Conical Fermenter choice

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fogcutter

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Greetings all,

I need some input and if this is a duplicate thread or the wrong forum category please let me know. Getting back into brewing after a long absence and I'm looking to upgrade my bucket/carboy fermenter to something nicer. I need some suggestions on a conical fermenter. I don't want/need stainless. 5-7 gallons is fine and looking for sub $250. I did see another thread like this but the suggestions were mostly high-end units and stainless and the others were from 5 years ago.

Ones I've looked at and read reviews for:

Fermzilla 7.1 gallon
Catalyst
FastFerment 7.9 gallon

If anyone has personal experiences (good or bad) with these or knows of something better please share your thoughts.

Cheers,

Foggy
 
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Wayne1

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Here is a rather lengthy review I wrote about the KegLand FermZilla and the Keg King Fermenter King G3.

Keg King is going to be distributed in the US by Blichmann Engineering.

I purchased two, 27L FermZillas from MoreBeer in August 2019. Problems came up right away. There were multiple difficulties with trying to get the fermenters to hold pressure. First problem was the seal from the top cap to the fermenter body.

KegLand came up with a solution that involved buying another, thicker O ring. The O ring costs $1.00 AU$ or $0.70US. MoreBeer charges $3.00US. Williams Brewing charges $0.75US. The thicker O ring makes it very hard to remove the top cap now. KegLand suggests loosening the outer ring and using a screw driver under a carb cap to pry up the top cap.

The next problem was using the stainless steel pressure kits for gas in and liquid out. They are repurposed carbonation caps. The Fermzilla does not have a large enough lip for the gasket on the SS carb cap to seal effectively. The gasket tends to fold down into the fermenter. The solution was to not use the SS caps but to buy plastic caps that do not have a gasket, using the plastic body of the cap to seal. These had to be tightened very, very tight, or they would leak. Getting them that tight would usually deform the body of the carb cap.

The caps sell at 10 for $1.95 AU$ or $1.40US each at KegLand. More Beer charges $6.00US each.

With those changes, my Fermzillas were finally able to hold pressure.

I wanted to use the Fermzillas with a glycol chiller for temperature control. I needed to buy the KegLand thermoprobe and TempTwister cooling coil. At the time, one had to drill out the lid for the FermZilla. There are spaces marked on the interior of the lid to show where to drill. KegLand has a video showing how to do this using a handheld drill. I tried this and could not get the drill to stay centered. I ended up having to use my drill press and clamps with a second lid I had to purchase.

I now see the Williams Brewing is offering a predrilled lid for the FermZilla for $6.99. MoreBeer only offers the undrilled lid for $8.99.

Finally, in December, I was able to connect the FermZillas to my glycol system and brew into them. I brewed about 20 times with them until I noticed some stress cracks forming around the top neck area. I contacted MoreBeer and they quickly sent out the new design replacement bottles. They did not come with the graduation sticker to show the volume in the fermenter. These do not have the flat top of the original FermZilla, but are more rounded.

When I went to take apart the original FermZillas to replace the bottles, one of the bottom valve assemblies, simply would not come apart. I tried all the hints suggested in the KegLand video on how to disassemble the FermZilla and nothing would work. I gave up and ordered a new assembly.

The other FermZilla came apart with no problem and I was able to reassemble it using minimal amounts of torque. I tested it with just pressure for 48 hours and then with water, with no leaking. However, when I was going to take off the collection chamber, I foolishly left the butterfly valve open and the handle ended up breaking the collection chamber when the carb cap hit it. I managed to destroy the other collection chamber when I, again foolishly, tried to use the SS carb caps with a different gasket. I kept tightening the cap to prevent leaking, untill the threaded assembly just broke away from the chamber. Another order went in for three collection chambers, so I would have a spare, seeing how easily they break.

I was able to start using them again, about two weeks ago.

Some time ago, Will Fiala, KegKing CEO, was asking if there was anyone who cared to try out the KegKing Fermenter King G3, I contacted him and after some conversations, he arranged to have a unit shipped to me with a cooling coil included.

It took some time to arrive and I had some personal issues come up, but I finally got to brew into it last week.

Here are some comparisons between the two fermenters:

The 27L FermZilla is roughly 32" tall to the top of the carb caps. It is 14" in diameter The main body PET is roughly 2.6mm thick.

The G3 is 37" tall to the top of the thremoprobe/valve. It is roughly 14.8" in diameter.The PET is roughly 5.8 mm

The FermZilla cone is 45 degrees. The G3 is 60 degrees.


The top opening of the FermZilla is roughly 4.75" wide. The G3 is 3.5" wide.

The FermZilla uses a complex bottom connection to a 3" butterfly valve. The G3 is a simpler connection using a plunge valve.

The Fermzilla has a collection chamber that holds 1 liter and has the ability to add carb caps so you can release any pressure in the container before removing it. You could also use the two caps to add CO2 and purge the chamber of air before you open the valve to add dry hops of anything else.

The G3 has a 1/2 liter collection bottle. There is no ability to purge the bottle. The G3 does come with an adapter to add 2 inch Tri-Clover accessories to the bottom of the fermenter.

The FermZilla cooling coil is 6 meters total length, it is about 4.3" in diameter and 26.7 " high. It is VERY tight getting it into the FermZilla with the dip tube. The tube and float valve does get caught between the coils at times. The dip tube does pull put trub that is on the cone of the fermenter. Kegland has introduced an extension screen in Oz but it has not arrives in the states yet. The top third of the coil is above the fermenting beer.

The G3 coil is smaller than the Fermzilla, but it is angled off to the side. The plunge valve/thermo probe assembly has a ring around it the the dip tube and float attatch to. This will prevent the tube from pulling up any trub from the side of the fermenter.
I have only just brewed into the G3 this week. I can say there was no problem with the coil dropping the wort down 10 degrees within 1 hour to fermenting temp. It has held fermenting temp within 1 degree F all week.

The FermZilla is an very good concept with rather poor execution. KegLand seems to have put out a Beta version and attempted to fix the problems after the release.

The G3 took longer to come out but it has none of the leaking or poor material problems of the FermZilla.


At this point, there is little to no availability of the Keg King products in the US. Blichmann Engineering will be distributing the KegKing line shortly.
 

micraftbeer

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I've been playing around with pressure fermentation, and have a FermZilla All Rounder with the pressure kit. The plastic carbonation caps are the way to go. You never want to use a stainless fitting onto a plastic part. For the exact reasons mentioned above (leaks or breaking/stripping the plastic threads).

The beauty of the All Rounder is it's lack of a collection ball. Less parts to clean and try to make leak free.

I've had no troubles with leaks, fermenting up to 29 psi. I haven't had it long, I've fermented and cleaned it for 3 batches so far.

I've also been pleased with Fermtank, SS Brew bucket, and Anvil Foundry. But none of those are capable of fermentation under pressure- if that's something you're interested in.
 
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fogcutter

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Wow....first off....thanks for the replies. If for nothing else, by starting this thread it gave me more reading choices via the "similar threads" below. I went down quite a few rabbit holes and kept me entertained and informed for hours.

At this point I'm armed with more information but now more questions than ever about what I need/want to better serve my brewing habit. I probably should have started off by mentioning that I'm a very casual brewer at this point. I don't see myself ever brewing more than 4 or 5 batches in a year - maybe more if I give enough brew away.

I do want to graduate from using the plastic buckets I've used for years if only because I'm now able to afford it. I'm not looking to re-ignite some of the flame wars I've been reading on which fermenter is better than another because I'm guessing, like anything else, it all comes down to personal choice.

So after my reading through these boards I've learned:

1) I want a conical fermenter....but I'm not sure why I need one. I do like the idea of being able to drain off trub and rack from the fermenter via a valve.
2) Temperature control is/should not be an issue for me as I have a large enough home to keep the fermenter in a dark cool place.....maybe not exactly at 68 degrees but I can get it pretty close. So no need to fit into a fridge or need temperature control equipment.
3)I prefer to bottle only and I'm not kegging. Nor do I need to pressurize my fermenter so I probably don't need a conical that has that option.
4) There are a LOT of people who both love and/or hate the SS Brewtech Brew Bucket
5) In other news the SS Brewtech Brew Bucket exists and costs $239
6) I now know about Chapman and Cooper fermenters as well as Better Bottles all of which I didn't know about before (been out of the hobby for a bit)
7) The Fermentasarus Snub Nose looks close to what I would like (non stainless, clear) but has no drain and looks like it's specifically made for pressure.
8) The VBENLEM 7 looks like very much like the Brewtech (if I was to lean that way) and cheaper and has a drain at the bottom of the cone

That being written, I'm a little less confused than when I started but I really haven't come close to zero'ing in on what I want. I'm actually looking at Better Bottles a little more seriously as they seem to be in the middle between a 5 gallon bucket/carboy and a full blown stainless but I'm still drawn to a conical.

Thanks for the help and replies so far.
 
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