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Brews & Views Bulletin Board Service * Brews and Views Archive 2005 * Archive through November 16, 2005 * Better Bottles; better really? < Previous Next >

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Tim Wi
Intermediate Member
Username: Riverkeeper

Post Number: 271
Registered: 03-2005
Posted From: 170.141.68.99
Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2005 - 02:05 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Without question, they are safer.

The shattered carboy thread has got me paranoid. Plus, I have two toddlers running around.

I searched the B&V archives and came up with a thread or two, but the most recent discussion of Better Bottles has been almost a year.

I sometimes lager up to and beyond 4 months in a secondary carboy. I'm wondering what the B&V collective judgement of these PET carboys is? Particularly when lagering for an extended time in one.

TIA

T
 

bill vizzachero
New Member
Username: Billav

Post Number: 13
Registered: 12-2004
Posted From: 165.123.243.168
Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2005 - 02:45 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Tim, call the phone number on the web site and speak with them. I have done that as well.
www.better-bottles.com
 

Aaron Meyer
Intermediate Member
Username: Meyeaard

Post Number: 260
Registered: 11-2004
Posted From: 68.229.233.170
Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2005 - 03:35 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

In his book Wild Brews, Jeff Sparrow has a table in the chapter on cask aging that shows the oxygen permeability of various containers. I'm not looking at the book now so I'm going from memory here - a glass carboy showed a permeability factor of 4 and I believe the PET container showed a factor of 25ish. I recall that his calculations took into account the surface area in contact with beer for at least the listings for wood casks if not for all the materials.

Definitely worth checking out. Having looked at the table, I'm of the opinion that there is no replacement for glass besides stainless as far as oxygen permeability goes.

Sparrow did a good job of listing his sources so it should be pretty straight forward for those inclined to delve deeper into his calculations.
 

damon
Member
Username: Nomad

Post Number: 159
Registered: 07-2004
Posted From: 141.211.186.200
Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2005 - 03:54 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

But in Sparrow's case you want higher permeability because his calculations are to find a viable alternative to casks, which have much higher permeability than carboys. For long-term fermentations involving Brett, Pedio, Lacto, etc. these yeast and bacteria actually require oxygen beyond an initial aeration.

If you're just doing lagers and ales with primaries shorter than a month or two I'm of the opinion that plastic is fine.
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 3751
Registered: 01-2002
Posted From: 24.57.229.8
Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2005 - 04:39 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I agree, damon, but I think the real question is the suitability of these PET carboys for lagering and longer-term conditioning and aging.
 

Chumley
Senior Member
Username: Chumley

Post Number: 3729
Registered: 02-2003
Posted From: 71.37.187.137
Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2005 - 05:04 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I thought that the "Better Bottle" plastic carboy was supposed to be nearly impermeable, as opposed to the standard plastic water cooler carboy? Is that incorrect?
 

FrugalBrewer
Junior Member
Username: Frugalbrewer

Post Number: 85
Registered: 05-2001
Posted From: 209.98.83.170
Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2005 - 05:22 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I used to use the "regular" blue translucent water cooler bottles with no adverse results. I usually only primary for 10 days and secondary for 10-20 days, however.

Now I use a Norwesco conical which is also plastic with no noticeable oxygenation issues.
 

Mike Huss
Advanced Member
Username: Mikhu

Post Number: 903
Registered: 03-2003
Posted From: 24.123.94.154
Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2005 - 05:26 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I don't understand why people are always looking for vessels other than cornys for long-term conditioning and aging? Maybe if I didn't have a stash of them I'd be looking for alternatives, but they work awesome for anything after the primary.
 

Jim E Walls
Junior Member
Username: Oljim

Post Number: 34
Registered: 10-2005
Posted From: 65.163.227.30
Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2005 - 05:53 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Mike: Your's is my take also. Can't beat cornies, and they cost something like $20 bucks, which compares favorably with glass or plastic. Having said that, I would like opinion on using other plastics (such as polycarbonate, or the 7's category plastics) as primary fermenters. There are alot of easily available 'water bottles' out there, and sometimes, I would like to have more than one batch going.
 

Mark Tigges
Intermediate Member
Username: Mtigges

Post Number: 380
Registered: 03-2003
Posted From: 66.38.134.9
Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2005 - 06:37 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I was going to mention cornies to, but I've been relegated to thirding the opinion.
 

Belly Buster Bob
Senior Member
Username: Canman

Post Number: 2461
Registered: 02-2003
Posted From: 131.137.245.199
Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2005 - 06:48 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I have yet to hear a broken glass story that didn't include mishandling of some sort....any piece of equipment is only as good as the operator
Bellybuster Bob
www.bellybuster.netfirms.com
 

Tim Wi
Intermediate Member
Username: Riverkeeper

Post Number: 272
Registered: 03-2005
Posted From: 170.141.68.99
Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2005 - 08:03 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

True, BBB, in a perfect world.

But I'm going to fire Murphy as my brewing partner.

T
 

Paul Hayslett
Advanced Member
Username: Paulhayslett

Post Number: 884
Registered: 02-2002
Posted From: 67.163.171.138
Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2005 - 08:34 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I've had a mead aging in a Better Bottle for 6 months now. No signs of oxidation yet. As others have mentioned, they are not standard PET but some sort of less-permeable cousin. How much less permeable, I don't know. But it's better than a standard water bottle.

BBB, I've now got 4 glass carboys and 4 Better Bottles. "Mishandling" is a big part of why I'm slowly switching over. That is, I LIKE being able to get away with a little mishanding now and again. The glass ones make me think of that old IRA saying, "You have to be lucky every time, we only have to be lucky once." When the BB's are empty, I can bang them around, stack them willy-nilly, etc. without worrying about a trip the ER.

As I age, I'm also coming to appreciate that a BB full of brew weighs noticeably less than a glass carboy full of brew. But you youngun's probably don't have to worry about that.
"Sargeant Colon had had a broad education. He'd been to the School of My Dad Always Said, the College of It Stands To Reason, and was now a postgraduate student at the University of What Some Bloke In The Pub Told Me." -- Terry Pratchett
 

Dan Grady
Member
Username: Bierboy

Post Number: 106
Registered: 03-2003
Posted From: 70.225.8.152
Posted on Friday, October 28, 2005 - 02:03 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I recently visited this guy who has been making wine for over 30 years. He literally has thousands of gallons of different wines going and now uses nothing but plain old 5 gallon plastic water bottles. His wines sit in the plastic for a minimum of a year and he has never experienced any oxidation problems. While wine is different than beer, it would suggest to me that oxygen permeation is minimal. I plan on moving that direction as I need additional carboys.
 

George Schmidt
Advanced Member
Username: Gschmidt

Post Number: 624
Registered: 08-2004
Posted From: 68.249.100.30
Posted on Friday, October 28, 2005 - 04:44 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Dan, that wine guy's experience isn't necessarily relevant to beer-making. If he's using sulfates - especially if he's testing the level and maintaining it - oxygen won't be a problem. That's what sulfates are for.

Better Bottles are not normal PET. The feel quite different when you handle them. The neat thing about plastic is that its properties are almost infinitely variable, depending on what the specific chemical makeup is and how it's procssed. Wine and beer is just a sideline for the company that makes BB's. Their main business is laboratory chemical storage - applications where oxygen permeability is critical. Search Northern Brewer if you're interested; I know I linked the parent company at one point.
Be wary of strong drink. It can make you shoot at tax collectors -- and miss. ~~Robert A. Heinlein: The Notebooks of Lazarus Long
 

Tim Wi
Intermediate Member
Username: Riverkeeper

Post Number: 281
Registered: 03-2005
Posted From: 170.141.68.99
Posted on Friday, October 28, 2005 - 02:37 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks for the input, guys.

I think what I will do is keep a couple of my glass ones for long-term lagering and use the BB's for the routine, short-term secondary and crash-chilling chores.
 

Chumley
Senior Member
Username: Chumley

Post Number: 3736
Registered: 02-2003
Posted From: 71.37.187.137
Posted on Friday, October 28, 2005 - 03:25 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Well, I have just been sold on them. I've been bemoaning that my two 6.5 gallon glass primaries have been tied up for two months now with meads with no sign of them clearing. I am buying 2 six-gllon better bottles today.
 

Dan Listermann
Senior Member
Username: Listermann

Post Number: 1876
Registered: 03-2004
Posted From: 216.23.59.226
Posted on Friday, October 28, 2005 - 03:51 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Chumley, try Sparkaloid in your mead. You will be stunned at the speed and clarity this stuff does to mead.

Dan Listermann

--This space is again being left intentionally blank.-


 

Graham Cox
Intermediate Member
Username: T2driver

Post Number: 279
Registered: 11-2004
Posted From: 68.32.244.96
Posted on Sunday, October 30, 2005 - 01:51 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

FWIW, I have a 5-gallon BB that I use for secondary, frequently as a lagering vessel, and I have been very pleased with it, both in terms of performance and portability. I have to carry my vessels up and down a flight of stairs that has two switchbacks, and the glass carboys are noticably both heavier and more slippery. I'll buy more if I find I need to expand further.
 

George Schmidt
Advanced Member
Username: Gschmidt

Post Number: 626
Registered: 08-2004
Posted From: 68.249.100.30
Posted on Sunday, October 30, 2005 - 07:12 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Graham hit on a big benefit that people rarely mention. BB's aren't really any more slippery when they're wet - nothing at all like wet glass carboys.
Be wary of strong drink. It can make you shoot at tax collectors -- and miss. ~~Robert A. Heinlein: The Notebooks of Lazarus Long
 

Fredrik
Senior Member
Username: Fredrik

Post Number: 2677
Registered: 03-2003
Posted From: 213.114.44.244
Posted on Sunday, October 30, 2005 - 10:23 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I don't find the reference now but I've also seen O2 permeability tests. But I recall correctly out of memory(?) a normal typical PET would be fine for a 1-2 months or so and still have marginal issues, or issues belwo the treshold.

But there are lots of research going on with using PET but while the basic material is PET it is not plain PET, sometimes there is internal or external coating, sometimes there are multilayer designs where some layers scavange O2. I don't know what that better-bottle is though (btw, the link doesn't work) but I those big breweries who are serious about PET bottles, don't use plain PET, I think it's either coated or multilayer designs that decrease permeability as opposed to standard PET.

To speak for myself, I use PETs but my beers rarley live more than some months. I think the bigger concern is air headspace levels and aeration during racking rather than PET permeability, at least for the moderate storage times I use.

/Fredrik
 

Bill Moore
Intermediate Member
Username: Bill_beerman

Post Number: 386
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 68.18.115.240
Posted on Sunday, October 30, 2005 - 01:22 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

You see much discussion about the need to purge bottles with CO2 when bottling.

Who purges their secondary prior to racking?

What I noticed is that the racking causes outgassing of some of the dissolved CO2 and satisfied myself that it was displacing the air in the headspace.
 

Chris Vejnovich
Intermediate Member
Username: Cjv85vmax

Post Number: 291
Registered: 06-2003
Posted From: 198.203.245.8
Posted on Sunday, October 30, 2005 - 02:34 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Bill,

I used to rack as slowly and quietly as possible and then purge the neck of the carboy with CO2. But I have recently sold all of my glass (with the exception of stuff I use to make yeast starters) to my LHBS for credit. I fourth the corny keg for secondary thing. I don't understand why people who use kegging systems use carboys for secondary. Let the beer clear in a corny keg and then simply use CO2 to move the beer to freshly sanitized keg if you feel the need to do that.
 

Guy C
Intermediate Member
Username: Ipaguy

Post Number: 339
Registered: 09-2003
Posted From: 24.6.136.251
Posted on Sunday, October 30, 2005 - 05:13 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Drop the "s" in bottles in the link above.

http://www.better-bottle.com/technical.html
 

Bob Boufford
Intermediate Member
Username: Bobb

Post Number: 279
Registered: 03-2003
Posted From: 68.149.174.16
Posted on Sunday, October 30, 2005 - 06:04 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Here's the link to the parent company, High-Q, Inc,

http://www.high-q.com/index.html

You see it referenced in the footers of the Better Bottle web pages. Interesting reading.

Bob
 

Tim Wi
Intermediate Member
Username: Riverkeeper

Post Number: 286
Registered: 03-2005
Posted From: 170.141.68.99
Posted on Monday, October 31, 2005 - 06:50 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks for the links guys. I'm sold. After reading the specs, I'm thinking these things will work for lagering.

They are designed to hold reagent grade pure water without ambient contamination. That is a tough standard to meet. Bottom line, oxygen permeability is not an issue with me for these things.

I checked my LHBS and see that they have them in stock for $19.99 (5 gal) and $23.50 for 6 gallon.

Tim
 

Doug Pescatore
Senior Member
Username: Doug_p

Post Number: 1634
Registered: 10-2002
Posted From: 141.232.1.1
Posted on Monday, October 31, 2005 - 07:28 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I can tell you from experience that standard PET bottles can be used for long term storage. I once found a 2 year old bottle of beer from my early days of brewing. I chilled it and drank it and did not find any oxidation flavors. In fact the only problem with the beer was that it was from my early days of brewing when my beers where no where near as good as they are today.

I secondary/lager in these 5 gallon plastic water jugs I got from our lab. The plastic resembles a thicker version of a milk jug. Some of my beers have lagered for 5 months in these things without any problems.

-Doug
 

Denny Conn
Senior Member
Username: Denny

Post Number: 5181
Registered: 01-2001
Posted From: 140.211.82.4
Posted on Monday, October 31, 2005 - 07:39 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

"I have yet to hear a broken glass story that didn't include mishandling of some sort....any piece of equipment is only as good as the operator"...I broke 2 within 2 hours as I was just picking one up from the floor and pouring from the other. Stone cold sober...is that mishandling?
LIfe begins at 60...1.060, that is.
 

Connie
Advanced Member
Username: Connie

Post Number: 533
Registered: 10-2000
Posted From: 24.30.0.91
Posted on Monday, October 31, 2005 - 07:47 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

"mishandling of some sort"
Probably stress from a previous mishandling?
 

Chumley
Senior Member
Username: Chumley

Post Number: 3751
Registered: 02-2003
Posted From: 71.37.187.137
Posted on Thursday, November 03, 2005 - 04:06 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

So my two 6-gallon Better Bottles arrived in the mail yesterday. I immediately put one to use, racking 6 gallons of APA to it, to use the yeast cake for a Dogfish Head 90 min IPA clone that I brewed yesterday.

These things rock. I am amazed on how lightweight they are. I will be using bottle #2 as a primary tomorrow.
 

danno
Advanced Member
Username: Danno

Post Number: 624
Registered: 03-2002
Posted From: 63.229.129.116
Posted on Friday, November 04, 2005 - 01:53 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I've done many reports on the various types of plastics used around the home brewery. The Better Bottles are no better than buckets except that you can see through them. Here's a chart from GE Plastics (my former employer): http://www.oregonbrewcrew.com/schultz/o2perm.jpg

Buckets are LDPE which will line up with HDPE and PP at around 0.3 for permeability (the units are on the chart). Note where PET sits and also look at Lexan polycarbonate of which the common water bottle is made of). Now that PET is not the same exact PET as used by BB (PETg) but it's close enough and if anything a better number that PETg.

Also take into account that buckets have much thicker walls (~5 to 10x). Glass and plastic do not compare. Glass will see no appreciable O2 permeation.

That said, use plastic for fermentation and easily any storage up to 3 months or so. From ther, I agree with Mike, you can't beat Cornies for storage. Cheap and unbreakable.

(Message edited by danno on November 04, 2005)
 

Michael
Advanced Member
Username: Hoppop

Post Number: 723
Registered: 03-2002
Posted From: 69.132.121.114
Posted on Friday, November 04, 2005 - 04:06 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I am sold...but, do they easily scratch? If so, wondering if sanitation is an eventual issue.

Been brewing for 12 years...not one broken glass carboy....(yet). Don't want to tempt the brewing bucky balls of the universe (rest his soul).
 

danno
Advanced Member
Username: Danno

Post Number: 625
Registered: 03-2002
Posted From: 65.100.36.131
Posted on Saturday, November 05, 2005 - 02:32 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Don't use metal spoons to stir them and use a scrubie sponge with the white scour pad not the green 3M scour pad and you'll be fine. My buckets are going on 7 years old now. One of them is what I call abraided and not so much scratched. It continues to brew award winning beer.

Cheers!
 

Dan Grady
Member
Username: Bierboy

Post Number: 108
Registered: 03-2003
Posted From: 70.225.8.152
Posted on Sunday, November 06, 2005 - 03:52 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

George-

While I agree that wine and beer are two different animals and said as such in my post, if wine can be held in a normal water bottle for years without any trace of oxidation, it would reason that for short term lagering (less than 1-2 months) it should not pose a problem for beer. I suspect that there is a greater oxidation risk from simply racking one's beer and having too much head space than what would permeate through the PET. JMO, though. It is certainly worth an experiment.
 

Chumley
Senior Member
Username: Chumley

Post Number: 3760
Registered: 02-2003
Posted From: 71.37.187.137
Posted on Monday, November 07, 2005 - 04:32 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

One small disadvantage of the better bottle...they are somewhat flexible. I had some trouble getting a rubber stopper into one freshly filled with chilled wort yesterday...after putting it in, and going back to cleaning, I heard a pop. The stopper/airlock had shot out of the better bottle, and landed on the floor. Glad it happened while I was still in the basement.
 

Miker
Intermediate Member
Username: Miker

Post Number: 313
Registered: 02-2003
Posted From: 69.15.183.207
Posted on Tuesday, November 08, 2005 - 04:01 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I think what George was saying is that you can't keep wine in a normal water bottle for years without oxidation unless sulfite levels are kept up. This may have more to do with the head space or ullage (which you try to keep at a very minimum with wine) than the permeability of the bottle, but it will oxidize if left without sulfites for years.