A year of using my Speidel Plastic Fermenter
I wrote a review for the Speidel Plastic Fermenter just over a year ago. At the time I had used it for just a couple of batches. Now I’ve had the thing for over a year and have fermented at least a dozen batches in these carboys and I still think they are the best deal out there. Sure, if you are rolling in the dough you could drop a big wad of cash on a stainless steel conical, but I don’t have that sort of money sitting around.
One thing I have changed in using the Speidel is that I have dumped the airlock for a blowoff tube when using it for primary fermentation. I don’t have quite enough head space to get away with using the airlock and the thing will get pretty jammed up. A ½ inch silicone tube fits perfectly in the bung that comes with the carboy. The airlock will work if you stick with it, but it can get pretty messy when using some of the more active yeast strains. So just dump the thing for primary and go with a blowoff tube. I mentioned in my original review that the airlock jams rather tightly into the stopper. Since then I’ve found that a flathead screwdriver can pry the two apart without any damage.
A big selling point for the Speidel is the HDPE material used to make the carboy which is supposed to prevent O2 from sneaking in and oxidizing your beer. I’ve aged an Old Ale for 9 month in a Speidel and indeed there was not a sign of oxidation. In general I would still rather store a beer long term in a keg, but you don’t have to worry if you need to let your beer sit around in this carboy. But the HDPE makes it impossible to see your beer in action. I really do miss seeing primary fermentation and this remains my only downside when switching to the Speidel.
The other two big advantages are cleaning and the spigot. Since my original review Northern Brewer has released the Big Mouth Bubbler which makes clean up a lot easier, but for some reason they didn’t add a spigot. The Big Mouth is a bit cheaper, but until they add a spigot I am not sure it’s worth picking over the Spiedel (even though it would be nice to see my beer again). Plus you need to buy a harness for the Big Mouth if you want to carry it around.
One thing that I’ve had a reader ask me about is the quality of where the HDPE comes together. If you feel along the top of the Speidel you will notice it’s a bit rough along the line the joins the plastic. I don’t think it’s any rougher than the textured surfaces found in other carboy options out there. I would suggest spending extra time cleaning out the rough spot, but I wouldn’t consider this a problem. If it is a problem for you, you should probably save up and buy a conical or maybe one of these new stainless steel Brew Buckets. If you got the cash that is. For the price, I think the quality of the Speidel is outstanding.
Also, these are much easier to find than just a year ago. Not only can you get them at MoreBeer! you can find them in a few local brew shops, too. After a year, I am still a big fan of these carboys and I am happy I gave away all my old plastic and glass.