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HDPE Drums for Fermenting?

PostPosted: Wed Apr 14, 2010 6:25 pm
by GuitarLord5000
Hey folks!

I've found these plastic drums for $10 a piece: ... uctID=2266
From what I can tell, it'll cost a little over $20 to ship them. The shipping is the same for 1 drum or 10, it seems.
I did a little web crawling, and all indications are that the drums are made from high density polyethylene, which is not really a surprise as they previously contained Liquid Malt Extract.
I've been considering picking up a couple of these to use as fermenters. I've been wanting to make larger batches, I just need some bigger fermenters.
One of the drums would be used for everyday beer fermenting duties, and the other would be used for long term lambic storage.
I realize that plastic is gas permeable, but I figured that a normal beer wouldn't be in the fermenter long enough to matter. And for a lambic, the bugs would benefit from the extra O2. Doing a google search for HDPE & Lambic brought up enough anecdotal evidence to convince me that it might be worthwhile to give these a shot for sour beers.
So, why wouldn't you use these drums? What warnings would you have for me before I buy?

PostPosted: Thu Apr 15, 2010 2:30 am
by Mob_Barley
Double check on the shipping, and if it holds up, I'll split it the shipping. I'm offshore right now, but if you could, order me two and I'll either pay you when I get in or have my wife mail you a check, whatever you prefer. I'd like to make a lambic myself and need one extra for a blending. Let me know...

PostPosted: Thu Apr 15, 2010 3:49 am
by GuitarLord5000
I tried to purchase them tonight, but the shipping was way higher than I originally thought. Apparently, the way I was evaluating their shipping cost was exploiting some type of a loophole in their website. I guess they've fixed it, and as it stands now their shipping cost from Homebrew HQ is ridiculously prohibitive (nearly $70 for four drums - that's just shipping!).
I've found the same product from homebrewers outpost. With shipping, four drums come out to about $19.20 each. If you're still interested, let me know. I'll be purchasing two of them either way.

PostPosted: Fri Apr 16, 2010 1:16 am
by Mob_Barley
Nah, just leave a link to the web page so we can find it later. Thanks though.

PostPosted: Fri Apr 16, 2010 7:00 am
by aleguy
Yeah. For that price you can pick up an outlaw Sanke. Stainless is better than plastic as far as I'm concerned.

PostPosted: Fri Apr 16, 2010 7:43 am
by GuitarLord5000
Hey, drop me a PM and let me know where you're getting those outlaw sankeys! I'll need two more once I build my brewstand.

As for the fermenters, I think right now the plastic drums just make more sense for me. I'm using a water bath to keep my ferment temps down. A 10 gallon batch of beer in one of these drums would be a whole lot more manageable for moving around and lifting in and out of the bath. I cringe at the thought of having to haul around a 2/3 full sankey keg.

But yes, I agree that stainless is better than plastic. Maybe I'll have to invest in one of those heated/cooled stainless conicals like yeastmeister is sporting.

PostPosted: Fri Apr 16, 2010 12:13 pm
by BayouBrew
I use one of these that I picked up from Homebrew HQ last time I was in Dallas. It's fine for the short term on those bigger batches, the plastic is pretty thick, there is a large port to get your racking cane in, and there are volume markings on the side (although not terrribly accurate). Like any large fermenter you better have it where you want it before you fill. It will suck in a huge amount of air if you try to lift it. These things are huge, so I'm not surprised that the shipping kills the deal. They wouldn't have more than a couple in stock at any one time anyway. If you wanted several you'd probably have to call them way in advance to get them to save them for you.

PostPosted: Fri Apr 16, 2010 9:38 pm
by GuitarLord5000
BayouBrew wrote:It will suck in a huge amount of air if you try to lift it.

Didn't really think about that. I've been fermenting in glass carboys for so long, I'd forgotten what it was like to ferment in plastic. Every time you move one of those plastic buggers, they take a giant drink of air. I'd imagine it'd be even more so with the big drums. hmmmm.
Well, I guess I'll be looking for a couple of those outlaw kegs floating around.