Giving up on my fancy conical...

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ihavenonickname

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I need a sanity check. I'm about to get rid of my fancy conical in favor of fermenting in a kegmenter or fermonster/all-rounder.
Here is my set up (some stuff not shown). I've got a spike conical CF10 with all the bells and whistles - pressure manifold, dip tube, low O2 dry hop doser, temp probe, extra butterfly valves for blow off and dumping. I use it in a big glass door fridge for temp control. Its every homebrewers dream right?!?!
But I'm just kinda over it and I miss the simplicity of fermenting in kegs. Here are my gripes:
  • Too heavy - When full with 5-10 gallons of wort its too heavy to lift into the fridge, so I have to fill it using a 10 foot hose that has to be cleaned and sanitized. Its a pain to do it well.
  • Hard to clean - I've tried CIP on top and I've tried hand washing the tank while soaking all the parts in pbw. Its just a big chore, ultimately takes 1-2 hours with lots of lifting moving it around. I much preferred fermenting in kegs because washing kegs on my keg washer couln't be easier and its a process i'm doing anyways!
  • Dumping yeast and especially dry hops is a pain - I avoid doing either because of the mess, hassle with low potential benefit, loss of beer. Plus re-using yeast is unpredictable - I mostly would rather re-pitch on a cake or start with new dry yeast.
  • Worse dry hopping extraction - With the elbow on the bottom I get significantly worse extraction on dry hops because they all sink into the elbow below the cone. The solution to this is to rouse with Co2 or recirculate with a pump (risk O2 and yet another cumbersome chore). Its too big to shake around the hops like in a keg.
  • Risk of clogged transfer via the dip tube. Even with a good cold crash adjusting the dip tube there is little assurance that I won't clog a dip tube. I miss my floating dip tube with a filter on it, which mostly guarantees I get the most beer possible without a clog. The work around for this is using an inline filter, but again more hassle and risks o2.

My plan is to go back to a kegmenter or all-rounder, ferment and transfer o2 free to second allrounder for dry hop, shake it for better dry hop extraction. Then to serving keg (I do a lot of heavy dry hopping)
  • Light enough to fill right from my kettle and lift into the ferm chamber
  • Easy to clean multiple all rounders on my keg washer
  • Better and easy dry hop results because shaking to rouse
  • Easier transfers given filtered floating dip tubes
  • Can't dump yeast but can repitch on cake easily
  • Easy to do split batches to compare yeast/dry hops
  • Plastic has me less than excited, however so maybe kegmenter is worth it.
I understand this is somewhat of a personality and style of brewer I want to be. I guess I mostly value easy, low effort, low time consuming methods that make the highest quality beer. I don't really value playing with the fancy equipment just because its a cool fun toy.
So am I missing something? Does anyone else feel this way?

@Noob_Brewer
@Dgallo
@bailey mountain brewer
@jturman35
@HopsAreGood
Especially curious what ya'll think.
 

Sammy86

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Personally, I don't see why people buy the conicals. Are they cool, yes definitely. Are they super sleek and make brewing at home more like the pro side...absolutely but with that comes cleaning like one and it seems to me you're over the cleaning and taking care of it part.

It is a hobby so you have to decide when enough is too much. Personally, im gonna stick with my plastic big mouth bubblers and do as close to a closed transfer as possible.
 

DuncB

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@ihavenonickname

Sounds like a right hassle. I'm happy with my fermentasaurus gen 1 and gen 2, I can remove yeast and trub without too much trouble, closed transfer is easy and dry hopping using magnets and bags. I can lift them.
Nice to see what's going on as well.
 

Cider Wraith

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This is a timely post for me. I've been exploring fermenting options lately and just yesterday began reading about and watching vids on the pros/cons of conical fermenters.

I make ciders, don't make or drink beer, and just got back into the hobby a while back. My ciders come out well, better than I could store-purchase, so my expense on purchased beverages has plummeted. I've been fermenting in glass carboys and having excellent success but in light of the fact that I'm saving a sizable amount on making my own beverages, I'm believing it's reasonable to step up my hobby to whatever the best fermenter would be - and I was guessing that was a stainless steel conical. I'm also getting a little more aware of what a disaster it would be to ever drop a glass carboy.

So what gives? I thought everybody's ideal fermenter would be conical, but obviously not. And maybe, because cider is so much simpler to make than beer, perhaps the advantages of conicals for beer might not be there so much for ciders? Hm, well, I've got a lot of research to do
 

Squirrels

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This is a timely post for me. I've been exploring fermenting options lately and just yesterday began reading about and watching vids on the pros/cons of conical fermenters.

I make ciders, don't make or drink beer, and just got back into the hobby a while back. My ciders come out well, better than I could store-purchase, so my expense on purchased beverages has plummeted. I've been fermenting in glass carboys and having excellent success but in light of the fact that I'm saving a sizable amount on making my own beverages, I'm believing it's reasonable to step up my hobby to whatever the best fermenter would be - and I was guessing that was a stainless steel conical. I'm also getting a little more aware of what a disaster it would be to ever drop a glass carboy.

So what gives? I thought everybody's ideal fermenter would be conical, but obviously not. And maybe, because cider is so much simpler to make than beer, perhaps the advantages of conicals for beer might not be there so much for ciders? Hm, well, I've got a lot of research to do
For me, I love my conical. I like that it rolls on casters, and I like that I'm not lifting/washing glass carboys. Broken carboys are awful. The stainless is easy to clean, durable, and I can run PBW in a loop at 150 between my kettle and my conical while I do something else. Makes cleaning a breeze.

The temp control is integrated into my conical, so moving in and out of a freezer isn't something that I do.

I think a happy medium for this post would be a stainless brew bucket. The only thing for me that would be a loss is ease of yeast harvesting. May or may not be something to consider.
 

Brew_Dude41

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Personally, I think you are going down the right path.
The beauty of this hobby is that you can rig up whatever works best for you. You have to assess the pros and cons of all your personal variables and constrains, and the variables change over time as well.
Personally, time is my biggest one. I stepped up to a 3 vessel 50 amp but clean up is a bear. I have been able to get through a brew session in about 4 hours including cleanup, but I have to prep in advance to do that and that can be a tall task in itself.
Honestly I have shifted to making wine from kits this year. It is much easier for me carve out an 1.5-2 hours the every 2 weeks in order to do the required step, including cleanup.
Go with what works for you and the time that you want to invest into it. If your not enjoying it and feel like it is a hassle then why do it?
 

jambop

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I have two very modest conicals and do not have an issue at all. I fill direct from the kettle into them while they are in the fridge using a small booster pump and the clean up as easy as you like ... they are only 32L though and I make 28L max volume . I bottle and keg directly from the primary so again no issue I think your issue is the size of them... which if you do big batches is a requirement of course.
Just a personal thing but a 50L fermenter for the average home brewer is probably just a bit over the top you need a 70 + L boiler to be able to get near filling it. In my opinion the beauty of smaller is being able to make small volumes of different styles of beers but I fully agree each to their own. There is a lot of brewing HiFi out there though.

To the cider brewer I use simple plastic brew bins for my ciders as it is a slow fermentation and the cider is left on the lees for a considerable time after fermentation is done... no point in tying up a conical for all that time so do not waste your money... again just my opinion.
 

Cider Wraith

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For me, I love my conical. I like that it rolls on casters, and I like that I'm not lifting/washing glass carboys. Broken carboys are awful. The stainless is easy to clean, durable, and I can run PBW in a loop at 150 between my kettle and my conical while I do something else. Makes cleaning a breeze.
Yep, what's seeming attractive is seeing that conicals are offered that roll on castors, can have leg extension kits added to make them tall enough fill corny kegs for non-air exposed gravity transfers, allow yeast saving if desired, and will obviously never break like glass. The auto-syphon raking cane proceedure works but is honestly primitive and I'm rethinking lifting and moving around filled glass carboys. And now, for the first time, scrutinizing the glass bubbles and imperfections in even my Italian carboys is getting me spooked.

Well, at this point in my life and my cider making hobby I'm feeling like I'm having enough enjoyment and success that I'm prepared to go with a reasonable monetary outlay to really step-up to a fermenter than I'll enjoy from here on. Now just need to figure out what that would be
 

Cider Wraith

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I fill direct from the kettle into them while they are in the fridge using a small booster pump
I enjoyed your post and this particularly caught my eye. What type of pump are you referring to? Feeling like I've been dodging bullets and the time has come to halt lifting and moving full carboys. I've recently researched small, food-grade electric pumps. They aren't expensive and get good ratings. Is that what you're referring to?
 

jambop

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I enjoyed your post and this particularly caught my eye. What type of pump are you referring to? Feeling like I've been dodging bullets and the time has come to halt lifting and moving full carboys. I've recently researched small, food-grade electric pumps. They aren't expensive and get good ratings. Is that what you're referring to?

The type I use is a magnetic drive pump I bought at my HB suppliers. I have seen them on Amazon and eBay as well though
www.amazon.com/Hilangsan-Homebrew-Magnetic-Stainless-Transfer/dp/B0B292FNPC/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?crid=74XPERN46EYH&keywords=home+brewing+transfer+pump&qid=1661090015&sprefix=home+brewing+pump%2Caps%2C328&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1
 

jambop

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You do not need a bunch of shiny stuff to make great beer. I fermented in plastic buckets for 20 years before I bought my first Anvil, and only bought that because I had some extra cash laying around.

To be fair I use mostly stainless vessels now but you are right ... but home brewing is the new HiFi and money buys shiny stuff 😄
 

Cider Wraith

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Yep, that was one of the ones I looked at. It looks like that same basic model is offered under different brand names. How fast does it move liquid? I guessed maybe too fast. I had found another one that seemed to be more of a miniature version. But yeah, maybe it's time for an electric pump
 

Dland

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Seems to me a conical makes brewing easier. No lifting carboys, easy to dump trub/solids, which is handy if you want to get whatever you are brewing off its lees. Also makes it easy to add new fermentables to yeast cake but getting rid of solids.

As for the weight, I never lift fermentor full, always pump in, and gravity/CO2 displacement out.

This is not to say you can not make good beer/cider/whatever in a bucket, carboy or keg, I've used all of these as well, but getting rid of my conicals would be a step backwards in my mind.
 

jambop

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Yep, that was one of the ones I looked at. It looks like that same basic model is offered under different brand names. How fast does it move liquid? I guessed maybe too fast. I had found another one that seemed to be more of a miniature version. But yeah, maybe it's time for an electric pump

Well if you get one of the magnetic pumps you can restrict the flow WITHOUT causing any damage to the pump . The flow rate is not all that high to be fair maw flow is 16 L per minute .
 

McMullan

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I've been using 29L kegmenters for a few years now. There's a lot to be said about keeping things simple. As pressure rated stainless vessels they can't be beaten on price. The 4" TC opening is adaptable and makes a big difference over a standard Sankey keg. Very easy to clean on my keg washer, too. I have been considering a small unitank for a while, either SS Brewtech or BrewTools, where I am. I'd probably spend a little extra and go for BrewTools F40, but I don't want to complicate my process and worry about cleaning and sanitising all those nooks and crannies. Three kegmenters are more than enough at half the price. Price is always a factor, even if you have spare cash to burn. The running costs, especially time, put me off a bit. I really don't want to add keeping stainless shiny to my list of hobbies, tbh 🤔
 
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@ihavenonickname .. I'm a big advocate for conicals as I'm sure some ppl here know. But it works for me, I brew big batches, I have 2 cf15s and a glycol chiller. Sure they sweat in the warmer months. I have developed processes for cleaning and sanitizing that I feel are quick and easy. O2 exposure has not been as issue for me in a long time, I use and inline filter also. Keep in mind you also hook a floating dip tube to your existing dip tube, just saying. For me and I stress FOR ME, the pros outweigh the cons by a large margin. That said I occasionally brew smaller batches and use my old equipment, and I enjoy that as well. Yes you can make great beer with just about any setup as long as your processes are sound. I cant day anything bad about fermonsters or kegmenters, I feel all work well. But I wouldn't trade my conicals, I love them. I'm actually sitting in front of my system as I'm typing this and thinking, yeah I gotta clean all this then, but still love it. This hobby is so much fun that even cleaning doesnt seem to bother me. So do what works for you, ferment in your kegs for a little while, hang onto your conical, do a few batches without it before getting rid of anything and see if it is truly more enjoyable for you. Cheers!
20220821_130151.jpg

Getting ready fill a fermenter. A conical one.
 

beren

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I like my glass carboys, can pressure siphon with co2 into a sealed keg but I’ll pay shipping if anyone has a conical that’s been sitting around neglected ;-)
 

Bobby_M

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I need a sanity check. I'm about to get rid of my fancy conical in favor of fermenting in a kegmenter or fermonster/all-rounder.
Here is my set up (some stuff not shown). I've got a spike conical CF10 with all the bells and whistles - pressure manifold, dip tube, low O2 dry hop doser, temp probe, extra butterfly valves for blow off and dumping. I use it in a big glass door fridge for temp control. Its every homebrewers dream right?!?!
But I'm just kinda over it and I miss the simplicity of fermenting in kegs. Here are my gripes:
  • Too heavy - When full with 5-10 gallons of wort its too heavy to lift into the fridge, so I have to fill it using a 10 foot hose that has to be cleaned and sanitized. Its a pain to do it well.
  • Hard to clean - I've tried CIP on top and I've tried hand washing the tank while soaking all the parts in pbw. Its just a big chore, ultimately takes 1-2 hours with lots of lifting moving it around. I much preferred fermenting in kegs because washing kegs on my keg washer couln't be easier and its a process i'm doing anyways!
  • Dumping yeast and especially dry hops is a pain - I avoid doing either because of the mess, hassle with low potential benefit, loss of beer. Plus re-using yeast is unpredictable - I mostly would rather re-pitch on a cake or start with new dry yeast.
  • Worse dry hopping extraction - With the elbow on the bottom I get significantly worse extraction on dry hops because they all sink into the elbow below the cone. The solution to this is to rouse with Co2 or recirculate with a pump (risk O2 and yet another cumbersome chore). Its too big to shake around the hops like in a keg.
  • Risk of clogged transfer via the dip tube. Even with a good cold crash adjusting the dip tube there is little assurance that I won't clog a dip tube. I miss my floating dip tube with a filter on it, which mostly guarantees I get the most beer possible without a clog. The work around for this is using an inline filter, but again more hassle and risks o2.

My plan is to go back to a kegmenter or all-rounder, ferment and transfer o2 free to second allrounder for dry hop, shake it for better dry hop extraction. Then to serving keg (I do a lot of heavy dry hopping)
  • Light enough to fill right from my kettle and lift into the ferm chamber
  • Easy to clean multiple all rounders on my keg washer
  • Better and easy dry hop results because shaking to rouse
  • Easier transfers given filtered floating dip tubes
  • Can't dump yeast but can repitch on cake easily
  • Easy to do split batches to compare yeast/dry hops
  • Plastic has me less than excited, however so maybe kegmenter is worth it.
I understand this is somewhat of a personality and style of brewer I want to be. I guess I mostly value easy, low effort, low time consuming methods that make the highest quality beer. I don't really value playing with the fancy equipment just because its a cool fun toy.
So am I missing something? Does anyone else feel this way?

@Noob_Brewer
@Dgallo
@bailey mountain brewer
@jturman35
@HopsAreGood
Especially curious what ya'll think.

I'd say you're not wrong. In my 17 years of brewing, most of them were spent using various carboys from glass to P.E.T "better bottles" until the PET Fermonster 7 gallon came on to the scene. Then I overhauled my brewing area and put in three SSbrewtech conical unitanks and a glycol chiller. My brewing frequency immediately tanked because I dreaded the labor overhead of cleaning, reassembly, etc. After a year of that, and realizing my beer didn't change for the better, I went back to PET Fermonsters. They are outfitted with liquid and gas ball locks in the lid and floating diptubes so they act a lot like the all rounder but with a more slim footprint. I just can't exceed 2psi. What's even better is I can get a pair of 3 gallon versions into the same mini-fridge for doing split batch experimentation, which is infinitely more educational.

You have to look at your goals and what will get you there. Conicals primarily allow for dumping trub and harvesting yeast. If you can keep a majority of trub in the kettle that's half the battle. From there, the unitank thing allows for pressure fermenting or at least spunding to achieve carbonation at the end.

As long as you keep everything oxygen free, it really doesn't matter.
 

matt_m

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[*]Worse dry hopping extraction - With the elbow on the bottom I get significantly worse extraction on dry hops because they all sink into the elbow below the cone. The solution to this is to rouse with Co2 or recirculate with a pump (risk O2 and yet another cumbersome chore). Its too big to shake around the hops like in a keg.

Move the valve above the elbow. I do sight glass, valve, elbow. I do rouse dry hops with CO2 though still, and would even if I didn't have the sight glass.

[*]Risk of clogged transfer via the dip tube. Even with a good cold crash adjusting the dip tube there is little assurance that I won't clog a dip tube. I miss my floating dip tube with a filter on it, which mostly guarantees I get the most beer possible without a clog. The work around for this is using an inline filter, but again more hassle and risks o2.

Have you had this happen or just something you worry about? I've not and in fact I've had a lot better luck not getting clogged poppets since switching to CF10s.

[*]Plastic has me less than excited, however so maybe kegmenter is worth it.

Have you considered one of the bucket-size/shape stainless fermenters like the SS Brew Bucket/Delta Fermtank/Spike Flex? The latter would even retain a number of your existing accessories.
 

rgrrbt

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Your simplification objective is relatable. I've revisited the fermentor choices over the years as new products came along, but have continued to ferment and serve in 5 gallon corny kegs for more than a decade. How do they stack up to your objectives?

  • Light enough to fill right from my kettle and lift into the ferm chamber - check
  • Easy to clean on keg washer - check
  • Better and easy dry hop results because shaking to rouse - check
  • Easier transfers given filtered floating dip tubes - check
  • Can't dump yeast but can repitch on cake easily - check
  • Easy to do split batches to compare yeast/dry hops - check
  • Plastic has me less than excited - check
I would also add in their favor that they allow for pressurized fermentation (see Bobby's 2psi limitation), create uniformity of parts among fermentor and serving vessel, and are obtainable on a refurb basis at a much lower cost than most of the alternatives.

When fermenting under pressure, head space isn't an issue. I ferment 18 gallon batches in four kegs and serve directly from the same kegs using floating dip tubes. It also allows for room temperature fermenting, which frees up kegerator space.
 

AzOr

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This is a timely post for me. I've been exploring fermenting options lately and just yesterday began reading about and watching vids on the pros/cons of conical fermenters.

I make ciders, don't make or drink beer, and just got back into the hobby a while back. My ciders come out well, better than I could store-purchase, so my expense on purchased beverages has plummeted. I've been fermenting in glass carboys and having excellent success but in light of the fact that I'm saving a sizable amount on making my own beverages, I'm believing it's reasonable to step up my hobby to whatever the best fermenter would be - and I was guessing that was a stainless steel conical. I'm also getting a little more aware of what a disaster it would be to ever drop a glass carboy.

So what gives? I thought everybody's ideal fermenter would be conical, but obviously not. And maybe, because cider is so much simpler to make than beer, perhaps the advantages of conicals for beer might not be there so much for ciders? Hm, well, I've got a lot of research to do
For ciders, I ferment in plastic buckets w lids. Then after about 14 days I transfer to glass Carboys with a little of the trub to age on. The buckets are the easiest to clean and much easier if you do any fruit additions.
I have a kegmenter and an Anvil brew bucket for beer and trying to minimize O2. For ciders and mead those aren’t necessary.
 
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I may post this in a couple places where similar questions are asked. Yes! to “keeping things simple”.

I have pumps & all the toys, used to have a Blichmann 14-gallon conical. It was cool, but in retrospect, completely unnecessary. Now I brew double 11-12 gallon batches as follows: 3-tier stand, 16 gal stainless mash tun over middle of 3 burners, HLT above, 14 gal Bayou Classic boil kettle below. It sits on a Blichmann Hellfire burner raised 6” off floor. The boil vessel has a welded stainless spigot/ball valve 1” off the bottom (18” height) Spigot is also handy for hydrometer samples. No refractometer conversion calculations required.

Now... here’s the best/simplest part: After I BOIL, CHILL, PITCH A LARGE AMOUNT OF CLEAN HARVESTED YEAST & USE MEDICAL OXYGEN - I ALSO FERMENT FOR 2-4 days in the SAME VESSEL. Just the standard lid with a hole for thermometer that goes directly into the liquid. NO seal, NO air lock or blowoff tube. Fermentation is so rapid & vigorous there is only CO2 in space above wort. Most of the fermentation is done in 48-72 hours. Not unusual for Krausen to be oozing out from under loose lid. Boil, whirlpool and later hops are in fine mesh bags. Temp control during this period is most important. After 2-3 days fermentation is nearly complete, Beer is quite clear, settled yeast is a beautiful layer .5 - .75” thick & quite firm. I CAN DRAIN ALMOST THE FULL CONTENTS INTO TWO TILTED CORNIES, (with boiled .5” hose from spigot to bottom of corny) Then purge kegs with CO2 & leave fittings a tad loose to vent for the rest of fermentation.

I ALSO COLD CRASH, FORCE CARBONATE & SERVE from those same cornies. Late/dry hops can go in a bag with a cork to keep it floating. Dip tubes are cut .5” short to allow for last of the settled yeast on bottom. This has had no negative side effects on beer for several years & saves a LOT of transfers & cleaning!
 
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lumpher

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I still use plastic buckets. I've replaced them a couple times, but I still have and use my original bucket I bought 13 years ago. Them and a 1/2 inch siphon... Cleaning time of maybe 3 minutes, and stackable storage.
 

mashpaddled

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I don't think this is crazy at all. Conicals got popular because their are SS, look like "real" brewing equipment and have a lot of features. IMO they make sense for people who can put everything in place, pump liquids around and not have to rely on portability and manual labor. It sounds like based on the way you brew and your brewing space the conical isn't a great fit for your needs.
 

Early8

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Good subject! I have chosen to avoid plastics as much as possible and have fermented in 6.5 gallon glass carboys for at least twenty years. I noticed a little ding in one of them which forced me to think about replacing it with a newer, thinner version of the same vessel. I drag my fermenters up and down stairs to and from the fermentation chamber in the basement.... I got thinking I was playing roulette with glass and got some SS buckets. I would say they are about the same weight as the glass vessels but make me feel a little safer. Granted there is more to clean, but in some ways it is easier to clean with a removable lid. Transfers are superior for sure although I can not pressure ferment. It would be nice to use that chamber as a freezer again though.....
 
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ihavenonickname

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I don't think this is crazy at all. Conicals got popular because their are SS, look like "real" brewing equipment and have a lot of features. IMO they make sense for people who can put everything in place, pump liquids around and not have to rely on portability and manual labor. It sounds like based on the way you brew and your brewing space the conical isn't a great fit for your needs.
Yeah great point, I always resisted the conical thing for years. but given the opportunity to get a nice used system I thought I'd try it. Now I'm actually experiencing
Your simplification objective is relatable. I've revisited the fermentor choices over the years as new products came along, but have continued to ferment and serve in 5 gallon corny kegs for more than a decade. How do they stack up to your objectives?

  • Light enough to fill right from my kettle and lift into the ferm chamber - check
  • Easy to clean on keg washer - check
  • Better and easy dry hop results because shaking to rouse - check
  • Easier transfers given filtered floating dip tubes - check
  • Can't dump yeast but can repitch on cake easily - check
  • Easy to do split batches to compare yeast/dry hops - check
  • Plastic has me less than excited - check
I would also add in their favor that they allow for pressurized fermentation (see Bobby's 2psi limitation), create uniformity of parts among fermentor and serving vessel, and are obtainable on a refurb basis at a much lower cost than most of the alternatives.

When fermenting under pressure, head space isn't an issue. I ferment 18 gallon batches in four kegs and serve directly from the same kegs
using floating dip tubes. It also allows for room temperature fermenting, which frees up kegerator space.

Super helpful breakdown, thank you! Yes I loved fermenting in kegs while I did. Great point about still being able to do large batches just keep adding kegs for every 4-4.5g or wort. I like the kegmenter lid style (esp for easier low O2 dry hop additions. That's one small limitation to kegs. Of course depending on the style that will or won't matter.
Move the valve above the elbow. I do sight glass, valve, elbow. I do rouse dry hops with CO2 though still, and would even if I didn't have the sight glass.
Currently I am trying the BV on the cone directly to help with dry hop extraction
Have you had this happen or just something you worry about? I've not and in fact I've had a lot better luck not getting clogged poppets since switching to CF10s.
That's fair I haven't actually had that problem on the CF10. But I have had clogged adjustable dip tubes on an anvil bucket with adjustable dip tube. On my CF10, in order to have a heavy dry hop and get an easy transfer I found the cold crash, dump yeast, cold crash dump hops, cold crash, transfer to be quite involved process and I lost about 3L of beer getting our the hops (not to mention a bigger mess than I wanted). With a floating dip tube in a keg I could consistently count on 1L lost to absorption per 4oz dry hop because it took all the beer from above the hops without me guessing about trub level and dip tube level. Admittedly this is a personal preference and I'm still figuring out exactly what I think is best so this discussion helps me sort that out.
Have you considered one of the bucket-size/shape stainless fermenters like the SS Brew Bucket/Delta Fermtank/Spike Flex? The latter would even retain a number of your existing accessories.
I see the appeal. Don't see it adding benefit without some complication much like the conicals... But woof I'm getting analysis fatigue.
 
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ihavenonickname

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I'd say you're not wrong. In my 17 years of brewing, most of them were spent using various carboys from glass to P.E.T "better bottles" until the PET Fermonster 7 gallon came on to the scene. Then I overhauled my brewing area and put in three SSbrewtech conical unitanks and a glycol chiller. My brewing frequency immediately tanked because I dreaded the labor overhead of cleaning, reassembly, etc. After a year of that, and realizing my beer didn't change for the better, I went back to PET Fermonsters. They are outfitted with liquid and gas ball locks in the lid and floating diptubes so they act a lot like the all rounder but with a more slim footprint. I just can't exceed 2psi. What's even better is I can get a pair of 3 gallon versions into the same mini-fridge for doing split batch experimentation, which is infinitely more educational.

You have to look at your goals and what will get you there. Conicals primarily allow for dumping trub and harvesting yeast. If you can keep a majority of trub in the kettle that's half the battle. From there, the unitank thing allows for pressure fermenting or at least spunding to achieve carbonation at the end.

As long as you keep everything oxygen free, it really doesn't matter.
Thanks really helpful to hear this progression. I had a fermonster and thought I got about 4-5 psi pretty easily and about 7psi until it started to deform. Have you found 2PSI enough to let you cold crash while maintaining positive pressure??

BTW Make a few more videos going through your process, the last two you did were really helpful! You might not realize it but you have a lot of effecient little tricks built into your process that was really helpful to see.
 

OakIslandBrewery

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I have the CF10 and love it. I started out with plastic buckets, then a plastic conical then pulled the trigger on the CF10. It probably cost more than all the other fermenters I had combined but it's worked out well for fermenting and cleaning. I've had it for several years now and the only changes I made was purchasing the three-port cover and building PRV. I purchased the CF10 with leg extensions and a wheel kit although I have it bolted to the wall with a clamp on the back leg. It's very top heavy empty and especially full so I wanted it not mobile. It sits close to the brewery sink so cleaning is not a problem. Transfer are done by just draining the beer into corny kegs from the side port with a hose. Simple and it works fine.

Using the Kegmenter would be my second choice just as McMullan stated. I looked at them too before the CF10.

In the grand scheme of things if folks brew great beers in an old boot sick with it. Having a "pretty" shiny stainless steel conical works for me and I would not give it up.
 
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found the cold crash, dump yeast, cold crash dump hops, cold crash, transfer to be quite involved process and I lost about 3L of beer getting our the hops (not to mention a bigger mess than I wanted).
So I changed my process for this with my neipa. Basically what I've been doing is, cold crash, dump yeast, dry hop at 55f, rouse, cold crash and keg. So instead of dumping dry hops I leave them in the cone, turn my dip tube to about 10 o'clock then hook up my transfer hose with inline filter, purge the line and transfer. By doing this I skip a step of dumping and found I get more final product.
 

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I believe things can get overly complicated and maybe not result in a better end product. Happiness is paramount to this hobby lasting and ease of use is a very close 2nd! So sell the bling and go back to basics. I recently added some new equipment to give some options for pressure and O2 free cold side management. One was a Kegmenter as mentioned before. Picked it up used for $100. I think it will be a great tool for pressure and non-pressure ferments.

Regarding conicals, I share the dismay with the size and non-practicality for small fridges and the general homebrew world. So I decided to make my own. This was a project that took a long time to come together but it fits my brewing world. Compact and easy. I can fill it on brewday and do not open it until it kicks as it is a keg as well. I just move it around between fridges.
 

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Oleson M.D.

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I need a sanity check. I'm about to get rid of my fancy conical in favor of fermenting in a kegmenter or fermonster/all-rounder.
Here is my set up (some stuff not shown). I've got a spike conical CF10 with all the bells and whistles - pressure manifold, dip tube, low O2 dry hop doser, temp probe, extra butterfly valves for blow off and dumping. I use it in a big glass door fridge for temp control. Its every homebrewers dream right?!?!
But I'm just kinda over it and I miss the simplicity of fermenting in kegs. Here are my gripes:
  • Too heavy - When full with 5-10 gallons of wort its too heavy to lift into the fridge, so I have to fill it using a 10 foot hose that has to be cleaned and sanitized. Its a pain to do it well.
  • Hard to clean - I've tried CIP on top and I've tried hand washing the tank while soaking all the parts in pbw. Its just a big chore, ultimately takes 1-2 hours with lots of lifting moving it around. I much preferred fermenting in kegs because washing kegs on my keg washer couln't be easier and its a process i'm doing anyways!
  • Dumping yeast and especially dry hops is a pain - I avoid doing either because of the mess, hassle with low potential benefit, loss of beer. Plus re-using yeast is unpredictable - I mostly would rather re-pitch on a cake or start with new dry yeast.
  • Worse dry hopping extraction - With the elbow on the bottom I get significantly worse extraction on dry hops because they all sink into the elbow below the cone. The solution to this is to rouse with Co2 or recirculate with a pump (risk O2 and yet another cumbersome chore). Its too big to shake around the hops like in a keg.
  • Risk of clogged transfer via the dip tube. Even with a good cold crash adjusting the dip tube there is little assurance that I won't clog a dip tube. I miss my floating dip tube with a filter on it, which mostly guarantees I get the most beer possible without a clog. The work around for this is using an inline filter, but again more hassle and risks o2.

This is why so many are getting out of brewing...way too much work. When it's easier and sometimes cheaper to go to Total Wine and just buy a keg of your favorite beer.
 

Bassman2003

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Homebrewing has never been easier so I can't see that as a new factor. Unless one brews Bud Light clones, buying a keg of good beer is about the cost of a kettle. I have never seen liquor store in competition with my brewing. If they are, one is destined to leave the hobby anyway.
 

easttex

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I believe things can get overly complicated and maybe not result in a better end product. Happiness is paramount to this hobby lasting and ease of use is a very close 2nd! So sell the bling and go back to basics. I recently added some new equipment to give some options for pressure and O2 free cold side management. One was a Kegmenter as mentioned before. Picked it up used for $100. I think it will be a great tool for pressure and non-pressure ferments.

Regarding conicals, I share the dismay with the size and non-practicality for small fridges and the general homebrew world. So I decided to make my own. This was a project that took a long time to come together but it fits my brewing world. Compact and easy. I can fill it on brewday and do not open it until it kicks as it is a keg as well. I just move it around between fridges.
Sidebar: I've thought of doing this myself some day. Where did you source the stainless funnel from?
 

OakIslandBrewery

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Just about all hobbies require some work. Even the person who sits and watches birds. I guess if had several hobbies I might consider brewing to be more work than others. To me the reward of brewing my own beer outweighs the work part plus I've finetuned my brew day so it's not as much work as it once was, like spreading out tasks over a couple days. Again, I don't have a ton of hobbies.

There's a lot of great beers out there I still can purchase and serve on my home brew serving system so if I decide to switch gears I can. I haven't yet though.
 

natmartin

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I think it truly depends on your setup. For me, the conical makes everything much easier. I have a fixed location for brewing, so the fermentor is on wheels, moves over to the brewing area, gets fillled (via pump) and rolls back over to the glycol chiller. No lifting into a fridge.

I have a CF5, so sanitizing is pretty simple, just dunk all the valves & parts into a tub of starsan, and spray the inside with a starsan spray bottle. Cleaning is the same, a hose and brush with PBW takes care of the conical itself quickly, while everything else dunks in a tub of PBW overnight. The next morning, an quick rinse and put everything on the drying rack. So for me, it ends up being a faster and easier process than a carboy.

Being able to carbonate while cold crashing also saves me time overall.

But all of this is very dependent on having a setup with glycol, an easily accessible hose and sink, a brew system with a pump, etc etc. Without all of that, it would be a big pain.
 

Bassman2003

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Sidebar: I've thought of doing this myself some day. Where did you source the stainless funnel from?
I nice guy named Mike North at www.floturn.com They have the cones made in bulk and they will cut down to your size. $240 shipped. Finding the cone was the most challenging part of the project. Once I had one I found a great welder and he went to town.
 

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If anybody is brewing beer to save money they are probably driving a pedal driven car as well. There are far too many inexpensive and good tasting beers out there to be driven to home brewing by cost savings. Home brewing is a lot of work; even if you don't use pressurized kegs, etc., even brewing and bottling is a lot work, but it's well worth the wait and the final product.
 
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