I have put half a dozen batches through my new conical now, so I thought I'd share what I have learned.
) is the one I bought for $374.
First, the positives:
* As far as conicals go, a good price.
* The welds are very smooth /sanitary. I can't fault them on the construction.
* It is nice being able to dump yeast prior to dry-hopping & hops prior to kegging.
* Clean-up is a breeze.
* I don't have to worry about scratching plastic while cleaning
* I can re-use yeast
* My son-in-law is a pipefitter (welder) in the commercial food industry so I had him add leg extensions so that a 2 liter Erlenmeyer flask *just* fits under the bottom valve so I can harvest yeast easily. I also had him weld a tri-clamp fitting on the lid so I can pump from the boil kettle through the plate chiller and into the conical which is sitting in the freezer/fermentation chamber.
* My system losses have gone way up. I used to brew 5.5 gallon batches to end up with a full corny keg. Now I am at 6.5, and I'm not sure that
is enough. I have yet to get a full corny. Dumping yeast & hops = dumping beer.
* Even with a racking arm I was plugging Quick Disconnects with hop material like crazy. On the last brew I bypassed the QD completely and directly fed the beer into the 'Beverage In' tube with a plastic hose barb.
* There was a learning curve - which I did not expect. I imagined easy peasy. After 2-3 'Oh crap!' moments when beer or wort was shooting where it ought not, I think I'm done with that.
* The worst design aspect of this fermenter is the seal. One really has to crank down on the wing nut to get it to even have enough seal to direct the CO2 to the airlock. So when I go to keg I put a couple of pounds of CO2 into the top, it wont hold pressure at all. So I go through a lot of CO2.
* I can't see the wort/beer level inside the fermenter. This is the worst aspect of the conical to me.
If I had known this I may have stuck with my Speidel. Not sure though - it is on the bubble. At $53 each, one can buy 7 Speidels for what I paid for the conical, and they have none of the drawbacks stated above (except the scratching-while-cleaning fear).
But it looks cool. Which is something.