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Old 12-05-2012, 03:36 PM   #1
Feb 2009
Sylvania Ohio
Posts: 20

I've been saving my pennies working the extra jobs even have some brownie points from the wife, so I'm ready to get serious about what equipment to buy to get started. My question is whether a conical fermentor is a good place to splurge given that I have around $1000 to spend on equipment.
I already have the realestate secured in the basement with counter space, sinks, electrical/gas connections that I use for meat processing.
My over all plan is to build an all electric system, and go with kegs for storage do I have the cart ahead of the horse here.

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Old 12-05-2012, 03:46 PM   #2
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Dec 2009
Shelby Twp, MI
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Personally I would go with a kegging system before a conical/stand freezer/temp controller combo. But if you already have a kegging system, then yeah, that would be nice.
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Old 12-05-2012, 03:46 PM   #3
Dec 2011
Omaha, Nebraska
Posts: 18

I splurged on a stainless steel conical fermentor last year and love it! I would suggest that. I am not sure what equipment you already have, but I would say with $1,000 you can get a good fermentor and mash tun. If you already have a nice mash tun I would suggest a good kegerator to serve your beer.

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Old 12-05-2012, 03:47 PM   #4
Former future HOF Brewer
Nov 2011
Santa Barbara, CA
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Yes. Work on your electric brew setup first. Ferment in a bucket or a carboy like most of the homebrew world and spend your money on your brewing equipment elements, kettles, false bottom, pumps, control panels, temp controllers etc...

You're going to be surprised how easy it is to spend 1k on brewing supplys. I have easily 2k into my system and it's just a combination of a single floor burner with a two burner stand, 3 10G stainless kettles with ss valves and thermometers, a false bottom for my mash tun, and a pump...and a bunch of kegging equipment too...

Use the first 100 bucks or so to buy a good starter kit so you have the standard stuff, fermenters, bottling bucket, siphon etc...; and then start buying stuff for your brew rig.

I personally see conical fermenter as a serious luxury item for a homebrewer, and likely your 4th through 6th thousanth brew dollar should go in that direction as opposed to your first through 1000th.

Did that make sense? All my opinion of course. I'm a newer brewer (a year anniversary last weekend, but I have 38 batches to my credit, and several silver medals, so I do have some idea what I'm talking about....(and yet so much more to learn!).

BTW, the tradition of double entendre in HBT thread titles continues strong. I may as well get 'em started:

Just keep it out of her eye.
Batch counter: 123 batches (11/29/11-7/22/15).

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Old 12-05-2012, 03:54 PM   #5
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Jul 2010
SF Peninsula
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Agree with all the above. I love my conical too but only after getting everything else updated to what I wanted - kettle, tun and HLT, new chiller, brew stand with burners and pumps, kegging system with extra kegs and keezer/taps, etc. You don't mention what you already have.

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Old 12-05-2012, 06:13 PM   #6
Feb 2009
Sylvania Ohio
Posts: 20

Basically I have nothing, but I also have some extenuating circumstances that should stretch my purchasing power and between myself and those friends I have helped countless times there is no DIY project that's out of reach, and a green light from the wife goes along ways.
So my list is really only brewing specific items is what I'm trying to say.

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Old 12-05-2012, 06:31 PM   #7
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Feb 2011
Sheffield, Ohio
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I'd go with a SS conical. I think it's morebeer.com that had this totally cool heating & cooling blanket for it with dual electronic controls. So you can automatically control high & low temps for better beer! That's #1 on my all time greatest wish list. Get it & you def won't be sorry. I remember Gary from Home Brewer TV showing it on youtube. He's a member here,but hasn't posted in a while. I miss his great demeanor.
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Old 12-05-2012, 06:52 PM   #8
Aug 2012
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I see a conical as something that is definitely a luxury item. Definitely not what you need most.

I think big freezer/temp controller that's got room for 3 or 4 FVs would be a great start. (200 Max for the freezer, 50 for a home made temp controller using stc1000).

Then a stir plate, check out stir starter for quality cheep plates, or instructions for the do it yourselfer. (40 for a stir plate, 15 for a 2L erlynmeyer)

A kettle with a ball valve and a plate chiller would be huge. so you can learn and understand AG brewing before you start building an entire system. That can cost anywhere from 70 for a DIY keggle to 500 for a Bilchmann with all the bells and whistles (don't buy anything less than 12 gallons, preferably 15 to 20) and about 70 for a plate chiller.

Sorry if you already have some of that stuff or the brewing experience to build a good brew system. But you didn't give us much of an idea of your experience level.

Also, in the DIY section, there's a sticky with a ton of projects and write ups, one is a DIY SS conical, so if you have some one who really knows his welding, that's a cheaper option too.

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Old 12-05-2012, 07:07 PM   #9
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Feb 2008
Reed City, MI
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First you NEED a starter kit.

Second, you need to be able to maintain fermentation temps.

You really should look into grain mill and buying bulk if you can't crush your own already (borrowing friends, etc.)

A chiller is a must if you do full boils, and yes, you should do full boils, meaning get a large kettle and a burner, or start building electric if you don't to use propane.

For me, a conical is WAY down the list of things I need. Yes, it would be convenient, but they are VERY expensive for the benefit and you have to have a way to keep them at proper temp, so ask yourself if you can control ferm temps if you buy a conical. Do you have a fridge/freezer to put it in? Some other method of chilling/heating?

You can make beer just as good without one. They are great if you want to secondary without racking (many people skip the secondary these days) or want to harvest yeast. You can do both of these things without a conical with a little more work.

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Old 12-05-2012, 07:12 PM   #10
Jan 2010
Missoula, Montana
Posts: 328
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I would also say that a conical is a luxury. You can easily spend that $1K on the base system alone between your kettles, fittings, tubing, a couple carboys and all the little miscellaneous stuff. Once you get all the core stuff that gets you brewing, then consider upgrading equipment like your fermenter. You might decide that carboys or buckets are actually easier to work with, especially when you decide to do a fermentation chamber. Once you have your process down, you'll have a better idea of where you need convenience and where you can do without.

Conicals are certainly convenient, but their biggest advantage is for capturing yeast...something you probably won't do as a beginner. They also allow you to do larger batches in one fermenter (provided they're sized for such) and I would probably advise you hone your skills on 5G batches. For example, if you find you have sanitation issues somewhere in your process, a 10-15G loss is considerably more expensive than a 5G loss.

If you're just starting out, it might be better to consider a smaller extract system with equipment that can grow into a larger system. A grand is a lot of money to throw down on a thing when you don't know whether you'll like it or not. Some people just aren't cut out for 4-8 hours in the kitchen, or basement in your case.

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