Bucket v.s. conical v.s. unitank

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bwible

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I think its alot like cars. One guy drives a BMW, another guy drives a Chevy. In the end they are both vehicles that function similarly and over 99% of the time both vehicles will get you where you want to go. One is more of a status symbol and may have a couple nice features the other does not. It’s all relative to the person and their budget.
 

bwible

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In my opinion there are four levels of making beer... Making beer, making good beer, making really good beer and making RFG beer. SS Unitanks fall in the RFG category. Add in the temp control function and ability to more easily harvest yeast and wallah you have RFG beer that is actually saving you money :)
Only in America do we justify spending thousands of dollars by saying we’re “saving money”. 😄
 

Gus_13

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There are so many reasons for or against something like this. Yes it's money spent, but it's a hobby I've been doing over 10 years now and I wanted to make the jump. I've been through all different kind of vessels but 2 years ago I went to SS Brewtech Brewbuckets and absolutely loved how easy it was to clean and the ease of use. This year I've added a Flex+ and a CF10. CF10 was just delivered this weekend and I got it for 10 gallon batches that I split with a friend. Being able to have an entire batch in one vessel with one yeast pitch and keg straight from it already carbonated really interested me. That along with the glycol chiller I feel like it will streamline a lot of my process for my hobby that I plan on staying in for a very long time. I'll continue to use my 30L spiedels for my Saison brews and my 7 gallon brewbucket is going to primarily be used as a dedicated Hefe tank.

It all comes down to how much you want to spend on your hobby. If you want to keep from spending money, there's no reason you have to move away from buckets or something similar. Even the small jump to SS could be perfect for what you need. Be it an Anvil or SS Brewbucket. I look at it as an investment into a hobby I have already invested a lot of time and money into. Will it make me brew better beer on equipment alone? Nope. But it does give me possibilities of improving my process. The glycol chiller alone is worth it to me being in MS and not taking up more room with a larger chest freezer. Plus it makes me feel good to walk out and see shiny SS in my garage when it's all said and done.

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bwible

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There are so many reasons for or against something like this. Yes it's money spent, but it's a hobby I've been doing over 10 years now and I wanted to make the jump. I've been through all different kind of vessels but 2 years ago I went to SS Brewtech Brewbuckets and absolutely loved how easy it was to clean and the ease of use. This year I've added a Flex+ and a CF10. CF10 was just delivered this weekend and I got it for 10 gallon batches that I split with a friend. Being able to have an entire batch in one vessel with one yeast pitch and keg straight from it already carbonated really interested me. That along with the glycol chiller I feel like it will streamline a lot of my process for my hobby that I plan on staying in for a very long time. I'll continue to use my 30L spiedels for my Saison brews and my 7 gallon brewbucket is going to primarily be used as a dedicated Hefe tank.

It all comes down to how much you want to spend on your hobby. If you want to keep from spending money, there's no reason you have to move away from buckets or something similar. Even the small jump to SS could be perfect for what you need. Be it an Anvil or SS Brewbucket. I look at it as an investment into a hobby I have already invested a lot of time and money into. Will it make me brew better beer on equipment alone? Nope. But it does give me possibilities of improving my process. The glycol chiller alone is worth it to me being in MS and not taking up more room with a larger chest freezer. Plus it makes me feel good to walk out and see shiny SS in my garage when it's all said and done.

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Well yeah thats one of the issues with the conicals. Its not enough just to buy the conical. You also need temp control. So you either have to buy the glycol chilling upgrade for the conical and then a glycol chiller which costs as much again as the conical - or you have to have a dedicated spare refrigerator that it will fit in. And you still can only do one batch at a time.

I like that fancy equipment and all. I get that you plan to do it for a long time. Me, I’m over 60 and it doesn’t make sense for me. I don’t have the years left or the budget. Too many other things I need to be spending money on.
 

Gus_13

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Well yeah thats one of the issues with the conicals. Its not enough just to buy the conical. You also need temp control. So you either have to buy the glycol chilling upgrade for the conical and then a glycol chiller which costs as much again as the conical - or you have to have a dedicated spare refrigerator that it will fit in. And you still can only do one batch at a time.

I like that fancy equipment and all. I get that you plan to do it for a long time. Me, I’m over 60 and it doesn’t make sense for me. I don’t have the years left or the budget. Too many other things I need to be spending money on.

I totally get that. It's different for everyone for sure.
 

OakIslandBrewery

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Me, I’m over 60 and it doesn’t make sense for me.
I'm over sixty too and I think twice or more about any big dollar purchase, but I figure if I can afford it why not. It's a great hobby and it provides a good end product for me to enjoy alone or with friends. But I get it, as we get older other things in life do and should be where we spend our money.
 

Murph4231

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I'll be 70 in a few months. All I want to do is brew and fish. So one way or another I'm gonna get the few toys I want to enhance my hobbies. I enjoy brewing beer as much as drinking beer. Plus all the bling sure makes me happier when brewing and drinking with family and friends.
 

OakIslandBrewery

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I'll be 70 in a few months. All I want to do is brew and fish. So one way or another I'm gonna get the few toys I want to enhance my hobbies. I enjoy brewing beer as much as drinking beer. Plus all the bling sure makes me happier when brewing and drinking with family and friends.
See, you give me lots of new hope that this hobby will provide me with many more great years of enjoyment. Reading from many of the others out there I get the impression a lot are well over 50 and still brewing strong. I love the brewing aspect too and all of the history behind it as much as the drinking part just like you. Brew On!
 

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I like that fancy equipment and all. I get that you plan to do it for a long time. Me, I’m over 60 and it doesn’t make sense for me. I don’t have the years left or the budget. Too many other things I need to be spending money on.

I'm over 70, and still spending like a drunken sailor....

Oh, wait! I actually just said the silent part out load while perfectly and succinctly describing myself. Ooops...
 

bwible

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My dad is 92 and he was still cutting his own grass until he was 87 or 88. I don’t know about lifting any 5 gallon buckets of anything though. I do hope to be doing this for years to come. I know a couple guys from our club who hung it up in their early 70s. The one guy had been brewing for almost 40 years and is a very very high level bjcp judge who still judges competitions. I don’t think he quit by choice. We do what we can do. I’m just more aware of this recently.

I imagine retirement will be different once that comes around. Up til retirement we make money but have limited time. Once we retire we have time but more limited money.
 

OakIslandBrewery

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My dad is 92 and he was still cutting his own grass until he was 87 or 88. I don’t know about lifting any 5 gallon buckets of anything though. I do hope to be doing this for years to come. I know a couple guys from our club who hung it up in their early 70s. The one guy had been brewing for almost 40 years and is a very very high level bjcp judge who still judges competitions. I don’t think he quit by choice. We do what we can do. I’m just more aware of this recently.

I imagine retirement will be different once that comes around. Up til retirement we make money but have limited time. Once we retire we have time but more limited money.
I retired early, the end of 2021, before that I worked part time for almost two years. Went from 50+ hours a week to 25 then to zero. I figured I had been saving all my life to retire one day so it was time. I can always make more money just can't make more time. But now I have more time to brew and not trying to squeeze it into maybe a couple days off. Before I retired I made sure I bought the big ticket items for brewing or had a way to extend payments out. If it gets me into my mid-seventies that would be great and I'll enjoy every brew day and every sip of my beer!

Thanks for more encouraging words!
 

Murph4231

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I have a suggestion for all younger brewers. Make all those large batches during your younger years. Work out your processes and fine tune your brew equipment to lessen the physical requirements as you grow older. Most of us older brewers have reduced our batch sizes to be more manageable. Our brew list consist of less varieties as our comrads and ourselves don't consume as much as when we were younger. On the flip side, by the time you reach retirement age you know what you like best and you know how to brew it. And by all means GET every piece of brewing equipment that you need to be that homebrewer you want to be. As you can see from testimonies above, this hobby provides many years of enjoyment and education that people who don't brew, will never experience. Brew on my friends we are a special group of people.
 

OakIslandBrewery

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It's very encouraging reading about everyone that's keeping the hobby alive. It's come to the point that homebrewers are churning out beer better than a lot of the craft brewers and certainly the mega breweries. As Murph says "brew on"!
 

Brooothru

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I have a suggestion for all younger brewers. Make all those large batches during your younger years. Work out your processes and fine tune your brew equipment to lessen the physical requirements as you grow older. Most of us older brewers have reduced our batch sizes to be more manageable. Our brew list consist of less varieties as our comrads and ourselves don't consume as much as when we were younger. On the flip side, by the time you reach retirement age you know what you like best and you know how to brew it. And by all means GET every piece of brewing equipment that you need to be that homebrewer you want to be. As you can see from testimonies above, this hobby provides many years of enjoyment and education that people who don't brew, will never experience. Brew on my friends we are a special group of people.
Preach it, Brother! Words of wisdom.
 

NitrogenWidget

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i have 2 13 gallon vittles vaults with spigots on the bottom for fermenting 10 gal batches.
plus multiple brew buckets for smaller batches.

haven't had issues because i clean them well.
And when i say well i mean put some oxyclean in them fill it with water, let it soak over night, drain through spigot, rinse out with hose then spray sanitizer inside.
 

NitrogenWidget

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I have a suggestion for all younger brewers. Make all those large batches during your younger years. Work out your processes and fine tune your brew equipment to lessen the physical requirements as you grow older. Most of us older brewers have reduced our batch sizes to be more manageable. Our brew list consist of less varieties as our comrads and ourselves don't consume as much as when we were younger. On the flip side, by the time you reach retirement age you know what you like best and you know how to brew it. And by all means GET every piece of brewing equipment that you need to be that homebrewer you want to be. As you can see from testimonies above, this hobby provides many years of enjoyment and education that people who don't brew, will never experience. Brew on my friends we are a special group of people.

yep.
though i still make 10 gallon batches.
i keep those fermenters in a fridge in the basement on a stand.
brew outside then use a long hose to run the wort down to the fermenters.
at keg time hook hose up to spigot on fermenter and fill.
now when there is just a few gallons left i do need to take out the fermenter to get more elevation however after thinking about it i've ordered some fittings and a keg charger and plan to use that to push the remaining beer out of the fermenter.
i think. lol.
not sure it will actually work.

either way the most i'm lugging is a 5 gallon brew bucket down the stairs.
once i get basement brewing sorted out i won't even be doing that.
 

OakIslandBrewery

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yep.
though i still make 10 gallon batches.
i keep those fermenters in a fridge in the basement on a stand.
brew outside then use a long hose to run the wort down to the fermenters.
at keg time hook hose up to spigot on fermenter and fill.
now when there is just a few gallons left i do need to take out the fermenter to get more elevation however after thinking about it i've ordered some fittings and a keg charger and plan to use that to push the remaining beer out of the fermenter.
i think. lol.
not sure it will actually work.

either way the most i'm lugging is a 5 gallon brew bucket down the stairs.
once i get basement brewing sorted out i won't even be doing that.
I've thought about your idea of "piping" from brewing in the connected garage to the basement fermenter. Right now I brew strictly in the basement and I do like that convenience but the garage would offer more room. Not sure I want to expand right now when everything fits OK in my small basement brew space (10 gallon batches also). Good to dream of an expanded area though.
 

NitrogenWidget

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I've thought about your idea of "piping" from brewing in the connected garage to the basement fermenter. Right now I brew strictly in the basement and I do like that convenience but the garage would offer more room. Not sure I want to expand right now when everything fits OK in my small basement brew space (10 gallon batches also). Good to dream of an expanded area though.

I bought a 100kbtu propane cooker when i upgraded to a 20 gallon pot.
so much easier with the hose plus it aerates great.
 

UdonPete

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It's very encouraging reading about everyone that's keeping the hobby alive. It's come to the point that homebrewers are churning out beer better than a lot of the craft brewers and certainly the mega breweries. As Murph says "brew on"!
Hobby, to me it’s a necessity – what would life be without our brew days and the subsequent enjoyment drinking the results
 

axborn

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I do triple/60l/15gallon batches and wanted to do pressurized fermentation. Didn't care about yeast harvesting and wanted the simplest cleanest approach. I love stainless steel but not as much as the ability to see what's going on inside the fermentation vessel.
So the only logical approach was to get Fermzilla All-rounder 60l. Cheap AF - invested rest of the money into temperature control, sparge water heater, iTap and other things which actually make my life easier and beer better :)
Just few days ago bottled almost 1bbl as I've got a second all-rounder now... things are getting out of hand 😅
 
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OakIslandBrewery

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I do triple/60l/15gallon batches and wanted to do pressurized fermentation. Didn't care about yeast harvesting and wanted the simplest cleanest approach. I love stainless steel but not as much as the ability to see what's going on inside the fermentation vessel.
So the only logical approach was to get Fermzilla All-rounder 60l. Cheap AF - invested rest of the money into temperature control, sparge water heater, iTap and other things which actually make my life easier and beer better :)
Just few days ago bottled almost 1bbl as I've got a second all-rounder now... things are getting out of hand 😅
Welcome to the group!

The Fermizilla looks very interesting and certainly very cost effective. When I bought my CF10 I got the clear TC cap so I could look inside. Not like you are able to see but enough to see if the yeast is starting to work.

This thread started out as buckets versus conical/unitank but I like reading everyone's approach to their brewing. Buckets work fine, BIAB, conicals, we all have different reason why we brew the way we do. As you stated, whatever works to make it easier and still be fun.

Keep brewing!
 

Brooothru

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Welcome to the group!

The Fermizilla looks very interesting and certainly very cost effective. When I bought my CF10 I got the clear TC cap so I could look inside. Not like you are able to see but enough to see if the yeast is starting to work.

This thread started out as buckets versus conical/unitank but I like reading everyone's approach to their brewing. Buckets work fine, BIAB, conicals, we all have different reason why we brew the way we do. As you stated, whatever works to make it easier and still be fun.

Keep brewing!
^^^Truth^^^
 

MaxOut

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If you're considering the jump to a conical and feel you are making the best possible beer in buckets the move would yield small gains comparing ROI against the quality of your beer. I think it also depends on your brewing style. If you are brewing basic lagers and ales, bottling and do not harvest yeast or dry hop the advantage of a conical is minimal. For me the choice was a Uni-Tank. I brew a lot of hoppy beers and wanted to take my brewing skills to the next level. I wanted to learn how big breweries brew and learn their techniques. I also exclusively keg my beer as I do not like the time-consuming bottling process. With the Uni-Tank I can also do pressurized fermentation that allows me to carbonate naturally in the fermenter. Along with using CO2 to move the beer from the fermenter to the kegs in a closed loop to prevent oxidation. Most people say temperature control is a drawback to having a conical fermenter but if you are not all ready controlling the fermentation temperature on your buckets then you are not making your best beers or making them consistently. My Uni-Tanks live in a BCS controlled refrigerator with full heating and cooling control. I just figured that into the cost when I decided to purchase the Uni-Tanks. I still use buckets for certain beers and small batches as my Uni-Tanks are 1 BBL and I don't brew most of my sipping beers that large.

At the end of the day IMO if you are brewing as a hobby and feel like you have reached the limits in your buckets, want to learn more and how to ferment in conical then it doesn't have to make sense money wise. Most hobbies have nothing to do with ROI it's more about enjoyment.
 

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New $249 conical from Northern Brewer:

 

WESBREW

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You probably wont make better beer if you're making good beer now. I got a CF10 a few months ago. It wasn't something i needed to make good beer. was something i wanted. Looked beautiful, will last forever. Buy once, cry once, as they say. Still i wasnt sure i made the right choice until i really got into using it.
Add wheels its mobile, add coil and glycol, controlled ferment. manifold, you can spund/add gas/pressure transfers...etc. Love the cone and bottom dump to dump trub, harvest yeast. and as noted above, leave the yeast in there and dump new brew right on top. i'm finishing my third beer in a row on the same yeast. The sampling port gets used often (doubles as a sightglass for me ) and you can carbonate in the vessel. Sanitizing, a couple extra minutes but still easy. Make a small bucket of sanitzer dump the parts in and put back on. 5 minutes. Dump bucket of sanitizer in the fermenter and wipe down and drain. save for later.
I really love the clean-in-place ability. i use a hose and spray nozzle connected to the sink, inside the house. I spray it down and drain into a bucket, roll it next to the fridge. I love the giant lid where you can really get in to clean. On paper it seems like more work but its only more surface area. Its actually easier to clean, its so open you can get both arms in at once. really enjoying it. Downside, did not enjoy the expense of all the extra parts.
*i'll also add that with the gas post & robust dump port at the bottom, i no longer use a filter or bag for hops in the boil. all of it rolls around in the kettle for good flavor and i transfer it all to the fermenter. do a t dump at 24hrs.
 
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OakIslandBrewery

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All great points from Wesbrew. I own the same fermenter, bought it several years ago and still love it every time I use it. It was well worth the purchase, and I have no regrets making the plunge. I brew ales so I don't have any of the temp controls but at any time I could add them.
 

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I have an SS Brewbucket but I still prefer my 7g FastFerment plastic conical when I don't need to ferment under pressure. The translucent body lets you see what is going on. It is a little heavy when full but I can transport it up and down a set of stairs on my own. The 2g overhead is enough to contain most aggressive krausen and it is simple enough for me to clean and sanitize. When I need to really kill off aggressive beasties like Brett - I use a plastic bag and hit it with ozone overnight.
 
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Another vote for a fermzilla. It was by far the best Bang-for-buck beer improvement for me. A plastic conical unitank is a cheap option for trying pressure fermenting /spunding / yeast collection / trub dumps / O2 exclusion and decent options for temp control, closed transfers, oxidation free dry hopping etc. All improvements over (the way I was) fermenting in a bucket.
I have a more expensive SS fermenter but except for mead, I just use an older /less evolved version of this fermzilla now:
Wish I had this one! The tri-clamps are a massive upgrade and give me fermenter envy.
 

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I think its alot like cars. One guy drives a BMW, another guy drives a Chevy. In the end they are both vehicles that function similarly and over 99% of the time both vehicles will get you where you want to go. One is more of a status symbol and may have a couple nice features the other does not. It’s all relative to the person and their budget.
A BMW gets you where you want to go when its new and under warranty. After that, its an endless money pit unless you do all your own work, and time is money, so its still an endless money pit. GM products can be a money pit also, depends what you get, but not near as bad as the Euro cars like BMW, Mercedes and Audi.
But back to the OP's subject: another option is to ferment in a corny keg. Add a spunding valve and you're fermenting in SS for under $75, and can do closed transfers.
 

OakIslandBrewery

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It's a great hobby and very rewarding in many ways. As you see on this site lots of folks share their knowledge, recipes and when we can, our beers too. Belonging to a local home brew club if you can, is also a great way to expand your knowledge and share ideas. Now that the plague is almost over try going to some brew fests. Our local club can be seen at several of these events and opens up meeting others in the brewing community. Enjoy the hobby as much as you can!
 

Brooothru

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A BMW gets you where you want to go when its new and under warranty. After that, its an endless money pit unless you do all your own work, and time is money, so its still an endless money pit. GM products can be a money pit also, depends what you get, but not near as bad as the Euro cars like BMW, Mercedes and Audi.
But back to the OP's subject: another option is to ferment in a corny keg. Add a spunding valve and you're fermenting in SS for under $75, and can do closed transfers.
I've continuously owned at least one Volvo (sometimes two) since 1972 simultaneously along with numerous German, Japanese and American iron. The Volvos have always been the most dependable and least worrisome regarding upkeep and maintenance. Not all Euro cars are created equal, and IMHO Volvos have no equal.

'Course, SWMBO'd is of Scandinavian descent, and she made me say this. 'Cause, you know, Mother's Day...
 

madscientist451

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I've continuously owned at least one Volvo (sometimes two) since 1972 simultaneously along with numerous German, Japanese and American iron. The Volvos have always been the most dependable and least worrisome regarding upkeep and maintenance. Not all Euro cars are created equal, and IMHO Volvos have no equal.

'Course, SWMBO'd is of Scandinavian descent, and she made me say this. 'Cause, you know, Mother's Day...
Apologizing in advance for going off topic, but what would be a good "recent" (since say 2012?) Volvo to get with reliability being the most important ? I had a 70's 164 and still have a 2007 DL wagon, so I'm a little bit familiar with Volvo, but I've heard the more recent models suffer from blown head gaskets, transmission and electrical issues that make them expensive to keep on the road and are generally a TPITA.
 

Brooothru

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Apologizing in advance for going off topic, but what would be a good "recent" (since say 2012?) Volvo to get with reliability being the most important ? I had a 70's 164 and still have a 2007 DL wagon, so I'm a little bit familiar with Volvo, but I've heard the more recent models suffer from blown head gaskets, transmission and electrical issues that make them expensive to keep on the road and are generally a TPITA.
We bought an S60 in 2013 about a year before retiring. Close to 70,000 miles on it now, 90% of which is mostly less than 50 mile jaunts. Since I seldom do my own upkeep and maintenance anymore, it gets regular service visits to the dealership. Tires, new timing belt, minor glitches, routine oil changes. Knock wood, absolutely nothing out of normal wear & tear. Had a '75 DL wagon that went close to 400,000 miles over 17 years with nothing major. Picked it up the day we brought our son home from the hospital, and it lasted 16 years until he started driving it.
 
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