Urban Knaves of Grain (UKG)

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 Post subject: Better Bottle hassle!
PostPosted: Fri Jan 09, 2015 1:33 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 28, 2014 12:11 am
Posts: 31
Does anyone know who "Walter" is at Better Bottle?

I recently contacted them because I found a number of small fractures at the base of one of my units. It actually began leaking slowly as I was transferring a porter into it. (What a mess to clean up! PLUS the disappointment of losing a half gallon in the process!) Anyway, I had always thought BB's were "unbreakable", so I checked the website which prominently displays a picture of someone about to whack a Better Bottle with a mallet along with the word "UNBREAKABLE!" in all caps.

So I emailed them and asked if they could explain how my "unbreakable" Better Bottle had become broken. The reply I got from someone named Walter indicated it was my fault for using "corrosive" cleaners which had weakened the PET over time. I wrote back that the unit was barely 1 year old, and that the only cleaners I had ever used were industry standards like Easy-Clean, Straight-A and PBW.

He wrote me back and re-iterated that those are all "aggresive" cleaners designed for CIP use on the stainless steel fermenters found in professional breweries, and suggested I check out the Wash/Sanitize section, under the Technical tab, at their Web site.

I did so, only to find a lengthy article where they chart their own test results of various cleaners on various container materials including PET. The chart includes percarbonate cleaners such as PBW as being "OK"! It even specifies PBW, B-Brite, One Step, and OxiClean by name and says they're all "OK"!!

It also shows that based on their own tests, sanitizers like Star-San, IO-Star and even household bleach are all "OK".

So I wrote back and brought all this to Walter's attention, and offered to personally drive my broken carboy up to Wilmette so he could inspect it himself; but he was not interested in helping in any way other than to recommend I use some product made by Seventh Generation to clean with.

So.... Just wondering if anyone else has had the pleasure of such an experience with old Walter... Who IS this guy, anyway? He acts like he's the owner of the company, but in fact BB is just a division of something called High-Q. I think he's a Whack-O!

On the other hand, after losing patience with Walter, I decided to send the same (original) email to Northern Brewer, along with an aside that I thought it was probably purchased from them; though I had no receipt or copy of the order as it was probably a gift from either my wife or kids. And you know what they did?

They sent me a brand new "Bubbler" carboy for FREE including shipping, with no questions asked other than a follow up email to confirm it had arrived safely and that I was satisfied!

Now THAT'S customer service!

God Bless Northern Brewer!

(And Better Bottle can kiss my grits...)


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 10, 2015 9:39 am 
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Joined: Mon Oct 27, 2014 5:06 pm
Posts: 16
I would definitely post your experience with Northern Brewer on one or more of the homebrewing forums.
Regarding Walter, I might be inclined to post this experience, as well, but leave Walter's name out of it. Not sure how big the company is, but if it's bigger than just Walter, you might spark a more useful response via that route. At this point, it seems like the direct approach has played out.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 10, 2015 9:51 am 
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Joined: Tue Oct 28, 2014 9:22 am
Posts: 58
Location: Quantum Leap Brewery
I'm done with BB. I have had 2 Crack at base on me. I use PBW in warm not hot water. The cracks I believe happen when filled and pressure is put on base. . Shaking or moving. In the end I got a 16 gallon spiedel for 80 $ at more beer free shipping. I'm selling all my BB for a second one. BB are good for sours for me and that's it


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PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2015 11:02 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 28, 2014 12:11 am
Posts: 31
Couldn't agree more.


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PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2015 10:49 am 
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Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2014 9:42 am
Posts: 87
Location: Elk Grove Village, IL, USA
On the flipside of Jay's comments, I have had BB's for years and had no issues with them whatsoever. I wash them using PBW or OxyClean and hot water and let it sit for 12 hours or more without a problem. Now, I usually just pour a little quantity of PBW into the carboy to my liking and run with it. If it feels slippery when wet, then I have enough PBW in there. I don't dump the quantities specified on the packaging into the bottles as it just seems to be too much and the job still gets done quite nicely.

In fact, I cleaned two BB's last night with Oxy using hot water filled to the top and an overnight soak. One was caked with crud from my Big Brew fermentation. They were spotless and clean smelling this morning. A quick rinse and shake of water inside and they're ready to go.

I try not to over handle my BB carboys in that I don't bounce them hard on the ground and am careful when cleaning them not to bounce them around too much with all the water in them.

I also carry them using those carboy handles around the neck. I sit the handle as close to the bottle as possible. I have not cracked or lost a carboy yet due to the handle stress. Only once did I break a glass carboy when I bounced it off the ground full of Star-San.

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PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2015 10:18 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 28, 2014 12:11 am
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Well I had a huge problem with compound fractures in the bottom of a BB less than one year old. I ruined an otherwise fine batch of porter while racking to 2ndary because the damned thing didn't start to leak until about 2 gallons were in it. I was so mad I emailed BB about it and "Walter" there replied it was my fault for using harsh and aggressive cleaning agents that weakened the plastic like PBW. A COMPLETE detail is available for viewing on Homebrew Talk forums.


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PostPosted: Fri May 22, 2015 2:59 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2014 9:42 am
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Location: Elk Grove Village, IL, USA
I read your whole review and I'm sorry that happened. Walter sounds like an "Ass"!

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PostPosted: Fri May 22, 2015 3:12 pm 
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Yeah. That's what I thought too.


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