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Help me decide between Spike CF10 and SSBrewtech Unitank

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martianpc

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I am planning to get a conical and am having a hard time deciding between SSBrewtech and Spike. The Spike has the nice 2" dump valve and sounds like it would possibly work better for 5 gallon batches, where the SS sounds like you need a 5.5 gallon batch. I assume that is due to getting good cooling performance through the coil.

The SS however, has the nice and already available jacket as well as the 3" TC port in the coil cap which is great for adding hops/yeast. I also like all the goodies it comes with.

I plan to make a DIY glycol chiller for maintaining temps and cold crashing. I also intend to pressure transfer each batch to my kegs to avoid oxygen.

Any thoughts on which is the better choice! TIA
 

de3isit

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Let me start by saying that you cant go wrong with either conical. I own one of each. Initially I bought the SS Brewtech about two years ago and was pretty happy with it. It was a big upgrade from my carboys.

A few of the things I didn't like about the SS Brewtech was the 1.5" sanitary 90 degree elbow into the 3/4" ball valve would consistently get clogged with any IPA I would brew. I would have to push a sight glass cleaning bush through it to get it to dump. What a mess it would make. The other big issue for me was the pressure transfer would not work very well. You can only put a couple PSI to it per the recommendation. It gravity transferred much better. When I would transfer to a keg it would typically take about 20 minutes to fill a keg. The other drawback was that it didn't have a sampling valve.

My recent addition was the Spike Brewing conical. I decided to try their conical after buying 3 new brew pots from them. Man! What a difference. Everything about it is top notch. I have used it 3 times now and each time I use it I love it more. To start it has a 4" cap on the lid to make adding stuff in the top a breeze. I even oxygenate through it. It also is super thick so you can put up to 15 PSI in it. The large 2" dump valve makes dumping trub and hops a breeze. It has never clogged on me and I put a pound of hops in it on my last IPA. The sampling valve makes it very easy to pull a sample for testing as well. Everything is connected with sanitary fitting, even the thermowell. To top it all off, Spike has the absolute best customer service and support I have ever experienced. The have always responded within a few hours.

In conclusion, I would HIGHLY recommend going with the Spike Brewing conical for all the reasons I listed above. I included a couple pics as well.

Let me know if you have any questions.

IMG_0030.jpg


New Rig3.jpg
 
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martianpc

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Thanks for the reply, I should clarify, I am specifically looking at the new SSBrewtech unitank conical. Not the regular conical. It is far more closely matches to the spike than the one you have. Glad to hear such positive thoughts on the spike though!
 

craftymcbeer

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I was typing up what I thought was a great response then realized de3isit had already covered all of my talking points, top notch breakdown friend!

So what I will say is this. At the end of the day Ss is welded in China and Spike is welded in the US. Buying local is fantastic but what really sells this fact is spike will work with your design to give you exactly what you want. I just went back and forth for a few days with one of their customer service reps on a custom kettle design and ended taking the long way to their turn key design. I couldn't be happier.
To get back on track there's a couple things that set the Spike conical above Ss.
1. The modular design and ongoing innovation with respect to accessories.
2. The removable lid. I know a lot of people want one solid piece but I love being able to break it down for inspection, or to make its foot print a little smaller in between batches.
3. Everything about them as a company. They're willingness to not just sit on the made in America tag and instead continue to produce new products that excite (at least me). They're customer service willing to spend so much time going back and forth with a costumer that just wants the vessel they already designed. Their steadfast dedication to their products. If you ever have a problem or just want a custom port added talk to them, they want you to love their products as much as they do.

I waited a year for this new conical design Spike just released because I had been asking Ss for sanitary welded fittings in a conical for the year before that. Then as soon as some launched theirs Ss finally launched theirs. It could be a coincidence but I have to wonder if Spike proved it worked and Ss is just trying to capitalize.

Sorry that ended on minor conspiracy theory.

TL:DR Spike is cheaper for (imo) better quality.
 
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martianpc

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Spike seems more expensive after the you factor in the missing accessories. Although I do like that it is welded in WI.
 

itsnotrequired

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i'm somewhat in the same boat myself on choosing a conical. a unitank seems beyond what i am looking for as i have no desire to carbonate in the vessel. the ss chronical bme looks like a good compromise between a unitank and a 'regular' conical but reading d3isit's comments above, that 1.5" dump valve sounds like it could have some issues with high hop/trub brews. i like the idea of the constant co2 blanket for transfers but not if the 1 or 2 psi results in excessive times to keg. i also don't like the ball sampling valve on the ss (spike valve is sanitary).

as for pricing, the spike conical i'm looking at would be about $200 more than a chronical bme but it would get the benefits of a unitank. this includes add-ons like the temp controls, legs, shelf, casters and sight glass. if comparing to a ss unitank, the difference is less at the options i want. the ss comes with a carb stone and a stainless blowoff cane but i don't need those. that's the other advantage of spike is that it is a la carte so if you already have some of the components, don't need the extra features, etc., you aren't paying for it. looking at it that way, the spike prices out about $10 less than the ss unitank. and it has the advantage of that removable lid to really see what's going on inside. plus it has that 2" dump valve, is welded here in wisconsin, etc.

so at this point, leaning toward spike but i would have to wait a bit for all the features. for example, their temp control package isn't available yet so while i could still brew in it, i would need to fool around with temp control on my own until the system becomes available. yeah, yeah, i know i could build my own control stuff but the package also includes the neoprene jacket and i'm having more trouble these days finding time for diy. it isn't like a i need a conical immediately so the wait shouldn't be that big a deal.
 

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Im not sure there's anyone with one of each. I dont think you can go wrong with either. I recently got the SS unitank. Main reason it won out is because I wanted something now, and Spike's jacket and other accessories were months out. I also liked the no-lid design on SS's... I can understand some would rather have that for cleaning though. Maybe Spike wants to send me one for a side-side review of each? wink wink
 

itsnotrequired

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Im not sure there's anyone with one of each. I dont think you can go wrong with either. I recently got the SS unitank. Main reason it won out is because I wanted something now, and Spike's jacket and other accessories were months out. I also liked the no-lid design on SS's... I can understand some would rather have that for cleaning though. Maybe Spike wants to send me one for a side-side review of each? wink wink
how many brews do you have in that unitank? things you like? things you wish were different?
 
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martianpc

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I've decided on the SSBrewtech. I like that the lid doesn't need the band clamp as that seems like a failure point and bacteria harboring area. I also like that it is cheaper when you consider the accessories to make the spike the same. I really doubt that a 2" bottom dump matters much when using a butterfly valve.

I hope I made the right call. I'll get some pics up when it arrives!
 

Morrey

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I've decided on the SSBrewtech. I like that the lid doesn't need the band clamp as that seems like a failure point and bacteria harboring area. I also like that it is cheaper when you consider the accessories to make the spike the same. I really doubt that a 2" bottom dump matters much when using a butterfly valve.

I hope I made the right call. I'll get some pics up when it arrives!
Yeah, I think they tout the 2" dump as a selling point. Being that the Ss Uni Tank can be pressurized, that pressure will make short work of a yeast plug even in a 1.5" port.

I decided on and got the Ss Uni Tank but have only done pressure, transfer, chilling tests, etc with water. I have used other Ss products for several years and like the way their products are built and the way their CS staff is user friendly.

The valve configuration at the bottom of the 14G tank is a bit tight but you just need to play around with the setup. The quality and build is very nice and I like the way this product is turn key packaged. I'd buy this again, and in fact, will be considering a second unit at some point.
 

marjen

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I also considered both the Spike and the SSBT Unitank and went with the SS. I liked that it included everything and I also got the FTSs package with it. I have my first batch in there now and so far so good. It is tight around the bottom valves, thats the only negative at the moment. Its actually pretty easy to clean when you take the cooling coil out, plenty of room to get your arm in there to scrub. Just put a batch in on Sunday so will see how this first batch goes. Its chugging away as we speak. A second one will most likely be in my future plans.
 

dunnry

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Yeah, I think they tout the 2" dump as a selling point. Being that the Ss Uni Tank can be pressurized, that pressure will make short work of a yeast plug even in a 1.5" port.
That's the key point. It doesn't happen often with my SSBrewtech Chronical 14, but for certain yeasts that compact hard, you can plug up the 1.5" dump port (with butterfly valve). When that happens, I just pressurize the conical to a couple psi and it will slowly push that trub turd right out. Out of something like 20 brews, it has happened 2 times.

I have the Spike CF10 as well now but haven't had a chance to use it with anything that would clog anyway, so not sure of the value of the 2" dump port yet. I suppose if you couldn't pressurize the conical, it would be nice.
 
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martianpc

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I'm wondering if I could transfer directly from the boil kettle while near boiling temps to the unitank then chill with the ftss system coil and my glycol reservoir.

Anyone try or know of a reason not to? Seems like a good way to sterilize the fermenter by closing it up and letting it sit for 10 minutes at 200 degrees before cooling.
 

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I'm wondering if I could transfer directly from the boil kettle while near boiling temps to the unitank then chill with the ftss system coil and my glycol reservoir.

Anyone try or know of a reason not to? Seems like a good way to sterilize the fermenter by closing it up and letting it sit for 10 minutes at 200 degrees before cooling.
You could, but that would overwhelm a 2-3 gal glycol reservoir almost instantly. It would then take a long time for the compressor to chill the reservoir back down, but eventually it would. Much better you chill first to 100 or so and then let the glycol take it down to pitching temp. Your chiller can much more easily compensate the 5-10 shift up from 100 to pitching rather than the 100+ up from boiling to pitching.
 

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I'm wondering if I could transfer directly from the boil kettle while near boiling temps to the unitank then chill with the ftss system coil and my glycol reservoir.

Anyone try or know of a reason not to? Seems like a good way to sterilize the fermenter by closing it up and letting it sit for 10 minutes at 200 degrees before cooling.
If you do this make sure that you do not cool with the tank sealed. The cooling will cause the pressure inside the tank to drop and the atmospheric pressure can crush it like a pop can. I thought it was BS as I was researching how to properly clean large fermenters and there are plenty of stories of breweries destroying brand new fermenters with a hot water wash and then a cold water rinse all while sealed. The sudden pressure change causes the vessels to collapse.
 

marjen

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Anyone try or know of a reason not to? Seems like a good way to sterilize the fermenter by closing it up and letting it sit for 10 minutes at 200 degrees before cooling.
I believe I have seen its not recommended and could damage the chiller. I also saw recommendations of getting it to 100 or so.
 

iijakii

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I'm wondering if I could transfer directly from the boil kettle while near boiling temps to the unitank then chill with the ftss system coil and my glycol reservoir.

Anyone try or know of a reason not to? Seems like a good way to sterilize the fermenter by closing it up and letting it sit for 10 minutes at 200 degrees before cooling.
You could certainly do it no chill if you wanted. Transfer, seal it up and let it cool passively over a full day or two. But yeah, make sure to feed some CO2.
 

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I'm wondering if I could transfer directly from the boil kettle while near boiling temps to the unitank then chill with the ftss system coil and my glycol reservoir.

Anyone try or know of a reason not to? Seems like a good way to sterilize the fermenter by closing it up and letting it sit for 10 minutes at 200 degrees before cooling.
You could re-connect the cooling coil to a pond pump in a bucket of ice water.
 

itsnotrequired

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i'm somewhat in the same boat myself on choosing a conical. a unitank seems beyond what i am looking for as i have no desire to carbonate in the vessel. the ss chronical bme looks like a good compromise between a unitank and a 'regular' conical but reading d3isit's comments above, that 1.5" dump valve sounds like it could have some issues with high hop/trub brews. i like the idea of the constant co2 blanket for transfers but not if the 1 or 2 psi results in excessive times to keg. i also don't like the ball sampling valve on the ss (spike valve is sanitary).

as for pricing, the spike conical i'm looking at would be about $200 more than a chronical bme but it would get the benefits of a unitank. this includes add-ons like the temp controls, legs, shelf, casters and sight glass. if comparing to a ss unitank, the difference is less at the options i want. the ss comes with a carb stone and a stainless blowoff cane but i don't need those. that's the other advantage of spike is that it is a la carte so if you already have some of the components, don't need the extra features, etc., you aren't paying for it. looking at it that way, the spike prices out about $10 less than the ss unitank. and it has the advantage of that removable lid to really see what's going on inside. plus it has that 2" dump valve, is welded here in wisconsin, etc.

so at this point, leaning toward spike but i would have to wait a bit for all the features. for example, their temp control package isn't available yet so while i could still brew in it, i would need to fool around with temp control on my own until the system becomes available. yeah, yeah, i know i could build my own control stuff but the package also includes the neoprene jacket and i'm having more trouble these days finding time for diy. it isn't like a i need a conical immediately so the wait shouldn't be that big a deal.
just realized i double-dipped on the cooling coil for spike. correcting that and the spike conical with the additional features i would be interested in ends up being about $100 less than the unitank.
 

Morrey

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I'm wondering if I could transfer directly from the boil kettle while near boiling temps to the unitank then chill with the ftss system coil and my glycol reservoir.

Anyone try or know of a reason not to? Seems like a good way to sterilize the fermenter by closing it up and letting it sit for 10 minutes at 200 degrees before cooling.
I have a JaDed Hydra IC which is quite efficient but can only do so much cooling when my municipal water supply temps are mid-80's in the summer. I transfer to fermenter at 85(ish) and let my Penguin glycol chiller take it on down from there. But as all others have said, it is not recommended to bring wort down from a boil with a glycol chiller as certain damage will occur.
 
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martianpc

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So it sounds like if I transfered piping hot from the boil kettle to the conical then open the blow off valve or apply a few psi of co2 and use tap water to cool to about 100 then connect to the glycol for final cooling I could avoid a trip through the plate chiller. I see this as a benefit because of sterilizing the fermenter and avoiding hop gunk in the plate chiller. I'm not too concerned with overwhelming the glycol bath either because I won't often have more than 1 fermenter attached to it. Sound reasonable?
 

Morrey

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So it sounds like if I transfered piping hot from the boil kettle to the conical then open the blow off valve or apply a few psi of co2 and use tap water to cool to about 100 then connect to the glycol for final cooling I could avoid a trip through the plate chiller. I see this as a benefit because of sterilizing the fermenter and avoiding hop gunk in the plate chiller. I'm not too concerned with overwhelming the glycol bath either because I won't often have more than 1 fermenter attached to it. Sound reasonable?

Sure. As long as you don't overwhelm the glycol supplies cooling capacity you'll be fine. I think starting the chiller with 100F wort is reasonable and will work fine. Let me add my glycol chiller has a 2 gallon reservoir, so if you build a chiller with a larger reservoir that would change things some.
 
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martianpc

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Sure. As long as you don't overwhelm the glycol supplies cooling capacity you'll be fine. I think starting the chiller with 100F wort is reasonable and will work fine. Let me add my glycol chiller has a 2 gallon reservoir, so if you build a chiller with a larger reservoir that would change things some.
I'm building the chiller from a window ac unit and probably about a 5 gallon reservoir. The ac unit is a 5000 btu model.

I have no real world experience with glycol so I have no idea how much cooling capacity and recovery this sort of system will have.
 

Morrey

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I'm building the chiller from a window ac unit and probably about a 5 gallon reservoir. The ac unit is a 5000 btu model.

I have no real world experience with glycol so I have no idea how much cooling capacity and recovery this sort of system will have.
I bet if you posted this question under a new glycol chiller build header, a person skilled in thermodynamics may chime in and help you out.
 

itsnotrequired

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i was thinking about this whole conical issue today and looked into getting something like a ss brew bucket. i would be able to set it within my existing fermentation chest freezer and could avoid a whole glycol setup. but looking closer, samples are designed to be taken from the valve at the bottom and with that at the bottom of the keezer, it isn't very convenient. the lid only has a tine hole for an airlock, doesn't look big enough for a standard wine thief to take samples.

anyone use the ss brew buckets in a chest freezer? something i'm missing.
 

iijakii

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i was thinking about this whole conical issue today and looked into getting something like a ss brew bucket. i would be able to set it within my existing fermentation chest freezer and could avoid a whole glycol setup. but looking closer, samples are designed to be taken from the valve at the bottom and with that at the bottom of the keezer, it isn't very convenient. the lid only has a tine hole for an airlock, doesn't look big enough for a standard wine thief to take samples.

anyone use the ss brew buckets in a chest freezer? something i'm missing.
If I was not wanting to drop money on a conical I'd ferment in kegs without a doubt. You can do a spunding setup, or just airlock if you want. Pull samples from a thief or picnic tap if going sealed.

Or you could use your chest freezer for something else and buy a cheap fridge for a brewbucket.
 
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martianpc

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So where does the newly announced 7gal Unitank from SS fit into the fold of this question?
Haha, go figure my 14 shipped yesterday. Still probably would have gone with the 14 gallon personally though. I appreciate the ability to do 5 and 10 gallon batches. Never make less than 5 anyway.
 

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I'm building the chiller from a window ac unit and probably about a 5 gallon reservoir. The ac unit is a 5000 btu model.

I have no real world experience with glycol so I have no idea how much cooling capacity and recovery this sort of system will have.
i built a chiller from a 500btu ac, used 2 gallons glycol and 3.5 gallons soft water (keep you glycol % above 30 if you want the antimicrobial properties). i can temp control 3 14g conicals with it once they are close to temp. when i transfer from boil kettle to fermenters, splitting a 10g batch between 2 conicals to experiment, it will take about 3 hours to drop both ferms from 100° to 70°. the chiller will not get above 35ish° but the problem is that tanks are not optimal for changing temperature, only maintaining it.

the only changes i would make to my chiller is 1)make the reservoir larger and 2)use a larger recirc pump. if you are good with spray foam, marine epoxy puddy, and flex seal™ you can bury the evap pipes in the side of the cooler and have the glycol level go above it
 

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Have people been happy with their SS Uni’s? Thinking of getting one for hoppy beers. I’m especially interested in being able to bung at the end of ferment and at least naturally carbonate a portion of the beer. Has anyone been doing this?

Also is everyone who owns one using a CIP ball? I’d imagine you’d have to right? Since there is no lid to remove?
 

Ride123ca

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do you guys that have the spike confirm that it can hold a constant c02 pressure without leaking as this is one of my biggest concerns........i really want to purchase the spike because of the better welds and quality of steel BUT its hard to justify because they dont have the temp controll available(heat)and with this kind of investment.....i refuse to tape a makeshift heat mat and janky controller with it.....im just scared im gonna purchase and spike wont have their heater/and jacket available for months and months......thats why im debating the ss unitank......but with the ss......im a little concerned about how easy it is to clean through a 4"tc on the top.....and i have a brewmaster conical now with the ftss,and im not that impressed with the guage/quality of the steel......but wish i could keep c02 pressure in it.......arghhhh......thanks for the help deciding
 

dthompson79

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do you guys that have the spike confirm that it can hold a constant c02 pressure without leaking as this is one of my biggest concerns........i really want to purchase the spike because of the better welds and quality of steel BUT its hard to justify because they dont have the temp controll available(heat)and with this kind of investment.....i refuse to tape a makeshift heat mat and janky controller with it.....im just scared im gonna purchase and spike wont have their heater/and jacket available for months and months......thats why im debating the ss unitank......but with the ss......im a little concerned about how easy it is to clean through a 4"tc on the top.....and i have a brewmaster conical now with the ftss,and im not that impressed with the guage/quality of the steel......but wish i could keep c02 pressure in it.......arghhhh......thanks for the help deciding
I can confirm that it holds sustained pressure without leaking just fine. Mine is currently been sitting at 37 degrees with about 9 PSI for a week while lagering. FWIW I really like everything about mine. The quality is tip top. And the removable lid is very handy for cleaning. :mug:

P.S. I feel you on the accessories slowly trickling out. Hopefully by Xmas the jackets and heaters will be released
 

marjen

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Have people been happy with their SS Uni’s? Thinking of getting one for hoppy beers. I’m especially interested in being able to bung at the end of ferment and at least naturally carbonate a portion of the beer. Has anyone been doing this?

Also is everyone who owns one using a CIP ball? I’d imagine you’d have to right? Since there is no lid to remove?
I think a lot of us our in our maiden voyages. So far the unit itself is great. I am having some issues with my FPSs controller and the power supply.

With regards to cleaning if you take out the cooling coil there is actually a ton of room to get in there and clean the unit by hand if needed. I have a CIP ball but dont have a pump that will work with it yet. I reclined it by hand and was surprised how easy it was to get in there.

Also remember if you want to carbonate at room temps, you will need to get up to the 28-30 psi range. Not sure the spike is rated for that. It might very well be, but worth confirming.
 

Ride123ca

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i definitly wont be at room temp trying to pump 30psi into it....i will cont cooling with a temp controller running a pump from keezer through fermentor coils.......but am paying with the idea of going glycol once i finally decide between spike or ss for a second fermentor as i want that valuable space back in keezer
 

Ride123ca

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might try the penguin 1/2hp glycol bath as the price is right and cant be a bad product if spike is promoting them......wish the cabinet wasnt white on them though....lol
 

couchsending

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The Penguin glycol unit was the best $$ I’ve spent on this hobby. Not having to change out frozen water bottles at all hours of the day is soooo damn nice. I run three SS 7g conicals on it. I don’t Lager with it but crashing and even holding at 40 for a few days is seamless.
 

Ride123ca

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Just pulled the trigger on the penguin 1/2 glycol and spike cf10 with a bunch of accesories.....but im gonna use my ss brewtech controller and heat pad for the temps.....thanks couchsending......i needed that final push:D
 

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I’m expecting my CF10 to be delivered today, can’t wait! I didn’t order the chiller coil yet since I have a full size freezer for a fermentation chamber. So far maintaining temp and cold crashing haven’t been a problem with my other fermenter but who knows I may add one later.
 
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