Conical Fermenter

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Sourz4life

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So I've been trying to decide which conical fermenter I should start with. I've narrowed it down to 2 and wanted opinions and feedback from people who have used it. The 2 are the 7 gallon SS brewtech conical brew bucket. The other is the 7 gallon conical from Stout. Price difference is about 100 dollars, SS brewtech being the cheaper one. Although a lot of people would go with the cheaper option, I'm looking for the higher quality.
 

Physicsbrewer

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The brew bucket doesn't have a trub/yeast dump port and the Stout does. The Stout also uses TC fittings. There's really no comparison here. If those two are your choices, get the Stout. I have two brew buckets, and just ordered the BME Chronical from ssBrewtech. I like my brew buckets, but they're not conicals in the true sense of the word, they're only shaped that way.
 
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Sourz4life

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Alright, that was kind of my thought right off the bat but it'll be my first conical so I wanted to get some quality feedback and here is the best place for it.
 

dnslater

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I used Stout's short style 7.3 gallon fermenter for a few years. Quality was very good. Smooth welds and heavy gauge SS.

FYI - just sold it because it was a pain to move/put in my fermentation chamber and the ports always clogged so yeast harvesting wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. Going to back to a high quality plastic Speidel.
 
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Sourz4life

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It looks like a good piece but I do have a limit on what I can spend so most likely going with the 7 gallon stout as I was able to find a good deal on it.
 

pvpeacock

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I have 1 stout 7 gallon conical and 2 SS Brewtech 7 gallon conical fermenters (not brew buckets) with FTS Temperature control systems. The Stout is well built but I much prefer the SS Brewtech conicals for a number of reasons:
1. temperature control with the FTS systems
2. welded on legs -- I don't like the Stout having a separate stand to hold the conical
3. the lid and lid closures -- I don't like the Stout lid which has two rubber gaskets and single screw down mechanism to put pressure on the lid to seal it. I much prefer the 6 clasps on the SS Brewtech
4. I like the tri-clover elbow on the dump valve on the SS Brewtech, so much so that I bought one for the Stout.
5. The racking port on the SS Brewtech has a rotating racking arm which Stout does not have.
6. The SS Brewtech has handles which makes it much easier to carry and lift alone or with help.
7. I do like the sanitary ball valves from Stout much better and the fact that the Stout comes with two different sized ball valves (larger diameter for the dump valve and smaller diameter for the racking port). I ended up buying additional sanitary ball valves from Stout to replace the ball valves on the SS Brewtech conicals.

I still use my Stout, but only for saisons where I don't have to worry about temperature control. However, I much prefer my SS Brewtech's, particularly with the Stout sanitary ball valves.
 
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Sourz4life

Sourz4life

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Thanks, good info to have before making a choice.
 
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I have 1 stout 7 gallon conical and 2 SS Brewtech 7 gallon conical fermenters (not brew buckets) with FTS Temperature control systems. The Stout is well built but I much prefer the SS Brewtech conicals for a number of reasons:
1. temperature control with the FTS systems
2. welded on legs -- I don't like the Stout having a separate stand to hold the conical
3. the lid and lid closures -- I don't like the Stout lid which has two rubber gaskets and single screw down mechanism to put pressure on the lid to seal it. I much prefer the 6 clasps on the SS Brewtech
4. I like the tri-clover elbow on the dump valve on the SS Brewtech, so much so that I bought one for the Stout.
5. The racking port on the SS Brewtech has a rotating racking arm which Stout does not have.
6. The SS Brewtech has handles which makes it much easier to carry and lift alone or with help.
7. I do like the sanitary ball valves from Stout much better and the fact that the Stout comes with two different sized ball valves (larger diameter for the dump valve and smaller diameter for the racking port). I ended up buying additional sanitary ball valves from Stout to replace the ball valves on the SS Brewtech conicals.

I still use my Stout, but only for saisons where I don't have to worry about temperature control. However, I much prefer my SS Brewtech's, particularly with the Stout sanitary ball valves.
What are your thoughts on the racking arm? It's one of the final features we are deliberating on for the final design of our new conical. We are leaning towards it being more form than function.
 

pvpeacock

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I like it because I think it allows me to get clearer beer into the keg more easily. First, because it has a smaller diameter than the tri-clover racking port, it gets less trub and yeast in it if left in the upright position (pointing up) during fermentation.

Second, I tend to keep it in the down position (pointing down) particularly when dry hopping in the conical with pellets. That way, no hops get into the racking arm at all. They just settle to the bottom past the racking arm.

Third, I have had a few beers completely clog the dump port/valve. As a result, there is a lot of trub/yeast/dry hop material in the bottom which can reach above the racking tri-clover port. The racking arm lets me start racking in the upright position above the gunk in the bottom and slowly rotate down until I reach the top of the gunk and stop.

I had one beer I fermented in my Stout conical with no racking arm. The dump valve got completely clogged. I couldn't even get the gunk to flow by jamming a sanitized screwdriver into the ball valve when it was open. When I opened the lid of the fermenter, I could see that the trub/yeast/dry hops reached higher than the racking port, so I ended up having to use racking cane to transfer the beer to the keg. What's the use of a conical if you have to use a racking cane?

I'm sure that if I minimized the amount of trub going into the fermenter, dumped earlier before the trub/yeast solidified in the bottom and dumped more often, I would not end up with trub/yeast/dry hops clogging the dump valve or rising above the racking port. But it is good to know that I have a little extra space because of the rotating racking arm if I need it.
 

Bowtiebrewery

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I would addree with pvpeacock for the exact points that he mentioned. I would actually forego the sampling port and have a nice rotating racking arm instead.
 
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We are using a huge 2" bottom dump so that shouldn't be an issue going forward. We love the sample valve on ours. It makes gravity readings suuuuper easy! We just haven't seen the need for a racking arm. We will probably have one available because we know how you guys like your toys but honestly we do see it as a form over function item.
 

pvpeacock

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Spike, I've got a couple of question for you. Why the need for a sampling valve in addition to the racking port/valve, particularly on a 7 gallon conical? In addition, why butterfly valves instead of ball valves? Is it because they are easier to clean? Thanks.
 

Bowtiebrewery

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PVpeacock:

Butterfly Valves for the win because they are much more sanitary and easier to clean. That would be my main argument for why we don't need the sampling valve. A racking arm attached to a butterflyvalve with a tc nipple attached would work as well, and be dual purpose.
 
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Spike, I've got a couple of question for you. Why the need for a sampling valve in addition to the racking port/valve, particularly on a 7 gallon conical? In addition, why butterfly valves instead of ball valves? Is it because they are easier to clean? Thanks.
The racking port collects hop and trub material. When we sample from the racking port 1) everything comes rushing out super fast 2) it's full of hop/trub material. The sample port is very nice. Also we only use sanitary components on ours conical.

The butterfly valves are easier to clean and are actually sanitary. A ball valve is exposed to the outside and has a ball that traps liquid. A ball valve is not the most sanitary design; just the cheapest. We do not use them for the dump, racking or sample valve.

We have some Stout fermenting in one of our test units. Just had Derek help me shoot a quick video of the differences. I think you'll see the clear advantages between the two.

View attachment IMG_1397.MOV

View attachment IMG_1398.MOV

IMG_1399.jpg
 

jmrybak

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I use the racking arm on my SS Brewtech with every batch. I also use it as the sampling port during fermentation as my Chronical doesn't have a sampling port. Definitely seems to help get clear beer into the keg/ bottling bucket. On the SS Brewtech though, I REALLY wish the tube was longer. I typically can dump trub on days 1-2, collect yeast as fermentation is ceasing, and have just a bit of remnants around the dump valve. Yet with the racking arm pointing down, I still have 4 pints or so of beer left behind. Depending on the batch, at least half is good clear beer if not more. Since one can rotate to avoid higher trub/yeast levels, I think it makes more sense to err on the side of longer racking arm.

Also nice if your legs are tall enough to accommodate a vertical sight glass/ yeast harvester attached to a butterfly on the dump port. SS requires either leg extensions or casters to do so.

Just my 2 cents



I like it because I think it allows me to get clearer beer into the keg more easily. First, because it has a smaller diameter than the tri-clover racking port, it gets less trub and yeast in it if left in the upright position (pointing up) during fermentation.

Second, I tend to keep it in the down position (pointing down) particularly when dry hopping in the conical with pellets. That way, no hops get into the racking arm at all. They just settle to the bottom past the racking arm.

Third, I have had a few beers completely clog the dump port/valve. As a result, there is a lot of trub/yeast/dry hop material in the bottom which can reach above the racking tri-clover port. The racking arm lets me start racking in the upright position above the gunk in the bottom and slowly rotate down until I reach the top of the gunk and stop.

I had one beer I fermented in my Stout conical with no racking arm. The dump valve got completely clogged. I couldn't even get the gunk to flow by jamming a sanitized screwdriver into the ball valve when it was open. When I opened the lid of the fermenter, I could see that the trub/yeast/dry hops reached higher than the racking port, so I ended up having to use racking cane to transfer the beer to the keg. What's the use of a conical if you have to use a racking cane?

I'm sure that if I minimized the amount of trub going into the fermenter, dumped earlier before the trub/yeast solidified in the bottom and dumped more often, I would not end up with trub/yeast/dry hops clogging the dump valve or rising above the racking port. But it is good to know that I have a little extra space because of the rotating racking arm if I need it.
 

pvpeacock

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Thanks Bowtie and Spike. Much appreciated. I hadn't thought of the fact that the center of the ball is full of trub/wort/beer when you open and close the ball valve. I always thought the concern was the threads on the ball valve. Now I know better. I can also see how a sampling valve would come in handy, particularly on larger conical. What size was the fermenter in the videos?
 

jmrybak

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I will agree though, the racking arm is not an ideal sampling port. Depending on the beer, fermentation stage, amount of trub left in suspension, some samples do come with a bunch of particulate. But for taking a gravity sample, after a moment or 2 to settle it does work.

I'd personally rather have both for all the reasons mentioned.

The racking port collects hop and trub material. When we sample from the racking port 1) everything comes rushing out super fast 2) it's full of hop/trub material. The sample port is very nice. Also we only use sanitary components on ours conical.

The butterfly valves are easier to clean and are actually sanitary. A ball valve is exposed to the outside and has a ball that traps liquid. A ball valve is not the most sanitary design; just the cheapest. We do not use them for the dump, racking or sample valve.

We have some Stout fermenting in one of our test units. Just had Derek help me shoot a quick video of the differences. I think you'll see the clear advantages between the two.
 
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Thanks Bowtie and Spike. Much appreciated. I hadn't thought of the fact that the center of the ball is full of trub/wort/beer when you open and close the ball valve. I always thought the concern was the threads on the ball valve. Now I know better. I can also see how a sampling valve would come in handy, particularly on larger conical. What size was the fermenter in the videos?
That is the new 14gal :mug:
 

Carlscan26

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We are using a huge 2" bottom dump so that shouldn't be an issue going forward. We love the sample valve on ours. It makes gravity readings suuuuper easy! We just haven't seen the need for a racking arm. We will probably have one available because we know how you guys like your toys but honestly we do see it as a form over function item.

Why not do a single port with a combo valve like the morebeer conicals? It'd be one less port and valve too.

Honestly after seeing the difference in those samples from your video I have to wonder why would anyone fill their keg from the racking port as it's currently configured (w/o an arm)?
 

Physicsbrewer

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That is the new 14gal :mug:
Spike,

Are you guys doing anything to allow for hooking up to a glycol system with your new release? I'd love a 14 gallon conical that had either a jacket or cooling coils that would also allow for doing 5 gallon batches in...the ssBrewtechs have the coils located high enough that you only get a small fraction of coil in the wort when doing 5 gallon batches in the 14 gallon conical (BME edition).
 

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Here's a question: What's the pressure rating of the new conical design? Could it be used for spunding, or only pressurized transfers?
 
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Why not do a single port with a combo valve like the morebeer conicals? It'd be one less port and valve too.

Honestly after seeing the difference in those samples from your video I have to wonder why would anyone fill their keg from the racking port as it's currently configured (w/o an arm)?
We think that would have the same issue as talked about above. We think it's a worth while feature. After you primary and do a yeast dump and then cold crash the racking port is very clear.

Spike,

Are you guys doing anything to allow for hooking up to a glycol system with your new release? I'd love a 14 gallon conical that had either a jacket or cooling coils that would also allow for doing 5 gallon batches in...the ssBrewtechs have the coils located high enough that you only get a small fraction of coil in the wort when doing 5 gallon batches in the 14 gallon conical (BME edition).
Yes, this will be done in the future (and will be able to add to any conical). We are still working on the design.

Here's a question: What's the pressure rating of the new conical design? Could it be used for spunding, or only pressurized transfers?
We are still finalizing this as well. More than likely it will only have a pressure rating for transfers. Anything more and you need to over build it so much. Do you rack directly from the conical?
 

Carlscan26

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We think that would have the same issue as talked about above. We think it's a worth while feature. After you primary and do a yeast dump and then cold crash the racking port is very clear.

Sorry if I'm being dense but as I understand the MB port to work, it's a combo sample/racking port with a pickup tube. It allows you to rotate it for both sampling and racking to stay above the yeast bed etc. so you wouldn't be getting all the trub or have the super fast fill you showed in the second movie.

I absolutely want a conical with a sample port on it for all the reasons you listed. So I'm not arguing about that. Two ports isn't an issue I just don't see using that racking port without an arm - what if the yeast and trub don't dump completely or I don't have time for a cold crash/can't with my chilling system/ambient temp? The speed of that port would be awesome for keg filling; I imagine even going into a 1/2" hose it's still faster than the sampling port is capable of and hence part of why you aren't considering the sampling port for racking too?
 
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To us that design seems like an after thought or just not the most optimal design. It's a design compromise and we try not to do that. We do not like the racking arm. Again we will probably sell one since many people like them (we think it's brewers trying to emulate a pro brewery) but we just don't see the functionality.

Our larger 2" port won't have the clogging issues. The racking port is designed to be above the yeast and hop material even without a secondary for most beers. I guess at the end of the day we'll just have to say trust us on the design. We do extensive testing so you guys don't have to!
 

Carlscan26

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To us that design seems like an after thought or just not the most optimal design. It's a design compromise and we try not to do that. We do not like the racking arm. Again we will probably sell one since many people like them (we think it's brewers trying to emulate a pro brewery) but we just don't see the functionality.

Our larger 2" port won't have the clogging issues. The racking port is designed to be above the yeast and hop material even without a secondary for most beers. I guess at the end of the day we'll just have to say trust us on the design. We do extensive testing so you guys don't have to!

:cheers:
 

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Subbed! I'm in the market myself and lots of good info here so thanks to all.

Spike, any idea when your 14gal conical with glycol setups will be available?

I'd be willing to do some beta testing for you :)
 
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Sourz4life

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I'm interested now as well. Thinking more of my current set up and I was able to save some money on planning future equipment so may be able to swing any conical. Just want to make sure its the best quality possible of course!
 

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I'm disappointed that the rotating racking arm will not be incorporated into the Spike conical. My Blichmann 14g and BH 20 gallon both have them. After HUNDREDS of gallons brewed in each, I have no issues like depicted in the video and the rotating arm works great as a sample port.

I like the 2" bottom port on the BH conical, but saying it will not clog is a bit of wishful thinking.

I WILL NOT PURCHASE A CONICAL THAT DOES NOT HAVE A WELL DESIGNED (FUNCTION OVER FORM) ROTATING RACKING ARM. (I really like the design of the BH racking arm)
 
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Subbed! I'm in the market myself and lots of good info here so thanks to all.

Spike, any idea when your 14gal conical with glycol setups will be available?

I'd be willing to do some beta testing for you :)
We are looking to stay away from Glycol as it is so expensive. That's all I can say right now.....

I'm disappointed that the rotating racking arm will not be incorporated into the Spike conical. My Blichmann 14g and BH 20 gallon both have them. After HUNDREDS of gallons brewed in each, I have no issues like depicted in the video and the rotating arm works great as a sample port.

I like the 2" bottom port on the BH conical, but saying it will not clog is a bit of wishful thinking.

I WILL NOT PURCHASE A CONICAL THAT DOES NOT HAVE A WELL DESIGNED (FUNCTION OVER FORM) ROTATING RACKING ARM. (I really like the design of the BH racking arm)
If I understand you correctly you like the racking arm because it allows you to sample clear wort out of the racking port, correct? Well our conical will have a specifically designed sample port. The racking port will be for racking only and we have not found any need for a rotating racking arm (but again we will offer one as an add on).
 

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If I understand you correctly you like the racking arm because it allows you to sample clear wort out of the racking port, correct? Well our conical will have a specifically designed sample port. The racking port will be for racking only and we have not found any need for a rotating racking arm (but again we will offer one as an add on).

No, I use the racking arm to rack clear wort into the kegs and leave very little beer behind. The fact that I can also use it for sampling is a plus. I'm interested in seeing the design of your optional rotating arm. If designed well, I could very well be among your first customers. I really like the other equipment that I have purchased from Spike!
 

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We are looking to stay away from Glycol as it is so expensive. That's all I can say right now.....

Doesn't have to be glycol as long as it can chill on its own. Looking for something a little more effective than an aquarium pump and some vinyl tubing.
 

zepkep

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Doesn't have to be glycol as long as it can chill on its own. Looking for something a little more effective than an aquarium pump and some vinyl tubing.
Agreed. I will probably be purchasing a Spike conical along with some kettles for a new brew system from scratch - will pass on SS Brewtech even though their system is available now. Its crucial though that Spike has stand alone cooling and I will probably hold off purchasing until the cooling system is released (I hope that is soon). Really excited for these new products from Spike! I love the quality and details that you put into everything you make.
 

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I have the 7 gallon SS Brewtech Brewmaster Edition with the casters. I built a 9 gallon glycol chiller system for temp control and it works really well so far in the warm garage. Everything about this conical i like and i dont have any exp with any other of the conicals. Was worth the price to me.
 

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Spike, is the temp control option going to just cover cooling or will there be a heating option too? This would be going in my basement and winter temps can get down into the 40's so having a heat wrap of some kind would be great.
 
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Spike, is the temp control option going to just cover cooling or will there be a heating option too? This would be going in my basement and winter temps can get down into the 40's so having a heat wrap of some kind would be great.

Good question! This will be a true temp control unit. We are in WI and most of the time we are heating (minus the 3 weeks of summer).
 

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Good question! This will be a true temp control unit. We are in WI and most of the time we are heating (minus the 3 weeks of summer).
Ben, this fermentation chamber is impatiently waiting for a new Spike conical:

image.jpg

However, the interior is only 35" high. Will that be an issue for the 14g conical? 7g conical?
 

usarcher

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Good question! This will be a true temp control unit. We are in WI and most of the time we are heating (minus the 3 weeks of summer).
Great, I was getting ready to pull the trigger on the Ss Brewtech but kept holding off because of the weldless ports they decided to use. I thought it a strange addition seeing if you are already going to buy a conical over a plastic bucket or glass carboy I don't think the price would have been an issue to do a few more welds.

I keep refreshing the conical page hoping it changes from 'Coming Summer 2016' to 'Add to Cart'!
 

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Having just purchased my Spike kettles I am going to have to buy some "interim" fermenter until the conical gets released. Hurry up boys!
 
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