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General Category => Yeast and Fermentation => Topic started by: RustyPlaneWoodworking on November 20, 2018, 10:23:36 PM

Title: Best Fermentation Vessel
Post by: RustyPlaneWoodworking on November 20, 2018, 10:23:36 PM
I’ve really only used glass car boys and plastic buckets.

I don’t mind the buckets, but I don’t like that you have to open the lid to see what’s going on. I like the transparency of the glass, but they’re heavy and can be safety hazards.

I was wondering what fermenting vessels folks on here primarily use?

I was looking at a big mouth bubbler and I was also looking at the Speidels, but I can get two bubblers for the price of one Speidel.


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Title: Re: Best Fermentation Vessel
Post by: narcout on November 20, 2018, 10:34:17 PM
Personally, I think stainless is the way to go.

I switch between a 10 gallon corny keg with a trimmed liquid dip tube and a 7 gallon SS Brew Bucket.  The SS Bucket is easier to clean but the corny can hold a lot more pressure, and I never have to worry about blowoff.
Title: Re: Best Fermentation Vessel
Post by: Robert on November 20, 2018, 10:46:55 PM
I also use a 10 gallon corny with a trimmed spear tube.   Agree with narcout that some stainless option is the way to go.  I have used a Speidel, but I really do not like plastic.  Beyond the obvious sanitation challenges,  it pemanently retains smells, and has such high insulating value that temperature control becomes more difficult,  and temperature must be monitored in a thermowell,  stick-on fermometers or external probes are useless.
Title: Re: Best Fermentation Vessel
Post by: ynotbrusum on November 20, 2018, 10:51:39 PM
I have come to really appreciate Stainless fermenters, too, but I appreciate the plastic ones, too - I have 2-7 gallon SS Brewmaster Buckets, 2-15 gallon Chapman SS tanks; 2-60L Speidel plastic fermenters and 2 Big Mouth Bubblers without ports.  I brew 10 gallon batches, typically, but I can use the BrewBuckets, BMB's and regular 6.5 gallon buckets I have laying around on 5 gallon batches when in the process of ramping up some yeast to a 10 gallon batch pitch size...At any given time, I may have a couple fermenters full or all of them!

I don't typically worry about watching the fermentation, other than some airlock activity, if it happens to be in process.  Pitching a load of healthy yeast means, it usually finishes pretty darn quick, so the show is over before I get back to checking, sometimes.
Title: Re: Best Fermentation Vessel
Post by: RC on November 20, 2018, 11:03:50 PM
I really like PET plastic. I use the Fermonster. Huge fan of this fermenter, got 8 of them in my fleet. It's all I'll ever use, for many reasons--one of them being I can buy ~10 of them for one SS fermenter. Don't use steel wool to clean the inside (duh) and you won't have any atypical sanitation challenges with any plastic fermenter. The perceived disadvantages of plastic are, IMO, hugely overblown, and the advantages are many. That said, a problem with the big mouth bubbler is the textured, bubbled walls, which are a pain to clean. The Fermonster is basically the same but uses smooth plastic throughout, much easier to clean.
Title: Re: Best Fermentation Vessel
Post by: RustyPlaneWoodworking on November 20, 2018, 11:04:00 PM
Personally, I think stainless is the way to go.

I switch between a 10 gallon corny keg with a trimmed liquid dip tube and a 7 gallon SS Brew Bucket.  The SS Bucket is easier to clean but the corny can hold a lot more pressure, and I never have to worry about blowoff.

Do you use the corny for your primary fermentation?


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Title: Re: Best Fermentation Vessel
Post by: RustyPlaneWoodworking on November 20, 2018, 11:06:24 PM
I really like PET plastic. I use the Fermonster. Huge fan of this fermenter, got 8 of them in my fleet. It's all I'll ever use, for many reasons--one of them being I can buy ~10 of them for one SS fermenter. Don't use steel wool to clean the inside (duh) and you won't have any atypical sanitation challenges with any plastic fermenter. The perceived disadvantages of plastic are, IMO, hugely overblown, and the advantages are many. That said, a problem with the big mouth bubbler is the textured, bubbled walls, which are a pain to clean. The Fermonster is basically the same but uses smooth plastic throughout, much easier to clean.
  Nice! I’ll look into that one as well as SS options.


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Title: Re: Best Fermentation Vessel
Post by: narcout on November 20, 2018, 11:37:59 PM
Personally, I think stainless is the way to go.

I switch between a 10 gallon corny keg with a trimmed liquid dip tube and a 7 gallon SS Brew Bucket.  The SS Bucket is easier to clean but the corny can hold a lot more pressure, and I never have to worry about blowoff.

Do you use the corny for your primary fermentation?


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Yes - primary in corny and then rack under CO2 pressure to the serving keg
Title: Re: Best Fermentation Vessel
Post by: Robert on November 20, 2018, 11:39:38 PM
^^^^
I do the same.
Title: Re: Best Fermentation Vessel
Post by: RustyPlaneWoodworking on November 21, 2018, 12:34:56 AM
Personally, I think stainless is the way to go.

I switch between a 10 gallon corny keg with a trimmed liquid dip tube and a 7 gallon SS Brew Bucket.  The SS Bucket is easier to clean but the corny can hold a lot more pressure, and I never have to worry about blowoff.

Do you use the corny for your primary fermentation?


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Yes - primary in corny and then rack under CO2 pressure to the serving keg

Interesting. I never thought to do that. I normally rack to serving keg for the secondary, but I’ve never done that with the primary.

How do you deal with the CO2 build up during primary fermentation?


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Title: Re: Best Fermentation Vessel
Post by: Robert on November 21, 2018, 12:46:04 AM
I make an "airlock" by putting a QD on the gas post with a tube into a jar of Star  San.   With 6 gallons or so of fermenting wort in the 10 gallon corny there's no chance of clogging it with blow off.  Pic:  https://drive.google.com/file/d/1lboBCxGxDgcGVqTAhb9hz_gCKD-P5kcV/view?usp=drivesdk
I take the QD off and pressurize to a few psig before crashing so suckback isn't an issue.

Of course if you wanted you could use this essentially like a unitank and carbonate before racking under counterpressure to a serving keg.   But I never have.
Title: Re: Best Fermentation Vessel
Post by: RustyPlaneWoodworking on November 21, 2018, 03:03:18 AM
I make an "airlock" by putting a QD on the gas post with a tube into a jar of Star  San.   With 6 gallons or so of fermenting wort in the 10 gallon corny there's no chance of clogging it with blow off.  Pic:  https://drive.google.com/file/d/1lboBCxGxDgcGVqTAhb9hz_gCKD-P5kcV/view?usp=drivesdk
I take the QD off and pressurize to a few psig before crashing so suckback isn't an issue.

Of course if you wanted you could use this essentially like a unitank and carbonate before racking under counterpressure to a serving keg.   But I never have.

Definitely interesting...but that might be a little out of my wheelhouse.


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Title: Re: Best Fermentation Vessel
Post by: Robert on November 21, 2018, 03:17:30 AM
To me maybe the greatest appeal of the 10 gal corny is that it is physically/ mechanically the simplest stainless option.  No moving parts, no valves, it's just a big keg.  Sealed, sanitary,  easy to clean, move around, etc. and uses the same fittings, tubing and such I already have for kegging.
Title: Re: Best Fermentation Vessel
Post by: Black Lion Homebrewery on November 21, 2018, 03:54:34 AM
I still love my plastic buckets. They're cheap and easy to clean. When I'm ready to retire them, they either go to sour/brett fermentation or to the shop/garage/garden.
Title: Re: Best Fermentation Vessel
Post by: Chris S on November 21, 2018, 02:54:37 PM
Here's a vote for the Speidel. I finally gave up my glass habit and recently purchased some 30-liter fermentation tanks. Fiddled with the airlock situation -- swapped the screw-on for a drilled rubber stopper -- and it was off to the races. Super light and easy to clean, though I do miss spacing out in the basement watching yeast eat.
Title: Re: Best Fermentation Vessel
Post by: goose on November 21, 2018, 03:08:36 PM
To me maybe the greatest appeal of the 10 gal corny is that it is physically/ mechanically the simplest stainless option.  No moving parts, no valves, it's just a big keg.  Sealed, sanitary,  easy to clean, move around, etc. and uses the same fittings, tubing and such I already have for kegging.

Rob, how do you clean it, CIP with a pump or use a brush to get to the stuff on the bottom?  I would worry about getting my elbow stuck in the opening since It is roughly the same size as the 5 gallon version.

I mentioned this as I had a friend in the Mansfield Brew Club who wanted to remove beer stone from his 5 gallon corny.  I told him to mix up 1 oz per gallon of Star San and use that to remove the stone.  He put his arm in to clean the bottom and was afraid that it would get his elbow stuck in the opening and would have to go to either the ER of the local EMT's to get it out of there.  Obviously, he did not get it stuck in the keg.  The mental picture it painted had me rolling on the floor laughing!
Title: Re: Best Fermentation Vessel
Post by: denny on November 21, 2018, 03:48:12 PM
^^^^
I do the same.

Yep, same here.
Title: Re: Best Fermentation Vessel
Post by: denny on November 21, 2018, 03:49:25 PM
To me maybe the greatest appeal of the 10 gal corny is that it is physically/ mechanically the simplest stainless option.  No moving parts, no valves, it's just a big keg.  Sealed, sanitary,  easy to clean, move around, etc. and uses the same fittings, tubing and such I already have for kegging.

Rob, how do you clean it, CIP with a pump or use a brush to get to the stuff on the bottom?  I would worry about getting my elbow stuck in the opening since It is roughly the same size as the 5 gallon version.

I mentioned this as I had a friend in the Mansfield Brew Club who wanted to remove beer stone from his 5 gallon corny.  I told him to mix up 1 oz per gallon of Star San and use that to remove the stone.  He put his arm in to clean the bottom and was afraid that it would get his elbow stuck in the opening and would have to go to either the ER of the local EMT's to get it out of there.  Obviously, he did not get it stuck in the keg.  The mental picture it painted had me rolling on the floor laughing!

Goose, I use Craftmeister Alkaline on mine.  Cold water, no scrubbing needed.
Title: Re: Best Fermentation Vessel
Post by: Robert on November 21, 2018, 04:10:28 PM
To me maybe the greatest appeal of the 10 gal corny is that it is physically/ mechanically the simplest stainless option.  No moving parts, no valves, it's just a big keg.  Sealed, sanitary,  easy to clean, move around, etc. and uses the same fittings, tubing and such I already have for kegging.

Rob, how do you clean it, CIP with a pump or use a brush to get to the stuff on the bottom?  I would worry about getting my elbow stuck in the opening since It is roughly the same size as the 5 gallon version.

I mentioned this as I had a friend in the Mansfield Brew Club who wanted to remove beer stone from his 5 gallon corny.  I told him to mix up 1 oz per gallon of Star San and use that to remove the stone.  He put his arm in to clean the bottom and was afraid that it would get his elbow stuck in the opening and would have to go to either the ER of the local EMT's to get it out of there.  Obviously, he did not get it stuck in the keg.  The mental picture it painted had me rolling on the floor laughing!

Goose, I use Craftmeister Alkaline on mine.  Cold water, no scrubbing needed.
I use essentially the same procedure as for 5 gallon kegs. I remove the lid, posts, and gas tube for separate cleaning. I fill the tank with PBW or whatever to soak and toss in the spear tube. Since I can't pick it up and dump it like a 5 gallon corny, I use one of these and can rapidly direct most of the liquid to my adjacent floor drain, then dump the rest:
https://www.homebrewing.org/12-Simple-Siphon-Kit_p_7914.html
Rinsing is easy with a hose.

If I have to get in and scrub, I picked up a floor drain brush (like a giant bottle brush on a mop handle) from a janitorial supply store.   Scrubbing is not normally needed, but might be with a beer stone remover (like 5 Star BSR or, better  yet, a dairy milkstone remover,) these products just loosen the beer stone and some mechanical action is usually needed to remove it. (They are more effective  than Star San IME.) 

For sanitizing I fill with iodophor and drain with the siphon.  I see no need to waste gas pushing it out, I need air in there to start fermentation anyway.

All in all, minimal lifting and no extractions by the fire department!
Title: Re: Best Fermentation Vessel
Post by: ynotbrusum on November 21, 2018, 06:23:26 PM
How far up do you cut the dip tube when using the 10 gallon cornie keg for fermenting?  Also, how much does the 10 gallon cornie keg weigh when empty?  I am considering one now, too.

Cheers.
Title: Re: Best Fermentation Vessel
Post by: Robert on November 21, 2018, 07:26:33 PM
How far up do you cut the dip tube when using the 10 gallon cornie keg for fermenting?  Also, how much does the 10 gallon cornie keg weigh when empty?  I am considering one now, too.

Cheers.
I cut the dip tube to leave almost 2 quarts of liquid, just for ease of yeast harvesting.   You'd have to decide on your own what you need to do.  It has a deeply concave,  almost hemispheric, bottom profile, so yeast and trub should settle in a much smaller volume.  The dip tube is straight, but the slight angle of the mounting of the post on top puts the end straight on the center at the bottom.  Others can probably help you more with this.

They are made in Pennsylvania of much heavier gauge steel than the 5 gallon kegs;  empty weight is about 20 lbs.

If you're interested,  Chi Company is probably the best source.   They work directly with the manufacturer and IME offer excellent customer service.
Title: Re: Best Fermentation Vessel
Post by: Bob357 on November 21, 2018, 08:56:45 PM
I use 7 gallon Fermonsters and love them. Never use a blow off any more and they're easy to clean with the wide opening. First one I got isn't ported, but the second one is. I'm spoiled now and going to install a spigot on the original.
Title: Re: Best Fermentation Vessel
Post by: joe_meadmaker on November 21, 2018, 09:07:20 PM
For 5 gallon batches I still use plastic buckets.  I recently stopped racking to a carboy for secondary.  I just leave the batch in primary for a little longer and rack directly to a corny.

For larger batches, which for me are primarily meads, I have a 1/2 barrel SS Chronical.  Like some others have mentioned, I'm also a fan of stainless.  I will switch my 5 gallon process over to stainless at some point.  Just not sure when.
Title: Re: Best Fermentation Vessel
Post by: narcout on November 21, 2018, 11:00:47 PM
How far up do you cut the dip tube when using the 10 gallon cornie keg for fermenting?  Also, how much does the 10 gallon cornie keg weigh when empty?  I am considering one now, too.

Cheers.

I cut the liqiud dip tube to 21 9/16 inches, which has been working perfectly.

The 10 gallon keg is 17.2 lbs. when empty.
Title: Re: Best Fermentation Vessel
Post by: Robert on November 21, 2018, 11:21:48 PM

I cut the liqiud dip tube to 21 9/16 inches, which has been working perfectly.

The 10 gallon keg is 17.2 lbs. when empty.
Wow, that is far more precision than I've applied to either of those subjects.  (But 17.2 is "about 20," right?) Thank you, sir.  You got me thinking so I just measured my spear (fermenter is conveniently empty awaiting this weekend's brew.)  It's 21 1/8 inches.   7/16 more would work fine for me too, I'm sure.  We seem to have dialed in the range pretty well!

(Some quick figuring shows narcout is leaving behind about a quart less beer than I am.)
Title: Re: Best Fermentation Vessel
Post by: denny on November 22, 2018, 02:38:00 PM
How far up do you cut the dip tube when using the 10 gallon cornie keg for fermenting?  Also, how much does the 10 gallon cornie keg weigh when empty?  I am considering one now, too.

Cheers.

For me, an inch is plenty.
Title: Re: Best Fermentation Vessel
Post by: Robert on November 23, 2018, 01:23:29 AM
How far up do you cut the dip tube when using the 10 gallon cornie keg for fermenting?  Also, how much does the 10 gallon cornie keg weigh when empty?  I am considering one now, too.

Cheers.

For me, an inch is plenty.
Practical Denny,  measuring from the other end!  (Then again I didn't measure at all when I trimmed mine, just poured a big Mason jar of water in the keg and trimmed where I marked the water line with an o ring.)  I see 1 inch translates to 21 3/4 inches, wow, a lot closer to the bottom than narcout and me.  Very good to know.  (Though I still want my big volume of bottoms for harvest.)
Title: Re: Best Fermentation Vessel
Post by: Charles on December 05, 2018, 03:07:11 AM
After 25 years of fermenting in 5 gallon glass carboys, I recently converted to a stainless steel cylindroconical fermenter. I made the switch after an accident with a broken carboy (my 1st ever) almost cost me my thumb! No more glass carboys for me!
Title: Re: Best Fermentation Vessel
Post by: Robert on December 05, 2018, 03:53:21 AM
After 25 years of fermenting in 5 gallon glass carboys, I recently converted to a stainless steel cylindroconical fermenter. I made the switch after an accident with a broken carboy (my 1st ever) almost cost me my thumb! No more glass carboys for me!
I hear you.  Been brewing about as long.  I almost lost a thumb once to a friggin' iced tea jar (sudden temperature change taking it out of the fridge to the hot back yard)... but kept using glass carboys for a couple decades after that lesson for lack of a better idea.  Then a couple  of years ago I went to doing a closed process with pressure transfers using a carboy cap-based rig.  A fellow regular at LHBS about that time was doing the same,  and luckily he turned away just as his carboy, with clogged dip tube,  exploded.  He had a lot of stitches in his back,  but it could have hit his face and neck.   That started my urgent quest for something  else.  Glass  is evil, no question.
Title: Re: Best Fermentation Vessel
Post by: HopDen on December 05, 2018, 11:51:47 AM
I'm very lucky to be married to a generous woman! After fermenting in the CF15 from Spike for a year, She surprises me with an early christmas gift of the CF30!! Just put together Monday and will be making 20 gallons of a Baltic Porter on the 15th! Me thinks she likes beer!
Title: Re: Best Fermentation Vessel
Post by: goose on December 05, 2018, 08:35:49 PM
After 25 years of fermenting in 5 gallon glass carboys, I recently converted to a stainless steel cylindroconical fermenter. I made the switch after an accident with a broken carboy (my 1st ever) almost cost me my thumb! No more glass carboys for me!
I hear you.  Been brewing about as long.  I almost lost a thumb once to a friggin' iced tea jar (sudden temperature change taking it out of the fridge to the hot back yard)... but kept using glass carboys for a couple decades after that lesson for lack of a better idea.  Then a couple  of years ago I went to doing a closed process with pressure transfers using a carboy cap-based rig.  A fellow regular at LHBS about that time was doing the same,  and luckily he turned away just as his carboy, with clogged dip tube,  exploded.  He had a lot of stitches in his back,  but it could have hit his face and neck.   That started my urgent quest for something  else.  Glass  is evil, no question.

I think I know who that guy is.  He was at a SAAZ meeting talking about his injury from an exploding carboy.

I only use carboys for 5 gallon batches or if my conical is full of another beer.  However, a word to the wise.  If you have to do a pressurized transfer from a glass carboy, USE NO MORE THAN 2.5 PSI!!!!  I also use the orange carboy caps that vent CO2 when the pressure exceeds a little over 3 PSI.  I sometimes have to turn the gas up to about 3 PSI for a second or two to get the beer flowing into the keg, but it immediately goes back down to between 2 and 2.5 PSI which is sufficient to accomplish the transfer.  Glass is dangerous and carboys are not pressure vessels.  It you want to be totally safe with pressure transfers using a glass carboy, wrap it with a blanket and use a ratchet strap to GENTLY hold the blanket in place being careful not to over tighten it. That should provide some additional protection.
Title: Re: Best Fermentation Vessel
Post by: Bad Bubba on December 05, 2018, 09:36:55 PM
I use a 14 Gallon Chronical.   I have been using it also for 5 gallon batches - about 6.5 into the fermentor.   I am thinking about downsizing to a 7 gallon.   I really like the cone bottom to dump trub and rack into the keg.   I also have a 7.9 gallon Speidel.  I usually do pressure transfers into the keg. 

I use a 3 gallon fastferment for my test batches and it works well. 

The stainless is easy to clean since the lid comes completely off.   
Title: Re: Best Fermentation Vessel
Post by: tommyb709 on December 05, 2018, 10:02:36 PM
i've tried quite a few fermenters.  like most, i began with a bucket, difficult to open, but cheap.   mine is now a sanitizing bucket.  the large size allows sanitizing most everything in one go.

i have two pet big mouth bubblers, and two glass ones.  these i find to be problematic.  the old style lid (screw on with gasket) never sealed well for me, and the new style (with silicone ring with 3 flanges)  gets pushed out of the fermenter with my active fermentations.  the solution here is to put an olympic bar 5 lb. weight on the lid.  (the olympic bar has a hole large enough for the airlock). i now use these only for primary for sours.

the glass big mouths are hand blown, and prone to bubbles and flaws.  i cut my hand seriously in three places cleaning one (i swear i never even bumped it on the sink... it just shattered in my hands).  i got rid of the other one.  i won't use one of these ever again.

i have two 7.5 g. fermonsters.  i mostly like these a lot.  i have two issues.  first, the lid can be damned hard to get off.  you may want their lid wrench.  secondly, if you ever take out the o ring, it can be nearly impossible to get it back in due to stretching.  you may want to keep a spare handy.

for secondary, i use pet 5 g. carboys for clean beers, and i use glass 5 g. narrow mouth (machine blown) carboys for long term storage of sours. i wash all carboys with the mark ii keg washer and pbw, to prevent scratching the pet, and to keep me from harm's way with the glass.  i also handle all glass fermenters with kevlar gloves.  may be paranoia, but after my accident, i don't care.  i don't want a repeat of bloody sunday.

stainless steel interests me, but i thought that it was too expensive.  after reading this thread, i may try the brew bucket.  it seems quite reasonably priced.  however, i can't see replacing all 12 of my fermenters with stainless. 
Title: Re: Best Fermentation Vessel
Post by: yugamrap on December 06, 2018, 09:40:41 PM
I started with buckets and glass carboys.  I don't like plastic, am afraid of glass, and wanted better temperature control.  So, something stainless was the answer.  I thought about going the 10-gallon corny route like others, but didn't have a fridge/freezer it would fit in for temperature control.

I ferment in these 8-gallon stainless milk-can like vessels from Brewhaus that they sell as distilling pots. https://brewhaus.com/8-gallon-stainless-steel-moonshine-still-kettle/   (https://brewhaus.com/8-gallon-stainless-steel-moonshine-still-kettle/)  They sell a 15-gallon version, too - but I typically brew 5-gallon batches,

The 2" sanitary fitting on the lid is perfect to to attach one of these Sanke Fermentor Kits from Brewing Hardware https://www.brewershardware.com/American-Sanke-Keg-Fermentor-Kit-with-Thermowell.html (https://www.brewershardware.com/American-Sanke-Keg-Fermentor-Kit-with-Thermowell.html)  Of course, this kit can also be used on a 1/2-barrel Sanke Keg or even a sixtel with the spear removed - but those would be tough to clean.

The combo has a thermowell for temperature control and is short enough to fit into a 5 CuFt chest freezer without adding a collar.  The fittings allow for pressurized transfer by sending CO2 through the blowoff port to push beer out of the integrated racking cane.  The whole lid comes off for easy cleaning, and the whole thing can go on a burner if I want to sanitize with steam (I just sanitize with a spray bottle of StarSan).  I was able to set up two of these combos a few years ago for less than the price of one 7.5-gallon conical.