Step 4: Quickly cool and move to fermentation vessel before adding yeast

Fermentation

After your wort is boiled and cooled you need to place it in a fermenter so the yeast can begin to consume the sugar (producing the alcohol). I have tried a few different fermentation options and I think, for the best deal when just starting your system, you can go with the plastic buckets. Remember, you want to rapidly cool your wort to reduce the chances of some other bacteria getting in there while it would slowly, naturally cool. Also, many of these fermenters are not rated to handle hot liquid. For ales that wont age more than a few weeks before bottling, plastic is totally reasonable and I have never noticed a foreign taste from the buckets. For longer fermenting, higher gravity (stronger alcohol) brews I go with glass or stainless.

After the plastic bucket, and my personal first choice, would be a large-mouth glass carboy. I went with two glass carboys that each hold 6.5 gallons. I got my "Big Mouths" from NorthernBrewer.com for $43.99 and added the $3 Fermometer so I could monitor temperature without opening the lid. The larger openings on these make them much easier to clean than the traditional carboy water jugs. By getting 2 smaller fermenters, I am able to  separate my 10-gallon batch into 2 containers. I have the option of using different yeast or even moving to secondary at different paces. I like to experiment and using smaller, convenient fermenters allows for this. I also like glass because it is easier to actually see the settled sediment, the rate of bubbles as they slow after a few days, and consider the foam cap without peeking under the sealed lid.

If you have a few extra bucks to spend (in that case, why are you reading this website? :-), I really like the new stainless fermenters being produced for home brewing. They have become that prestigious status symbol that proves you are serious about your brewing. They are also probably an unneeded, ego-driven purchase, but they sure are fun to look at.

Budget

(Buy two 5- or  6-gallon containers)

$44 6-gallon large mouth carboy or
$225 Stainless Steel Brewtech Brewmaster Brew Bucket - This thing is awesome. It is stackable, easy to clean, and makes taking gravity readings easy without disturbing anything happening inside. Each one of these holds 7 gallons.

I started with a 5-gallon bucket & lid for $10 and then spent $10 on hardware, which included stopper, spigot, and airlock. My bucket was pre-drilled, but it wouldn't be tough to pop a hole in the lid and near the bottom so you could bottle-fill right from the bucket (if later using as a secondary fermenter).

A few things to remember if putting together your own plastic bucket:

1. make sure it is food-grade plastic

2. be careful with the insides - any scratch on the plastic wall is going to make it easier for bacteria to hide and harder for you to clean. I wont even store stainless/copper stuff inside; it isn't worth the risk of damaging the walls, even a little.


Chronical Fermenters Available At MoreBeer!