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Old 12-25-2011, 01:46 PM   #1
biggrizzly's Avatar
Oct 2011
Chesapeake Beach, MD
Posts: 95
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I just started brewing with two batches under my belt. both of those were extract brews with some special grains seeped into the wort. I plan to begin buying some better equipment for brewing, for example I'd like to procure a large brew kettle so I can do a full five gallon boil. Additionally, I plan on building a fermentation closet using an old dorm sized fridge. I'm having a hard time determining if a conical fermenter is really worth the money or if I should stick with plastic pails or glass carboys?

Any thoughts would be helpful.

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Old 12-25-2011, 01:51 PM   #2
Feb 2009
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Stick with pails for now. They are quite easy and less work than a conical. You will probably not want to keep the conical full for a full month between batches, whereas another pail is cheap and you can have more beers going at the same time.

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Old 12-25-2011, 01:53 PM   #3
Ale's What Cures You!
Yooper's Avatar
Jun 2006
UP of Michigan, Winter Texan
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The answer I have is "it depends"!

What I mean is this- a conical would be nice. Very nice. But I don't have one (yet?) because I don't have a walk-in cooler or a good place to keep it for temperature control. If you have a place that you can keep the conical in, and control the temperatures perfectly, then it might be a worthwhile item for you.

I have a cool-ish house in a cold climate, so I ferment lagers in the basement and steam beers in the laundry room, while ales are in another room. I also have a kegerator so I can lager in there, and also stick carboys in there for cold crashing. No way I could haul a conical around like that! But if I do get a place set up where I can brew/ferment/rack in the same place, a conical would be nice.

Temperature control during fermentation is probably THE single best thing you can do to make better beer. If you don't have that, I"d spend the money there first.
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Giving beer a leg to stand on since 2006

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Old 12-25-2011, 01:55 PM   #4
Oct 2011
Washington, PA
Posts: 201
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+1 on pails. Or carboys. Or both for that matter.

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Old 12-25-2011, 01:56 PM   #5
dezman's Avatar
Aug 2011
Marquette, Michigan
Posts: 151
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Depends on your budget. I would probably spend extra money on other equipment first (big kettle ect.) but thats up to you. I've been brewing for 5 years and do just fine with buckets. A conical would be nice but is not nessesary, better to spend money on the necessities first.

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Old 12-25-2011, 01:56 PM   #6
TrainSafe's Avatar
Mar 2011
Appleton, WI
Posts: 808
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You already identified the top two priorities with the full size boil kettle and fermentation temp control. A conical is not needed at this point. You'll probably want other equipment first, like sort chiller, stir plate and others.

However, shiny stainless is always nice to have. I'm sure the yeast work better in a shiny environment.

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Old 12-25-2011, 03:07 PM   #7
Jan 2008
Brooklyn, NY
Posts: 1,139
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For the price of a conical, you can buy all of the other equipment you'd ever want, such as kettles, burners, wort chillers, kegs, etc... I've been brewing for over 10 years and I still don't have some of those things. 2 carboys and a bucket is still what I use for fermentation. Maybe I'm exaggerating a little on the price, but it is still overkill.

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Old 12-25-2011, 04:12 PM   #8
JonM's Avatar
Aug 2010
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As you get in to this, you might find that you'll want to have a bunch of batches going at once - fermenting a couple batches of beer, a batch or two of cider or mead, maybe bulk aging or lagering others, etc.

Point is, you might get a lot more mileage out of having 5, 6, 8, 12, whatever, amount of carboys and buckets than you would out of one single conical. Cheers!
Who is this Rorschach guy? And why did he paint so many pictures of my parents fighting?

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Old 12-25-2011, 05:04 PM   #9
Aug 2008
Portland OR
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If you intend to harvest a lot of yeast then a conical is a good idea. I do like to ferment in Stainless so that is a plus for conicals, but in your early stages I'd skip it for now. Fermenting in SS corny kegs or Sankes is a good way to go for going metal and saving some $$.

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Old 12-25-2011, 05:11 PM   #10
Nov 2009
Concord, CA
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Been brewing for 9 years, 100s of gallons of beer, buckets, carboys, corneys and conicals. Buckets are all I use now. Compact, light and cost effective. They gravity drain into my kegs, easy to harvest yeast, super easy to clean and cheap to replace.
One aspect I have learned that simple is better IMO.

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