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General Category => Equipment and Software => Topic started by: gmac on June 13, 2011, 04:06:39 PM

Title: Bigger fermenter
Post by: gmac on June 13, 2011, 04:06:39 PM
I need a bigger fermenter.  Right now I'm using 18 and 23L glass carboys as well as some 23L plastic pails.  The glass looks good but you all know why it can suck.  The pails are alright but I have a hell of a time getting them to seal and I like to watch the bubbles.
So, has anyone tried converting a 15 gal Sanke keg over to a fermenter?  I'm assuming you could get it pretty clean since they get re-used in the brewery.  I thought about cutting out the valve and welding in a threaded fitting so that I could close it, adding a drain fitting in the bottom, a blow-off tube fitting in the top and a valve for racking. 
I've looked at the stainless ones but they seem to be pretty pricey (more than I want to spend). 

Anyone have any better suggestions that won't break the bank?
Thanks.
Title: Re: Bigger fermenter
Post by: morticaixavier on June 13, 2011, 04:09:09 PM
you can absolutly do that. I have NO idea how you go about it though.

I guy in my brew club has exactly that as his fermenter. He is a welder by trade though so he has some skills that I lack. I am sur eyou could find instructions on the web
Title: Re: Bigger fermenter
Post by: tom on June 13, 2011, 04:14:38 PM
I use the "slim" 1/4 kegs.  They are 7.75 gallons and as tall as a pin-lock corny.  I thought I would rig up something by using the Sanke spear, but I have found that the orange carboy caps do the trick.

I clean it by soaking with hot PBW and then use a carboy brush.  I sanitize with StarSan.
Title: Re: Bigger fermenter
Post by: euge on June 13, 2011, 05:38:21 PM
Just remember going up on the size of fermenter creates possible new needs. Foremost- will you still be able to control the temp? Can you move the fermenter when it is full? Things like that.

That being said yes, I have heard of and seen pics of 15 gal sanke fermenters.

Title: Re: Bigger fermenter
Post by: idris_arslanian on June 13, 2011, 06:52:47 PM
This guy sells a stainless setup for sanke fermenters:
http://www.brewershardware.com/Sanke-Fermenter-Kits

The thread has more info:
http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f11/sanke-fermenter-conversion-128262/
Title: Re: Bigger fermenter
Post by: gmac on June 13, 2011, 06:56:00 PM
Just remember going up on the size of fermenter creates possible new needs. Foremost- will you still be able to control the temp? Can you move the fermenter when it is full? Things like that.


Very good points.  Right now everything I do is completely by hand.  Cooled wort goes into the fermenter one scoop at a time through a strainer which is slow but does aerate it somewhat.  Biggest challenge would likely be elevating it to siphon out the finished beer.  I don't have any pumps and I'd like to avoid them but I may have to find one if I go with something bigger.  

As for temp control, right now I'm brewing at ambient temps in my basement which are about 62 in winter, 70 in summer.  90% of what I brew are ales so I should be ok and I can always go back to my carboys for the occassional lager if I have to.

Thanks
Title: Re: Bigger fermenter
Post by: morticaixavier on June 13, 2011, 07:11:51 PM
Just remember going up on the size of fermenter creates possible new needs. Foremost- will you still be able to control the temp? Can you move the fermenter when it is full? Things like that.


Very good points.  Right now everything I do is completely by hand.  Cooled wort goes into the fermenter one scoop at a time through a strainer which is slow but does aerate it somewhat.  Biggest challenge would likely be elevating it to siphon out the finished beer.  I don't have any pumps and I'd like to avoid them but I may have to find one if I go with something bigger.  

As for temp control, right now I'm brewing at ambient temps in my basement which are about 62 in winter, 70 in summer.  90% of what I brew are ales so I should be ok and I can always go back to my carboys for the occassional lager if I have to.

Thanks

not sure about this but I would guess that if your 5 gallon batches in carboy/buckets get a 5-8 degree bump above ambient a 15 gallon batch is going to be more like 10-15 degrees bump. even at 62 in winter your pushing it at that point even for ales. even for belgians
Title: Re: Bigger fermenter
Post by: waltsmalt on June 15, 2011, 05:49:49 PM
I currently brew 10 gallon batches and use a Sanke as a fermenter.  A few years back a guy I play hockey with gave me two corney kegs that had all metal tops, i.e. no rubber.  Through posting a help wanted ad on Craigslist a few years back I located a welder who welds for a local dairy.  I had him cut the corney and Sanke and then weld the corney into the top of the Sanke.  He initially said he would do it for $75, but I said I felt like it was worth more and told him I would pay him $100.  He's a great guy and I wanted to make sure he compensated for the work at hand.  Turns out he said it was pretty challenging as the corney is pretty thin.  He said if I want another one he would need $125. 

It works great as I have a big enough hole to clean it and in and out ports for closed transfers.  I cut a dip tube short to avoid yeast pick-up when transferring.  Before hooking it up to my corney I usually run a picnic tap until the beer runs clear.

Downside is that it's not fun to lift into my chest freezer to control fermenation temps.  Next step is to make a cart for my chest freezer that I can wheel over to the brewstand and back to it's usual place.


Overall for the price, I would do it again.
Title: Re: Bigger fermenter
Post by: euge on June 15, 2011, 06:23:58 PM
Cart? How about a couple of these? Harbor Freight (http://www.harborfreight.com/movers-dolly-39757.html)

(http://www.harborfreight.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/370x/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/i/m/image_9797.jpg)
Title: Re: Bigger fermenter
Post by: gmac on June 15, 2011, 07:37:04 PM
I currently brew 10 gallon batches and use a Sanke as a fermenter.  A few years back a guy I play hockey with gave me two corney kegs that had all metal tops, i.e. no rubber.  Through posting a help wanted ad on Craigslist a few years back I located a welder who welds for a local dairy.  I had him cut the corney and Sanke and then weld the corney into the top of the Sanke.  He initially said he would do it for $75, but I said I felt like it was worth more and told him I would pay him $100.  He's a great guy and I wanted to make sure he compensated for the work at hand.  Turns out he said it was pretty challenging as the corney is pretty thin.  He said if I want another one he would need $125. 

It works great as I have a big enough hole to clean it and in and out ports for closed transfers.  I cut a dip tube short to avoid yeast pick-up when transferring.  Before hooking it up to my corney I usually run a picnic tap until the beer runs clear.

Downside is that it's not fun to lift into my chest freezer to control fermenation temps.  Next step is to make a cart for my chest freezer that I can wheel over to the brewstand and back to it's usual place.


Overall for the price, I would do it again.

I'd love to see a picture of it if you could.  Sounds like an interesting way to put in an opening.
Title: Re: Bigger fermenter
Post by: jaybeerman on June 15, 2011, 08:53:34 PM
fyi these ttp://morebeer.com/view_product/16657/beerwinecoffee/Rubber_Carboy_Blow_Off_Hood_w_White_Caps_5_Gallon  (http://ttp://morebeer.com/view_product/16657/beerwinecoffee/Rubber_Carboy_Blow_Off_Hood_w_White_Caps_5_Gallon) will fit over the sanke tops.  to convert into a fermenter simply remove the spear and use the cap.  you'll need to make a racking cane.  cheers, j
Title: Re: Bigger fermenter
Post by: rayallen on June 15, 2011, 09:02:22 PM
I was thinking of going with one of these later on when I move to bigger batches

http://www.tank-depot.com/product.aspx?id=854
Title: Re: Bigger fermenter
Post by: euge on June 15, 2011, 10:38:03 PM
I was thinking of going with one of these later on when I move to bigger batches

http://www.tank-depot.com/product.aspx?id=854

There's actually a location here in SA. I've been planning on getting a 500 gallon tank to catch rain water. If we ever get any.

Title: Re: Bigger fermenter
Post by: gsandel on June 16, 2011, 04:58:27 AM
Ironic.....I got my How to Brew mag today....describes how to convert a sanke for fermenter....although sexy, it is more fancy than need be, though.

I converted from carboys to open fermentation in a cut open sanke.....I just place the lid from my original 5 gallon cheapo ss pot (from my extract days) over the opening.  Cleaning is a breeze, and checking or wine thiefing beer is also a breeze.....if open fermentation is good enough for Anchor....it is good enough for me.

although I am no award winner at NHC.....

Title: Re: Bigger fermenter
Post by: dcbc on June 16, 2011, 04:47:47 PM
Most of this has been covered, but I'll add my upsizing experience.  I went from buckets to a 15 gallon corny with the dip tube shortened.  First thing this required was putting a 12" collar on my chest freezer to account for the height.  Next, I had to figure out how I was going to get it in there with it full.  Since my brew stand isn't close to my fermentation chamber, I built a cart with casters on it and lifted the chest freezer into that.  On brew day, I unplug the chest freezer with the 15 gallon corny fermenter in it and roll it over to my stand.  I pump my chilled wort into the fermenter and roll it back into place. 

Transfers from that point on are closed under CO2 pressure and easy as can be.

For cleaning, I just fill it up with hot water and oxyclean and let it soak for a few days.  Pump out the cleaning fluid until it's light enough to lift and dump.  Little to any brushing is necessary 98% of the time. 

For a while, I used an airlock on a drilled corny lid.  But now, I just throw a qd onto the gas poppit with a blow off hose going to a jar of sanitizer.  I have plenty of head space and don't blow off anything other than gas.

Tank geometry on this scale has been a non issue.  My beers have never tasted better.
Title: Re: Bigger fermenter
Post by: gmac on June 16, 2011, 07:30:25 PM
Those plastic tanks seem just "too cheap".  I'm sure they are wonderful but at $90 for a 30 gallon tank it just seems too good to be true. 

Love the idea of rolling the freezer around to  move it to the fermenter. 
Lots of good ideas on here.
Thanks.
Title: Re: Bigger fermenter
Post by: euge on June 17, 2011, 05:39:55 AM
Those plastic tanks seem just "too cheap".  I'm sure they are wonderful but at $90 for a 30 gallon tank it just seems too good to be true. 

Love the idea of rolling the freezer around to  move it to the fermenter. 
Lots of good ideas on here.
Thanks.

+1 From personal experience I suggest sticking to food-grade materials only.