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15.5 gallon Sanke conversion to fermenter

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keelanfish

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My brother scored big last night when he found four retired 15.5 gallon Sanke kegs at a local scrap yard. Ended up getting all four for $50 and they are actually in pretty good condition. We're going to convert one to use as an HLT (thermometer & welded 1/2" stainless ball valve). As for the other three, I want to use them for fermenters.

My plan is to essentially construct a DIY stainless fermenter with most of the advantages of a conical. I'd appreciate your feedback. Below is a step by step list of my approach.

1. Cut a hole in the top of the keg to receive a cornelious lid like this one sold by B3. (is this even possible?) This will allow for easier cleaning & inspection and also has the added benefit of having a threaded fitting already welded to receive blow off, airlock or forced CO2.


2. Cut & weld a 1" stainless ball valve to the center of the concave bottom to allow trube and yeast dumping.

3. Cut & weld a 1/2" stainless ball valve on the side about 1/2"" from the bottom for racking.

4. Construct a stand out of 2x4's to elevate and allow for easy movement.

Here's a preliminary parts list (stand not included).

1 x Cornelious Keg Lid - 1/2" Half Coupler Welded On $42.95ea
2 x Stainless 1/2" mpt x 1/2" barb $4.95ea
1 x Stainless 1" mpt x 1" barb $7.00ea
1 x Stainless 1/2" Ball Valve $18.95ea
1 x Stainless 1" Ball Valve $27.00ea
1 x Stainless 1/2" Half Coupler $3.00ea
1 x Stainless 1" Half Coupler $4.50ea

For a grand total of $113.30 plus tax, shipping & welding cost and these are all B3 prices. I'm sure I can do better.

Any thoughts or feedback on possible improvements. This really seems like it could work and be a poor man's conical for a fraction of the cost. I'm also considering going with tri-clover fittings to make cleaning & sanitation easier and more thourough.

Thoughts?
 
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keelanfish

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cellardoor - Thanks for the thread that is exactly what I'm looking to do minus the conical conversion.

Bokonon - That is freaking awesome! Thanks for the tip on that. I think I'll take two. Do you know the price by chance? How would you start the siphon on the racking arm? I've only used an autosiphon.
 

cellardoor

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Do you know the price by chance? How would you start the siphon on the racking arm? I've only used an autosiphon.
Follow this link for a HBT special until I think 8/1. It's $65 which is $14 off regular price. Welcome to Brewer's Hardware

Also I'm not positive but from looking at it the siphon could either be crudely started by blowing into the blow off port or more elegantly pushed by CO2
 

Grimsawyer

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Follow this link for a HBT special until I think 8/1. It's $65 which is $14 off regular price. Welcome to Brewer's Hardware

Also I'm not positive but from looking at it the siphon could either be crudely started by blowing into the blow off port or more elegantly pushed by CO2
Anyone out there have one of these? How well does it work? How do you hook up your co2 to the blowoff? Can you get a corny ball lock air in fitting for easier co2 hook up?
 

springer

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Anyone out there have one of these? How well does it work? How do you hook up your co2 to the blowoff? Can you get a corny ball lock air in fitting for easier co2 hook up?
wont ship until 8/3 but all of Derrin products are top notch. He does not recommend that you use CO2 to push your beer(liability) but that being said 2-3 psi would be no problem .
 

Bobby_M

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I'm sure it's a great product but I'm way too leery of fermenting in something I can't see through. If I ever fermented in a sanke, I'd cut a huge hole and cover it will an acrylic window. That way you can still get in there and clean it and visually inspect it.
 
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keelanfish

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I'm not overly worried about seeing in it. Heck, with a high powered flashlight, a dental mirror on and extension and a little effort you could see every square inch. Breweries package and bulk age beer in these kegs all the time. I'm ordering two and my plan for cleaning is to recirculate PBW or Oxyclean Free through with a pump for about a day. Then rinse using the same recirculate method. As far as sanitation goes, I'm probably just going to put a couple inches of water in the bottom and boil the crap out of it for about 30 minutes. All the steam generated should do more than enough sanitizing.
 

springer

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I dont worry about the inside all that much Bobby. The surface is very smooth I put a couple of gallons of hot water and oxyclean in it swirl it a little the let it sit for an hour I then turn the keg upside down with the spear in it and do the same. I do boil them when I first get one this knocks off the crud. Sanitize then use.
 

Bobby_M

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Yes, commercial breweries package beer in them but they also have pressurized cleaning machines that essentially powerwash with hot caustic. I'm not saying we as homebrewers cannot clean them enough, but it's not as warm and fuzzy when you can't see it.
 

Bokonon

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Yes, commercial breweries package beer in them but they also have pressurized cleaning machines that essentially powerwash with hot caustic. I'm not saying we as homebrewers cannot clean them enough, but it's not as warm and fuzzy when you can't see it.
I've seen many small brewers clean them the same way a homebrewer would. Recirculate cleaner, every once in a while acid, and then sanitizer. The smart ones pop the top and inspect with a flashlight and mirror every once in a while
 

springer

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I use these for some of my beers never had an issue

pub kegs


coverted corny kegs to Sanke . I just rinse them with oxyclean and sanitize
 

variverrat

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I really like Derrin's design but I keep seeing pictures and references to the conversion kit from St. Pats. I've looked all over that site and can't find it. Can anybody point me to the link?
 

samc

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Derrin's product looks great, great price. . . but the advantage to St. Pats is the pressure relief valve and the hose barbs might be easier. But then St. Pat's has some negative press from Bobby_M and others.

I am stalling on my decision because I don't have a spare keg at the moment.
 

camiller

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Derrin's product looks great, great price. . . but the advantage to St. Pats is the pressure relief valve and the hose barbs might be easier. But then St. Pat's has some negative press from Bobby_M and others.

I am stalling on my decision because I don't have a spare keg at the moment.
If your intent is to ferment under pressure I'm not sure either of these is a good idea.

Derrin's is clearly not intended for pressurized fermentation, you would need to replace the blowoff with a spunding valve of some sort to regulate pressure and have some sort of valve on the racking cane.

St. Pats you would have to replace the outlet with a valve, but since it has a tri-clamp that would be easy (but spendy) and again replace the inlet with a spunding setup since the pressure saftey valve would only trigger if the pressure was way to high for the yeast (unless it is your intent to regulate the pressure manually).

If you intention is pressurized fermentation I'd think about reading wortmongers https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f13/closed-system-pressurized-fermentation-technique-44344/

If on the other hand you are not thinking pressurized fermentation then either of these would work, but you would not need the pressure relief valve since you would have an open blow off tube. There are lots of ideas around here for using a sankey unpressurized fermentor. For example https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f11/sanke-fermenters-106253/
 

dogma46an2

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Hate to bumb this old thread .

But I am looking for that part in the pic above St. Pat doesn't carry it .
do any of you guys know where I can find it ?

I have found the one with out the elbow and tri clamp
but I need it to have that piece as well
pretty much the one that's above .

thanks
 

BBBF

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dogma46an2

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yeah that's the one I keep finding but they used to sale one with all the parts and the tri clove elbow already fixed on to the plate with the prv . like the pic in this thread id like to find it . but ive been looking everywhere and cant seem to locate it .
 

jcav

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