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I recently broke my 6.1 gallon glass carboy that I used for primary fermentation. I need to buy a new one, and I'm considering a "Better Bottle" carboy.

Its claims include:

**Unbreakable and tough **Taste and odor-free **Virtually impermeable to oxygen **Clear, colorless, and incredibly light weight ** non-absorbing, non-porous, and non-wetting (hydrophobic), so it does not carry over flavors from one batch of wine or beer to the next. And it is easy to clean and sanitize.

Is there any downside to using a Better Bottle? Has anyone run into problems with oxygen leakage or bigger temperature fluctuations?

Thanks!

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6 Answers

I once picked up my glass secondary by the neck and the bottom of the carboy remained on the floor. Fortunately this was in the garage and not in the house. I still lost a 5 gallon batch of beer.

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I've been switching over to Better Bottle for a few reasons.

First, it's they're a lot lighter. I cart mine up and down the stairs and the extra weight of the glass is noticeable.

Second, safety. I've heard enough horror stories about dropping the glass that I'm not willing to risk it anymore, since the Better Bottle is a good alternative. Sure, most people don't drop their carboy. I just don't feel the need to risk it.

Third, I bought the ported Better Bottles with spigots. That means I don't have to use a racking cane to move my wort/beer around anymore; instead I simply open the valve. It has an internal spout that you can rotate away from the trub, so I don't pick up anything that settles to the bottom.

Ultimately, I feel the Better Bottle is a great alternative to the glass carboy. It can be cheaper (unless you get the ported bottle + accessories like I did) and I have not found then to produce any adverse effects on my beer.

I have kept my glass, and I'll likely use them if I'm aging a beer for a long time, but even then, I'm not really worried about the oxygen permeability. Again, I haven't found any adverse effects.

One not about scratching: I have never scratched a better bottle, but you WILL scratch it if you use any sort of brush. To clean the trub you can soak it with your cleaner of choice. Again, I've never had any troubles cleaning, and I've never scratched it.

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Just had a discussion on this with the brew store owner.

The downside is, it will scratch on the inside overtime and will need replaced within a few years (give or take depending on how much you brew). The store owner has to replace his Better Bottles about every two years.

So, do you want to pay more now for glass, or pay more later to replace your Better Bottle?

Of course if you buy glass and it breaks you pay more now and pay more later.

The way I see it, six in one and a half dozen in the other.

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Admittedly, I've only been brewing for six months, but I've only been using glass and I'm not sure why I'd switch.

That five gallon carboy can be damn heavy, but never completely unruly! If I was really worried, I could always go buy one of these http://www.homebrewers.com/product/5164/Burgundy_Carboy_Handle.html

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I have one those handles on my carboys and they're certainly useful, but I think I'd rather have one of these: midwestsupplies.com/6-5-gallon-carboy-bag.html or midwestsupplies.com/the-brew-hauler.html –  JackSmith Jan 21 '10 at 18:56
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Be careful with the handles, they've been known to snap the neck clean off if you put all the weight on that. –  comat0se Feb 5 '10 at 22:24
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The bottom of a BetterBottle can flex. So, if it's full of beer and has an airlock in your cork and you pick it up by the neck, the weight of the liquid in the bottle will flex the bottom down a little. This causes the airlock to suck some air (and/or the liquid in your airlock) back into the bottle. Using a carboy buddy alleviates this. If the liquid in your airlock is sanitary (like vodka) then no huge worries. If it's plain water, you risk an infection. If it's Bleach water, you risk ruining the beer. Having said all of that, I use both glass and BetterBottle and haven't noticed a real difference. And having that lighter, "won't break when I slam it into the edge of the sink trying to clean it because it slipped" BetterBottle sure is nice.

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I keep my better bottles in a milk crate just for the flex reason. That is the biggest drawback, but its not a deal breaker. –  brewchez Jan 19 '10 at 13:17
    
+1 for milk crates. I put my carboys in them too. –  Dean Brundage Jan 19 '10 at 14:58
    
@Dean-Did you mean to give your +1 to brewchez? If his comment is the one you liked you should upvote it to give him credit on his comments. –  Room3 Mar 19 '10 at 15:51
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The PET plastic used for the better bottle has a low oxygen permeability rate but not zero like glass.The question becomes whether 'spoilage' due to presence of oxygen is perceptible or not? The answer probably depends on what your brewing and how long the brew stays in the carboy. I am thinking lagers may be more sensitive to the influence of oxygen.

On the other side glass is fragile where PET is not.

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