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Grainfather Conical Fermenter Owners Thread

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jahlinux

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Wanted to start a thread dedicated to the Grainfather Conical Fermenters.

I have two Grainfather Conical Fermenters and their glycol chiller. No big complaints yet. I do have issues with the temperature controller correctly attaching to the fermenter. I end up having to use tape on each side to ensure it stays attached. The dual valve tap at the bottom definitely needs to be dumped every 2-3 days like they say in the manual, otherwise the dead yeast and sediment is almost impossible to get out.

Interested in connecting with other brewers using these fermenters.

JPEG image.jpeg
 
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Labrat

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Thanks for posting on the GrainFather Conical Fermenter (GCF). I do not own one, but I am seriously considering purchasing a GCF Pro. The price seems right for a jacketed fermenter and I have had good luck with my GrainFather brewing unit so far.

I have been looking for information on successful yeast harvesting with the GCF. Have you been able to harvest yeast? The bottom valve seems like a different approach than most conicals.

I am also considering 2.5 to 3 gallon batches. I am concerned that this volume would be below the jacketed portion of the GCF. Can you comment on this?

I am planning to purchase a glycol chiller after the GCF. Would it be possible to use a submersible pump in my keezer to control the GCF until I am able to purchase a separate glycol chiller?

I assume you are able to run the two fermenters at different temperatures?

Sorry for all of the questions. There is not a lot of information out there on the GCF.
 
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I have 2 Grain Father Conical Fermentors and the glycol chiller, neither of the controllers attach correctly - this is very irritating as these are virtually new and rather expensive.
 

Smudgey

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Its dead simple to harvest yeast from GF conical - the lever is 'press down' which lifts a SS bung with O-ring that seals the bottom. It's a clever lever and seems to work well if its adequately tightened. I'm only 5 brews in but find I get a nice controlled slurry, or an extrusion sausage of trub and yeast if its thicker. Theres not a lot of room so I use the silicon tube to extend it beyond the legs to a Mason jar; it's also easier set up on a bench or you're lying on the floor the first few times to see what you're doing! I Haven't dry hopped with loose hops, but did use 200g pellets without drama. You definitely have to dump before you sample though in this case, unless you have an extended pipe, or its drawing through the cake.
 

Labrat

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Smudgey,
Thanks for the information on yeast harvesting with the GrainFather conical. There doesn't seem to be a lot of posts or videos on the GrainFather conical. Do you think a 2.5 to 3 gallon batch would be high up enough to be in the jacketed range for temperature control.
 

jschein

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Smudgey

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I have it part filled with water at the moment, crash cooling 10L (2.6g) to 4°C (40f). I'll give it a day or 2 and see how it gets on, and try and work out where the lowest volume is for functional cooling. The heat belt is at the bottom so should work at any level.
 

Smudgey

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Ok. So I had 12 L in it (not 10), which took it to the very bottom of the cooling sleeve. I had previously cooled it to 5°, with a keg submerged in it that I cooled for carbing (water level was at the top with keg displacement)... I removed the keg and it took 8 hours or so to bring it up to 18° with the heat on, and then 12 hours to cool back to 7°, where it hovered between 7&8° depending on the room temperature. It would go colder throwing heavy insulation around it. Asking the jacket to cool the air/ CO2 and in turn your beer, with some transferred cooling down the stainless walls, is quite inefficient and the cooler was pumping the whole time. But it's possible. This was slower than a normal cold crash with twice the volume, but I was actually surprised it worked as well as it did.

You can see ice starting to build up in the fermenter between the groves indicating where the cooling sleeve is; the lowest vol mark, 15L, is under ice. The bottle cap floating at 12 L. It works but I wouldn't really recommend it if this volume, or lower, was to be your modus operandi...

20200426_231203.jpg
 
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jahlinux

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Just brewed a session IPA yesterday and forgot to put the inlet pipe for the beer outlet valves on before filling the fermenters. I guess I'll have to siphon the beer out now. No easy way to pull a gravity sample either. Hopefully I'll never make that mistake again.
 

jschein

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Just brewed a session IPA yesterday and forgot to put the inlet pipe for the beer outlet valves on before filling the fermenters. I guess I'll have to siphon the beer out now. No easy way to pull a gravity sample either. Hopefully I'll never make that mistake again.
You could siphon a sample out
 
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jahlinux

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Yeah, I guess it’s really not necessary. They will tell you when fermentation is complete.
 

shoeboo2

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Does anyone have best practices on what has been working well for them? What is your post boil target volume?
Just getting started with the GF conical, having moved from a glass carboy. My first beer was not entirely successful, a NEIPA which had a lot of trub and hop matter that got brought into the fermenter. I must have dumped a quart every 3 days until dry hopping. Since I was worried about volume, I didn't dump before trying to transfer to the keg and the sample port inlet got completely plugged. I used some CO2 to try and clear out the port and the inlet piece popped off so I ended up transferring pretty much all the sludge at the bottom of the fermenter into the keg. Beer is very good, just dealing with way more trub in the keg then racking from a carboy.
 
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Advance

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If I wish to end up with a full 5 gallons of beer in my keg with minimal excess. I usually shoot for 5.5 - 5.6 gallons of wort in the fermenter. You should try to minimize the amount of trub you transfer to the fermenter from your hotside process. Doing so will get you a better finished product and help minimize the potential for the problems you are experiencing in your cold side process. Are you using the grainfather AIO for your hot side process?
 

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Thank you @Advance, I have been doing BIAB with a 15 gallon blichmann kettle, pellet hops, and immersion chiller. Seems like a get some flour at the bottom of the kettle in addition to the break and hop matter. I can rotate the dip tube to avoid taking trub, but since I was using cryo hops I pulled more trub than I would have previously into the carboy. My current batch in the fermenter should have little trub so hopefully that will work better, I have dumped about 20 oz (S-04 yeast) and hit FG today.
Are you using the s airlock? I should have used a blow-off hose initially for this batch, wondering if it would be better to use with the rubber bung or a TC fitting.
 

Advance

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Sounds like you are off to a better start with your current batch. A proper whirlpool followed by a long rest can really help settle the trub, allowing you transfer very little to the fermenter. This is how I have my fermenter setup at the start of fermentation:

1603312431771.png


The blow off cane is from norcal brewing solutions:

Once primary fermentation slows down, I replace the blow off cane with a gas manifold that I made using the manifold body from spikes as a base:

1603312472827.png


This manifold allows me to maintain a slight positive pressure environment inside the fermenter at all times, which enables me to minimize the ingress of oxygen throughout the cold side process. It also makes closed transfers very easy. I also highly recommend getting yourself one of these plant dollies if you want to be able to move the fermenter around with ease:

They fit the legs of the fermenter like they were designed for one another.
 

shoeboo2

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Your setup is very nice! Exactly what I was looking for. Do you have your PRV on the manifold set for 2-3psi?
 

Advance

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I try to get the PRV to release at 1.5 psi and reseal at 0.5 psi. I dont think these fermenters can hold much pressure. The release works with pretty good repeatability but the reseal is hit or miss at the moment. I think I need to try a different valve that has a larger seat for the sealing surface. The current valve is the one that morebeer sells. I had to modify it with a lighter spring, a seal retaining clip, and a 10-24 set screw that allows me close off the PRV for dry hopping.
 

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I increased the pressure I can hold in mine, its not up to splunding but helps me set ~2-4 psi on my regulator (course gauge) without loosing gas during a cold crash. I replaced the 2.5 psi PRV spring in a 1.5" Tri-Clamp blow-off cap (where i attach gas-in also etc) with with the poppet spring from a keg stopping it from ever releasing, put a hoop of #8 stainless fence wire just under the grainfathers lid as a spacer (Nylon cord would probably do), and use a dozen 32mm fold-back clips from a stationary shop around the rim. It's agricultural, but a quick and simple fix. It still vents around the lid at much above this pressure (and before the fancy valve at the bottom leaks or the stainless splits!)
160339645826925016613451200380.jpg
 

Advance

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I'm not sure I follow just what kind of setup you have rigged with your fermenter, but I would be concerned about running internal pressures exceeding 1.5 psi. The internal diameter of these fermenters is about 11.5 inches, which would make the surface area in which the pressure is acting about 104 in^2. At 1.5 psi the total force that is being held back by the four lid clamps is 156 lbs, or 39 lbs per clamp. Keep in mind that this force is in addition to the clamping force that the clamps exert on the lid to provide a seal. At an internal pressure of 4 psi, your lid has 416 lbs of force trying to pop it off! Your force per clamp (pressure + clamping force) could be as high as 150-175 lbs! In which case I would think catastrophic failure would be imminent. These clamps appear to be simply spot welded to the outside jacket of the fermenter, and they definitely were not engineered to safely hold this level of force, and neither was the rest of the fermenter for that matter. Please be safe and keep the internal pressures down to reasonable levels!
 

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Good advice! I'll take it easy. Maybe I've just been lucky so far, or I'm running lower pressures than I think.
The problem is my CO2 reg is really hard to set low enough without the lid-seals hissing. So, I simply increase the closing pressure with paper clamps where its leaking and try to turn the pressure down a fraction without closing the gas off altogether. I'll get a better in-line gauge one of these days and see what the actual pressure is I'm running.
 

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I have a conical fermenter pro with the cooling pump kit but the pump doesn't work at all. The power cable provided with the cooling pump kit does supply power to the fermenter so I know that it's working but when I plug in the pump it does not turn on when the fermenter display reads "cooling". I'm using a US outlet. Has anyone had this problem or know any potential fixes?
 

Advance

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The problem is more than likely a connection issue with the spring pins on the removable controller not making proper contact with the mounting base. Try reinstalling the controller and pressing it against the base. If this does not work set the temperature to ambient (probe reading) and then to a temp a couple degrees cooler. You should hear a mechanical relay click every time the controllers status changes (ex. cooling to off). If you can hear the relay clicking, try hooking up the pump to a 12v power source with a 2.5mm plug. If the pump runs the problem is internal to the fermenters wiring.
 

dinakarj

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Just received my new GF Conical. The inside has a small dent along the seam line and the lid tri-clamp has some rough points from the welding. Please see attached images.

Does anyone else have had similar issues or is mine a particularly bad unit?
 

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BrewAgain

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I received the new wifi controller directlyfrom Grainfather. Installed it. It does remove the irritating base plate and makes it solid. Very nice.
The problem I have is that it is not connecting to the app. Anyone else have this issue?
 

jschein

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I received the new wifi controller directlyfrom Grainfather. Installed it. It does remove the irritating base plate and makes it solid. Very nice.
The problem I have is that it is not connecting to the app. Anyone else have this issue?
Wait, the WiFi controller came out? Dang gotta get on the hunt
 

BrewAgain

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I found it on black Friday on the grainfather website $92. Now $115 and out of stock. It would be nice if it would talk to the program. It does have a pretty colored display. The Bluetooth doesn't seem to work.
 

A-Bus

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I bought mine during the Black Friday sale. But, I have not tried the new controller yet for any sort of review. So far, I do like the Wifi capability and the ability to download updates. I also like being able to change temperatures when away from home.
 

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Vetal

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Has anyone experimented with cooling the Grainfather Conical Fermenter with a simple cooling kit running ice water? What was the lowest temperature you got to? I am in the middle of brewing a lager and I used a simple grainfather cooling kit with a cooler filled with ice water @ 40F. I could get the wort down to about @50F after cooling it overnight. Even after using approx 2-3 lbs of ice every 12 hrs - I am struggling to keep the Grainfather Conical Fermenter to about 55F. Overall I am seeing the temperature anywhere from 52-62F. The amount of ice I need to have on hand is getting a bit tricky as well. I cannot justify spending on the glycol chiller. Does anyone have any better ideas of maintaining a steady temperature? I have given up on cold-crashing in the GCF.... It also doesnt fit into any fridge easily. I am getting a bit tired of baby sitting this fermenter....
 

Chet Ripley

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I've not tried anything that low of temp yet, but I swap out frozen gallon jugs of water daily. I would think that would be more efficient than directly adding ice.
 

franknbeans

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Has anyone experimented with cooling the Grainfather Conical Fermenter with a simple cooling kit running ice water? What was the lowest temperature you got to? I am in the middle of brewing a lager and I used a simple grainfather cooling kit with a cooler filled with ice water @ 40F. I could get the wort down to about @50F after cooling it overnight. Even after using approx 2-3 lbs of ice every 12 hrs - I am struggling to keep the Grainfather Conical Fermenter to about 55F. Overall I am seeing the temperature anywhere from 52-62F. The amount of ice I need to have on hand is getting a bit tricky as well. I cannot justify spending on the glycol chiller. Does anyone have any better ideas of maintaining a steady temperature? I have given up on cold-crashing in the GCF.... It also doesnt fit into any fridge easily. I am getting a bit tired of baby sitting this fermenter....
I'm on my second run with this conical so far. The first time, and several before with a carboy, I had (ditched the GF pump for the Anvil one due to higher gpm) the pump running ice water in a 5gal cooler with holes drilled in the lid for the hoses and pump wire. The best I could get the temp down was about 55ish, but that involved several frozen juice jug changes (with water inside) throughout the day. The GF pump output is barely 1gpm, where the Anvil one is 2-3gpm. They use the same power connection and draw is roughly the same. I picked up the GF glycol chiller on black friday because I too didn't like babysitting it and had some spare coin to use. It's pricey, but so far is working out much easier. I'll be cold crashing next week with an Amber Ale in the tank, so we'll see how well that works out.
 

franknbeans

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Has anyone figured out a better valve setup for the bottom of these tanks? The dual valve sounded neat at first, but has become a big pain to deal with.

When trying to dump the trub and keep things clear, I've now clogged both times and have to blow co2 up through the valve to clear it. I really like how the FastFerment has a dump jar.. I'm wondering if there's a way to rig up such a setup to these?
 

Advance

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Has anyone figured out a better valve setup for the bottom of these tanks? The dual valve sounded neat at first, but has become a big pain to deal with.

When trying to dump the trub and keep things clear, I've now clogged both times and have to blow co2 up through the valve to clear it. I really like how the FastFerment has a dump jar.. I'm wondering if there's a way to rig up such a setup to these?
At what time during the cold side process are you trying to dump yeast/trub? What yeast are you using? I have completed roughly 30 batches between my two grainfather conicals and have never had problems with dumping, even with highly flocculant yeast such as WLP007.
 

franknbeans

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At what time during the cold side process are you trying to dump yeast/trub? What yeast are you using? I have completed roughly 30 batches between my two grainfather conicals and have never had problems with dumping, even with highly flocculant yeast such as WLP007.
The amber ale I made has WLP007 in it right now as a matter of fact. Ive tried dumping it every day since fermentation started on this batch. It's been coming out like a thick sludge once I can get it moving with shooting co2 up inside the dump valve to break it loose. It's more trub than yeast, very little whiteness of the WLP007 in it.
 

shoeboo2

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Has anyone experimented with cooling the Grainfather Conical Fermenter with a simple cooling kit running ice water? What was the lowest temperature you got to? I am in the middle of brewing a lager and I used a simple grainfather cooling kit with a cooler filled with ice water @ 40F. I could get the wort down to about @50F after cooling it overnight. Even after using approx 2-3 lbs of ice every 12 hrs - I am struggling to keep the Grainfather Conical Fermenter to about 55F. Overall I am seeing the temperature anywhere from 52-62F. The amount of ice I need to have on hand is getting a bit tricky as well. I cannot justify spending on the glycol chiller. Does anyone have any better ideas of maintaining a steady temperature? I have given up on cold-crashing in the GCF.... It also doesnt fit into any fridge easily. I am getting a bit tired of baby sitting this fermenter....
I have my GCF in the garage (Florida) and could get down to 55F in the summer using the water cooling kit. I had to swap frozen water bottles about twice a day. I would hope I could get down to 45F using the same swapping frequency now that the weather has cooled down.
 
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