Making wine at home is quite doable. This is great news for wine lovers as they have the chance to make what they love drinking.
You can even make use of easy-to-get vessels such as kegs or plastic buckets. If you want to know more about the possibility of using these, you can visit: https://homebrew.stackexchange.com/questions/14567/can-wine-be-made-in-a-keg-instead-of-bottles
Other than kegs and plastic buckets, several other options can be used. Some of them include Conical, Cornelius keg, and Carboys.
You need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of these options before deciding to use any of them. This is why we have decided to focus on carboys in this article.
Here, we will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using the 2 major kinds of carboys for winemaking. We advise that you keep reading as the information disclosed here is relevant for wine lovers especially.
What Is a Carboy?
This is a rigid container used to store and transport various kinds of liquid. This is usually chemicals and water.
But aside from these, it can be used for fermenting wine. It is a suitable vessel for winemaking to a large extent. You should know that it is also called a demijohn. So, you should not get confused if you hear it referred to in this manner.
The carboy or demijohn can either be plastic or glass. Both have advantages and disadvantages as will be listed and explained subsequently.
General Advantages of Using Carboys for Wine Making
Carboys can be made using glass or plastic as explained above. There are bound to be certain differences as a result of the difference in the material used to make them. However, some of the general advantages of using any kind of carboy for winemaking include the following:
Different Sizes to Choose from
Those that use kegs and plastic buckets often complain about something. This is the fact that there are only limited sizes. As a result, they are unable to make as much wine as they would love to.
Well, this problem is resolved with the carboy option. This is because there are various sizes that you can choose from. Generally speaking, you can lay your hands on options that can hold between 0.5 – 16 gallons. So, this is one of the general advantages of both the glass and plastic demijohn.
Different Materials to Choose from
You already know this by now but it is important that we still stress it. Because of the availability of this vessel in either the glass or plastic form, people that have problems with glass can use the plastic alternative and vice versa.
However, it is good that you understand what using either of these presents. This is how you can make an informed decision. To help you make the right choice between both options, we are going to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of both below.
Advantages of Using Glass Carboys for Wine Making
Some of the advantages of using glass demijohn for fermenting wine include the following:
You Can Check the Fermenting Progress
Some people like or need to check the fermenting process. Unfortunately, some vessels do not allow this. This is because they are not transparent.
However, this is not the same with glass demijohns. So, people that need or like to check their wine during the process can use this vessel.
Possibility of Carrying Out Low-Pressure Fermenting
The truth is that glass carboys are not designed for pressurized fermentation. This is because of the negative impact the forceful addition to CO2 can have on the glass demijohn.
But even at that, it can still handle some degree of low-pressure fermenting. So, you cannot rule out this vessel in this regard.
Effective Cleaning Is Easy
Proper hygiene is very important in making wine. This can be pretty or very difficult if the vessel used for fermentation is difficult to clean.
The good news is that this is not the case with glass carboys. Because of the natural properties of glass, stains (if any is left) are easy to remove when cleaning.
Also, you do not have to deal with scratches as is the case with plastic demijohns. This means that there is no hiding place for leftovers that cannot be removed easily.
Furthermore, bacteria will not have any suitable place to hide. You should know that this is one of the biggest highlights of using glass carboys.
It Is Durable and a Life-Long Option
With plastic buckets, kegs, and even plastic demijohn, you would have to replace them at some point. This is because they will get unsuitable for the wine-making process majorly because of the many scratches.
Well, glass carboys are steps ahead in this regard. As a result, you can use them for a very long time. This is as long as they do not get shattered due to accidents.
Disadvantages of Using Glass Carboys for Wine Making
There is no doubting the fact that using glass demijohns comes with a lot of benefits. This is even one of the best options for so many reasons. But even at that, there are some downsides you should know about. Some of them include the following:
See-Through has Bad Effects on Yeast
The fact that it is a glass container and it is see-through is good for the winemaker’s view. However, there is a downside to it – it is bad for the yeast.
As a very important part of the fermenting process, things that adversely affect the yeast should be avoided. One of such is exposure to light and this is difficult with vessels such as glass carboys.
Well, you can deal with the situation by making use of a towel or thick cloth to cover the entire glass demijohn. You should only open it when you need to check the progress of the fermenting process.
It Is Very Delicate
You probably know this by now. Extra care is required as a result of the delicate nature of this vessel. You should therefore make use of options that are durably designed. For instance, something known as the brew hauler can help protect the glass carboy when you carry it.
Also, going for something that has thick lines and a slightly rough surface will help you have a good grip. While this is not a must, it could help out especially when carrying the demijohn.
Injuries Can Occur During Accidents
The last thing you want to happen is the glass carboy falling off. This is because it can create a huge mess. The spilled content may even be the least of your problems considering that the shattered glass can have contact with your body and cause lacerations.
This can be very severe in some situations. So, you should be very careful when dealing with this kind of vessel for this reason. If you are interested in hearing about personal experiences with glass carboys in this regard, you can click here.
Not Designed for Pressured Fermenting
Some winemakers choose to infuse CO2 into the fermented wine for certain reasons. They do this with varying degrees of pressure ranging from low to high. The problem is that this vessel is not designed to cope with especially high pressure fermenting.
There is the possibility that the glass can reach its limit and shatter if you insist on carrying out high-pressure fermenting. So, people that want their wine made this way are affected when using this vessel.
Adding Dry Hops can be Difficult
Also, some people love to add dry hops during this process. They believe that it makes it taste and smell better. Well, adding dry hops can be pretty difficult with this vessel.
Does Not Have a Spigot
Taking out the fermented wine without disrupting the yeast can be very difficult. This is because glass demijohns do not come with spigots. Also, adding this feature (which is very easy with the plastic option) is practically impossible with this option.
So, this is a downside. However, you can deal with the situation by using an AutoSiphon. This is a great way to move the made wine into the bottles or other options you have figured out. The only problem is that using the AutoSiphon may expose the wine to oxygen for the time being.
Advantages of Using Plastic Carboys for Wine Making
Some of the advantages of using plastic carboys for this winemaking process include the following:
Easy to Carry
This is one of the edges it has over the glass options and a few other vessels that can be used as well. You can easily move the vessel even with the content in it.
Safer for Use
You are safer with plastic demijohns. Even if it falls you would not be exposed to as much danger as you would if it were the glass option.
Might Have a Spigot
This is another edge it has over the glass option. Glass demijohns do not come with a spigot that makes siphoning or monitoring the progress of the wine easy.
Well, you should know that several plastic carboys come with spigots. Furthermore, those that do not can have this feature installed. The same cannot be said of glass carboys because of the delicate nature of glass.
Several Accessories can be Used
Several food-grade plastic accessories can be used alongside plastic carboys. This is because manufacturers of these demijohns have always come up with easier ways to use this vessel for this and other purposes.
Disadvantages of Using Plastic Carboys for Winemaking
Many of the disadvantages of using plastic buckets and kegs for the winemaking process also apply here. A few of them are listed and aptly explained below:
Plastic is not as non-porous as glass. Therefore making sure the wine does not have contact with oxygen is difficult as a result of this.
Harder to Clean Effectively
Just as with plastic buckets and kegs, effectively cleaning this vessel is very difficult. It even gets worse over time as a result of scratches.
Cannot be Used Forever
Plastic carboys are just temporary options because of the point explained above and a few other reasons. So, you cannot decide to use it forever if you are particular about making good wine.
For us, using glass carboys is better than the plastic option. This is although it also has some downsides. Some of the reasons for this include the possibility of using them forever and keeping oxygen away.
Speaking of keeping oxygen away, you should know that wine is better off without exposure to oxygen. As a result, everything that involves wine should respect this. For instance, wine cellar racks (if this storage option is used), should be well able to protect the wine from oxidation.
We have explained the 2 major kinds of carboys that can be used for fermenting wine in this article. We hope that you make informed decisions as a wine lover using the details shared here.