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Old 01-03-2011, 10:22 PM   #1
olympionex
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Default Alternative Fermentation Vessels - Opinions Needed

I am trying to find a compact solution to allow me to control the fermentation temps of my brew. I really hate the idea of buying a huge chest freezer and so inefficiently using the space with typical glass carboys. It seems like if I want two carboys, I have to get an even larger, more expensive, more energy consuming freezer and build a collar for it. As a result, I've been considering alternative fermentation vessels.

The most ideal solution that I've found at the moment is to use this 1 cubic foot aquarium:
http://www.marinedepot.com/ps_viewitem.aspx?idproduct=AZ1133&child=AZ1133&utm _source=mdcsegooglebase2&utm_medium=cse&utm_campai gn=mdcsegooglebase2&utm_content=AZ1133

It measures 1' x 1' x 1' and can hold about 7.5 gallons. If I put a 5 gallon batch in it, it should have about 4" of headspace. I'm considering siliconing a glass or plexiglass top onto it and putting holes for some sort of airlock. By my calculations, I should be able to put 3 of these in a typical ~5 cu ft. assuming I come up with some manner to stack two of them in the part of the freezer without the compressor hump. The fish tanks are essentially the same price as a carboy. There is about 20% difference in the surface area, but I can always flush the secondary with cO2, and potentially find a way to flush the primary with O2. I would probably build a carboy hauler made of webbing for its square body.

The second I idea I had was to use something like this:
http://www.acemart.com/prod3841.html

It could be a bit cheaper than a carboy, and I was thinking about finding a means to clamp a lid on. In this case, I could fill in the void left by the compressor, and stack 3 on top of each other. Seems less desirable to me, but could be another option.

Anybody have any thoughts, reasons why this wouldn't be a good idea?

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Old 01-03-2011, 11:03 PM   #2
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I'm not sure I would trust the sanitation of the silicone in the aquariums. Nor do I think you would be able to stack them. I use an old fridge (40 dollars+temperature control) for my fermentation chamber. Once the beers are done fermenting (usually a week) I move them to the 'man cave' in the basement. No need to worry too much about temperatures once fermentation is done. Carboys suit me just fine. I can have two batches in the fridge and an unlimited amount in my basement room at one time. Also I unplug the fridge when fermentation is done....no wasted energy.

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Old 01-04-2011, 12:11 AM   #3
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Well, a typical refrigerator is about 18 cu ft. That is about 135 gallons of liquid volume, or about 22 6 gallon carboys worth. Assuming you can fit 2 carboys in there, you are using about 10% of your space and 90% is wasted. In terms of refrigeration, its very much putting a round peg in a square hole. I'm also annoyed at the required increase in marginal size of the freezer for each additional carboy just because my vessel isn't particularly well shaped for the box.

Moreover, glass carboys are hard to clean, at risk of breakage, and not especially light. I'm not sure there is a single vessel that overcomes all of these flaws, and perhaps glass carboys are the happiest medium. I'm thinking, however somewhere there at least has to be something that is a little better at efficiently using refrigeration space.

Any other thoughts about the silicone?

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Old 01-04-2011, 12:26 AM   #4
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Most aquariums are not designed to be moved while full. Picking one up with 5 gallons of beer is asking for trouble.

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Old 01-04-2011, 12:33 AM   #5
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Look up aquatainers, folda water carriers or vittle vaults, people use them for fermenters all the time, they come in various sizes and shape configurations. The aquatainers are favorties of no chill brewers, you can pour your boiling wort right in to them. Homebrew shops buy up vittle's vaults and add their own airlocks, and spigots and charge even up to 100 bucks for 30 gallon versions.











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Old 01-04-2011, 12:34 AM   #6
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Good point about moving it. That and the silicone might make it a non-starter. Unfortunately, the only 12" deep rectangular / cubic stainless vessel I have found is a sink, and its not cheap.

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Old 01-04-2011, 12:46 AM   #7
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If you really like the aquarium idea i suggest you Acrylic aquariums you can get them in just about any size. Here is a site that sells a ton of them http://www.glasscages.com/?sAction=Home

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Old 01-04-2011, 01:29 AM   #8
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These are probably better than aquariums actually, but a little more expensive:
http://www.boatdepot.com/productdetails.aspx?part=RW-B326

I'm a little put off on the use of plastic, but there may not be a feasible alternative. Some stuff I read claims that over time even PET breaks down and leeches some toxic chemicals. I don't fully know what chemicals these other containers are made of. The only toxic chemical I'm looking to consume is ethanol!

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Old 01-04-2011, 02:52 AM   #9
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No offense to olympionex here but I am always amazed at how people get worried about plastic and aluminum in home brewing. Both may be bad for you though I highly doubt it. Either way they are impossible to avoid in our society. I’m sure just about every product you buy and eat has had extended contact with aluminum or plastic or something ten times worse. Do you never drink anything out of bottle or a can? Do you avoid all canned foods? Do you never eat out as I'm sure a large percentage of restaurants pull ingredients out of a plastic bucket or bag and cook them up with aluminum pots and pans. These examples are only the tip of the iceberg. I don't think the difference on whether you live or die is what you brew your homebrew in.

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Old 01-04-2011, 02:57 AM   #10
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No offense taken, and you are certainly correct about commonly being exposed to it. Its just that when confronted with it, I prefer to seek different options. Before I posted, I had also just read something about PET leaching dangerous chemicals, and of course there is the BpA stuff. Its recommended not to re-use PET. I wonder if the better bottles have this problem with extended use. On the other hand, much of what I've read about HDPE seems to indicate that its pretty safe for this sort of application. As a result, it looks like those options listed by Revvy are both good and decently priced ($8-25) and are nicely shaped to maximize space efficiency in a rectangular freezer. Thanks a lot for the suggestions.

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