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My friends and I are just getting into homebrewing, and we've been throwing around some ideas to try to simplify things. One of those ideas is to use glass carboys with a bottom spigot in order to eliminate siphoning. We would either do this by getting custom carboys made by a glassmaker (we're thinking of something with a bottom that mirrors the top) or by modifying an existing carboy using glass-cutting tools.

I'm wondering if someone with more experience could chime in and lay out some of the pros and cons of this idea. We're looking for both logistical and monetary comments regarding this. Do you think it will be cost-prohibitive? Do you think we'll run into any issues we have not foreseen?

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4 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I would advise trying to siphon first.

  1. You can use one siphon on multiple carboys. This is a much more economical option to making or converting multiple glass secondary fermenters to have a spigot. Of course, thus assumes that you have more than one brew going at once. As you're new, this is mere conjecture. However, if you plan on being both wine and beer, you'll likely want more than one fermenting vessel.

  2. Try cleaning and sanitizing a spigot when it's on your full carboy. It's easier and safer (for your brew at least) to sanitize a siphon.

  3. The is a danger of installing or orienting your spigot such that the weight of the carboy will break it.

  4. From personal experience, i have a hard time remembering to close the spigot after I have cleaned it, sanitized it and installed it back into my fermenter. This tends to waste wort into my kitchen floor.

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Oh, man, #4 is all too familiar! –  Denny Conn Sep 22 '13 at 17:53
    
And if you really want to make this fast and easy, get a 1/2" (large) auto-siphon with a 1/2" clip. You can siphon 5-6 gallons in 3-4 min with these. Just don't wash/soak with hot water or the plastic will develop cracks. –  paul Sep 22 '13 at 22:22
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Well, here's my list of why it's a bad idea....

  1. You will weaken the carboy and increase the risk of it breaking.

  2. You need to be able to keep the spigot sanitized throughout fermentation.

  3. Have you priced having custom carboys made?

  4. It's just unnecessary...siphoning isn't that hard to do. What you're looking at is dangerous, expensive and unnecessary compared to just siphoning. If you really feel the need to use a valve for xfers rather than siphoning, use buckets with valves on them. You still have the sanitizing issue to deal with (hey, I've tried using fermenters with valves and they were more trouble than they're worth), but at least a bucket would be safe and inexpensive.

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You mention plastic buckets - there's also the plastic Better Bottle carboys which come with an optional pre-drilled with a hole for a spigot, if you really need a spigot. –  mdma Sep 22 '13 at 16:55
    
Yeah, forgot about those. While my experience is that a spigot is more hassle than it's worth, if you feel you really need one either one of the plastic options is far better. –  Denny Conn Sep 22 '13 at 17:25
    
And if you've got a LOT of money burning a hole in your pockets, there's always conical fermenters –  Tobias Patton Sep 23 '13 at 0:42
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After years I decided I hated spigots anyway and replaced even my spigotted plastic buckets with solid versions. No leaks, no problems. Syphon for the win!

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Don't do that. There are kits out there that let you put the carboy upside down, with a spout out of the existing hole. They don't cost much and you're essentially making a poor man's conical fermenter (lacking some of the benefits though).

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Don't use one of those. For one thing, they don't work since the shoulders of the carboy aren't steep enough to drop yeast. In addition, they're dangerous since they can fall over and all the weight is on the carboy shoulders. I used to have one and gave it away becasue it was so bad. –  Denny Conn Dec 27 '13 at 16:10
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