I regularly ferment 5 gallon batches in a 10 gallon stainless conical.
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I remember someone advocating fermenting in a new garbage can liner a few years ago. As long as that bag is leak free, that seems like it could be a good option for a fermentation vessel. Placing some sort of flat plate over the top of the container should serve to keep infectors out.
One thing it helps is prevention of boil overs at the beginning of the boil. If using a kettle at capacity, it helps to get rid of the sticky stuff.
I can fill my 14 gallon kettle to about 1/2 inch from the top and not have a boil over and don't skim foam. OTOH I am a ninja.
+ 1 - gravityThe reason I quit using my tubing some time back was because I had a lot of problems with stuck sparges. With the tubing off I could easily see when my runnings were slowing down. However I seem to have overcome the stuck sparge problem when I went to thinner mashes.
It seems to me that the tubing helps get a siphon going which helps to completely empty your tun.
Do you open your valve a tiny amount in the beginning of run off? This helps to prevent compaction.
I wouldn't worry about HSA. I'm with you that it is a non-issue. Adding tubing to the nipple works better physically. It provides more suction and will drain more completely.
Try it yourself. Fill your kettle with 3 gallons of water and drain it with a length of tubing and without tubing. It's a night and day difference.