Author Topic: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?  (Read 7078 times)

Offline lisatim

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Greetings.   I'm looking into a more efficient way to ferment 15 gallon batches.  Stainless conicles look beautiful but quite a bit of money for someone who only brews 2 or 3 times a year.  I would brew more often if I could only take some of the hassle out of "brew day", and I believe my wife would allow a one time expenditure if it may save on the water bill.  The buckets and carboys have to go!!  Can anyone suggest a less expensive, reliable fermentation device than s.s. conicles?
Thanks for your input,
Tim

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Re: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?
« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2009, 01:02:14 PM »
Well, I'd suggest buckets, but it sounds like you're already doing that.  The plastic Minibrew conical has goltten raves from people I know who have one.  Keep in mind that you'll have to rig some kind of temp control for it.
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Offline a10t2

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Re: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?
« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2009, 01:07:41 PM »
Check these out. Unfortunately the sizes jump from 15 to 30 gallon, but the price is sure right.
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Offline Thirsty_Monk

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Offline majorvices

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Re: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?
« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2009, 05:49:39 AM »
For some reason I have never ben able to get a drinkable batch of beer from my Mini-Brew plastic conical. It inevitably tastes oxidized.
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Offline Kaiser

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Re: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?
« Reply #5 on: November 23, 2009, 09:26:56 AM »
I have a hard time justifying the price for a conical. Sure carboys and buckets are a hassle, but for the price of even the Minibrew fermenters I can build a really nice temp controlled fermentation chest out of a chest freezer. And there is so much more other equipment that has a better chance improving your beer than a conical.

Are the buckets and carboys costing you a lot of water?

Kai

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Re: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?
« Reply #6 on: November 23, 2009, 10:01:02 AM »
I have a hard time justifying the price for a conical. Sure carboys and buckets are a hassle, but for the price of even the Minibrew fermenters I can build a really nice temp controlled fermentation chest out of a chest freezer. And there is so much more other equipment that has a better chance improving your beer than a conical.

Well said, Kai.
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Offline majorvices

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Re: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?
« Reply #7 on: November 23, 2009, 10:06:13 AM »
Most people who have conicals love them because they have to justicy the amount of money they spent on one. That said, if you are brewing larger than 10 gallon batches and have a stationary fermenter a conical is the best option. Otherwise buckets and/or carboys are the way to go. Wish I wouldn't have wasted the money of the MiniBrew conical. Total waste of money.
Keith Y.
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Offline Thirsty_Monk

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Re: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?
« Reply #8 on: November 23, 2009, 12:12:41 PM »
Wish I wouldn't have wasted the money of the MiniBrew conical. Total waste of money.
I have 6.5 gal Mini Brew and I have totally different experience.

It works pretty well.
You should not get any oxidation because CO2 is heavier then O.
This works for every fermenter.

I do agree that temp control is more important then fermentation vessel.
If I buy another fermenter I was thinking about stainless sink and do open fermentation.
A lot of Czech commercial breweries ferment in open fermenters.
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Offline majorvices

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Re: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?
« Reply #9 on: November 23, 2009, 01:35:00 PM »
I don;t know what it is about my conical then but i seriously can not get a decent beer out of it. I even re-criced near boiling water through it to make sure it is sanitized but I always get the same off flavor, and that flavor reminds me of oxidation (kind of a vanilla/cardbord combination - I really don;t know how to explain it.) The last time I used it I did a side by side batch with my conical and a carboy and I brewed a Saison (a recipe I brew very regularly) and the werid think was that when I sampled the beer right at the end of fermentation it was awesome. 3 days later when I racked into my keg it had that off flavor while the carboy right next to the conical was great.

I even sprung for the PITA rubber ring that seals the lid. I don't k now what the deal is with the carboy but have zeroed in on oxidation. One thing is for sure, it is not contamination because I have harvested yeast successfully several times with no issues. It is the beer itself that suffers.

I am open to any ideas on how to fix this.
Keith Y.
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Offline Kaiser

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Re: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?
« Reply #10 on: November 23, 2009, 01:55:30 PM »
I’d use the conical as a yeast propagator:



I had very good success with air raised yeast. When I propagate my lager yeast with constant air, I can get fermentation rates of 1-1.2 Plato/day over the first 7 days of fermentation at 48F and normal pitching rate. As a result I have been doing this for all my recent lager batches. Currently I do this in a carboy but would love to do this in a conical if I could find one for less than $100. With a conical I can place the air stone at the lowest point and create an optimal current that keeps all the yeast in suspension. Then I can let it settle and harvest at the bottom. I may even install al heater that would allow me to sanitize the fermenter and wort by boiling the wort in place. The wort that I’m using is about 12 l at 2 Plato.

To give proper credit, Geronimo from the NB forum pointed me to the fact that air raised yeast does so much better in fermentation. I have yet to conduct experiments to understand why that is and what an optimal propagation schedule is.

Kai
« Last Edit: November 23, 2009, 01:57:11 PM by Kaiser »

Offline majorvices

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Re: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?
« Reply #11 on: November 23, 2009, 02:09:36 PM »
Have seriously thought about going that route and I do think that the "air raised" yeast works very well - have had great success propagating yeast in 1 gallon jugs with continuous aeration.

One thing I will say, my conical is not the same as the one in Thirty's picture. Mine is the step up from that one. Does not have the scre on lid. Must me 8 gallons or something (can't remember off hand.)
Keith Y.
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Offline dcbc

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Re: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?
« Reply #12 on: November 23, 2009, 03:35:25 PM »
I have been fermenting in a 15 gallon corny keg from kegglebrewing.com for the past five months and have been very pleased with the results.  I cut about an inch off the dip tub and can do closed transfers to smaller kegs.  The only downside was the weight when loaded with beer.  Solved that by putting casters on the chest freezer and rolling it over to the brew stand where I pumped it from the kettle to the keg.
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Offline blatz

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Re: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?
« Reply #13 on: November 24, 2009, 08:53:59 AM »
whoa!  I don't love/promote my conical to justify the price  ::), I love it for the convenience.  then again, I got mine for half the cost from a friend who went pro  ;D.  I built a cart for it (for <$30), attached to the legs to wheel around the brewhouse aka garage, and it fits nicely in my stand up chest freezer.

frankly, there are a lot of benefits to it such as cold break dumps, better yeast harvesting, easier racking, fermenting one batch all in one vessel etc. but is it necessarily going to make better beer, no - its just easier to use (though I have won 2 golds + entry into MCAB out of the three conical fermented submissions I have made since I got my conical in June, coincidence, I think not j/k). 

if you don't mind spending the cash, it can be a really fun toy to have, but it certainly isn't necessary - I did just fine with carboys and then better bottles after that.  But would I do it all again, you betcha, and would I pay full price - sure.  I guess I'm just not as cheap as these guys, or perhaps I don't need to justify my cheapness by saying the benefits aren't worth it  :P :P :P.  I do believe Denny didn't need a pump at one point...now he's got one foot into the dark side...

Keith - I think your problem might just be the plastic. "get yourself a new map"  (see if anyone can get that movie quote).

Kai - interesting idea;  IIRC, there was a company that would sell the shell of a conical for dirt cheap, then you would just need a welder to help you do the rest - I remember reading a bunch of folks doing that a few years back.
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Offline Thirsty_Monk

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Re: conicle fermenters: go stainless or is there a less expensive way?
« Reply #14 on: November 24, 2009, 09:09:03 AM »

Keith - I think your problem might just be the plastic.
Mini Brew plastic is much harder plastic then what is used on plastic buckets.

I think people are getting metal hoppers for conical from Toledo Metal:
http://www.toledometalspinning.com/products/hoppers/priceList.asp
To be sure check HomeBrew Talk forum.
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