I recently read a discussion on Reddit’s homebrewing section, where someone had a carboy destruct in their hands and wound up having to go the other hospital to get stitches. Here’s the thread and here are the pictures [WARNING, blood]. I thought this would be a good time to post something about this here, so I did what I do best… slogging through the swamp of comments and collecting the ones with valuable information. This blog post is a summary of the collective safety tips from many experienced homebrewers on this subject.
First, a few comments. Glass carboys are glass (I told you this was valuable information). Let’s say it again, glass carboys are glass… treat them like they are glass. Five to six gallons of beer or wine is already very heavy, and adding a ton of glass just makes moving them very difficult. On that note, let’s get to our…
Carboy Safety Tips!
2. Never drain a full carboy by tipping it upside down. If you turn it straight upside down to drain it, you’re putting stress on the neck, which isn’t supposed to be load bearing, and you’re creating negative pressure on the bottom as it drains until air bubbles get in.
3. Only carry carboys by a carboy handle when they are empty. Those handles aren’t meant to be used when the carboy is full. The necks are a weak point on a carboy and can snap under the weight.
4. Use a carboy brew hauler to lift full carboys. This evenly distrubutes the weight around the base of the carboy. It also makes your carboy look like it’s wearing lederhosen. Or bondage gear.
6. Never put very hot or very cold liquid into a carboy. They are not made of Pyrex and will shatter because of the rapid temperature changes.
7. Put a sweater or sweatshirt over your glass carboys. This serves two purposes; it keeps light out, and it adds a protective layer of cusioning around the glass. Actually three purposes, they look very fashionable when dressed up.
8. In general, wear full shoes when moving a carboy, or when brewing in general. There’s lots of brewing dangers in addition to broken glass, like boiling water and heavy things that can crush a foot when dropped.
When you need to use glass
1. If you hold both beer and wine in the same vessel. Plastic absorbs the smell of beer and will impart that to wine, and vice versa. Glass does not though, so you can either use glass or get dedicated carboys for wine and beer that you use separately.
2. If you make sour beer. You can be as clean and sterile as possible and those bacterias and resistant yeasts will still show up again in plastic equipment.
Nothing revolutionary here, just be careful! We don’t want anyone getting hurt while enjoying homebrewing. If you still have concerns after reading all this, it’s easy to switch to plastic. No one has ever shattered a PET carboy.