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.ck
12-06-2010, 11:54 PM
Okay in just about to go out and buy a wine making equipment, so that I may get started on my ventures....now looking around on a few web sights I'm not confused just wondering which is better a better bottle carboy or glass? figured I would utilize what I have and ask.

~ck~

AToE
12-07-2010, 12:04 AM
There's been lots of discussion of the pros and cons of better bottles vs glass, I'd spend a while messing with the search function on these forums and see what you can dig up, then if there's still anything left unanswered for you bring it up in this thread and I'm sure people will be happy to answer.

No easy answer on "which is better" though, they're just different.

Welcome to the site and good luck with your meadmaking! Be sure to post your recipes/ideas/questions.

wildoates
12-07-2010, 12:27 AM
Whichever one you get, buy a milk crate along with the carboy. All of mine are glass (I have nightmares of the sides of a better bottle flexing and causing a geyser!), and I'm not that strong to easily manhandle them when full. I'm always nervous when i rack and wash. I finally filched some milk crates from work (I bought 'em, so they're mine :)), and wow! Much easier to move those suckers around, and especially to lift. You can even use two people if necessary. They also keep the carboys separated so they don't clink together disastrously.

wildoates
12-07-2010, 12:28 AM
Oh, and welcome to Gotmead!

Golddiggie
12-07-2010, 01:05 AM
I'm using both right now... For my beers, I like the 6 gallon Better Bottle primary, and 5 gallon secondary. I have a "Chinese" knock-off that's going back... After just one brew going through it (in secondary fermentation, going to just 7% ABV) the plastic is showing discoloration (like it's been stressed) so I don't trust it at all. The Better Bottle (acutal) are not showing any of that...

If the weight of the glass isn't an issue for you, and you can make sure you don't drop them, or clink them together too hard, then you could go that route. In the small sizes the cost difference is typically minimal. It's when you get to the 5 gallon and above sizes that it gets to be a larger difference. Oh, and the plastic/Better Bottles have a wider mouth, so you can fit a larger funnel in there... Makes things easier on the pour I find.

I'm leaning towards long term, and high %ABV fermentations in glass... Short fermentations (a few weeks or so) and/or lower %ABV then the Better Bottles should be great... Of course, I would recommend staying clear of the clones since you cannot be sure they're built to the same standards (as I'm already finding out)...

I would also say, that if you do go both, make sure you inspect your carboys (both kinds) every time you use, or clean, them... At the first sign of something being not kosher, don't use them... You don't want to have it fail either in the middle of the night, or when you're at work, and come home to ~5 gallons of sticky stuff all over your floor (unless you're fermenting where there's a floor drain and hose hookup)... :eek:

akueck
12-07-2010, 01:20 AM
Better Bottles are significantly lighter. A LOT lighter! If your brewing space is such that you have to move things around a lot, the weight savings can be really nice. They are also less likely to shatter, which means less danger of cuts in case something goes badly.

Glass is less gas permeable, harder to scratch, and can take a wider range of temperatures and chemicals (for cleaning), so it does have some advantages. It also doesn't flex when you pick it up, which is something you don't think about until your Better Bottle moves a little and shoots liquid out the top. :eek:

Chevette Girl
12-07-2010, 10:02 AM
It also doesn't flex when you pick it up, which is something you don't think about until your Better Bottle moves a little and shoots liquid out the top. :eek:

Ooh, now I remember the reason why I don't use my 5-gal plastic carboys unless I have no other choice...

Medsen Fey
12-07-2010, 11:33 AM
One other tip - skip the racking port on Better Bottles. They are a pain to remove and clean, and don't add much value in my opinion.

Golddiggie
12-07-2010, 11:36 AM
One other tip - skip the racking port on Better Bottles. They are a pain to remove and clean, and don't add much value in my opinion.

VERY good tip... Besides, that little hole adds a lot to the price (if memory serves)...

The only container I have with a hole drilled into it is the bottling bucket...

cam07ds
12-07-2010, 03:35 PM
Well I use both but I lean towards glass. The reason why is because the Better Bottles flex and when i move to rack and bottle the flex seems to stir up any bit of lees and my mead gets cloudy again. With glass this effect is minimal when moving to bottling.

Just my opinion and its not worth a lot right now...

Steve


Oh yes welcome to Gotmead! You will like it here.

Golddiggie
12-07-2010, 07:23 PM
Thinking about it a bit more this afternoon... I'll probably stick with glass carboys for mead, and use the plastic ones for beers... Flexing is less of an issue in beers than mead... Especially the dark things I'm brewing...

AToE
12-07-2010, 07:35 PM
If the carboy was as full as I usually keep mine I imagine any flex would pop the airlock off and shoot mead/beer out.

Golddiggie
12-07-2010, 07:38 PM
If the carboy was as full as I usually keep mine I imagine any flex would pop the airlock off and shoot mead/beer out.

Are you over-filling them??? I'm putting the listed volume in them (5 gallons in a 5 gallon)... Plenty of headspace so that as long as you're not slinging them around like you're insane:eek:, they should be fine... I have been putting them on towels in order to just slide them along the floor when needing to move them. At least for the 5 gallon sizes... 3 gallon and smaller is a snap to pick up as needed. Granted, I've only been doing that when it was just filled, or when taking it to the sink to clean (already emptied out)...

AToE
12-07-2010, 08:15 PM
Are you over-filling them??? I'm putting the listed volume in them (5 gallons in a 5 gallon)... Plenty of headspace so that as long as you're not slinging them around like you're insane:eek:, they should be fine... I have been putting them on towels in order to just slide them along the floor when needing to move them. At least for the 5 gallon sizes... 3 gallon and smaller is a snap to pick up as needed. Granted, I've only been doing that when it was just filled, or when taking it to the sink to clean (already emptied out)...

I haven't met a carboy that is actually the volume it says it is yet! I have bigger and smaller single gallons, and bigger and smaller 6 gallons (works great for secondary to tertiary, just a slightly smaller container). I fill them up as much as necessary to minimize headspace, I try to shoot for partway up the neck full, but sometimes end up with a little more headspace than that. The less the better.

Golddiggie
12-07-2010, 09:46 PM
Ah... Before I actually put anything in mine for the first time I fill it with the listed volume... I find some way to mark it so that I know when it's "full" without going too high, or too low... The plastic ones are easy to mark with a sharpie, as are buckets... Glass ones I just use tape...

AToE
12-07-2010, 10:14 PM
That works. I'm not really concerned with what actual volume I have (more the better though, as I'm bound to lose some every time I rack and will end up having to top it off with glass beads), I like to keep headspace as minimal as possible. I haven't had any issues yet, other than if I put it into the carboy before it's done fermenting and it bubbles up the airlock (really only happens to me with beer).

akueck
12-07-2010, 11:52 PM
As far as stirring things up before bottling, I try to move things the day before I bottle. Even in glass things move around, so just give them time to settle out again.

And yes, the flexing of the PET carboys makes the airlock go insane. And when you set it down it goes in reverse. If you can finagle it so the carboy doesn't have to move, you don't have to worry about it. But then, you can just use glass since you don't have to move it...

Leaf's Reckless Son
12-08-2010, 11:10 PM
Wildoates, thanks...... great idea using milk crates. Nobody has mentioned it yet, but glass just seems much more natural and organic to me. Never have trusted any kind of plastic, no matter how food safe it claims to be.

AToE
12-08-2010, 11:26 PM
Wildoates, thanks...... great idea using milk crates. Nobody has mentioned it yet, but glass just seems much more natural and organic to me. Never have trusted any kind of plastic, no matter how food safe it claims to be.

Actually, plastic is technically much more "organic" than glass, which is just some melted rocks. ;)

Golddiggie
12-09-2010, 12:11 AM
Actually, plastic is technically much more "organic" than glass, which is just some melted rocks. ;)

Curious to hear your logic behind that one...

Glass has been made for centuries. Plastic is only been around for a decades... Depending on the actual plastic is what's used to make it. Glass is [essentially] the same base material with modifications that are fairly straight forward. Plastics can be completely synthetic (made in a lab)...

If you do want something that can be completely flavor neutral, then glass is going to be the better choice. Plastics, no matter how good (of what's currently available) will always be vulnerable to being tainted. Scrub them a little too much and you score them and then forget about using them for fermenting. It takes a LOT to score glass (you need some pretty abrasive stuff to do it)...

kudapucat
12-09-2010, 12:18 AM
AToE is being a pedantic Engineer type, which I usually assume as my role in life. Damnable usurpers!

What he means is: Glass is made mainly from silica, and other minerals. Basically molten rock with some weirdness that makes it stay a supercooled liquid.
Rock is inorganic.
Plastic is made from oil. Oil is the long dead carbon etc from organisms millions of years ago.
Organisms and plants are organic.

You mean organic in the non-technical sense where it has come to mean 'no harmful chemicals' but really organic just means alive or made from something that was once alive.

I was busy thinking of a clever retort (still thinking) when you posted this innocent question ;)

wildoates
12-09-2010, 12:43 AM
What he said. The fact that something is organic does not necessarily make it safe to drink or rub on your skin or keep your mead in. There are many organic compounds that are not all that good for you, but they're technically organic, all right!

I think a better term would be "inert." Assumng it doesn't have something nasty included in the melt, glass is fairly inert--and heavy, but it's hard to stain, easy to clean and sanitize, cheap, and totally recyclable. :)

Okay, and dangerous if you drop it, yeah, but you've got to take the bad with the good in everything in life, including this. The truth is that whatever you decide to use, there are going to be drawbacks. It's just a matter of minimizing them to get the job done.

And yeah, I'm being a pedantic teacher-type, but it's perfectly okay...I've got a license. ;D

AToE
12-09-2010, 12:47 AM
They both nailed it, I was just making a witty comment - organic doesn't mean "nice" or "happy" or "safe" - it means organic as opposed to inorganic (aside from organic produce, which is just a silly term, but we're stuck with it now).

So yeah, plastic is organic and glass isn't. ;)

(I know plastic can be synthetic, but most of the time it isn't it's just easier/cheaper to make from oil or plants)


I do use glass myself, because it's more fun and the plastic carboys seem to have flex issues that bug me.

akueck
12-09-2010, 12:48 AM
Hahaha.

Organic doesn't actually mean alive. Organic chemistry deals with compounds usually containing carbon, hydrogen, and oxgyen (nitrogen is also common), but chemicals are not alive in the common sense. Polymers are usually made of organic components. PET (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyethylene_terephthalate) is a little strange, with the aromatic ring in there. But organic nonetheless. (Incidentally it's that aromatic ring which gives it some of the useful properties that turn it into carboys.) Inorganic mostly just means "no carbon".

Glass can actually be scratched pretty easily. You could do it with a pencil. If you're industrious, you could do it with your fingernail. And it's not a supercooled liquid, it's glass. It's a solid. All those stories of glass flowing down over the centuries are bunk.

wildoates
12-09-2010, 12:53 AM
The bulk of my carboys I got from an elderly couple who made wine 25+ years ago, and they have some of the most amazing scratches on them! I wonder how the heck they got so dinged up without breaking.

AToE
12-09-2010, 02:20 AM
Hahaha.

Organic doesn't actually mean alive. Organic chemistry deals with compounds usually containing carbon, hydrogen, and oxgyen (nitrogen is also common), but chemicals are not alive in the common sense. Polymers are usually made of organic components. PET (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyethylene_terephthalate) is a little strange, with the aromatic ring in there. But organic nonetheless. (Incidentally it's that aromatic ring which gives it some of the useful properties that turn it into carboys.) Inorganic mostly just means "no carbon".


Oh I know, my girlfriend schooled me on the correct usage of the word a while back, apparently my schooling hasn't kept up with hers!

Either way, I stand by my joke!!!

Golddiggie
12-09-2010, 02:56 AM
Tell an organic gardener that petroleum based fertilizers are 'organic' and I hope you have your running shoes on (and kevlar in some cases too)... :eek:

Maybe I'm 'old school' when I grow things, but I won't use fertilizers that came out of a science lab... My father taught me to garden back in the 70's... We had a in-ground pool put in and they put all the clay that came out of the hole all over the back yard... Within two years (of his 'organic' or natural gardening) we had a garden that did better than anyone else in our neighborhood. You could also tell where the 'run-off' from our yard touched the neighbors. They would use the petroleum based fertilizers, where we used all natural/organic (probably interchangeable terms in this case)... Shrubs grew much faster and were far healthier in the run-off area. One neighbor even started planting HIS garden against our fence... Our fertilizers were seaweed (in liquid or original form) cow manure, peat moss, and occasionally we'd plant "winter wheat" that was then 'tilled in the following spring time...

So, whenever I hear someone mention 'organic' that's what comes into my head... So in that case, glass is more organic than plastic. In the sense that glass is simply heated silica that can be formed/shaped easily. Plastic is engineered, on a molecular level, oil...

IF I had a choice, I would use all glass carboys. But, with financial limitations, I needed to get the PET carboys for some of my fermentations... Eventually, I expect I'll have all glass carboys. Plus I plan to get one of the larger beer fermenting tanks (with two valves and the conical shaped bottom)... Stainless steel is also one of my preferred materials to cook with. I have zero teflon coated pots or pans...

mmclean
12-09-2010, 05:11 AM
Well, I really like the PET carboy (not Better Bottle) I got from Morewine.

I feel safer and I feel my mead is safer. Best of both worlds. :)

Medsen Fey
12-09-2010, 10:51 AM
And then came stainless steel..... :)

wayneb
12-09-2010, 11:26 AM
Tell an organic gardener that petroleum based fertilizers are 'organic' and I hope you have your running shoes on (and kevlar in some cases too)... :eek:

Maybe I'm 'old school' when I grow things, but I won't use fertilizers that came out of a science lab... My father taught me to garden back in the 70's... We had a in-ground pool put in and they put all the clay that came out of the hole all over the back yard... Within two years (of his 'organic' or natural gardening) we had a garden that did better than anyone else in our neighborhood.

I agree with AToE, the use of the term "organic" is silly, and a corruption of its original definition, when it is applied to gardening/farming/agriculture of any kind, including keeping of food animals, in today's usage. Organic, as noted by akueck, simply means comprised of compounds that contain carbon.

A much better term (in my opinion) for the kind of sustainable, natural-cycle gardening/farming that is done without the use of synthesized chemical adjuncts, is "natural" farming. Plain and Simple. Unambiguous. Either you allow the earth's natural processes to provide all the constituent ingredients that you use in your soil/nutrients/foods, or you use synthetics. No confusion.

BTW - Although I'm in no sense a "tree hugger," I see merit in pursuing natural, sustainable agricultural processes to the greatest extent possible. The relative health merits of natural techniques may or may not be real - there are still conflicting studies on much of that, with the exception of pesticides (most synthetic long half-life pesticides have been shown to do far more damage to the environment than they provide in short term good) - but the savings in energy ARE very real. Whenever you can take advantage of processes and chemical transformations that occur naturally in the environment then you don't have to waste energy in the synthesis of alternative compounds to perform similar functions. BTW - My Dad also practiced, and taught me, how to garden naturally. He got into it during the DDT scare of the early 60's, and as one result we ended up with lots of preying mantises on our property when I was growing up. I have to admit that, to a 10 year old boy, watching a mantis chew off the head of a just-caught grasshopper is a uniquely fascinating sight! ;D

To get this back on topic, now, I will add that I probably have more glass carboys than many of you; I've been collecting 'em since 1980, after all! ;) But I have recently invested in a couple of Better Bottles, and I'm convinced that they have their uses. I am also convinced that they don't pick up residues from my meads; when I simply rinse them in a percarbonate solution after use, they come out completely clean and residue (and aroma) free. I find that fascinating!

kudapucat
12-09-2010, 04:25 PM
I hate that I can't say my stuff is grown organically, because I don't have certification!!!
Further to that, an acquaintance of mine is unable to get organic certification, because she keeps her farmed rabbits in large cages in a shed.
Of course the law here stipulates that rabbits must be kept in cages...
So exactly why when she feeds them pesticide free naturally grown hay, and abides by the law, is it not 'organic' or as Wayneb states 'natural'
WTF does cages have to do with what 'organic' has come to mean?
Also where does their arbitrary definition of a cage come from, is not organic cattle grown in a big cage?? (paddock - or 'field' for our US friends)
This just gets me riled up, and I have to go to work, so I'm going to stall this rant early. Especially as it's OT... I seem to do that a lot :(

ChadK
04-18-2012, 11:45 AM
To get this back on topic, now, I will add that I probably have more glass carboys than many of you; I've been collecting 'em since 1980, after all! ;) But I have recently invested in a couple of Better Bottles, and I'm convinced that they have their uses. I am also convinced that they don't pick up residues from my meads; when I simply rinse them in a percarbonate solution after use, they come out completely clean and residue (and aroma) free. I find that fascinating!

I'm not a traditionalist, but I am a romantic, and there is just something about glass. That being said, I like the idea that you can tap a better bottle. I can see that making racking much easier.

Robusto
04-18-2012, 04:44 PM
The way that I see it-
Better bottles are much lighter and much less prone to breaking, but can scratch easier. Glass is less permeable and can stand up to harsher cleaning by both scrubbing and chemicals, but is heavy and more breakable.

So what I usually do is ferment in plastic and age in glass.

MJJ
04-18-2012, 08:38 PM
I have fermentation buckets. 3, 4, 5 & 6+ Gallon sizes.
I have glass carboys. 1, 3, & 5 Gallon Sizes.
I have plastic Better Bottles. 5 & 6 Gallon.

I have a bad back, I got rid of the 5 Gallon carboys, 3 Gallon carboys easier to handle.

I don't like using the fermentation buckets cause I cant see whats happening inside. I use them for storage.

I like the better bottles, Much lighter & I can see inside. Downside is that once they are filled, Moving them is very difficult because they act like a tube of tooth paste when you squeeze it too hard. I took a clothesline & made a harness for the better bottles. Makes it easy to move them when full. You can buy a harness for the better bottles, they cost about 20 bucks or make 4 for less than 5 bucks or use milk crates.

I find better bottles work best for me.