C&J Industries Blog

Plastic: Making BrewMasters Out of Us All

As promised in C&J’s Blog Objective, I will strive to share plastic facts in a fun and informative way.  In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I will be leaning more towards the goal of FUN. With this in mind, let’s talk about how plastic has affected homebrewing.

Homebrewing is defined as the brewing of beer, wine, sake, mead, cider, etc. using fermentation for “personal” consumption, though you can share with friends and family. Homebrewing is considered a hobby and it’s actually illegal to sell the beer you make at home. Though there is a lot of debate about the best way to homebrew beer, using plastic fermentation vessels rather than traditional glass carboys can make homebrewing easier and less expensive.

Homebrewing became legal in the US in 1979. Though individual states have the right to prohibit homebrewing, it is now legal across the US. The last states to legalize homebrewing were Alabama and Mississippi, who waited until 2013. This being said, homebrewing is a relatively new phenomenon in the US. One of the easiest ways to join the quickly growing group of homebrewers is by purchasing kits. These kits generally include a plastic vessel for fermentation and all the ingredients you need to make a brew. You would be hard pressed to find a commercial brewer that uses plastic containers for the fermentation process, plastic can be a great alternative for homebrewers.

One major advantage to using plastic over glass is that plastic won’t break. Throughout my research, I read story after story about homebrewers shattering their glass carboys, some during cleaning and some while the carboy were full of beer or wine. For that reason alone, many homebrewers choose to use plastic vessels over glass, but there are other advantages as well. Plastic fermentation vessels are molded out of food grade PET plastic. This plastic is durable, lightweight, easy to clean and less expensive than glass. There are disadvantages to using plastic as well. The plastic can get scratches in it over time which gives bacteria and germs a place to grow. This will affect the quality of the beer. Plastic is also permeable to air and some designs do not have the air tight seal you get from the glass carboy.

All that being said, plastic is a great way to venture into the world of homebrewing. Can you think of a better way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day than brewing your own Irish Stout? Check back frequently for updates!


Sources: BeerSmith Home Brewing Blog, Wikipedia, Plastic News, Northern Brewer Homebrew Supply