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Old 10-25-2011, 01:34 AM   #1
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Default Benefits of a Conical Fermenter...?

Hey guys, so I just sold a couple things to invest in a conical fermenter, but I want to make sure it is a good move before I drop the $300 on it.
I'm brewing all grain and generally do a primary for 3 weeks and a secondary for about a week (depending on style). I visited southern tier and they said by using a conical, their fermentation time drops to only a couple weeks before its ready to bottle. Does that apply to home brewing also? Can anyone spell out the benefits of conicals to me? and possibly somewhere to get advice on techniques when using them? Thanks in advance!

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Old 10-25-2011, 01:51 AM   #2
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There's nothing particularly magical about conicals. It's nice if you want to get the beer off of the trub, and judging from the fact that you secondary I assume that's something you are interested.

I'm not sure what the southern tier people are really saying. Fermentation really only takes a couple of days, and from there how long you condition is between you and your beer-Jesus. Certainly, there are plenty of beer styles that can be reasonably bottled after two weeks, though that's equally true for carboys.

I used to use a conical, and I liked it. It was convenient, but there's not really any way that it speeds up the process.

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Old 10-25-2011, 03:39 AM   #3
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They were saying that due to the coned bottom, the fermentation happened in a vortex-like movement so it worked faster...? So with a conical, do you just release some of the trub a little bit every day to rid it from the beer? What benefit does that have? Does it improve clarity or taste or anything?
I know conicals make it pretty easy to farm yeast, which is something I want to start getting in to... But have yet to pull the trigger (it sounds intimidating)

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Old 10-25-2011, 03:57 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MoodyCopperpot
They were saying that due to the coned bottom, the fermentation happened in a vortex-like movement so it worked faster...? So with a conical, do you just release some of the trub a little bit every day to rid it from the beer? What benefit does that have? Does it improve clarity or taste or anything?
I know conicals make it pretty easy to farm yeast, which is something I want to start getting in to... But have yet to pull the trigger (it sounds intimidating)
Vortex movement? That sounds like marketing-speak.

Most people drop the trub after a week or so. There's no radical change in taste or anything. Really, it's just a carboy turned upside down. Some people feel that getting the beer off the trub is a good thing, others feel it doesn't make that much of a difference. In any case, you can accomplish the same thing by racking. Your main advantage with a conical is going to be convenience.
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Old 10-25-2011, 04:39 AM   #5
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There is no real benefit besides the ease of removing the yeast cake from the beer. And even then...

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Originally Posted by MalFet View Post
In any case, you can accomplish the same thing by racking. Your main advantage with a conical is going to be convenience.
Beer in a 5 dollar homer bucket will taste the same as it does in a 1200 dollar conical.

I would say the money would be better spent on a ferm fridge if you don't already have one
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Old 10-25-2011, 05:02 AM   #6
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The benefit of being able to remove the trub and harvest yeast is enough to justify a conical for many. It's also easier to use than carboys for larger batch sizes (10 gallons and up). It's not as delicate as a glass or plastic carboy either. I feel it is much safer than handling glass carboys.

With some conicals, you can transfer beer under pressure to your kegs. That's definitely a plus for me. Since you have a racking arm that is separate from the bottom dump, you can transfer the beer without dumping the yeast, then drop your next batch in right on top of that leftover active yeast cake.

I dump the trub on the 3rd or 4th day of fermentation. I leave the yeast in the conical while the beer sits for another two to three weeks before I keg it.

Conicals are expensive. That's their only downside that I can think of. I don't think the value proposition works out well for 5 gallon brews. They make much more sense for 10 gallon and larger batches.

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Old 10-25-2011, 12:27 PM   #7
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Vortex movement? That sounds like marketing-speak.
No kidding. The conical must have a flux capacitor in it.
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Old 10-25-2011, 12:34 PM   #8
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In commerical conicals i think it has to do with the hieght of the tank and pressure on the yeast.

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Old 10-25-2011, 12:42 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by osagedr

No kidding. The conical must have a flux capacitor in it.
Mine does for sure! I bought mine from the start thinking it was better. I like it... don't get me wrong but my carboys still get more use. Also if you want to brew more or have multiple batches going at once, it would be expensive to have multiple conicals. Mine has tri-clamps and used to have ball valves (cheap ones) that were a pain to clean. I switched to butterfly valves and that made a big difference.

Overall I would have to say is yeast harvesting is easier and you don't have to transfer the beer (if you secondary which most don't). Also mine being stainless steel it doesn't let light in which is nice. 300 dollars can buy a bunch of carboys!
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Old 10-25-2011, 12:44 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billtzk View Post
The benefit of being able to remove the trub and harvest yeast is enough to justify a conical for many. It's also easier to use than carboys for larger batch sizes (10 gallons and up). It's not as delicate as a glass or plastic carboy either. I feel it is much safer than handling glass carboys.
+1
One trip to an emergency room saved is more than the cost. Cheap insurance for some people. I don't have one, but if I made large batches or 100 gallons a year, I would.
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