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General Category => Equipment and Software => Topic started by: lisatim on November 22, 2009, 07:34:17 PM

Title: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?
Post by: lisatim on November 22, 2009, 07:34:17 PM
Greetings.   I'm looking into a more efficient way to ferment 15 gallon batches.  Stainless conicles look beautiful but quite a bit of money for someone who only brews 2 or 3 times a year.  I would brew more often if I could only take some of the hassle out of "brew day", and I believe my wife would allow a one time expenditure if it may save on the water bill.  The buckets and carboys have to go!!  Can anyone suggest a less expensive, reliable fermentation device than s.s. conicles?
Thanks for your input,
Tim
Title: Re: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?
Post by: denny on November 22, 2009, 08:02:14 PM
Well, I'd suggest buckets, but it sounds like you're already doing that.  The plastic Minibrew conical has goltten raves from people I know who have one.  Keep in mind that you'll have to rig some kind of temp control for it.
Title: Re: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?
Post by: a10t2 on November 22, 2009, 08:07:41 PM
Check these out. Unfortunately the sizes jump from 15 to 30 gallon, but the price is sure right.
Title: Re: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?
Post by: Thirsty_Monk on November 22, 2009, 11:39:05 PM
Mini Brew has 15 Gal fermenter:
http://www.highgravitybrew.com/ProductCart/pc/MiniBrew-Fermenter-15-159p1603.htm
and 25 gal fermenter:
http://www.highgravitybrew.com/ProductCart/pc/MiniBrew-Fermenter-25-159p1604.htm
Title: Re: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?
Post by: majorvices on November 23, 2009, 12:49:39 PM
For some reason I have never ben able to get a drinkable batch of beer from my Mini-Brew plastic conical. It inevitably tastes oxidized.
Title: Re: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?
Post by: Kaiser on November 23, 2009, 04:26:56 PM
I have a hard time justifying the price for a conical. Sure carboys and buckets are a hassle, but for the price of even the Minibrew fermenters I can build a really nice temp controlled fermentation chest out of a chest freezer. And there is so much more other equipment that has a better chance improving your beer than a conical.

Are the buckets and carboys costing you a lot of water?

Kai
Title: Re: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?
Post by: denny on November 23, 2009, 05:01:02 PM
I have a hard time justifying the price for a conical. Sure carboys and buckets are a hassle, but for the price of even the Minibrew fermenters I can build a really nice temp controlled fermentation chest out of a chest freezer. And there is so much more other equipment that has a better chance improving your beer than a conical.

Well said, Kai.
Title: Re: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?
Post by: majorvices on November 23, 2009, 05:06:13 PM
Most people who have conicals love them because they have to justicy the amount of money they spent on one. That said, if you are brewing larger than 10 gallon batches and have a stationary fermenter a conical is the best option. Otherwise buckets and/or carboys are the way to go. Wish I wouldn't have wasted the money of the MiniBrew conical. Total waste of money.
Title: Re: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?
Post by: Thirsty_Monk on November 23, 2009, 07:12:41 PM
Wish I wouldn't have wasted the money of the MiniBrew conical. Total waste of money.
I have 6.5 gal Mini Brew and I have totally different experience.
(http://www.highgravitybrew.com/productcart/pc/catalog/mb_6-5_1657_general.jpg)
It works pretty well.
You should not get any oxidation because CO2 is heavier then O.
This works for every fermenter.

I do agree that temp control is more important then fermentation vessel.
If I buy another fermenter I was thinking about stainless sink and do open fermentation.
A lot of Czech commercial breweries ferment in open fermenters.
(http://pivovar.kozel.cz/images/fotogalerie/foto2_32_thumb.jpg)
Title: Re: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?
Post by: majorvices on November 23, 2009, 08:35:00 PM
I don;t know what it is about my conical then but i seriously can not get a decent beer out of it. I even re-criced near boiling water through it to make sure it is sanitized but I always get the same off flavor, and that flavor reminds me of oxidation (kind of a vanilla/cardbord combination - I really don;t know how to explain it.) The last time I used it I did a side by side batch with my conical and a carboy and I brewed a Saison (a recipe I brew very regularly) and the werid think was that when I sampled the beer right at the end of fermentation it was awesome. 3 days later when I racked into my keg it had that off flavor while the carboy right next to the conical was great.

I even sprung for the PITA rubber ring that seals the lid. I don't k now what the deal is with the carboy but have zeroed in on oxidation. One thing is for sure, it is not contamination because I have harvested yeast successfully several times with no issues. It is the beer itself that suffers.

I am open to any ideas on how to fix this.
Title: Re: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?
Post by: Kaiser on November 23, 2009, 08:55:30 PM
I’d use the conical as a yeast propagator:

(http://braukaiser.com/images/misc_forum/conical_yeast_propagator.gif)

I had very good success with air raised yeast. When I propagate my lager yeast with constant air, I can get fermentation rates of 1-1.2 Plato/day over the first 7 days of fermentation at 48F and normal pitching rate. As a result I have been doing this for all my recent lager batches. Currently I do this in a carboy but would love to do this in a conical if I could find one for less than $100. With a conical I can place the air stone at the lowest point and create an optimal current that keeps all the yeast in suspension. Then I can let it settle and harvest at the bottom. I may even install al heater that would allow me to sanitize the fermenter and wort by boiling the wort in place. The wort that I’m using is about 12 l at 2 Plato.

To give proper credit, Geronimo from the NB forum pointed me to the fact that air raised yeast does so much better in fermentation. I have yet to conduct experiments to understand why that is and what an optimal propagation schedule is.

Kai
Title: Re: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?
Post by: majorvices on November 23, 2009, 09:09:36 PM
Have seriously thought about going that route and I do think that the "air raised" yeast works very well - have had great success propagating yeast in 1 gallon jugs with continuous aeration.

One thing I will say, my conical is not the same as the one in Thirty's picture. Mine is the step up from that one. Does not have the scre on lid. Must me 8 gallons or something (can't remember off hand.)
Title: Re: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?
Post by: dcbc on November 23, 2009, 10:35:25 PM
I have been fermenting in a 15 gallon corny keg from kegglebrewing.com for the past five months and have been very pleased with the results.  I cut about an inch off the dip tub and can do closed transfers to smaller kegs.  The only downside was the weight when loaded with beer.  Solved that by putting casters on the chest freezer and rolling it over to the brew stand where I pumped it from the kettle to the keg.
Title: Re: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?
Post by: blatz on November 24, 2009, 03:53:59 PM
whoa!  I don't love/promote my conical to justify the price  ::), I love it for the convenience.  then again, I got mine for half the cost from a friend who went pro  ;D.  I built a cart for it (for <$30), attached to the legs to wheel around the brewhouse aka garage, and it fits nicely in my stand up chest freezer.

frankly, there are a lot of benefits to it such as cold break dumps, better yeast harvesting, easier racking, fermenting one batch all in one vessel etc. but is it necessarily going to make better beer, no - its just easier to use (though I have won 2 golds + entry into MCAB out of the three conical fermented submissions I have made since I got my conical in June, coincidence, I think not j/k). 

if you don't mind spending the cash, it can be a really fun toy to have, but it certainly isn't necessary - I did just fine with carboys and then better bottles after that.  But would I do it all again, you betcha, and would I pay full price - sure.  I guess I'm just not as cheap as these guys, or perhaps I don't need to justify my cheapness by saying the benefits aren't worth it  :P :P :P.  I do believe Denny didn't need a pump at one point...now he's got one foot into the dark side...

Keith - I think your problem might just be the plastic. "get yourself a new map"  (see if anyone can get that movie quote).

Kai - interesting idea;  IIRC, there was a company that would sell the shell of a conical for dirt cheap, then you would just need a welder to help you do the rest - I remember reading a bunch of folks doing that a few years back.
Title: Re: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?
Post by: Thirsty_Monk on November 24, 2009, 04:09:03 PM

Keith - I think your problem might just be the plastic.
Mini Brew plastic is much harder plastic then what is used on plastic buckets.

I think people are getting metal hoppers for conical from Toledo Metal:
http://www.toledometalspinning.com/products/hoppers/priceList.asp
To be sure check HomeBrew Talk forum.
Title: Re: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?
Post by: majorvices on November 24, 2009, 04:32:01 PM
FTR I didn't say the plastic conical was my only conical.  ;) I have a Stainless one too - one that I can't move when it is full of beer (hence my "stationary" comment above). I just said I couldn't ever get a good beer out of the plastic one and that, for the price, buckets and carboys are more convenient (IMO) for 5 to 10 gallon batches.
Title: Re: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?
Post by: lisatim on November 25, 2009, 02:18:12 AM
Thank you all for the input!  I'm currently doing 12 gallon batches of ale.  By the time I primary then secondary ferment plus rack to my bottling bucket, I'm down to 10.  I hate loosing 2 gallons but I try to stay away from the trub in the bottom of the pails during each transfer.  Frankly, that's what I hate with the bukets and carboys...the transfers that take place between primary and secondary. I always mix 1/2 from one bucket into one carboy and the other 1/2 from the second bucket.  Then do it again for the second carboy.  I want both carboys to produce the same result in the end (for good or bad) and  I'm freaked out over the poss. of contamination.  Although I haven't totaly wrecked a batch in three years, if I keep going this way it's bound to catch up with me.  As for the water useage (municiple system), I have to sanatize the buckets then the carboys a week later, then wash the buckets out, then wash the carboys out after secondary as well as the bottling bucket, not to mention all the water I use during the brewing proccess, and yeast starter proccess.  I also have to wash and sanitize my pump and CFC, my 20 gallon kettle, my glass bottles and PET Tap-a-Draft bottles.
Sorry for the novel but I would love to bump up to 15 gallon batches and be able to cut out some " middlemen" along the way.  The fellow members of a fraternal organization I belong to love my stuff and are very thirsty. I need to be more efficient, thus the question about conicles.
Happy Thanksgiving
Tim
Title: Re: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?
Post by: alemental on November 26, 2009, 12:06:03 AM
Did you ever consider a demi-john? It is not a conical, but it does hold 15 gallons. It comes with a basket which helps you move it about. If you can lift it, that is. Bear in mind though, these things are a little bit of a PITA to handle as thay are quite large. I was using a couple of these with great  results until I switched to using converted sanke kegs.
Link:
http://www.midwestsupplies.com/products/ProdByID.aspx?ProdID=6255 (http://www.midwestsupplies.com/products/ProdByID.aspx?ProdID=6255)
Title: Re: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?
Post by: dhacker on November 26, 2009, 01:37:17 PM
Greetings.   I'm looking into a more efficient way to ferment 15 gallon batches.  Stainless conicles look beautiful but quite a bit of money for someone who only brews 2 or 3 times a year.  I would brew more often if I could only take some of the hassle out of "brew day", and I believe my wife would allow a one time expenditure if it may save on the water bill.  The buckets and carboys have to go!!  Can anyone suggest a less expensive, reliable fermentation device than s.s. conicles?
Thanks for your input,
Tim

Find a 1/2 bbl keg, cut the top out like you would if you were making a BK. Get some Lexan to make a strong, transparent lid, buy a big gasket to go between the keg opening and the Lexan, drill a hole in the Lexan for an air lock drilled bung, make a simple clamp to tighten the Lexan to the gasket to make it air tight . . Voila! Inexpensive 15.5 gallon fermenter!

I have two!  ;D
Title: Re: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?
Post by: beerocd on November 26, 2009, 02:54:26 PM

Get some Lexan to make a strong, transparent lid, buy a big gasket to go between the keg opening and the Lexan, drill a hole in the Lexan for an air lock drilled bung, make a simple clamp to tighten the Lexan to the gasket to make it air tight . . Voila! Inexpensive 15.5 gallon fermenter!

I have two!  ;D

Pics of the lid - and clamping contraption please? Sure I can come up with something from what you said, but you might have done something different/better than what I would think up. So, pics would be a big help.

Thanks!
-OCD
Title: Re: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?
Post by: boydbrewing on November 26, 2009, 07:30:51 PM
Check this out. It's a pretty nice setup for converting a Sanke Keg to a fermenter. http://www.brewershardware.com/fermenter.htm
Title: Re: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?
Post by: dhacker on November 26, 2009, 09:02:52 PM

Get some Lexan to make a strong, transparent lid, buy a big gasket to go between the keg opening and the Lexan, drill a hole in the Lexan for an air lock drilled bung, make a simple clamp to tighten the Lexan to the gasket to make it air tight . . Voila! Inexpensive 15.5 gallon fermenter!

I have two!  ;D

Pics of the lid - and clamping contraption please? Sure I can come up with something from what you said, but you might have done something different/better than what I would think up. So, pics would be a big help.

Thanks!
-OCD


Gimme til tomorrow to get the pics up . .
Title: Re: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?
Post by: dhacker on December 01, 2009, 12:37:38 AM
OCD . . don't give up on me . . I'm gonna get a pic up fer ya.  :-[
Title: Re: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?
Post by: yugamrap on December 01, 2009, 03:37:53 AM

Get some Lexan to make a strong, transparent lid, buy a big gasket to go between the keg opening and the Lexan, drill a hole in the Lexan for an air lock drilled bung, make a simple clamp to tighten the Lexan to the gasket to make it air tight . . Voila! Inexpensive 15.5 gallon fermenter!

I have two!  ;D

Pics of the lid - and clamping contraption please? Sure I can come up with something from what you said, but you might have done something different/better than what I would think up. So, pics would be a big help.

Thanks!
-OCD
This lid is just a cheap plastic plate from WalMart, but it's pretty much what dhacker describes.  The hole in the top is 6.5" and there is a 7.25" X 0.25" o-ring from Fastenal used as a gasket between the plate and the top of the keg.  The hold-down bar is made from a keg spear, some all-thread and a few nuts, and is held on with a couple c-clamps.

(http://i27.tinypic.com/scwfwl.jpg)
Title: Re: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?
Post by: karlh on December 09, 2009, 08:30:04 PM
I have used kegs converted in the same manner as described above and they work great.  My old brew partner had two fermenters like this with a drain valve welded on in the same manner as a converted keg boil kettle.  For his lid, he cut a smaller hole (10") in the keg he used for a fermenter and a larger (12") hole out of another keg for a boil kettle.  He then used the scrap sankey top from the larger hole with a bead of silicone for his lid.  Boiling water in the keg was the preferred method of sanitation. 

For a commercial product I have the Sabco "yeast brink"... essentially a sankey type keg with a corny-style top welded on and the same gas-in and beer-out ports as a corny.  I am not sure they still sell these, but it would be worth the call.  They ran about $175 when I bought mine.  I can't compare it to a stainless conical, but it has worked great for me using the gas-in line, a short length of hose, and a cup of water on top of the keg as an airlock.  I have a 12 gallon batch of Classic American Pils fermenting in it now.  If they don't sell these anymore it might be worthwhile to hire a welding shop to tig weld the top of an old corny to a (legally obtained) sankey keg. 
Title: Re: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?
Post by: dhacker on December 11, 2009, 09:00:22 PM

Pics of the lid - and clamping contraption please? Sure I can come up with something from what you said, but you might have done something different/better than what I would think up. So, pics would be a big help.

Thanks!
-OCD

I'm trying to post pics . . what a PITA.  >:(
Title: Re: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?
Post by: dhacker on December 11, 2009, 09:30:48 PM
Pics of the lid - and clamping contraption please? Sure I can come up with something from what you said, but you might have done something different/better than what I would think up. So, pics would be a big help.

Thanks!
-OCD

Finally . . The pics!

(http://i1013.photobucket.com/albums/af255/dhacker50/KettleLid.jpg)

(http://i1013.photobucket.com/albums/af255/dhacker50/LidinPlace.jpg)
Title: Re: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?
Post by: Thirsty_Monk on December 12, 2009, 03:28:20 AM
Nice work.
Title: Re: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?
Post by: beerocd on December 12, 2009, 05:25:45 AM


Finally . . The pics!


Thanks! Looks good.
Title: Re: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?
Post by: mindar on April 23, 2010, 04:06:09 AM
This may be a bit late, but I found this website about the same time as the original post.

Check out www.conical-fermenter.com The guy has SS conicals for better then half the price of the same-size Bilchmans. I've got a 14.5 gal on it's way right now and John's been super to work with.
Title: Re: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?
Post by: monk on April 23, 2010, 04:50:55 AM
"get yourself a new map"  (see if anyone can get that movie quote).


Tommy Boy.  BAM!

It's obvious that I'm easily distracted from the main topic.
Title: Re: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?
Post by: majorvices on April 24, 2010, 01:56:00 PM
This may be a bit late, but I found this website about the same time as the original post.

Check out www.conical-fermenter.com The guy has SS conicals for better then half the price of the same-size Bilchmans. I've got a 14.5 gal on it's way right now and John's been super to work with.

$410 bucks for a 14 gallon conical isn't "better than half" the price of a Blichmann. They are a bit less expensive though.
Title: Re: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?
Post by: mindar on April 26, 2010, 11:57:56 AM
This may be a bit late, but I found this website about the same time as the original post.

Check out www.conical-fermenter.com The guy has SS conicals for better then half the price of the same-size Bilchmans. I've got a 14.5 gal on it's way right now and John's been super to work with.

$410 bucks for a 14 gallon conical isn't "better than half" the price of a Blichmann. They are a bit less expensive though.

A Blichman with tri-clamp fittings (which all the others have) at Homebrew Heaven is $921
$830 for a 14.5g Blichman on both Midwest and Williams Brewing.
$895 for a 14g on Morebeer. (Not Blichman, but their house brand, but comparable)
Now, NB, Austin and Brewmasters Warehouse all have the Blichman for $599

So, with 4 places with higher prices, and three with lower, I'm willing to state that on average, the price is higher for the Blichman fermenter.

830/2=415
415>410

So, yes, better then half price. At most some places.
Title: Re: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?
Post by: majorvices on April 28, 2010, 11:28:34 AM
Right around 600 bucks is what I have been seeing them at at the places I shop.
Title: Re: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?
Post by: stlaleman on April 28, 2010, 01:23:33 PM
There is a company in St Louis that makes a half barrel (holds a total of 20 gallons) stainless conical for under 400. One was donated to the STL Microfest Homebrew Competition for BOS. For a brochure call 888-207-8802 and ask to speak to a Brewhemoth rep.
Title: Re: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?
Post by: gsandel on May 23, 2010, 05:09:45 PM
I found this pic on the Brewhemoth at http://www.stlbrews.org/phpbb2/viewtopic.php?t=2530&sid=ee4218785df1685ee539fe853112ffe0
(http://[img]file:///D:/Downloads/Conical2.jpg)

Title: Re: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?
Post by: rkausch on June 21, 2010, 09:30:18 PM
I did just find these, though I've never used them before.  I'm actually considering buying one and seeing if I can make it work.  Does anyone have any experience using something like this?

http://www.usplastic.com/catalog/item.aspx?itemid=45020&catid=513&clickid=searchresults#relatedproducts

70 bucks for a 15 gallon "FDA standard compliant tank" (unsure if that means food grade, I'm still doing research) sounds pretty good though, and even if you have to add extra fittings to it, it might still be worth it.