I just finished my 2nd brew on my new conical. The big surprise is how often I have to dump yeast and hops to get any beer out. I don't know if this is typical for a small conical like mine, but I expected the yeast and hops to sit in the cone below the two upper outlets. Here is a picture (a Stout Tanks 7.3 gallon):
In the first brew (a RIS), I went to check the gravity via a sampler valve in the top-most T-C fitting you see there. I got nothing but yeast, and had to open the top and draw it out using a pipette. Not the most sanitary, and moreover, what is the %#*! point of having a sampler valve to check gravity if one has to dump the yeast first? I would think that if the beer is not done, I want it to stay on the yeast. I know, there is still a lot of yeast in there, but as I said this is in the category of what I expected and lessons learned.
Anyway, on the 2nd brew (an APA), I dumped the yeast prior to dry-hopping (I like the ability to do that!), and then after the allotted time for dry hopping, cold crashed the beer for 2 days assuming the hops and remaining yeast would precipitate down into the cone so I could keg using a hose connected to a valve on the middle T-C port. Now hops were plugging that valve! And I only used 3 ounces of hop pellets. I like to put 4-5 in my IPAs.
So apparently I am going to have to dump the yeast prior to dry-hopping, and dump the hops prior to kegging. Is this typical? Am I going to end up with 4 gallons from a 5.5 gallon batch because of all this dumping? Or am I missing something - is there a better way?