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03/18/08 10:14 PM  
Plastic bakery buckets
I have a bunch of white plastic buckets used in a bakery (i think for frosting/glaze or something) and was wondering if anyone has an opinion on whether i could use them for long term secondary for sour beers? if so how would you recommend cleaning them? oxyclean and water for a few days? then maybe a sanitizer? i wouldnt use them if there was any sweet smell left after cleaning but assuming they cleaned up ok i like the idea of free fermenting vessels. all my carboys are filled up at the moment.


03/19/08 10:56 AM  
Re: Plastic bakery buckets
Plastic buckets actually allow too much oxygen to pass through their walls and are not good for long term storage of sour brews. Use glass or stainless.
03/19/08 12:24 PM  
Re: Plastic bakery buckets
I have to repost that PPT file Vinnie Cilurzo put together again for the NHC. One part of it compared the amount of O2 that is involved with steel vs glass vs plastic. The numbers were shocking, plastic was through the roof.
03/19/08 12:42 PM  
Re: Plastic bakery buckets
That said, you could still use them for regular fermenters.

Its certainly food grade plastic coming from a bakery.

I have no experience with sours in plastic, like Cisco, I stick to glass and stainless, but others here have said that they use plastic regularly with no ill effects. It might depend on your ambient conditions?

03/19/08 12:51 PM  
Re: Plastic bakery buckets
Some people may get a nice product using plastic to age a sour beer, but the extra oxygen will no doubt effect the product. It would be enough to taste the difference between the same beer if it were aged in glass or stainless. I'm not saying worse necessarily, but certainly a different end product.

More 02 usually favors pedio and equals more acetic acid, and would almost definitely have some effect on brett character, as brett likes low levels of oxygen absorbed in over long periods of time.

03/19/08 02:13 PM  
Re: Plastic bakery buckets
I did a sour in plastic for 6 months, and it turned out great. It was quite drinkable right after bottling, and has continued to be good for two years afterward.

03/19/08 02:51 PM  
Re: Plastic bakery buckets
I have a lambic in plastic right now. It's only been in there about a month. I had no other fermenters available. I figure I'm going to start tasting it in 6 months and then if it's getting too acedic I'll transfer to glass or a corny for further agining.
Scott R
03/19/08 03:01 PM  
Re: Plastic bakery buckets
I've got a flanders red that was brewed in 03/06 and sat in plastic buckets on roselare blend for an entire year. I didn't, at the time have enough glass fermenters to do it properly. Since it was a first generation pitch of the roselare blend, the finished beer isn't as sour as I'd like but it is certainly drinkable. The beer does seem to be more acetic than lactic to my tastes but not overly acetic. We'll see how this beer stacks up against other flanders red types soon during the flanders swap. I've got another batch sitting in those same buckets that was brewed in 03/07. I haven't tasted that one yet but I will in the next few weeks as it is time to keg it and put something else in the buckets. I'm thinking that beer will be the true test of how the plastic buckets perform since the bacterial culture is a bit more established now that it is on its second generation. I can tell you that I have had no problems with lack of pellicle formation while using buckets! :)
03/20/08 10:21 AM  
Re: Plastic bakery buckets
There is one other concern worth noting, but its just a caution thing. Plastic is very prone to scratching. Micro organisms can move into scratches that can result from regular cleaning. So you'd want to be very carful handing the buckets.
03/20/08 10:42 AM  
Re: Plastic bakery buckets
Sean, I thought pedio favored C02, and did not perform well in the presence of 02 - and that's why it takes months for it to start working after all the 02 has been exausted by the other yeasts. Correct me if I'm wrong, but pedio would not do well in a plastic bucket over time...perhaps that's why scott's red did not turn out very sour the first time around...

And looking at steve's comment - it might be cool to infect a bucket, and then you can use that to infect later batches (in primary if not as long term secondary). Almost like lambic producers racking to barrels to finish fermentation. I like that idea....

03/20/08 01:53 PM  
Re: Plastic bakery buckets
I have a quite sour flemish red that was first pitch of the Roesalaire strain. It was primaried for a few weeks and then 8 months of bucket aging thru the summer until the following midwinter. Roesalaire was only strain used.

Tartness and acetic levels are similar to LaFolie with a real pucker.

Definitive serious pellicle after several months in the bucket. In the bottle pellicle too....

bucket-based sourness levels may be pretty dependent on ambient temperatures. Mine was room temp so lows of 55 in the winter and highs of 80s during the days easily in the end of the summer. which may have pushed the acetic levels to higher than those experienced by people with more temperature control/moderation.


03/20/08 04:23 PM  
Re: Plastic bakery buckets

I was going from reading and memory on Pedio favoring 02. Now that you say that I'm not too sure...but now I want to re-read wild brews and double check.

03/20/08 06:48 PM  
Re: Plastic bakery buckets
RE: pediococcus -- yup, those are anaerobic.
03/20/08 11:41 PM  
Re: Plastic bakery buckets
Pete, i've found the higher temps produce much better sourness than at cool temps, but i feel like that's from the lacto.
03/21/08 11:57 AM  
Re: Plastic bakery buckets
Yes, you are right, I was thinking of acetorbacter, which is aerobic and also produces acetic acid!
03/21/08 04:18 PM  
Re: Plastic bakery buckets
Thanks. i think i will give the buckets a shot, if nothing else i will try em for primary.

03/24/08 11:01 AM  
Re: Plastic bakery buckets
Just for the sake of perspective, an NHC Homebrewer of the Year award has been won using long term storage (don't know exactly how long though) in a plastic bucket for plambic.

So the O2 permeability numbers are high--how do we know they are *too high* to make good beer? Only by trial and error. From reading and hearing about a wide array of experiences (only aged in glass and wood myself) it sounds like most people make beer they like when they use plastic--but that occasionally excess acetic or oxidation are a problem.

Overall it seems to me that standard plastic buckets are kind of on the edge, in that the high oxygen permeability may or may not be a problem, depending on the other factors and how long you age.

03/24/08 01:59 PM  
Re: Plastic bakery buckets
>>Just for the sake of perspective, an NHC Homebrewer of the Year award has been won using long term storage (don't know exactly how long though) in a plastic bucket for plambic.<<

Baums, who was that? Last plambic I know to have won the NHC HBY is Dave Pyle - I know he owns several big wood barrels.

03/24/08 02:53 PM  
Re: Plastic bakery buckets
Jim Liddil (maybe 1994?). Some details are in the plambic archives but I'm not sure of the exact page. Also he used wheat malt extract for the base if I recall correctly.

Those archives are pretty amazing, incidentally. They were very serious about plambic.

03/24/08 04:23 PM  
Re: Plastic bakery buckets
Ah, know Jim well, made two sites for him. He was very serious, but his lambic was on the vinegary side. To have done what he did though in (I think it was) '95 is fantastic, shame he gave it up. Quite the pioneer.
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