.65
7.6 g w/ both lids $22.99

Of course I still use glass for my secondary/bulk aging.

jblaschke
07-14-2010, 03:02 PM
I've got two of the 6-gallon bucket types, Mr. Beer wide-mouth PET fermenters of 6, 2.5 and 1.5 size, plus three small 1 gallon glass carboys. The PET vessels are surprisingly easy to clean and more scratch-resistant than I'd expect. The buckets I'm more cautious with. The glass is glass, easily cleaned but a bit on the small side. If I ever I need to expand capacity or replace what I have, I'll probably go with a larger glass carboy.

EDIT: I have to agree with those below, that if you're doing melomels, buckets are the way to go. Buckets also are cheap enough to replace easily if you start getting troublesome scratches.

crimsondrac
07-14-2010, 03:34 PM
Wow, all great info. I had assumed that buckets would retain the essence of the last thing in them, but from what people are saying here, it is not that bad. I think I still prefer something see through. I went to the Cambro website, the Mfg. of the clear square buckets I am looking at. They say this material is highly scratch resistant and meets or exceeds National Sanitation Foundations criteria on keeping contents sanitary. They are a bit more expensive then the standard 6 gallon plastic brew bucket, but I think paying a little extra for the see through, at least for me, is worth it.

Jord
07-14-2010, 03:56 PM
While admittedly still very new to this wonderful world of mead I can say that I too am a fan of buckets for my primary. I've found that a good 2 days with a strong chlorine solution will take out most any odours remaining in a bucket from past fermentations.

Medsen Fey
07-14-2010, 06:13 PM
The most effective thing I have found for removing odors from a plastic fermenter is soaking with PBW. The percarbonate will eliminate virtually any odor - I have yet to find one that it hasn't cleared. Soaking with PBW also means you almost never need a bottle brush with a carboy either.

AToE
07-14-2010, 06:45 PM
My bucket reeks of beer, hasn't transferred into anything else that I've noticed though (been making strong tasting things though...) - is that something I should worry about?

BBBF
07-15-2010, 11:53 AM
Thanks for the reply. I value all suggestions and opinions.

The thing is, is that I do consider glass carboys as a broken technology. People use them because that is what the first guy used and every guy since then has been following his lead. Why has no one attemped to make a 5 gallon glass jug with a bigger mouth? There have to be better designed containers out there that don't require an oversized baby bottle brush to clean.

Trust me, I prefer glass as well, but it seems past a certain size, no one makes a large glass jar with a wider mouth. So, I have to fall back on plastic. Surely, these tubs should not be any harder to clean then a plastic bucket, and the harder plastic seems it would be harder to scratch. And they do sell a double sealed lids for these for a few dollars more.


I have a pyrex carboy that has a bigger "mouth," but I still use buckets. As stated, they're great for melomels. More importantly, I find them useful for aerating and preventing gysers.

Chevette Girl
07-21-2010, 11:58 AM
While admittedly still very new to this wonderful world of mead I can say that I too am a fan of buckets for my primary. I've found that a good 2 days with a strong chlorine solution will take out most any odours remaining in a bucket from past fermentations.

After an experience with SOMEBODY <glares at husband> putting garlic ("What, it was tasty!") in my insulated plastic 20-oz travel mug I have used for about 12 years for my morning tea, the only thing that got it out was a good old chlorine bleach soak... unfortunately, I had to soak it in strong tea for two weeks after the bleach because the bleach took the taste out of everything!

I have found that a round or two of the pink cleanser (chlorinated trisodium phosphate) gets almost all the taste out of my plastic fermenters, the only thing that seems to require repeated applications has been cinnamon so far, which is why I've started using cinnamon sticks mostly in my 1 gal glass jars, in secondary fermentation or with a bucket I'll be leaving empty for a few months or using for spices again anyway.

Definitely cast my vote to the side for the buckets. Although those square things look pretty interesting! I'd just be worried about moving a very large one, corners do really funny things to the sloshing factor. I've been using a pair of polycarbonate water bottles for a couple of years and they really are remarkably resistant to scratching, I've got tiny little scuffmarks all over the outside of mine (no surprise, they get kicked around everywhere) but no gouges like I've managed to do to my fermentation buckets. Not a single scratch on the inside and I use my plastic bottle brush and my dish scrubby on it and everything.

IanB
07-21-2010, 04:19 PM
So, my KISS idea hasn't worked, 'Stick with glass, it works'. I think I am cought up on the see-through part the OP wanted to get with his primary. You can not see through a bucket that I know of??

If he doesn't mind NOT seeing through his fermentor then the bucket is his best friend. Yeah, sometimes there are stubborn cleaning jobs, but wow, food-grade buckets are your friends for fruit additions. (Then again, I add all fruit in the secondary...so for me it wouldn't fit)

Adding in the secondary retains more fruitiness (if that is what you want) and a slight amount of residual sugar (if that is what you want). If you want dry-bone fruit wine, it's going to have to be in the primary, and then one of the clear tubs may work.

Also, I think the comment about the corners causing a splashing problem is very relevant. 5 gallons or more of anything weighs quite a bit and you don't want to drop all those ingredients! So when you ferment in one of these, have a plan for racking that involves minimal movement of the container to avoid spillage and just more clean-up activities.

Heck, stop listening to us know-it-all's and go for it already! Then you will know for sure if it works for you. (the ultimate goal)

IB

jkane
07-21-2010, 04:28 PM
My Father was a farmer. When he retired, I picked up a 10 gallon Stainless Milk can from him. They make plain steel and aluminum also, so make sure it's stainless. Not sure where to buy them retail. Sorry, I only have the one! ;-) Actually, he only had one that was stainless. The rest were plain steel.

Can't see through it, but it has a nice big opening, and does not keep flavors in it. Easy to clean too.

mesquite
07-21-2010, 10:50 PM
My Father was a farmer. When he retired, I picked up a 10 gallon Stainless Milk can from him. They make plain steel and aluminum also, so make sure it's stainless. Not sure where to buy them retail. Sorry, I only have the one! ;-) Actually, he only had one that was stainless. The rest were plain steel.

Can't see through it, but it has a nice big opening, and does not keep flavors in it. Easy to clean too.

Stainless milk cans here but they are expensive!

http://www.milehidistilling.com/Still_Boilers_for_moonshine_and_alcohol_still_s/4.htm

icedmetal
07-22-2010, 03:48 PM
Another possibility: http://store.homebrewheaven.com/8-gallon-primary-fermenter-wlid-p1699.aspx

I've got five of these now. They're plastic, they're graduated, they're big enough to handle a high krausen on a 5 gallon batch of beer, and dude, you can see through the side fairly well too!

The company is local to me, so I can't comment on their shipping rates.

mesquite
07-22-2010, 04:00 PM
I noticed 5 gallon clear blue hard plastic water bottles in Wal-Mart 2 days ago for $7 each.

Chevette Girl
07-22-2010, 11:13 PM
<grin> or you could just suck up the deposit on water bottles...

crimsondrac
07-23-2010, 01:25 PM
Welp, after much internal debate, I went ahead and ordered two of these tubs with 2 double sealed lids. I figure the lid should be tight enough to prevent any spillage when I am moving them. They look to have pretty sturdy handles. And I always move my fementation containers a to where I will be racking a few days before so the lees has time to settle again.

I will make sure to post here how those containers are working in case anyone else wants to give them a try. I figure carboys should still be fine for show meads, but if you will be adding any fruit or spices, I like the open top. Should be easy enough to stir.