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Old 05-26-2009, 02:33 PM   #1
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Default Stainless Conical Fermenter from Bitter Creek Homebrew: Review ala Boerderij Kabouter

Hello everybody!

SuperiorBrew, a.k.a. Rich, the owner of Bitter Creek Homebrew Supply in Slinger Wisconsin is working toward bringing in high quality stainless conical fermenters from China. He started this thread at the beginning of the project.

He has graciously allowed me to be a guinea pig and use the fermenter for my next few batches to work out any kinks that may remain in the design. Rich has spent countless hours dealing with the supplier making sure that the quality is up to our standards and that every feature we could want is included in the fermenter.

Here is a list of features on this conical:

1. 16 gallon capacity (I have not measured yet, but that test is coming soon)
2. All stainless and polished
3. Welded legs
4. rotating racking arm
5. full 1" bottom dump
6. pressurizable up to 35 psi (you could carb in it if you cared to)
7. many more features that will be more apparent as this test progresses.

For now, I took a bunch of pictures and have tried to review the workmanship. In the coming days, I will fill the fermenter to test total capacity, pressure test it, and play with the dumps and venting options.

........


Without further ado...

Here is the beauty!


It has a taller slimmer profile than the Blichmann alternative. Here are the dimensions:
16 gal rated capacity
45" high w/o airlock
16" diameter
18" widest part of the clamp (upper right in my pic), can be turned any direction to fit into corner area

I really like the look of the legs. They are welded on, take no additional floor space, and look professional.

As you can see here, the shape allows it to fit very nicely in a fermentation chamber and allows a more efficient usage of available space. I tested it and I can fit the conical and two fermenters on the floor space.



..........

Onto the details.

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Old 05-26-2009, 02:34 PM   #2
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Default Reviewing the lid

Let's start with the lid.



The lid has, two welded handles that make lifting the lid, positioning, and general maneuvering nice and easy. The handles are also nice for moving the conical around when it isn't full.



The lid includes this 3/8" stainless ball valve threaded to a welded fitting. The weld is clean and nicely polished.

Here is a view of the interior of the weld.


and a full view of the interior of the lid.


The flange is flat and polished.

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Old 05-26-2009, 02:41 PM   #3
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Default Reviewing the Gasket, Seal, and Clamp

The sealing arrangement is very nice.

A silicone gasket fits in a machined groove and is compressed by a huge tri-clamp.









The groove is well machined and has no chips of crevasses. The gasket is easy to fit in and the clamp compresses evenly. It is a nice way to seal the fermenter and I can understand how it easily holds the pressure.

The process of clamping it down is as follows:

1. Sanitize the gasket
2. Sanitize the lid and the rim of the fermenter
3. Press the gasket into the groove (it is a press fit)
4. Set the lid on the gasket trying to center it
5. Wrap the clamp around the rim\
6. Engage the clamp hand knob
7. Tighten the knob to clamp lid in place

That's it and it is solid as a rock.

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Old 05-26-2009, 02:44 PM   #4
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Default Reviewing the legs

The legs are very attractive and welded on.

Here are some shots:




And some shots of the interior welds:


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Old 05-26-2009, 02:50 PM   #5
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Default Reviewing the Rotating Racking Arm

The racking arm rotates so you can easily rack off clear beer while leaving the sediment behind.

The interior arm is aligned with the ball valve handle to easily position the drain level from the outside. Full port 1/2" stainless valve and hardware so it flows nicely and matches easily with all my usual equipment.



Again, the welds look very nice to me.



Here are shots showing the inside:





And the interior weld is polished like the others



I will have more detailed reviews of how the racking arm works once I get some water and then some beer in this thing. For now, I think it is very well built.

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Old 05-26-2009, 02:52 PM   #6
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Default Reviewing the Bottom Dump

The bottom dump is a full 1" ball valve and I think that will be a good thing. I have read many reviews of conicals with smaller bottom dumps getting clogged. I can't wait to dump some nasty trub!!!





The polished interior is supposed to make trub and yeast collection better... we'll see.

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Old 05-26-2009, 02:55 PM   #7
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And finally, the cone weld looks nice. This is a shot from the inside:




.................................................. ...

Overall, I think the conical is well built and has some great features. I can't wait to use it.

OK comment away! I will answer any questions I can.

Rich does not have a price yet but it will be about the same as the Blichmanns. I think these fermenters are head and shoulders above the Blichmanns.

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Old 05-26-2009, 03:05 PM   #8
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Nice write-up! I can't wait to see what you think of it after you have used it. BTW... just one question.. have you ever used a Blichmann?

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Old 05-26-2009, 03:09 PM   #9
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I have played with them in the store. So I basically have the same experience with those as this one. Everything I know about conicals is from reading and playing in the stores. I will be relying on others for comparisons to the Blichmann on the use portions of this review.

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Old 05-26-2009, 03:31 PM   #10
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One thing that jumped out at me was the clean OD profile. Adding a DIY cooling jacket would be a snap.

That way those good looking gams can be shown off, not hidden away in a fermentation fridge.

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