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General Category => Equipment and Software => Topic started by: seajellie on December 02, 2010, 06:44:25 PM

Title: Stainless Steel bucket fermenter
Post by: seajellie on December 02, 2010, 06:44:25 PM
Has anybody on this site ever been enticed to find or build a stainless steel fermenter designed more or less like the ubiquitous plastic bucket fermenters that are so readily available? If so, where did you find the bucket?

I've searched off and on for a couple years, and the closest I can find is lined steel barrels at either 5 gal or 10 gallon size; unlined and 7 - 8 gallons would be perfect.

Maybe I just don't know how to search for it, but it seems they would already be around given the advantages:

* much lower cost than a conical or a ten gallon corny (which I can only find new for lots of $$)
* easy to clean and sanitize; can use heat, no worry about breakage
* easier to move, similar to moving a plastic bucket, and right-sized to fit in most fridges for fermentation temp control
* could be readily adapted with weldless spigots and CO2 fittings.
* same container could be used for primary or secondary with use of CO2.

The ability to dump yeast with a conical is cool I admit, but not worth hundreds of dollars of expense to me.

Right now I use a combination of five gallon cornies, plastic buckets, and glass carboys for primary or secondary fermentation, but I'd get rid of all of it in a second for a more versatile, durable, and coherent system of ss buckets. And while the corny as fermenter is not bad, getting in there to clean it is not as easy as with buckets, and I'd prefer a more squat geometry for the fermentation. And of course, there is the used keg option, but the half kegs that I've seen take up a huge amount of foot print for 8 gallons, and take more metal work than I desire to do.

Thanks for your thoughts.
Title: Re: Stainless Steel bucket fermenter
Post by: jaybeerman on December 02, 2010, 06:52:13 PM
bucket or perhaps a kettle or pot.  I ferment in a 1/2 bbl keg sometimes, works great. 
Title: Re: Stainless Steel bucket fermenter
Post by: punatic on December 02, 2010, 07:07:21 PM
I have a 10 gallon Volrath ss stockpot that I ferment in a lot.  I use it mostly for making fruit mead and the occasional fruit beer.  Fruit tends to make for vigorous ferments so the extra headspace is nice.  I cover the stockpot with its lid; no airlock, the gas just escapes on its own.  No infected batches.  Easy to clean and sanitized.  To sanitize I just put around an inch of water in it, put the lid on it and boil for 10 minutes or so.

It used to be my wort kettle, but I moved up to converted sankey kegs for brewing vessles.
Title: Re: Stainless Steel bucket fermenter
Post by: gordonstrong on December 02, 2010, 07:56:53 PM
Ah, Volrath.  That's pro kitchen stuff.  Solid like battleship.
Title: Re: Stainless Steel bucket fermenter
Post by: punatic on December 02, 2010, 08:05:31 PM
Ah, Volrath.  That's pro kitchen stuff.  Solid like battleship.

Homebrewer porn for sure!  Still as good as new.

A gift from my wife when we first got married.
Title: Re: Stainless Steel bucket fermenter
Post by: beersk on December 02, 2010, 08:33:17 PM
I have a 10 gallon Volrath ss stockpot that I ferment in a lot.  I use it mostly for making fruit mead and the occasional fruit beer.  Fruit tends to make for vigorous ferments so the extra headspace is nice.  I cover the stockpot with its lid; no airlock, the gas just escapes on its own.  No infected batches.  Easy to clean and sanitized.  To sanitize I just put around an inch of water in it, put the lid on it and boil for 10 minutes or so.

It used to be my wort kettle, but I moved up to converted sankey kegs for brewing vessles.
Hey this is an interesting method, I might be inclined to try that.  You ever do that for beer?  Could make it easy for top cropping as well.  I've got an 8 gallon commercial stainless steel kettle that could possibly be used for this.
Title: Re: Stainless Steel bucket fermenter
Post by: seajellie on December 02, 2010, 08:41:41 PM
I've used a SS kettle several times for wine but not for lower alcohol drinks like beer. I think you're right, with care it would work for beer too.

Some advantages, especially if you can find one with the dimensions that work for ya. The downsides are getting an airtight seal if you had visions of racking with CO2 or topping it off with CO2 for use as secondary. I have searched for gaskets before; best I saw would keep it airtight, but not good enough to withstand much pressure.

Still, it's an option, and you get even more possible use out of them since it's a kettle. Would be fairly easy to seal it up and use an airlock (I have various animate objects around the house that would likely disrupt it if I couldn't seal it...)
Title: Re: Stainless Steel bucket fermenter
Post by: punatic on December 03, 2010, 02:09:36 AM
I've only used the SS kettle for primary fermentation of fruit meads and fruit beers, but I think it would work well for all beers.  I'm not concerned with the lid sealing.  It fits well enough just sitting on top of the stockpot. The outgassing carbon dioxide creates a positive pressure inside the fermenter; the gas movement is outward.  What's really nice about this setup is the ease of access to punch down the fruit cap - lift the lid and stir away.

When it comes time to rack the mead/beer off of the fruit lees I take a SS kitchen strainer, boil it for ten minutes to sanitize, then scoop out the fruit floating on the surface and discard the spent fruit.  Then I put a sanitized carboy funnel into a glass carboy, put the strainer in the funnel and use a sanitized 500mL pyrex measuring cup to scoop the mead/beer out of the stockpot and pour it through the stainer/funnel into the carboy.  It is very easy to move the mead/beer into the secondary fermenter this way.  No priming or unclogging siphons!

I rack to the secondary while there is still a bit of fermentation activity.  This creates positive pressure in the airlocked seconday fermenter.  I purge the secondary with a shot of carbon dioxide before transfer.

I think the key to making clean mead/beer is clean equipment.  I think exposure to the atmosphere is not a deal-breaker, especially once fermentation is well established.  (as long as there is not a lot of dust or aerosols in the atmosphere).
Title: Re: Stainless Steel bucket fermenter
Post by: narcout on December 03, 2010, 04:47:52 PM
Maybe you could find a stainless industrial pressure cooker?
Title: Re: Stainless Steel bucket fermenter
Post by: 1vertical on December 03, 2010, 05:42:02 PM
Large dairy ss creamery can

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=250693660585&ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT

or perhap$$

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=270656079392&ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT
Title: Re: Stainless Steel bucket fermenter
Post by: Slowbrew on December 03, 2010, 09:28:17 PM
Large dairy ss creamery can

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=250693660585&ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT

or perhap$$

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=270656079392&ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT

Okay.  Now I just feel dumb.  Dad held on to 8 milk cans after he quit milking because he wanted to give each of kids one.  We all told him to put them on the farm sale.  I could have had 8 stainless fermenters for $0.  Of course that was 15 years ago and I didn't start brewing until 13 years ago but still... DOH!!

Paul
Title: Re: Stainless Steel bucket fermenter
Post by: seajellie on December 04, 2010, 03:36:11 PM
Paul, I feel your pain as I grew up in Iowa with many dairy farmers in the family -- I have to make it back for next year's family reunion, with a keg or two in tow, and see if I can open any minds!

Thanks for the links 1vertical, that is close to what I'm thinking. The ten gallon corny is a thing of beauty, although a simple SS bucket/barrel would fit my homebrew needs just fine. The whole thing boggles my mind a bit. You can find a beautiful 10 gallon corny adapted to brewing for 250$; yet every time i search for a simple SS barrel in the 7 - 8 gallon size the best prices are... 250$!

There are cheap SS 32Q to 36Q stock pots out there some of which have dimensions close to a bucket. But as I'm looking for a series of these things to replace all primaries and secondaries, all that retrofitting is not in plan at the moment...

search continues....
Title: Re: Stainless Steel bucket fermenter
Post by: tubercle on December 04, 2010, 03:41:36 PM
Tubercle still plans on getting one of these someday...
http://www.napafermentation.com/catalog_c127268.html
Title: Re: Stainless Steel bucket fermenter
Post by: 1vertical on December 04, 2010, 04:34:22 PM
Ok seajellie this is the last link I am putting up ...I just went from ss can to ss milk bucket
and found this beauty ....  5 gallons...doubt if you could easily find any larger than this
http://www.homesteadersupply.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=73,106&products_id=289

Down the page there even appears to be a lid for the thing...
I know how it is when you get your minds eye set on something... ;) ;D
Title: Re: Stainless Steel bucket fermenter
Post by: 1vertical on December 04, 2010, 05:11:24 PM
Tubercle still plans on getting one of these someday...
http://www.napafermentation.com/catalog_c127268.html

Tubercle I look at those and think that they look so tinny you could dent em with yer thumb
but without actually handling one I dunno what to tell you....let me know if they are built well.
Title: Re: Stainless Steel bucket fermenter
Post by: euge on December 04, 2010, 05:13:57 PM
Tubercle still plans on getting one of these someday...
http://www.napafermentation.com/catalog_c127268.html

Tubercle I look at those and think that they look so tinny you could dent em with yer thumb
but without actually handling one I dunno what to tell you....let me know if they are built well.
Tubercle still plans on getting one of these someday...
http://www.napafermentation.com/catalog_c127268.html


Tubercle I look at those and think that they look so tinny you could dent em with yer thumb
but without actually handling one I dunno what to tell you....let me know if they are built well.

I like the looks because you can put a valve on them, which I have on all my fermenters.
Title: Re: Stainless Steel bucket fermenter
Post by: seajellie on December 04, 2010, 09:42:14 PM
I like the looks of those Fusti cans Tubercle - thanks for the pointer. The 30L one weighs 3.7 kilos, so they probably are thinner than the ole Iowa milk containers but should work fine for fermenting.

Here's a link to one with dimensions closer to the home brew bucket size:

http://www.oliveoilsource.com/content/stainless-steel-fusti-spigot-30-liter

Hefty markup for that SS spigot.

Read somewhere that these things take different threads than our typical NPT threads, so a conversion piece is necessary, less than ten bucks.

Now, about that 155$ price... well I take a trip to Italy every 2 or 3 years, will have to see what the local prices are. And maybe some day the dollar will get off its back. Otherwise, I guess I'll plan a trip through some Iowa rural junkyards (a.k.a, my relatives' back yards ;-) sometime to see if any treasures are about!
Title: Re: Stainless Steel bucket fermenter
Post by: narcout on December 05, 2010, 12:13:13 AM
You can find a beautiful 10 gallon corny adapted to brewing for 250$; yet every time i search for a simple SS barrel in the 7 - 8 gallon size the best prices are... 250$!

You can get a 10 gallon corny keg for $165 from this place:

 http://www.chicompany.net/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1_44&products_id=1073