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August 01, 2019

Glass Carboys vs. Plastic Carboys

When choosing your fermentation vessel, you're likely to ask: glass carboy or plastic carboy? There's no One Right Answer for everyone. Your carboy selection depends on your brewing lifestyle.

First, let's talk glass carboys.

Glass Carboys

Glass carboys are often billed as the more premium option for homebrewers, and in many cases this is true. Rock-solid, wildly durable, and easily sanitized, when cared for properly, glass carboys last decades. 

Pros

Glass carboys are very impermeable to oxygen, meaning that your beer will stay fresh even after a long secondary fermentation. They are also fairly easy to clean, and will not scratch easily like a plastic carboy or bucket. The necks are the perfect size to accept a blowoff hose for vigorous primary fermentations, but can be slightly narrower than desirable for additions like dry hops.

Cons

Glass carboys can be heavy to handle and carry around. You can add a carboy handle to the neck, but you still have to support the vessel from the bottom.  Glass carboys are highly durable, but (as with any glass vessel) if dropped, it can shatter. Be careful when handling and you'll have no problems.

If glass carboys are your fermentor of choice, consider investing in an Anti-Gravity Transfer Pump. These bad boys eliminate the back-breaking work of lugging heavy carboys from low to high, thus nixing the risk of shattering.

Available sizes:

6.5 gallon carboy

6 gallon carboy

5 gallon carboy

3 gallon carboy

Plastic Carboys

Plastic carboys are made from quality food-grade PET plastic that is 100% safe for fermentation. 

Pros

Plastic PET carboys are much lighter and easier to handle than their glass counterparts. Their lightweight nature makes them much easier to carry and to dump trub/sediment from the bottom.

Additionally, plastic carboys can be fitted with a number of attachments specifically designed for them, made out of a similar PET plastic. They can be used for racking through a ported bottom, use a special water-free airlock, blowoff tubes, etc.

Cons

More care is needed when cleaning plastic carboys to avoid scratching the interior. You must also be careful when moving them, as flexing the plastic can draw in water from the airlock. Additionally, they should not be soaked in cleaning solution for more than a few hours.

The Bottom Line

In truth, both glass and plastic carboys are excellent tools, and brewers of all levels use both options. Either one is capable of making beer, wine, or anything else, and making it delicious. 

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