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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.

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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.
 

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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

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?
 

shoeboo2

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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:

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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!
 

Smudgey

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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.
 

mattnavi7

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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.
 
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