Conical Fermenter ... Which One?

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JrZyBud

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Okay, so Im in the market for a brand new conical fermenter. I generally do 10 gallon batches ... so the question is ... which one do I get? Plastic? Stainless? What is everyones opinion of the minibrew? I think I'd rather go stainless unless someone can convince me otherwise. I don't mind the added cost so much. I was also looking at MoreBeer, but they have three different grades. Economy, Standard and Pro. Once you step into the Pro range you are talking Fermenator type pricing. Which leads me to my next question, should I go with Blichmann? Then standard or sanitary fittings? Also, Im guessing its better to have welded fittings? I need some help here ...
 

truckmann

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If money isn't an issue I would definitely get a stainless one. I will last forever unlike a plastic one that you will have to be careful not to scratch when cleaning. I can't give much help or insight on the various options though.
 

Aleforge

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I have a stainless one but I built it out of scrap, we have conicals laying all over at work that we don't need luckily. However if I had to actually buy one I might look into one of the plastic ones and just be super careful when cleaning. It shouldn't scratch with a soft sponge and cleaner solution and will last forever if taken care of.
 

samc

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I have tried the V-Vessel (lightbulb shaped plastic thing) and it works as long as you filter out the break material. If you don't it gets clogged. With 10 gallon batches forget I mentioned it.

I just started using a 15 gallon inductor tank, plastic and there are several threads discussing it. Other than a minor drip from the bottom fitting (grrh!), need more teflon and 7 gallons of wort say no at this point. Some complaints about the sealing of the lid from others, I think I managed to get it done by using a cut up kids giant bouncing ball as a rubber gasket. The silicone sealant I had used never fully cured and smelled like crap (vinegar). I made a stand out of a golf practice net steel cage (golf is harder to do right than beer) and amazingly I made it work. 10 gallons will easily fit, 16+ gallons is doable . Very large cover so cleaning is simple - just put it into the shower or bathtub and have at it.

After all that I can see myself eventually moving to stainless and using the inductor for a backup. The V-Vessel will eventually wind up on Craigslist. I would go Blichmann as I don't really like Morebeer. Minibrew is pointless to me if you can do the inductor tank.
 

Boar Beer

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We went with ss. Part of the thinking was that it will last forever and you can sell it for at least what you paid for it. Would you buy a used plastic one?

The Blichmann is the one we got. You need the 15 gallons on to make a 10 gallon batch
Its great and you will love the ease of making beer with it

good luck
 
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I have 2 B3 Pro-Series 12.2G conicals. I love them from the lid down. They are well made and nicely welded. I like the large 1.5" dump valve. After using it I'm not sure how people are really using a 1/2" bottom dump as even my 1.5" gets clogged.

The lid kinda sucks though and it cannot be pressurized. If you could put the Blichmann type lid on the B3 bottom you'd have one great conical.

 
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JrZyBud

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I have 2 B3 Pro-Series 12.2G conicals. I love them from the lid down. They are well made and nicely welded. I like the large 1.5" dump valve. After using it I'm not sure how people are really using a 1/2" bottom dump as even my 1.5" gets clogged.

The lid kinda sucks though and it cannot be pressurized. If you could put the Blichmann type lid on the B3 bottom you'd have one great conical.

Very nice ... what is the copper for? To chill your fermenter? Are you using glycol?

So from what Im reading the Blichmann would be a good way to go because Im going to be paying about the same for a Pro grade MoreBeer and it can be pressurized? Can anyone help me clear up the difference between regular and sanitary tri-clamp fittings? There is a substantial price difference. Is it really worth it?
 

Anthony_Lopez

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I have the 14.5 gallon blichmann. I've done 12 gallon batches in it without a problem. I got the deal of a lifetime off craigslist, so I can't really comment on pricing. The only thing I dislike about my Blichmann is how close it sits to the ground. They do have the option for leg extensions, but to me its just more $$. I have the Minibrew MLT (part of the same CL deal) and it is pretty scratched up. Its about 5 years old. Obviously that doesn't give you a review of their conicals, but it does provide some insight regarding the materials they are made from. The previous owner of my new gear took excellent care of everything, and was VERY careful when cleaning. Just my 2 cents...
 

drez77

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I like the large 1.5" dump valve. After using it I'm not sure how people are really using a 1/2" bottom dump as even my 1.5" gets clogged.
QUOTE]

I wish I had a 1.5 dump valve on my 14.5 Blichman. I am going to try and removal the elbow and have the dump valve straight down to see if that helps with yeast removal. Other than that, I really like it. Before this I had a plastic 15 gallon one. I never could get a comfortable feeling with the plastic and did not like the lid and the lack of a 100% seal.

Mike
 

Ewalk02

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From my experience with fittings I don't see the need for the sanitary tri clamp style but I'm sure others will tell you they are amazing. I've never had a problem with my regular fittings and if I did find that I had something inside there infecting my beer I'd either replace the valve (fairly cheap) or rig up a way to have it sitting in boiling water for about 20 min to ensure I killed the little SOB's that are messing with my beer. I would think that a good soak in Oxyclean would clean them up very well after each use....just my $0.02 though.
 

saq

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I have the 7g blichmann conical I bought used and its pretty much in new condition. I purchased it from my LHBS and they had a brand new 7g right next to it, I could not find a difference between the two so I went with the used. I love the conical although with excessive dryhopping it is possible to clock the drain tube at the bottom, but thats only happened once when I had 6oz of dryhops :)
 

Glibbidy

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I use the Blichmann 14.5 Gallon Fermenator. I too picked mine up off Craigslist for a steal. I don't have the triclamp fittings, but would recommend them for ease of cleaning and sanitation.
 

Boerderij_Kabouter

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The sanitary fittings are not worth it. Blichmann uses weldless fittings which by their nature have threads and are therefore not sanitary. If you want tri-clamps (I will be using them in my system) just purchase them separately from an online retailer and save yourself a bunch of cash.

I don't have a conical, I just have to be jealous.
 
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Very nice ... what is the copper for? To chill your fermenter? Are you using glycol?

So from what Im reading the Blichmann would be a good way to go because Im going to be paying about the same for a Pro grade MoreBeer and it can be pressurized? Can anyone help me clear up the difference between regular and sanitary tri-clamp fittings? There is a substantial price difference. Is it really worth it?
Yes, that is a chilling coil. I built a glycol chiller from a window A/C unit about 3-4 years ago. I can get my fermentation as cold as I want regardless of ambient and keep it within a 2* swing. I love it.

IMHO, the tri-clover valve is worth the money from a size stand point, not a sanitary or ease of cleaning one. After all, the racking arm is a regular ball valve and has threads and needs to be boiled to sanitize it so you have that whole weakest link thing anyway.

However, I really don't see how people can dump trub or collect yeast with anything smaller unless they are doing it early and often. If I don't make an initial trub dump within 24 hours, it's almost impossible. With a smaller valve and a pressurizable conical you could force the trub plug out, but then it'd come blasting out.

If you have a highly flocculant yeast and it's been sitting for several weeks, it's difficult to get it moving even with the 1.5" valve.
 

El_Gutter

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Yes, that is a chilling coil. I built a glycol chiller from a window A/C unit about 3-4 years ago. I can get my fermentation as cold as I want regardless of ambient and keep it within a 2* swing. I love it.
How did you attach the coil? Solder or braze? I'm putting my own together but haven't gotten to that part yet.

On the subject of the larger dump, If you do a search for local boilermaker shops in your area I'm almost positive they would help you out. Just make sure you call first don't just show up. I'm lucky enough to be in the trade and work in a great shop. It's slow enough though I know that we would take on a small task like that just for schitzengiggle.
 

P-Lay

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I have 2 B3 Pro-Series 12.2G conicals. I love them from the lid down. They are well made and nicely welded. I like the large 1.5" dump valve. After using it I'm not sure how people are really using a 1/2" bottom dump as even my 1.5" gets clogged.

The lid kinda sucks though and it cannot be pressurized. If you could put the Blichmann type lid on the B3 bottom you'd have one great conical.

Just curious, how efficient do you think your glycol copper coil loop is? Based on your picture, it would seem that there isn't a whole lot of surface/contact area between the copper and the conical for a good heat transfer.

I was thinking of doing the same thing, but was unsure because of this very reason.

:mug:
 

TommyBoy

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I also have a 14.5g Blichman. I wish the bottom dump was larger as I have had to use a push rod to remove a hop clog before but it is just a minor inconvience IMO. It does sit too low if you do not have the casters. Right now I just sit it on top of 3 cut pieces if 2x4s so I don't have a problem harvesting yeast. I love everything else about it. I also have the sanitary fittings on it and although not necessary, it give me peace of mind for some stupid reason.:D
 
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How did you attach the coil? Solder or braze? I'm putting my own together but haven't gotten to that part yet.

On the subject of the larger dump, If you do a search for local boilermaker shops in your area I'm almost positive they would help you out. Just make sure you call first don't just show up. I'm lucky enough to be in the trade and work in a great shop. It's slow enough though I know that we would take on a small task like that just for schitzengiggle.
The coils are wrapped very tight and there is a #12 bare copper wire between them to try and increase contact area. They are soldered to each other, but not the conical. They don't slide or move and you'd think they were attached. The coils can be removed by heating the copper from multiple sides so it expands slightly and then sliding it off (with welding gloves) I had to remove it once, I can't remember why now, and to reattach it I had to bake it in the oven to get it to expand and then id dropped right on the cold conical. Once cooled it won't go anywhere.
 

saq

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The coils are wrapped very tight and there is a #12 bare copper wire between them to try and increase contact area. They are soldered to each other, but not the conical. They don't slide or move and you'd think they were attached. The coils can be removed by heating the copper from multiple sides so it expands slightly and then sliding it off (with welding gloves) I had to remove it once, I can't remember why now, and to reattach it I had to bake it in the oven to get it to expand and then id dropped right on the cold conical. Once cooled it won't go anywhere.
I'd like to see some pics of this! Sounds neat.
 

arturo7

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Derrin, Could you post a couple pics or a description of your glycol chiller build? Thanks
 

Sawdustguy

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This thread is very appros for me. I guess this year I have been an extra special good Pop and my family has threatened to get me one of those shiny stainless steel Blichman Conical Fermenters for Fathers Day. I'm excited because I have for one reason or another, never gotten a Fathers Day gift. I have gotten my share of cards, hugs and kisses, but never a gift. Sure is unexpected, but makes me feel like a million bucks.
 
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<sigh> I had a big long write up on it a few years ago when I did it but it was all lost when our club's website crashed hard....

Basically, I took a window A/C unit and stuck the evaporator in bath contained in a small ice chest. Currently there is a Ranco controller working the compressor and controlling bath temp and two converted thermostats working two pumps, one for each fermenter. There is a pump in the glycol bath that circulates when the compressor runs to prevent an ice block from forming.

Each fermenter has a 3/8" X 50' copper coil wrapped around it with the aforementioned #12 bare wire between coils. They are wrapped in Reflectix and work really well.

Changes I'd make today: First control the whole thing with a Brewtroller and do away with the Ranco and t-stats. Second, be sure to paint and or seal the evaporator as the cheap pot-metal frame that supports the coils rusts really bad. Food-grade glycol has no rust inhibitors in it.



This was a test before I built it:
 

arturo7

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Thanks, D. I am most interested in this project.

I know this question does not have a cut and dried answer, but can you give an idea of how this thing cycles? ie: 10 mins on - 10 mins off; 10 mins on/hour?

It's understood that this depends on your ambient and target temperatures. Maybe we can assume 70 deg and 40 deg?

Any guesstimate is appreciated.
 
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Thanks, D. I am most interested in this project.

I know this question does not have a cut and dried answer, but can you give an idea of how this thing cycles? ie: 10 mins on - 10 mins off; 10 mins on/hour?

It's understood that this depends on your ambient and target temperatures. Maybe we can assume 70 deg and 40 deg?

Any guesstimate is appreciated.
Like you guessed it all depends. I used to keep the glycol bath at or near freezing then realized that was a waste. Now I run the bath about 20* below my lower fermentation temp. So if I'm doing an ale @ 66* and a lager @ 48* I'll run it at 38* and if I'm just doing ales at 68* I'll run it at 48*.

It cycles a lot more during initial exothermic fermentation and more when ambient is hotter. But I would have to guess it's maybe a 75% duty cycle at the most extreme, averaging 45% and low of 25%.

It's surprisingly pretty efficient.
 

BrewBeemer

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I would of used soluable oil that you mix with water, it turns into a white milk, has rust inhibitors, we used in machine shops for cooling the mills as well drilling and machining on the lathe. Use this or Millers wet torch coolant a special anti-freeze coolant that prevents rust, ion and cooling system problems vs that of standard antomotive anti-freeze that will become thick with lumps in a wet torch over time causing torch overheating problems.
many dollars spent to save a dime with wet Tig torch replacements.
 

Jipper

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saq - where are you looking to keep the conical? Mine is a heating and cooling conical that is high enough to gravity right into a keg, so I don't really need the CO2 option. I figure there is enough of a CO2 blanket over the beer from fermentation that should protect the beer as it leaves the conical, so I don't have to worry about O2 getting in there.
 

DrunkSkunk

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I am just itching to buy a conical but have not yet got my recipes perfected to the point where I could justify a 10 gal batch, but I feel in another 1-2 iterations i could be there.

What are the possible drawbacks to a 5 gal batch in a 15 gallon fermenter?
 

HSM

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Guess I'm a conical noob, but I love the mini-brew 6.5 gallon. I usually get it to 5.5 and it's blow off evertime. The yellow plastic cap will not hold any pressure unless you clamp in on, I use a large rubber band from the produce selection. This will let the airlock work and use a blow off if needed.
 

drez77

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I am just itching to buy a conical but have not yet got my recipes perfected to the point where I could justify a 10 gal batch, but I feel in another 1-2 iterations i could be there.

What are the possible drawbacks to a 5 gal batch in a 15 gallon fermenter?
I can do 5g batches in my 14.5g one with no issue. If it has a racking arm you should be fine. The beer will produce enough co2 to fill the dead space.
 

ldkoehler

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MoreBeer is redesigning their conicals (I believe primarily the lid) right now. They are saying that the new models will be available in October sometime. They have also said that an upgrade kit will be available for people who own the older conicals. Just something else to keep in mind.
 

Cold_Steel

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I built this one for several reasons
https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/2-54-barrel-s-s-conical-fermenter-build-135991/
Stainless steel is going to keep going up in price. In 5 years your fermenter will be worth more not less. If you are doing 10 gallon batches, you can do mult. batches until you fill your fermenter. I wouldnt recommend the one i built but i would recommend Yuri rages dIY Conical. I think his is 24 gallons and that would be perfect for two batchs.
No matter what conicals are fun!
 

Brew-boy

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I have the 7.1 gallon Blichmann which is nice but I hardly use it anymore. I think I am going back to carboys for several reasons.
 

Rockrdbrew

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I have the 7.1 gallon Blichmann which is nice but I hardly use it anymore. I think I am going back to carboys for several reasons.
I'm on the fence about upgrading to a conical. Brew-boy....Why would you go back to a carboy after having a Blichmann???
 

Islandboy85

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I am wondering why I didn't see a post about these guys? http://conical-fermenter.com/ Is anybody using one of these? I am very impressed and aiming at one of these. Tri-Clover fittings and MUCH better priced over the Blichman?
I've seen them on e-bay before. I think they're made in China. I think that may be part of the reason, since I'm not sure of the quality that they are made to.
 

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