Conical owners - should I pull the trigger?

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KBW PilotHouse

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Thanks for your thoughts. You have all the toys.

Right now I'm leaning towards the Spike Flex+ since I brew in my garage (propane and steam venting), but ferment and dispense in my basement, I need to transport my wort downstairs. I think the Spike Flex+ with most of the bells and whistles will fit the bill and I cobbled together a cart for $1001 and I think the only thing I'm missing is a 12"x1.5" TC Spool Tube12"x1.5" TC Spool Tube to allow no oxygen dry hop under pressure. I figure if a 5" x 1.5" sight glass holds 3 oz of hop pellets (not enough), then 12" should hold 8 oz which is a few more than I've been doing and I don't have to fiddle with reducers or using the 4" port that will be occupied by a cooling coil.

I don't have a floor drain and I haven't been harvesting yeast (maybe when I retire) so I don't really need the CF5, and I don't need to drink any more than I'm drinking now, and I like trying new recipes, so I'll stay with the 5-7 gallon size. Currently I have an Anvil Bucket fermenter in a dedicated fermentation chamber as my only fermenter, so ....
Doogie it seems to me you’re on the right track. The decision has many factors by the way you seem to be thinking this through.

I like bracconiere’s comment on buying some t- bills with the money, but that’s just not something we homebrewers do with new-found money! 😉

Having to move your fermenter to basement is terrible, and the older you get the more challenging it becomes. That said, weight and portability are important factors to me. with that in mind, I would not buy a CF5 right now given size, weight, and ability to carry it down stairs. The Flex+ is easier to carry (though Spike says not to carry them by the handles when full).

Don‘t get me wrong, I really like the Spike CF’s and Flex+ fermenters and own each, but I ferment on same level I brew, keg, and serve. You and I probably did a lot of the same DIY work for brewing hardware in the 90’s, so what’s available now is incredible. I decided to go stainless for fermenters years back for a lot of reasons, and conicals are top notch for me - but I admit the cool factor was big part of decision at that time.

Now that my blah blah blah above is finished, if you really want a stainless conical fermenter I highly suggest the loaded Flex+ - and you can check on their Black Friday sale this week and score a great deal.

Final food for thought: if you have to room to ferment in garage or on same level you brew I’d highly recommend a glycol chiller for temp control Instead. I have a Penguin chiller and would not want to be without it. It would even be good to have if you still have to ferment in basement. I’ve used chest freezers, vertical freezers, and refrigerator as fermentation chambers - nothing compares to glycol system and it opens up new options. Minimizes lifting kegs as well.

Hope this helps. Let us know what you decide.

Cheers 🍻

KBW.
 
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McMullan

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I have a 1-1/2" TC sight glass that was crammed with 3oz of hop pellets. I wouldn't advise trying that much in that size sight glass. I also do the CO2 purged dry hop addition method with this. IME, 2oz of hops gives my ales a very nice additional hop flavor and aroma where I want it. YMMV.

@McMullan Absolutely zero chance in hell I'm lifting a filled kegmenter into a chest freezer. I was able to get my tall 1/4 barrel kegmenter into the fermentation chamber. That's with the top opening (gas springs) as well as the end being a door for easier access. The time we used the 1/2 barrel kegmenter (for a 12 gallon end volume batch) was not something I'll willingly repeat. The ease of moving the conical fermenters (since they're on wheels) makes it a slam dunk. Plus, I brew alone these days so everything has to be setup with that in mind. I have the can filling/sealing system setup on a rolling wire mesh cart (stainless) so that everything is right next to each other. The majority of my changes, over the past year or so, have all been geared towards making the process easier on myself. Including going electric for the HLT and BK, along with a very nice control panel mounted to the brew stand.

My current brewing and fermenting areas are all on the same floor/level. When I move (hopefully this coming year) I'll be looking to do the same kind of setup. Since I use electric, along with a steam condensing lid, I don't have to brew in the garage, or outside. If I end up brewing in a room that doesn't drain to the outside, I'll look to put in a dry well (at the very least) and/or floor drain to take care of that. IME, with electric you have a LOT more options for where you can brew safely. With the steam condenser lid options available, that means you don't need to invest a ton of money into a hood setup.
Well it sounds like it's working for you and that's the main thing. It might work for me one day. Horses for courses, as they say. I wouldn't attempt to put a full kegmenter into a keezer on my tod either. I'd definitely pressure transfer finished beer into an empty kegmenter or get a second pair of hands help.
 

Oleson M.D.

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Lifting 5 gallons into our chest freezer is not an issue, as I can do that solo.
But 7.5 gallons is heavy, and my wife, my neighbor, or other friends assist with the heavy lifting.
It is manageable.
 

4_Sons_Brewing

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I got a Spike CF10 as part of an all in one deal I picked up - didn’t seek it out specifically, but after 2 brews I wouldn’t give it up! Easy to clean with the CIP ball, drain of trub after a day or so and no heavy lifting buckets or risking glass carboy drops (which I’ve done). Someone else’s money - I say go for it.
 

Nagorg

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@McMullan
:off:
FYI... Love the Iron Maiden Book of Souls Avatar! I'm a long time Iron Maiden fan... My first concert ever was The Scorpions and Iron Maiden on the "Blackout" and "Beast on the Road" tour. I've seen Maiden multiple times when they come to DFW!
:rock:
 
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bracconiere

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@McMullan FYI... Love the Iron Maiden Book of Souls Avatar! I'm a long time Iron Maiden fan... My first concert ever was The Scorpions and Iron Maiden on the "Blackout" and "Beast on the Road" tour. I've seen Maiden multiple times when they come to DFW!
:rock:

so you're implying a conical is like the audience storming the stage after the shows over? but in a stadium?
 

kevin58

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I like my SS Brewtech Chronical but I also use my SS Brew Bucket as much or more and its much less expensive. If I buy another SS fermenter it will more than likely be a Brew Bucket.
 

Murph4231

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One could argue that Bud lite is not real beer.
Life is too short to drink shi* beer!
IMHO bud lite was indeed once beer. It appears to me that it is the collected run off from event urinals.

That has nothing to do with the OP regarding a conical. I've been brewing for 30+ yrs and I began using converted scavenged beer kegs also. Over the years I've upgraded several times. Now my system is all electric shinny stainless steel. My favorite piece of equipment is my CF5. Yes 5, at my age 5 gallons is more than enough per batch. And now after all these years of brewing, judging and quaffing craft beers, we have a new name. Fanboy, I'm gonna have some hats made to advertise the Fanboy designation to the world.

Brew your way. And post your questions here for advise and alter that information to best suit your needs. Hey, you never know. Someday your equipment design may be available to the masses. And you might even craft a beer or two that gets produced nationally.
 

WESBREW

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I was kicking around a CF10 as well. dumping trub, harvesting yeast,sample port all look like cool features. offputting is the cost of extras to really make it do what you want. maybe worth it on a sale this weekend. Any experienced users that can post or PM on useful attachements, tips?

On the kegmenter front, i have a 13gallon one. using with glycol, perfect if you have the right setup. getting the beer out, a little more of a pita and i usually lose about .75g. harvesting yeast is a pain to dump out. i have a thread in here for temp control on a kegmenter. you can use the temp coil for the spike conical and drop it right in the kegmenter (13g) and i had a custom thermowell welded on it.
 
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Nate R

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Nate R started it 🤫
Ha ha ha!
I agree i DO have blame here in some off-topic chat.... however... i am NOT a metal fan. So....
I think @Nagorg was starting his post with a notice to all that HE was about to go off-topic and talk about Metal bands.

I think when debating fermentors (or fermenters- we should debate that, too!) the discussion about the cooling fridge is indeed ON topic.

But i will happily accept ALL blame if it means we can all get along better!!

Reminder- Spike cf's are 15% off on Monday!!!
 

McMullan

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Well, I visited spikebrewing.com. What can I say? I had a good look around. Read some of the spiel. Looked around some more. Read some more of the spiel. My conclusion? Well, I'll just get straight to the point. I don't want to hold anyone up, do I? It's so annoying waiting for someone to get to the point, isn't it? So, where was I? OK. Some very nice looking equipment at very reasonable pricing. I'm surprised I haven't heard of Spike Brewing before, but they don't ship to Europe, do they? I reckon it would be straightforward to fit a yeast trough to one of Spike Brewing's smaller FVs to get a Yorkshire Square style fermentation on the go. Unfortunately, without getting my hands on one I can't give it the highly acclaimed full McMullan's seal of approval 😬
 

OakIslandBrewery

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Well, I visited spikebrewing.com. What can I say? I had a good look around. Read some of the spiel. Looked around some more. Read some more of the spiel. My conclusion? Well, I'll just get straight to the point. I don't want to hold anyone up, do I? It's so annoying waiting for someone to get to the point, isn't it? So, where was I? OK. Some very nice looking equipment at very reasonable pricing. I'm surprised I haven't heard of Spike Brewing before, but they don't ship to Europe, do they? I reckon it would be straightforward to fit a yeast trough to one of Spike Brewing's smaller FVs to get a Yorkshire Square style fermentation on the go. Unfortunately, without getting my hands on one I can't give it the highly acclaimed full McMullan's seal of approval 😬
The Spike conical fermenters aren't much different that most of the other offerings out there. I did the regular research as everyone does and settled on Spike. I could say it's a "shop local" thing since they are close but it was more about money versus features. There's a lot of adaptivity with their design that I liked. I'm very happy with my purchase. I like your Yorkshire Square and that could be adapted real easy on the Spike.
 

Murph4231

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Way to go WESBREW and Beerstein. You will enjoy many years of cheers and beers as a result of your purchases. I waited for black Friday hoping for good deals but with my luck the items I wanted were not on sale. Screw it I bought them anyway. I've waited long enough to get a new 240v controller and a couple of Torpedo kegs. I ordered them and I'm not sorry. As homebrewers we should get and use the equipment that best suits our desires. It's more hobby than anything else so take advantage of the products that fit your brewery. The sooner you acquire your equipment the happier you will be.

Cheers and hoppy brewing.
 
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