For those that are on the fence buying the new Spike Conical

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dmcman73

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A little background: I own two Spike kettles and two SS Brewtech Chronicals (a 7 gallon and a 14 gallon) which I've been pretty happy with....I say pretty happy and you'll see why below.

Sometime ago, the guys over at Spike contacted me to see if i was interested in beta testing their new conical, I took them up on their offer and they sent out a pre-production unit. I am comparing the 14 Gallon Spike against my 14 Gallon SS Chronical. The SS Chronical I have is NOT the BME model when I first purchased it but the the upgrades I made to it (butterfly valves, installing the chilling coils through the wall of the conical, etc) brought it up to the BME they sell.

- The Spike one has a larger foot print then the SS ones. You might be asking why this matters. I have all of my conicals on a heavy duty stand and when I finish brewing, I hook up a hose from my CFC to the port on the SS. On a few occasions, I've had the SS one's tip from the weight of the hose and I've had to hold them until they were part way filled. The one from Spike has yet to tip on me and, it's actually even further from my kettles then the SS ones.

EDIT: Both the SS and Spike have almost the same foot print for the leg spacing, the body of the SS is a little narrower and taller then the Spikes (spikes is "fatter" and shorter which probably makes it a little more stable then the SS). The tipping I stated was more on my 7 gallon SS, the 14 gallon doesn't exhibit the same type of tipping issue.

- Welded ports. Since purchasing my SS conicals, I was always worried (and still am) on the durability on the welded TC port, mainly the racking port. Each time I open and close the valve on it, the entire port moves flexing the conical walls. I usually try to hold the valve and apply opposite pressure on it just before opening the valve to stop the flexing. On the Spike one's there is NO flexing at all and the bore on the Spike TC's are actually larger then the SS ones.

- Domed Lid. The SS lid has a slight advantage over the spike. The SS one has a rolled lip on it that always centers itself onto the body of the conical, no guess work, just pop it on and it will sit perfectly on the body of the conical. The Spike one is just "flat", you have to take a little more time to center it onto the body of the conical and then clamp it down with the spring band clamp. When I purchased my SS ones, they came with a single 1.5" TC ports on the lids. Later on, they came out with the ones with a single 3" TC ports. The Spike has an over sized 4 inch port in the center, perfect for using to dry hop through and to use the cooling coil they have. The Spike also has a higher dome then the SS Chronicals and there is also a 1.5" port on the spike one that I use primarily for the blow off. As I mentioned, the lid on the Spike is held on with a giant spring band clamp, think of it like an over sized TC clamp that flexes. The SS has multiple clamps that act as springs to hold the lid on. The SS ones is supposed to be safer then the Spike since if you over pressurize the Conical or your blow off tube becomes clogged, the clamps of the SS will flex to release that pressure without causing an unsafe situation. The clamp on the Spike is tight and that thing is not moving but, it's made that way to provide, I believe, 15 PSI pressure transfer. Spike

- Conical body. The Spikes have a thicker wall over the SS ones. Both look great, but, the Spike one is a bit more durable as I described earlier when describing the welded ports (flex).

- Thermowell. I hate....HATE the weldless thermowell on the SS. To be fair, I hate weldless fitting on any of my equipment especially on a Fermentor. The SS USE to have a welded thermowell (from what I was told) and I'm really not sure why they changed to the weldless. Also, and this is my own regret and fault, I drilled out the body of the SS conicals to install their cooling coils through the body, the same way they have their Brewmaster models so now there is an additional piece on my concials that are weldless fittings.

- Valves. The Spikes come with Butterfly valves out of the box. The SS ones (unless you purchase the Brewmaster edition) comes with ball valves. Most won't care, but a good majority do not like ball valves on their fermenters because of the amount of time needed to properly clean them and sanitize (you really have to dismantle them to clean them well). Butterfly valves are dead simple and quick to clean and sanitize (nothing to take apart). If you choose the SS one, either purchase the BME unit that comes with butterfly valves or purchase after market ones as an upgrade (like I did).

Now, SS came out with a Uni model that looks bad ass, is completely sealed (one piece) and the only access into it is a large TC port at the top (which might make cleaning a bit of a pain), looks to have all welded fittings and supports a cooling coil that mounts from the top of the dome just like the Spike model. It also has three TC fittings on the top VS the two on the Spike units. I haven't used this model since the price of it is way out of my budget, around $999. Spike is selling their 14 gallon conicals for around $625 and perform like Unitank type conicals because of their spring band clamp that locks their lid on tight. A true unitank Is one that's made out of one piece (hence the name Uni), no lids, which allows higher working pressures.

Both Spike and the SS ferment beer perfectly and have the options for temp control. The spike ones are a little easier to clean and sanitize over the SS Chronicals since it has all welded fittings whereas you need to dismantle the weldless fittings on the SS to clean and sanitize it properly. Both come "ready to use" out of the box. If you go with the BME model of the SS, you can get it at basically the same price (and similar features) as the Spike conical plus Spike temp control coil (the spike coil is sold separately where as the BME model from SS comes with it). The downside to the BME model (as I mentioned my hate for weldless and my regret for setting mine up like this) is that the coils are mounted through the wall of the conical in a weldless fashion and you have to "unbolt" the coils to really clean and sanitize it properly. Currently, SS has available an add on temp controller and pump to complete the temp control setup (it's sold separate) and Spike is still developing their controller and pump (still not available). I built my own controller and pump for a lot less money.

I hope this was helpful!
 

jabba11

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Great write up. I own a 14 Gallon BME as well but the spikes do seem to be a better build for the price and yes you can build your own temp control relatively easily. I only disagree to a point on this comment "you need to dismantle the weld less fittings on the SS to clean and sanitize it properly". While it is probably a good idea to do it once in awhile I soak and brush and sanitize them in place. Ive had my BME over a year and have had beer in it almost continuously and I took the weld less fittings apart one time and never noticed a single bit of anything there. Now I will say you NEED to take the TC butterfly racking port off EVERYTIME as there is always yeast and gunk stuck in there.
 

iijakii

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Both the Spike and new SS unitanks look fantastic. Ill be buying one soon. Not sure which yet, depends on what Spike's neoprene jacket etc ends up costing. By the time you add the accessories up they'll probably be very close I think I'd like SS' upper design more since there's no lid, just the 4" TC. We'll see. Both pros and cons to that aspect.
 
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dmcman73

dmcman73

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Great write up. I own a 14 Gallon BME as well but the spikes do seem to be a better build for the price and yes you can build your own temp control relatively easily. I only disagree to a point on this comment "you need to dismantle the weld less fittings on the SS to clean and sanitize it properly". While it is probably a good idea to do it once in awhile I soak and brush and sanitize them in place. Ive had my BME over a year and have had beer in it almost continuously and I took the weld less fittings apart one time and never noticed a single bit of anything there. Now I will say you NEED to take the TC butterfly racking port off EVERYTIME as there is always yeast and gunk stuck in there.
There are small gaps between the fitting, gasket and wall on the weldless. If you don't have beer in it at all times, and your fermenter sits a bit, you have to take it apart to clean and sanitize it properly before use. Not a huge downside, but adds time to the brewday / clean up.
 
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dmcman73

dmcman73

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Both the Spike and new SS unitanks look fantastic. Ill be buying one soon. Not sure which yet, depends on what Spike's neoprene jacket etc ends up costing. By the time you add the accessories up they'll probably be very close I think I'd like SS' upper design more since there's no lid, just the 4" TC. We'll see. Both pros and cons to that aspect.
I agree, but, I'm not too crazy about the SS cooling coil. There are very large gaps in the coil which means a lot less surface area contact with the wort if you decide to brew a smaller batch. The Spike ones have more coils and a lot more surface area regardless of what size batch you make.

SS Brew Unitank coil:


Spikes coil:
 

iijakii

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I agree, but, I'm not too crazy about the SS cooling coil. There are very large gaps in the coil which means a lot less surface area contact with the wort if you decide to brew a smaller batch. The Spike ones have more coils and a lot more surface area regardless of what size batch you make.

SS Brew Unitank coil:


Spikes coil:
That's true, definitely something to consider. I think their site said it still works for 5gal batches since the coil goes down to around the 3gal mark, but obviously wont be as efficient if most of it's up and out of the wort.
 

augiedoggy

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I agree, but, I'm not too crazy about the SS cooling coil. There are very large gaps in the coil which means a lot less surface area contact with the wort if you decide to brew a smaller batch. The Spike ones have more coils and a lot more surface area regardless of what size batch you make.

SS Brew Unitank coil:


Spikes coil:
keep in mind if you made that smaller diameter coil larger in diameter it would have more space between the coils and look more like the pictured larger diameter coil... maybe not as bad but it certainly plays a big part here.. just saying.
 
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dmcman73

dmcman73

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keep in mind if you made that smaller diameter coil larger in diameter it would have more space between the coils and look more like the pictured larger diameter coil... maybe not as bad but it certainly plays a big part here.. just saying.

But when you have smaller batches, less coil and surface area comes into contact with the wort especially since there is such a large gap between each oil. In large batches, it becomes irrelevant as there is probably enough surface area in the length of the coil to match as your stating.

I could be wrong, I don't know what the bottom of the SS cool looks like or exactly how far down into the fermenter it goes, for al I know, wide gapping on top with closer spacing towards the bottom.
 

augiedoggy

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But when you have smaller batches, less coil and surface area comes into contact with the wort especially since there is such a large gap between each oil. In large batches, it becomes irrelevant as there is probably enough surface area in the length of the coil to match as your stating.

I could be wrong, I don't know what the bottom of the SS cool looks like or exactly how far down into the fermenter it goes, for al I know, wide gapping on top with closer spacing towards the bottom.
it really depends on length. I know what your saying though and agree...

I run into a very similiar issue with one of my short stubby 12.5gallon old version spike clone conicals and the blue discharge hose I use wrapped around the outside to cool... when doing 6 gallon brews very little of the sidewall wrapped in the hose actually has wort against it making the chilling process take a bit longer..
Its not an issue on my taller narrow stout conical as well as no blow off problems making them superior in that regard...
when I ferment in my shorter 15" wide 12.5" conical I often get blow off and once it plugged and got violent causing the seal to blow out under the clasp ring.

when I brew the same amount of beer in my taller 12" wide stout 12.5 gallon conical I never get wort coming out of the blowoff tube because of the increased height of the narrower headspace...
Just things to consider.
I dont know what the dimensions of these newer tanks are but they look wide also. Iijakii has the same shorter older spike knock off conicals as mine with the same discharge hose cooling setup, maybe he can comment about 5gallons vs 10 and blowoff?
 

pennengr

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So I just transferred my first batch from the CF10. Just to give you a sense of the depth of the coil, this was a six gallon batch (note the ring) in my 14 gallon fermenter. The coil dips well into the beer. (Lousy picture, I know).

 

metaltim

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Anybody have an idea of what the spike CF10 conical weighs, empty? I'll be fermenting in an upright freezer, but once complete, I'll be moving it to the driveway to clean, and wondering if the casters (and recommended triangle plate) would be a must have ($80), or if it's easy to lift and carry.
 

metaltim

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I was wondering if maybe the triangle plate was more for if you have the leg extenions. It seems without the extensions it would be plenty sturdy enough.

I saw a pic on here of someone who just used a piece of plywood, drilled holes the same as the leg pattern, and slipped legs through the holes before attaching casters. Seems like an easy enough DIY plate to strengthen if needed.
 

hammerthreat

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I also have the CF10, I wanted the sight glass on the bottom so that required the leg extensions. Without the triangle or a DIY plate it not be stable enough. I also carry it outside or to the basement for cleaning. I’m halfway through fermenting my second batch in it and am very happy with everything so far!!
IMG_6799.jpg
 

sfrisby

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I also have the CF10, I wanted the sight glass on the bottom so that required the leg extensions. Without the triangle or a DIY plate it not be stable enough. I also carry it outside or to the basement for cleaning. I’m halfway through fermenting my second batch in it and am very happy with everything so far!!View attachment 549104
I'm not critiquing your method, Hammerheat, but any reason why you couldn't put the sight glass on the horizontal portion before the 2" dump valve, without the extensions?
 

metaltim

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I was gonna ask the same thing.. but thought maybe I'm dumb and am missing something obvious.
I have a conical, and out of the dump valve, I have an elbow, then sight glass, then valve.
 

augiedoggy

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I'm not critiquing your method, Hammerheat, but any reason why you couldn't put the sight glass on the horizontal portion before the 2" dump valve, without the extensions?
Thats what I did till I removed it all together because it serves no real purpose that I could appreciate.
now I use the canning jar attachment and once thats full I remove it and dont replace it.
 

augiedoggy

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You can collect yeast with it (and another valve or two)
I suppose a very small amount though compared to the canning jar yeast catcher and at a much higher cost for the extra valve and sight glass... At that point it makes more sense just to open the valve and dump it into a suitable container to harvest and store it.. just that way I see it anyway. for $30 the jaybird option is just a lot more versatile and practical, especially for multiple conicals.
 

metaltim

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oh I agree, it's purpose is not that useful, and certainly doesn't warrant leg extensions just so it can be vertical.

My sight glass is part of my oxygenator, so it wasn't an 'extra' expense for me. I have my conical on a wheeled base, and when I am cleaning or emptying it, I wanted the contents to go out further than the base, so the extra length of the sight glass achieved that. To be honest, my sight glass is basically a glorified 1.5" spool piece.
On second thought, it is after my valve, since the valve has to be in place and closed while the oxygenator is assembled in between counter flow chiller and the conical.
 

hammerthreat

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You are absolutely right frisby. To be honest I could just get rid of the sight glass all together. I am not harvesting yeast as of yet. Might be kinda dumb but I like watching the yeast go crazy the first few days! Cheers!!
 

homebrewdude76

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I would get the triangle stabilizer or make your own with the spike conical. It really isn't that stable without it. I made mine out of wood.
 

Yesfan

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I like how yours is square instead of triangular. Seems you have more room for a blow-off container that way.

I'm torn between the SS Uni or the Spike. Part of me says Spike, since I love my boil kettle so much. Unfortunately (or maybe "fortunately" on how you look at it), I won't be buying either for a little while. I bought a second Spike kettle for my HLT tank. I'm sold on welded ports. Once that comes in, I plan on sending my boil kettle back so a whirlpool port can be added.

Man, I love their kettles. Hoping to brew my first beer of the year tomorrow.
 

CadiBrewer

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I just ordered the Spike CF10 unitank. I'm looking for a glass door refrigerator to use as a cooler in my garage (I don't want to deal with glycol, pumps, etc). My question is that Spike sent me dimensions for the conical at 19" wide with a blow off barb and hose instead of the hard blow off cane, and 21" deep without the thermometer. I'll be putting a temp probe in the thermowell, so no need for the thermometer.

So my question is, can I orient the conical at a 45 degree angle in the fridge to cut down on the dimensions? I found what would be the perfect size fridge for my space, but it is 20 3/4" deep and 21" wide. I have no way of taking the conical to the fridge to test it out because the fridge will be shipped. The next size up is much larger and will take up too much space.Do any of you with one of these have a thought for me on whether I could make the fridge work?
 

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I just ordered the Spike CF10 unitank. I'm looking for a glass door refrigerator to use as a cooler in my garage (I don't want to deal with glycol, pumps, etc). My question is that Spike sent me dimensions for the conical at 19" wide with a blow off barb and hose instead of the hard blow off cane, and 21" deep without the thermometer. I'll be putting a temp probe in the thermowell, so no need for the thermometer.

So my question is, can I orient the conical at a 45 degree angle in the fridge to cut down on the dimensions? I found what would be the perfect size fridge for my space, but it is 20 3/4" deep and 21" wide. I have no way of taking the conical to the fridge to test it out because the fridge will be shipped. The next size up is much larger and will take up too much space.Do any of you with one of these have a thought for me on whether I could make the fridge work?
I have the same exact dilemma with a glass door fridge for a CF10 fermenter. Did you (or anyone) find one that works? I am thinking about the True GDM-12, but cannot find its internal dimensions anywhere.
 

Gozie Boy

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I am having the exact same issue for finding a nice glass door fridge for a CF10 fermenter. Did you, or anyone, find one which works (that is not any larger than needed)? I was thinking about the True GDM-12, but cannot find its internal dimensions anywhere.
 

CadiBrewer

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IMAG0312.jpg
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Sorry for the slow response to this question. I wasn't comfortable that I could fit the conical into the True GDM-12, so I ended up going bigger with the Turbo Air 22. It is perfect in the side to side and front to back dimensions. It does have about 3 feet of extra space above the conical, which has proven handier than I had initially expected. Plus, you could add the leg extensions in order to have a sight glass in the dump line.
 

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Gozie Boy

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Many thanks, this looks very nice! I assume this is the 28" wide model? May be an inch wider than I have room for :(. What would you say the minimum dimensional requirements for your CF10 setup would be for a cool box (width and depth)? Turbo Air make a 27"W x 66-7/8"H model which I think has an inside width of 23" and depth of 21-7/8" -- is that enough? Also, how did you make/procure that gorgeous signage at the top of the unit?
 

CadiBrewer

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Yep, it's the 28" wide model. I looked at the 27" model and thought that I could make it work but didn't want to chance it because of the shipping cost of the refrigerator. I don't want to steer you wrong in case it doesn't work. I especially liked the compact height of that one.

The sign panel that comes with the unit is removable. I already had a graphic logo for my garage brewery, so I took my logo file and the sign panel to a local sign and banner shop. I think it was like $50 and two days for them to fabricate a new panel for me.
 

Gozie Boy

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Thanks, good to know. I'll look at the 27" model a bit closer, it may just squeeze in to my space.
 

metaltim

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Yep, it's the 28" wide model. I looked at the 27" model and thought that I could make it work but didn't want to chance it because of the shipping cost of the refrigerator. I don't want to steer you wrong in case it doesn't work. I especially liked the compact height of that one.

The sign panel that comes with the unit is removable. I already had a graphic logo for my garage brewery, so I took my logo file and the sign panel to a local sign and banner shop. I think it was like $50 and two days for them to fabricate a new panel for me.
Did you find this used somewhere? It looks great, but I’m seeing quite a price tag on them. Don’t know why full fridges are so expensive.
 

CadiBrewer

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Did you find this used somewhere? It looks great, but I’m seeing quite a price tag on them. Don’t know why full fridges are so expensive.
Nope, bought it new. I could have found a traditional fridge instead of a glass door unit, but I wanted to be able to see the conical. It doesn't make sense, but I did it anyway. I had an unexpected work bonus that I used for frivolous purposes.
 

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