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Old 03-15-2008, 03:59 PM   #1
p4ck37p1mp
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Default anyone using 40g plastic conical fermenters?

So I'm thinking about upgrading from 5 gallon batches. I tend to brew four 5 gallon batches at a time which is obviously a lot of work. In a prior life I had a 10 gallon More Beer sculpture setup with a steel conical (had to give it away when I moved =( sadly) and had thought about going back to 10 gallon batches. I end up sharing a lot of what I brew (and drinking a lot of it =P), even then I run out and can't share with some that I promise to give beer to. So I found a 40 gallon kettle for a decent price, the the 40 gallon plastic fermenter is not too badly priced either. So I figure why not just go to 30-35 gallon batches and get a pump. I'm thinking about using a plastic 55 gallon drum (FDA food grade of course) as a MLT. Anyone out there doing something similar? What setup are people using for 30+ gallon batches? Are there any major changes to the brewing process when doing batches this large?

http://www.highgravitybrew.com/Produ...idproduct=1605
http://www.usplastic.com/catalog/pro...uct%5Fid=30705

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Old 03-15-2008, 06:12 PM   #2
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I've invested in a 30 gallon conical. I've had it for a year, and just now found an acceptable racking arm to install into it. (Austin Homebrew supply can specially fabricate one for me.)

That said, none of the rest of my brewing gear is big enough to make batches of this size. I'm really close to buying a 40 gallon kettle.

My thoughts: 30 gallons of hot wort in a 40 gallon kettle will be very heavy and very dangerous to try to move; 40 gallon batches will be expensive in grain and hops, so make sure what you're brewing is something you'll like. Keep us posted!

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Old 03-15-2008, 07:09 PM   #3
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Yes, very heavy and very dangerous to move. Even my 10 gallon batches were too heavy to move, for that reason More Beer doesn't by default have handles on their kettles to discourage trying to move them when full of hot liquid. I had a pump doing those batches, but really only used it to get it from the boil kettle into the fermenter. The sculpture made it gravity from top to bottom, sparge tank, MLT, then boil, just open the valves and let it flow. I miss that setup, but I can't throw the $ at all that right now (building a new deck is eating my fun money) so I'm having to stick to the 5 gallon setup and use carboys for fermenting. Around here I can kill a 5 gallon in 2 days between myself, friends / neighbors / family coming over for bbq and giving a few bottles away here and there. I need more volume! Check out this kettle, this is probably what I'm going to get. I think I'm rethinking the plastic conical and might just save up for a stainless, its what I had before and I know more or less how to deal with them. The 42 gallon stainless conical is mega $ though. The plastic works out to be about half the cost. Just not sure I trust plastic. I was hoping to hear from more people out there using them.

http://www.webstaurantstore.com/160-...7APT160HD.html

I've gotten to where I like using Alumininum over stainless kettles, they heat faster and I have yet to have scorching with it. I'll probably have to weld together my own stand for the burners also, I haven't seen much out there that I'd trust holding a kettle that big full of liquid. I wish I could weld well enough to make my own fermenter, but I know it will end up a mess if I try.

And I hear you on the volume of grain and other ingredients, I'd likely mostly brew IRA and others that I like, and that are good session beers for people to drink in volume or give away. The house beer so to speak. I'd still brew other stuff but more likely in smaller batches, just use the carboys for those.

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Old 03-15-2008, 07:15 PM   #4
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Heh, that actually reminds me of the day my pump died a gallon into pumping into the fermenter. No handles, I kept looking at all that beer and thinking I am going to get it in there one way or another. I luckily had taps for thermometer and a sight glass, so I got the baking mits and wrestled it up and poured it in. Granted it was cooled to 80 degrees or so, so there wasn't any burn danger, just potentially wasted beer. I always want handles now, just in case.

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Old 03-15-2008, 09:02 PM   #5
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I've been thinking about a 120qt cooler

for a MLT. But I keep leaning back towards a second 40gal alum pot as a direct fired MLT. They are both about the same money. Decisions, decisions...

I was thinking about a plastic conical, and still might get one, but for the long term, stainless is a better investment.

I use a self priming pump to "suck" the wort through my CFC, into the fermenters. I wouldn't want to situate that big of a pot high enough to make it gravity draining anyway.

BTW, you can do better on aluminum stock pots. Try instawares.com - just pay attention to shipping.

Oh and the cost thing, I think when doing big batches like this, it is natural that you will buy in bulk. If you plan it right, it will be a lot cheaper than picking up ingredients for one 5 gallon batch at a time. But, yeah, make sure it's something you're comfortable with brewing.

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Old 03-16-2008, 02:48 PM   #6
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I suppose a large cooler would work as well. Good tip on that website, I'll compare shipping costs. In addition to buying grain bulk, I figure I can coerce my beer fans to kick in a little for their 'free' homebrew to help me pay for the grain etc once I can give away more than a couple of bottles at a time. I figured on a pump, I used to use one. It certainly made things easier and more sanitary than pouring from kettle to fermenter. I wouldn't think I'd need a self priming pump as the kettle will be high enough, as long as the pump is lower than the outlet it should prime just fine. I've never had a problem with contamination, other than once when the airlock/stopper popped out before I noticed. That was a nasty moldy mess, I chucked that batch. My 10g setup was direct fire on all kettles, mlt, hlt et al. I suppose its better, but having done without I'm not sure it really matters all that much. It certainly allows more control, but that can be managed other ways. I do miss my old setup, but now I want even more!

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Old 03-17-2008, 06:53 PM   #7
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Hey Jason, I got your PM and will try to answer you here, as I think this is "your thread" you were talking about in your PM. So, as far as my thoughts broken up with your questions....

Quote:
Originally Posted by p4ck37p1mp
Wow, I stumbled across a thread you posted to about quick connects and saw mention of a Brute fermenter. I've been toying with the idea of an upgrade to do 30 gallon batches. I had actually considered a Brute but was worried about the seal or lack thereof with the lid. I considered it might be ok if I purge with co2 since it would sink and effectively seal out o2, but wasn't sure. My next idea was a 55 gallon drum from us plastics, closed head with graduated markings.
Ok so first of all, I no longer use a 30 gallon Brute to ferment in. But, I still would if I ever needed to. That being said, let me answer what you want to hear about. The food grade Brutes are fine for primary fermentation and leave no off flavor or anything like that behind after the initial first cleaning. They do scratch easily on the inside and so could cause problems with infections later down the road (all dependent on your care and cleaning techniques).

You don't have to purge your fermenter with CO2 prior to filling with wort, as you should know from brewing as much as you have. The lid not sealing has little to do with anything unless you intend to use pressure (since it won't hold any pressure). There is no real difference other than size between this and a normal 5 gallon bucket fermenter. I didn't have an airlock or anything on my Brute during fermentation, just the lid. You will need to have your Brute really close to where your kettle is for transfer, cause they are almost immovable once filled. Also, you are limited by controlling fermentation temperatures due to sheer size. Summary- Very heavy when full so everything needs pre-placement which may have it's limitations(temperature/gravity once fermented for racking).

Quote:
Originally Posted by p4ck37p1mp
Then someone posted about using a 120 qt cooler for mlt. I think two 55 gallon drums, one insulated similar to how you did your kegs ( i saw pics of the brew setup, just not of your fermenter). I'm looking for real experience, I had two people post in my thread in general techniques, but still looking for more. Please post in my thread, I'm sure others will find it useful too! I'll be stealing some of your ideas for your setup as I get my 30g setup in motion.
Thanks, Jason
I don't know if the cooler would be big enough for you in the long run with a bigger batch (gravity-wise) or something, and personally would opt for the two drums and insulate and cover them with something like I did for my tuns, here.


I am assuming once again that you need two for two tuns.

Personally, when I move up again on my brew equipment size, I will still be using kegs as fermenters like I do now. The Brute didn't fit anywhere and a keg does. I use a single Sanke for primary now right beside my brewery in and inside a temperature controlled chest freezer. If I ever go to a larger brewery I will buy a larger chest freezer to hold more keg fermenters. The Brute was nice for bulk, but I have learned so much more now and love the way I'm brewing. Takes me 3 weeks total, grain to glass. 4 weeks is even better. You can check out my fermentation system here if you would like to, and here's a picture of a ferment being done (under pressure).

Don't know if I cleared anything up for you, but yes Brutes are fine for fermentation I just think kegs are better now.
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Old 08-01-2008, 06:40 PM   #8
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Happened across this in my PMs, missed that last post from way back (I wasn't getting emails about new posts until recently). I ended up with a 120 qt aluminum pot from instawares.com ($114) that I drilled for temp and drain. I've used it several times now, 10, 15 and 20 gallon batches. I ended up getting a lot more carboys (10 so far) just because they're easy to move around. Next step will a pump and maybe some 30 gallon drums, but I'm just starting to recoup the cost of equipment vs buying commercial beer since I can brew enough to keep up with demand now. People are donating when they drink too which is great.

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