Author Topic: Conical Review  (Read 1033 times)

Offline yso191

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Conical Review
« on: June 13, 2014, 08:49:24 AM »
I have put half a dozen batches through my new conical now, so I thought I'd share what I have learned.
This (http://conical-fermenter.com/7.3-Gallon-Conical-Fermenter.html) 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

The Neutrals:
* 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.

The Negatives:
* 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.
Steve
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Offline mugwort

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Re: Conical Review
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2014, 11:13:04 AM »
Thank you for the candid writeup.  There's a lot to think about.
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Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Conical Review
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2014, 11:50:39 AM »
I looked at these once. The only think I cant do without a good conical is move beer with CO2. I can do everything else, including repitching yeast with a bucket or a speidel, or...
I personally dont see the benefit of a conical until you are doing larger batches and have built in temp control.

Offline yso191

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Re: Conical Review
« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2014, 03:06:50 PM »
I looked at these once. The only think I cant do without a good conical is move beer with CO2. I can do everything else, including repitching yeast with a bucket or a speidel, or...
I personally dont see the benefit of a conical until you are doing larger batches and have built in temp control.

Your Speidel works very well moving beer with CO2.  Buy an extra spigot, use just the ring to hold a #7 stopper with a hole in it.  Then a double hose barb to your CO2 and stopper and you're in business. 

I hope that is what you were referring to...
Steve
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Offline 69franx

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Re: Conical Review
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2014, 03:36:58 PM »
Sorry to hear it's not everything you wanted. But I am sure that your review will make others' choices easier to make regarding appropriate upgrades in their breweries


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Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Conical Review
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2014, 03:43:08 PM »
I looked at these once. The only think I cant do without a good conical is move beer with CO2. I can do everything else, including repitching yeast with a bucket or a speidel, or...
I personally dont see the benefit of a conical until you are doing larger batches and have built in temp control.

Your Speidel works very well moving beer with CO2.  Buy an extra spigot, use just the ring to hold a #7 stopper with a hole in it.  Then a double hose barb to your CO2 and stopper and you're in business. 

I hope that is what you were referring to...

Well then I stand corrected... I have zero need for a conical. Lol

Offline Thirsty_Monk

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Re: Conical Review
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2014, 03:59:04 PM »

I looked at these once. The only think I cant do without a good conical is move beer with CO2. I can do everything else, including repitching yeast with a bucket or a speidel, or...
I personally dont see the benefit of a conical until you are doing larger batches and have built in temp control.

Your Speidel works very well moving beer with CO2.  Buy an extra spigot, use just the ring to hold a #7 stopper with a hole in it.  Then a double hose barb to your CO2 and stopper and you're in business. 

I hope that is what you were referring to...

Well then I stand corrected... I have zero need for a conical. Lol
You can ferment your beer in Pumpkin if you like. Wort wants to be a beer and it does not care what vessel you use.


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Offline mabrungard

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Re: Conical Review
« Reply #7 on: June 14, 2014, 01:06:42 PM »
Steve, I assume you are wasting the yeast and trub? That is the probable loss of beer you cite. I have a 12 gal conical and I quickly learned that there is NO reason to waste that yeast prior to racking the beer. If the fermenter is cool, there is little chance of producing off flavors or defects from that mass. That just creates a volume of beer that you can't get out of the fermenter.

I wish I could say good things about QDs, but their design with protrusions and flaps in the flow path are just too prone to clogging. That 'convenience' of being able to disconnect and avoid liquid loss comes at the cost of greater clogging potential. I use camlocks with no obstructions and there is no chace for clogging.

My primary reason for moving to a conical was to avoid the danger of glass carboys. The secondary reason was to have easy access into the fermenter for dry hopping and cleaning. A third reason was to avoid plastic and oxygen pickup and places where critters might hide. Those are plenty enough reasons for my move to a SST conical.
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Offline philm63

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Re: Conical Review
« Reply #8 on: June 16, 2014, 02:28:12 PM »
Great food for thought, Steve. Still in the "thinking about it" phase. I'm in glass carboys now, and would like to change to somethig that isn't glass. But do I go to the $53 Spiedel, Better Bottles, or do I continue my quest for the almighty conical?

One question that I am stuck on at the moment is size. I don't go through 5 gallons very fast and usually only have 2 or 3 beers on-tap at any given time so I feel like I will be at the 5-gallon batch level for a while until I start "thinking about" a stand and some automation...

If I went conical; would it be worth the big step to go with a 7-Gallon size, or can I do 6 gallon fementations just as well in a 14? Would a 14-Gallon conical be impractical or limiting with only 6 or so gallons of wort? Trying to think long-term investment here.
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Offline dkfick

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Re: Conical Review
« Reply #9 on: June 16, 2014, 03:10:48 PM »
I think maybe you just need a little more practice with getting the yeast/trub out of the dump valve.  Once you get the hang of it there is very little waste.  Or like Martin said... You don't really need to dump it at all.  I usually do do a trub dump and harvest my yeast (to repitch). But you certainly don't need to. 

As for the clogging that may occur at the dump valve.  This is usually if you let the yeast sit too long.  It can get quite compact.  It will eventually... um... 'poop' out though. lol.  For the racking arm I ferment with it facing down and then when transferring always start with it in the 'up' position and just slowly turn it down while watching to make sure there is no yeast pick up... Then once I get even the slightest bit of yeast I either stop there or slightly back off (back to up).  I've never had my racking arm clog before.

I don't have the exact same conical as you (mine is their 14.5 gallon) but the lid gasket is not very intuitive as to which way is up and which way is down on it ;-).  I fermented my first few batches with the gasket in upside down... Maybe try flipping it and see if it seals easier/better.

Yes not being able to see through it can be a bit of a pain at times... When are we going to get that Star Trek 'Transparent Aluminum'?  Though I guess we'd want Transparent Stainless Steel.

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Offline yso191

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Re: Conical Review
« Reply #10 on: June 16, 2014, 08:25:13 PM »
Great food for thought, Steve. Still in the "thinking about it" phase. I'm in glass carboys now, and would like to change to somethig that isn't glass. But do I go to the $53 Spiedel, Better Bottles, or do I continue my quest for the almighty conical?

One question that I am stuck on at the moment is size. I don't go through 5 gallons very fast and usually only have 2 or 3 beers on-tap at any given time so I feel like I will be at the 5-gallon batch level for a while until I start "thinking about" a stand and some automation...

If I went conical; would it be worth the big step to go with a 7-Gallon size, or can I do 6 gallon fementations just as well in a 14? Would a 14-Gallon conical be impractical or limiting with only 6 or so gallons of wort? Trying to think long-term investment here.

One thing is clear, that I would not go with carboys again. The Speidel was a BIG improvement.  I have no insight as to size except that I'm sure you don't have to fill a conical to have it work well.
Steve
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Offline yso191

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Re: Conical Review
« Reply #11 on: June 16, 2014, 08:28:33 PM »
I think maybe you just need a little more practice with getting the yeast/trub out of the dump valve.  Once you get the hang of it there is very little waste.  Or like Martin said... You don't really need to dump it at all.  I usually do do a trub dump and harvest my yeast (to repitch). But you certainly don't need to. 

As for the clogging that may occur at the dump valve.  This is usually if you let the yeast sit too long.  It can get quite compact.  It will eventually... um... 'poop' out though. lol.  For the racking arm I ferment with it facing down and then when transferring always start with it in the 'up' position and just slowly turn it down while watching to make sure there is no yeast pick up... Then once I get even the slightest bit of yeast I either stop there or slightly back off (back to up).  I've never had my racking arm clog before.

I don't have the exact same conical as you (mine is their 14.5 gallon) but the lid gasket is not very intuitive as to which way is up and which way is down on it ;-).  I fermented my first few batches with the gasket in upside down... Maybe try flipping it and see if it seals easier/better.

Yes not being able to see through it can be a bit of a pain at times... When are we going to get that Star Trek 'Transparent Aluminum'?  Though I guess we'd want Transparent Stainless Steel.

Interesting about the gasket.  I'll have a closer look at that.  And yes I may stop dumping so much.  Thank you.
Steve
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Offline Jeff M

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Re: Conical Review
« Reply #12 on: June 17, 2014, 03:17:31 AM »
To take advantage of a conicals design you need to at least fill the cone.  contact that manufacturer you are looking at and ask them the cone volume and that will be your minimum batch give or take a gallon.

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Offline james

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Re: Conical Review
« Reply #13 on: June 17, 2014, 04:51:54 AM »
To take advantage of a conicals design you need to at least fill the cone.  contact that manufacturer you are looking at and ask them the cone volume and that will be your minimum batch give or take a gallon.

Definitely find out from the manufacturer or do the calculations yourself.  Find out volume of cone, to any valves, to any thermowell.

With the thermowells I had made for my brewhemoths I need to have at least 8 gal of beer in there to get an accurate reading.

Offline philm63

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Re: Conical Review
« Reply #14 on: June 17, 2014, 02:52:30 PM »
...Find out volume of cone, to any valves, to any thermowell.

Oooo... nice save. Don't mean to hijack your thread, Steve, but I gotta know - do thermowells come in custom locations (through the top or through the side anywhere you want it) or are they pretty much fixed by the particular manufacturer? Does one mfg put it in the top, and another put it in the side near the cone? Which is best? I'd think you'd want to take your controlling temps near the cone where the heat will be higher, no?

Again; sorry, Steve, for hijacking, but you started a great topic here...
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