Today I would like to look at the options you have for fermentation. Home brewing has come a long way in the past 10 years. Today some of the options you have are buckets, glass, big mouth bubblers, better bottles and fast fermenters.
The cheapest options are buckets and glass carboys. Buckets are about the best for a home brewer. They have a big opening so it's easy to dry hop and add other ingredients to. You do have to watch how you clean them as they are made from plastic and you don't want to scratch them. If you do scratch them you want to get a new one as bacteria can grow in the scratch and infect your next batch of beer. Also with plastic buckets you do not want to leave your beer in the bucket for a long period of time as you might get off flavors from the plastic. Glass carboys fix some of the issues that buckets have: you can clean them with about whatever you want as they are not going to scratch and you can leave beer in them for years as the beer will not pick up off flavors from the glass. The down side to glass as it can break. If you pick them up wrong they can break and if you sit them down wrong they can break. If one of them breaks they can do some damage to you and possibly surrounding surfaces. Another downside to glass carboys is the small opening at the top. This opening makes it hard to add ingredients and if you had leaf hops and wanted to keep them together you will have a hard time getting a bag filled with hops in that glass carboy.
Big Mouth Bubblers are another option a home brewer can use. The big mouth bubblers are just like a bucket, but the opening is not as big. They say the bubbler prevents off-flavors because you can keep the lid on when you transfer or check your beer. The bucket method has lid having to be taken off or opened so you can get to the beer, where as the bubblers have a bigger hole in the lid so you can just take the airlock out. This being said, the bubblers do have some issues. You can't put hot liquid in them (but why would you), I think the biggest issue is the lid will not stay on. You can take a look at my videos and read some of the other blogs I have written, but a lot of people are saying the new universal lid(stopper) will not stay on and you have to get something heavy to put on top of the lid to keep it down. I own an older version of the bubbler and I love it. It’s so easy to add hops or other ingredients to. Also cleaning is a lot easier as you can get your arm down in the bubble unlike the glass carboys.
We are starting to see more conical fermenters pop up for home brewers. Most breweries use some kind of conical fermenter to ferment beer. Conical fermenters add some features that you can’t get with buckets, glass, or bubblers. To me, the best feature is the ability to collect your yeast out the bottom and this is done by having some kind of valve on the bottom of the unit that you can close once fermentation is done. One conical fermenter has threads on the bottom so you can screw in a glass jar to collect the yeast. In my opinion the draw back to the conical fermenters is the cost. They start around $100 and with add ons you can be over $150 for 1 fermenter.
You also have the option of stainless steel conical fermentor. They are like the conical fermenters above, but you have different/more add-ons. You can also add on to them to make them hold more wort/beer.
You should try different kinds of fermenters and pick the one that works for you. What works for one person might not work for you. Do your research and get brewing beer.
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