Is this the best homebrew carboy? A review of the Speidel Plastic Fermenter
After waiting months for the Speidel Plastic Fermenter to be back in stock at MoreBeer, I was finally able to buy two 20L Speidels this August. Now that I've had a chance to run a few beers through them, what do I think? I sold all of my other carboys and now exclusively use the Speidels. So yeah, I like them.
Since I first started brewing I've always used plastic or glass carboys. There are several problems with both types of carboys: cleaning (pain in the ass), racking (pain in the ass), and carrying the damn thing around (pain in the ass). These three things are much easier with the Speidel. First, the large opening makes cleaning way easier. I can reach in with a soft cloth and wipe the entire thing down. With my plastic carboys I constantly worried about scratching the plastic and there was always a bit of something stuck here or there. For the second point, a spigot at the bottom makes it much easier to rack your beer. As a side note, 3/8" or 1/2" tubing works on the spigot, but neither is a perfect fit with one too tight and the other too loose. And lastly, it’s a breeze to carry with fancy handles on the sides. I never broke one of my glass carboys, but I did constantly fear one would slip out of my hands.
One other bonus is that Speidels are made with HDPE (High-density polyethylene) which is much better at keeping oxygen out than your PET plastic carboys. The downside to this is you can’t see anything. I have to say this is the main thing I don't like about the Speidel. There's something about seeing active fermentation that makes me feel like I accomplished something and just seeing some bubbles in an airlock isn't quite the same. Plus it's a bit harder to tell the clarity of the beer, but that’s a minor point.
The Speidel comes with an oversized airlock, which is also much easier to clean than the traditional airlock. On my old carboys I always used blowoff tubes and was a little nervous about using an airlock for primary. So far it’s worked perfectly. Although I think if you are pushing an OG over 1.070 you may want to look at using a blow off tube instead of the airlock. This brings me to another minor flaw, the stopper that comes with the Speidel is nearly impossible to remove from the airlock once you get the two together. Seriously, it's like they meld into one being. Otherwise all the parts come with gasket fittings that easily screw on and off and feel very solid.
But the best part? The price! It's only $42.00 for the 20L and the 30L is just another $6.00 more. Oh yeah, they're made in Germany which means you have to use the fancy pants metric system. I usually brew between 4 and 4.5 gallon batches so the 20L works for me. If you are brewing 5 to 6 gallons I would switch it up to the 30L--this will give you a lot of head space, but will make it less likely that you will need to use a blowoff tube.
One last note, these things are always out of stock! It's very annoying, but after a couple months of waiting I was finally able to buy a couple.
After a year of using my Speidel do I still feel the same? Check out my updated review. Spoiler alert: I still love it.