How to Select the Right Carboy for Home Brewing?
- 1 How to Select the Right Carboy for Home Brewing?
- 2 What is a Carboy?
- 3 5 Best Carboys for Fermenting Your Beer
- 4 Get My #1 Technique for Fixing Off-Flavors in Your Beer
Are you a beer enthusiast looking to brew your own beer?
Homebrewing has become really popular around the world with the availability of beer kits and readymade beer-preparing hops. You don't need to wait for days waiting for your special beer to arrive from a distant brewery- you can just ferment your ale at your home and start sipping in no time!
One of the topmost considerations for homebrewers is the selection of a suitable fermenting device. You have to choose the right container so that you can produce your beer as per expectations and achieve a smooth blend that tantalizes your taste buds.
Carboys are the most common choice when it comes to fermenting containers. The special containers help you store your beer during the fermentation process before you transfer them to a secondary container or bottles.
In this post, we will go over the considerations of using a carboy and present reviews of the best ones out there. So let's dive in without delay!
What is a Carboy?
A carboy is a container made from plastic or glass and used for fermenting various drinks such as beer, cider, wine and mead. You can choose from different sizes of carboys depending on the amount of beer you wish to brew.
Carboys generally come with a rubber stopper or cap and fermentation lock. The stopper and lock prevent the entry of oxygen or bacteria during fermentation and help to preserve your beer. Most people use a primary carboy to ferment their beer before transferring them to another carboy or bottles.
Should You Use a Carboy or a Fermenting Bucket?
You can either ferment your beer in a carboy or a fermentation bucket made of plastic. Both have their set of advantages and disadvantages, so you need to choose the one that suits your needs. Let's take a look at the implications of using a carboy versus a fermenting bucket so that you can make an informed decision.
The biggest plus point of carboys for fermentation is the transparent nature of the container. You can easily monitor your fermenting process as you are able to see through the container. As a result, you can eliminate guesswork and attend to your fermenting at different stages when necessary. You can track all the phases to ensure you are heading the right way for a tasty batch of beer.
Another drawback of fermenting buckets is that you have to remove the lid of the bucket any time you want to add or put something to your brew. This not only spikes the chances of external contaminants entering your brew but also disturbs the trub or krauesen, reducing the clarity of your beer.
Carboys can also be an ideal choice of fermentation as they are smaller in volume compared to fermentation buckets. This eliminates the additional headspace on top, which can result in oxidation of your beer during the conditioning stage. The tapered neck of the carboys also facilitates the funneling of oxygen out of the container through the airlock.
Fermentation buckets have the advantage of portability. They can be easily carried around using their handles and stacked upon one another for convenient storage. Buckets are generally cheaper than carboys can be easily cleaned by turning them over to dump any residue.
Carboy Material: Glass Vs. Plastic
Carboys can be made of glass or plastic. Preferences vary, and different brewers vouch for the effectiveness of both to produce a good batch of beer. We will go over the important considerations so that you can select the right carboy for your brewing needs.
Durability: Glass is the most durable material for carboys and is not prone to cracking or breaking like plastic. If you handle glass carboys carefully, they can last for years without needing a replacement ever!
Plastic, on the other hand, is not that durable and you may need to buy new carboys after making some batches of beer. They can also develop cracks or scratches over the course of their use because of the softer nature of polyethylene.
Performance: Though there is some debate among brewers, glass carboys seem to offer superior performance when it comes to brewing your beer. Glass is non-porous and doesn't let any odor or contaminants enter the vessel from outside. The surface of the glass is also smooth, and nothing sticks to it. That means your vessel will not retain any flavor, aroma, or byproducts from your last batch of beer.
Consequently, plastic is a porous material and oxygen or odor from outside can enter the container. Plastic carboys can also develop cracks, which provide an ideal place for bacteria and contaminants to make their home.
Plastic carboys have the potential for dual purpose usage. You can easily port them by inserting a spigot, which is not possible for glass carboys. This makes them ideal for bottling as you can directly bottle your beer without the need of any siphon or secondary container.
Plastic carboys can also be the preferred choice for dry hopping. They generally come with a wide opening which makes it convenient to add and extract the hops. However, you will need a bigger stopper for the wider mouth.
Weight: The main advantage of plastic carboys is its lightweight construction. An empty plastic carboy can weigh as little as 5 lbs, whereas a glass carboy of the same capacity can weigh around 20 lbs. So if you are looking to move your carboy a lot, plastic can be a better choice in this regard.
Handling: Glass carboys are much heavier than plastic ones, so you need a bit of caution while moving them around. You may add a carboy handle on your glass vessel, but you still have to provide support at the bottom. Glass can also shatter if you drop them and cause serious injuries. The smooth construction and heavyweight also add to the challenges while handling glass carboys.
Plastic carboys are much lighter than their glass counterparts and can be easily moved and carried around.
Cleaning: Glass carboys are easier to clean compared to plastic carboys due to one main reason- you can use carboy brushes and other tools to clean your vessel. Plastic carboys are prone to developing scratches if you use carboy brush and are comparatively more difficult to clean.
Plastic carboys should also be cleaned immediately after brewing as they are porous. Also, immediate cleaning doesn't allow any grime or dirt to settle on the base of your plastic carboy.
Price: Plastic carboys are much cheaper than glass carboys. For this reason, you can easily replace your plastic carboys after 20 to 30 uses without burning a hole in your pockets.
Glass carboys are expensive, but make it up with their increased longevity and durability. They don't need replacement as often as plastic carboys unless you drop and shatter them!
When going for glass carboys, make sure you check the glass carefully while purchasing. If you find any cracks or air bubbles, then it's better to refrain from buying that piece.
5 Best Carboys for Fermenting Your Beer
So, what are the top carboys you can get for fermenting your beer?
1. Northern Brewer – 6 Gallons Glass Carboy Fermenter
Northern Brewer produces premium home brewing equipment for the masses. Its products are designed for homebrewers and enable them to make world-class beers without leaving the comfort of their home.
- 6 Gallon Glass Carboy perfect for the fermentation of Beer, Wine, Cider, Mead, or anything else you can think of.
- Premium glass is not permeable to oxygen and protects your brew. Easy to clean and sanitize.
- Glass can be scrubbed and will not scratch like plastic.
- Properly cared for, a glass carboy can last for many years.
- A 7 rubber stopper is required, but not included.
This 6 gallon carboy is the ideal fermenter made of clear glass and guaranteed to create batch after batch of home-brewed beer. The product bears the quality of a manufacturer with over 20 years of experience in the industry.
If you are looking for a no-nonsense carboy that does it job, Northern Brewer can fit your bill. It's easy to maintain and offers the most suitable conditions for creating fine-tasting beer.
Premium Glass – The carboy is made from premium glass that is durable enough to last for years unless you drop it! With proper handling, it may never need replacement until generations.
Non-Permeable – The glass prevents the entry of oxygen or other contaminants that can ruin the taste of your beer. The carboy is meant to protect the content inside.
Easy to Maintain – You can look forward to a hassle-free sanitizing experience with the least work involved. The glass can withstand harsh cleaners and can be scrubbed without the fear of scratching. Just give it a good wash and have it speckless clean!
Versatile – Should you wish to give a new turn to your hobby, this carboy can be used to brew other beverages. You can make cider, wine, mead, or anything imaginable with this single piece of equipment.
Cons – The only con that we found is the lack of a rubber stopper with the package. You will have to purchase it separately. Look for one in 6.5″ size.
2. BeautyFamily 5 Gallon Glass Carboy for Beer or Wine Making
BeautyFamily is a renowned company that produces accessories for draft systems and home brewing. You can expect their products to last for a long time and serve your tailored needs of beer making. The carboys go through rigorous quality testing and are meant for practical use. Along with performance, you can also look out for simple aesthetics.
- 5 gallon fermenter
- Great for beer and wine
The BeautyFamily glass carboy can prepare batches of beer up to 5 gallons. The glass is of excellent quality with thick walls so that you don't have to worry about cracks. The carboy is also smooth on the inside so that sediments and bacteria don't collect inside.
Let's check out some of the advantages of the carboy.
Safe Handling – Glass carboys generally have smooth outer walls, but this carboy comes with unique engineering. The outside of the glass is lined with horizontal and vertical divots so that you can get an extra grip. The tweak also makes the vessel easy to carry around if you ever need to relocate your stuff.
Odor-Free – The non-permeable glass doesn't let any outside odor or aroma to affect your brewing. Your beer can brew inside free of any disturbances to produce a tasty batch of beer. The setup is also useful to make wine in your home.
Scratch Resistant – The glass is scratch-resistant and you can use brushes to clean the vessel without any concern.
Fits Most Airlocks – The top is designed with a smooth round edge which can accommodate most airlocks, bubblers or blow off hoses. You can try your existing equipment and most probably they will fit the carboy.
Cons – The carboy is a bit heavy in weight. You might need to make an effort to move it around.
3. Home Brew Ohio 4 Glass Carboy
Home Brew Ohio is a well-known name in the brewing world. The company sells bottles, carboys, fermenters and additives to make wine and beer. Now you can get your hands on this lovely set of 4 one-gallon glass carboys for an unbeatable price.
- Includes a 38 mm polyseal cap
- Great for Water Storage
- 1 Gallon Glass Bottle
- Made in China
- Manufactured by Home Brew Ohio
The carboys are ideal if you are looking to make small batches of wine, beer, cider, or other spirits. You can also use them store excess beer from a larger batch. Many people also use them as secondary carboys to transfer the beer before putting them in bottles.
The product bears the trademark quality of Home Brew Ohio and has received high ratings from customers. If you want to brew in style, you can try out these beautiful set for your next batch of wine. Want to know some of the pros?
Durable Glass – Home Brew Ohio never compromises on quality and you can expect the same from these carboys. The glass is meant to last for a long time and requires the least maintenance for extra convenience. The sturdy walls can withstand the pressure of all brews, though you shouldn't use them for carbonated beverages.
Portability – You can think of the one-gallon carboys as big jugs without the bulk of a large vessel. If mobility is on your mind, these portable carboys will be ideal for your needs. They also feature a neat glass handle on top so that you can easily carry them wherever you please.
38 mm Polyseal Cap – The carboys come with 38 mm polyseal caps that keep your brew intact and safe.
Cons – Few customers have complained of strong chemicals used in the cap which changed the taste of their water. You can replace the caps if your product seems to come with the same problem.
4. Northern Brewer – Big Mouth Bubbler Plastic Carboy
The Big Mouth Bubbler from Northern Brewer is a state-of-the-art fermenter you can ever own. Coming with endless features, you can brew your beer safe from contaminants and oxidation for a great taste. The 6.5-gallon size is ideal for those large batches of beer when you have friends and family coming over.
- The most helpful fermentor ever invented just went siphonless!
- Porting this revolutionary fermentor makes transferring as easy as the turn of a valve.
- Fight oxidation and contamination by keeping your fermentor closed for transfers.
- Virtually indestructible fermentor, equipped with 3" thick anti-flex ribs, a punted bottom and decreased base diameter for extreme...
- Smaller footprint preserves precaious brew cave space and allows for convenient storage inside a standard brewing bucket
The carboy is made from plastic and is easy to handle compared to glass vessels. But you can always expect the same durability thanks to the right choice of materials and clever designing.
Sturdy Built – You can throw this bad boy around without a single crack appearing over its body! Featuring durable 3″ anti-flex ribs, the plastic container is virtually indestructible. The base is also punted in order to provide extra strength.
Wide Mouth – The wide mouth of the carboy makes cleaning a breeze. You can just take a cloth and put your arm inside to clean everything! That also reduces the chances of any bacteria developing inside the vessel. The wider mouth also helps you pour your ingredients without any hassles.
Easy and Safe Transfer – The carboy features an inbuilt spigot so that you can go siphon-less while transferring your beer. The process also prevents the beer from being exposed to oxygen and external contaminants. The transferring method also helps fight unwanted oxidation. You can just open the spigot and pour your beer conveniently.
Compact – Even for its size, the carboy is compact enough to meet restricted storage needs. The smaller base diameter makes it fit inside standard brewing buckets without any issues.
Cons – The universal lid on the carboy seems to pop open during brewing due to the buildup of pressure inside. You may have to tape your cap or use a heavy weight on top of it.
5. Home Brew Ohio 1 Gallon Jug
We have another bestseller from Home Brew Ohio in our list! The 1 gallon jugs are ideal for beginners who can start out with small portions of brewing. The vessel comes with twin bubble airlock, polyseal lid and drilled stopper so that you don't need to shop around for accessories.
- One gallon fermenter
- Clear glass jug
- Includes Jug, Twin Bubble Airlock, 38 mm Polyseal Lid, #6 Drilled Stopper
- Great for beer and wine
The carboy is made of thick glass which doesn't raise any concerns about longevity. You can keep on brewing beverages for years without ever needing to replace your container.
This carboy is a convenient option for those looking for some simple winemaking.
Safe Brewing – The carboy comes complete with all accessories that you need for a safe brewing. You can use the polyseal cap to keep your brew intact or take help of the twin bubble airlock. It works exactly as it should and the rubber stopper is snug enough to hold the lock tightly in place.
Easy to Carry – The glass jugs feature a small handle on the top portion so that you can pick it up and move around. The jar is also compact enough and requires very less storage space.
Beverage Protection – The built of the glass protects your beverages until the time they are brewed. You don't need to worry about any leeching of chemicals or odors as nothing can enter the air-tight carboy.
Cheap – This is one of the cheapest product on our list without any compromise on quality. You can confidently use it for your next brewing session.
Cons – The airlock is not very durable as it is made from plastic. You should handle it with care.
Did you decide which carboy you are going to buy? Any product from our list is going to be a good choice as we have handpicked the carboys based on their popularity with homebrewers. The vessels are meant to provide an easy means to create effortless batches of beer without requiring heavy maintenance. You can clean them quickly and get ready for your next batch within minutes!