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Help me decide between Spike CF10 and SSBrewtech Unitank

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eric19312

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I ended up going with a flex+. The lid design of the SS brewtech is obviously, in theory anyways, a stronger and easier to line up design.
I've found in practice however that the band clamp design works flawlessly and holds well past 15lbs pressure if needed.
I'm not an engineer but I wish they made a TC lid fermenter that was massive. Think 12-14" across. I'm sure there are multiple reasons this is a bad idea, but it would be best of both worlds kinda
how about this design:
 

NewJersey

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Guys I already went and looked at by their site after my post because I was curious and yes, that jacketed 8 gallon is calling my name! That would be the only way I'd ever be convinced to go glycol. very nice and I'm sure worth the money, but I'm still comfortable with my flex for now. One day tho...
 

Bohern

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Thanks for the replies gang. I own a Spike system for my brew setup and love it for that. I guess I will just need to sit down and decide which feature of the two are the most important to me.
 

Brooothru

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You sound happy with it to, any wisdom to share if I were to go this way?
I'm extremely pleased with the Brewtech Unitank, but in all honesty I think you'd be equally happy with either. I feel a lot more comfortable with the solid tank (non-detachable lid) of the Ss design. I like the multiple TC ports. on the top of the Spike.

What I'm really a cheerleader for though is the 'concept' of a unitank. I really feel like I have to be super cautious doing pressure transfers in my Chronical to not exceed 2.5 psig, but a sudden pressure spike of 20 psig in the Unitank when I'm shooting for 15 is no big deal. I can spund in the unitank, cold crash from ambient to 30F with sufficient head pressure to not be concerned with suckback or negative pressure implosion. If I want to ferment under pressure I've got options AND control.

Sure, you can spund and pressure ferment in a keg, but temperature control and yeast harvesting as well as trub dumping is not available. The unitank really does combine the best features of a conical fermenter and a kegmenter with the unique abilities of a brite tank. I preferred the features of the Ss Brewtech over Spike. Personal choice. But I believe that you can't go wrong with either one.

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I've got the 7 gallon SSBrewtech as well. I'm extremely happy with it. I can't speak for the larger size units, but at 7 gallons the size of the opening at the top is a non issue. It's large enough to get your arm in there and my arm reaches all the way to the bottom with no problem.

It was nice for me to get all the options and accessories right from the start. When I priced up the Spike for comparable accessories it was within about $50. I was also put off by Spike a little as they announced the 7 gallon and then it took the better part of a year to come to market. I understand it's a challenge to bring things to market, it just so happened to be the time I would like to have bought mine.

I'm very happy with mine and would recommend it to anyone. I can say without hesitation that I've never had to fiddle with the top to get it to seal. You put it on, clamp it down and it's sealed. No need to flip the gasket, apply lubricant, or crank down on clamps to make it work.
 

Brooothru

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Thats true. The larger sized CIP from Ss Brewtech is actually made for larger (14 gal., 1 bbl). But what really affects cleaning ability is pump output. Even in smaller applications, a Chugger or standard March pump might not be enough. I use a submersible sump pump I bought at Home Depot. It puts out 17 gpm and can "pump uphill" over 10' of rise. I throttled the output to the CIP ball with a ball valve on the pump initially, but later determined I didn't need to slow the flow volume.
 

Bohern

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Thats true. The larger sized CIP from Ss Brewtech is actually made for larger (14 gal., 1 bbl). But what really affects cleaning ability is pump output. Even in smaller applications, a Chugger or standard March pump might not be enough. I use a submersible sump pump I bought at Home Depot. It puts out 17 gpm and can "pump uphill" over 10' of rise. I throttled the output to the CIP ball with a ball valve on the pump initially, but later determined I didn't need to slow the flow volume.
My first attempt will be to use one of my Blichmann Riptides with 160 deg water from my kettle, if that doesn't cut it I was going to use one like the one you mention. This guy in the video below does what I think you are talking about. Well besides the use of Starsan maybe.

 

yorkeken

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I'm not sure i agree with this 100%. If you have a cp ball maybe . Ive had hard krausen lines where even a long soak didn't get it completely off.

It gives me piece of mind to be able to take my lid off and inspect the inside . Ive even had to clean the inside of my lid .
I have a CF5 and agree completely. Be nice to the gasket, make sure it is seated correctly, use a thin layer of keg lube for a good seal (I ferment under 6-8psi) and you’re all set. The ability to access the entire conical with the lid removed for cleaning and inspection is one of the reasons I went with the Spike. I think some get hung up on the fact that it’s not a TC fitting as I almost did when deciding between the Spike and the SS.
 

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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.

View attachment 417893

View attachment 417894
Can you tell me where you got that brew stand?
 

Bohern

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That is exactly the size I am looking at. From what I have read of your posts even with that size using CIP cleaning is not difficult right?

The only negative I have thought of is maybe not being able to do a 5 gal batch, is that true or no?
 
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Brooothru

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Oh I ordered the 1/5 hp chiller too.
I think you'll like it (same one I bought). It will be more than enough to crash a 14 gallon Unitank. I 'test ran' mine with a 7 gal. Unitank, 7 gal. Chronical and a 7 gal. Brew Bucket simultaneously. The Chronical and BB were ~65F ish and the Uni had a lager at 50F, no problems.

Normally I only have the Unitank and occasionally the Chronical simultaneously chilling, but I have had the Uni at 35F with the Chronical at 62F in a 70F room without frequent cycling of the chiller compressor. The 4+ gallon glycol reservoir is a good capacity and the unit doesn't strain to maintain the load. I use a 70:30 ratio which should allow you to set 24F on the tank, but I don't go lower than 26F. I've observed about 8F delta between glycol tank temperature and maximum obtainable fermenter temperature, using neoprene jackets and neoprene insulated glycol lines. Very satisfied with the output performance.

Brooo Brother
 
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Brooothru

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I was going to ask about that. So it is 4 gallon tank and you used a 70/30 ratio or is it closer to 5 gallons?
I think the total tank capacity is 4.8 U.S. gallons, but that would be all the way up to the rim of the tank. I leave enough room to allow for sloshing. I figure there's 4.2 total volume at "my" fill point. So, 1 gallon jug of glycol plus 3.2 gallons of distilled water gives me 70:30% water to glycol.

Brooo Brother
 

Bohern

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I think the total tank capacity is 4.8 U.S. gallons, but that would be all the way up to the rim of the tank. I leave enough room to allow for sloshing. I figure there's 4.2 total volume at "my" fill point. So, 1 gallon jug of glycol plus 3.2 gallons of distilled water gives me 70:30% water to glycol.

Brooo Brother
Thanks man!
 

Bohern

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I will say this after getting my 14 gal SS Unitank today, I am able reach to the bottom of the fermenter through the 6' port on top. So if CIP were to ever give me issues i don't see a reason I can't access it by hand if needed.
 
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I will say this after getting my 14 gal SS Unitank today, I am able reach to the bottom of the fermenter through the 6' port on top. So if CIP were to ever give me issues i don't see a reason I can't access it by hand if needed.
Let us know how many times it takes to get that 6” tri clamp lid to seal too! 😛

(a card carrying unitank I owner)
 

eric19312

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And even if your arm wasn't long enough, a short-handled brush would let you get the job done.
Nothing more abrasive than the soft side of a sponge touches inside of my unitank! I'll use a brush on the outside cause I am not showing it off but I want the mirror finish on inside to last.

Also it is not really about whether you can reach the entire tank but whether you can easily see the entire tank. I would imagine the hardest part to see on the brewtech tank would be the inside of the dome near the port. I guess you could inspect with a mirror but have never heard of anyone doing so. It is additionally a concern because the CIP balls don't do a great job of spraying up. The part hardest to see is the part most likely to be missed by CIP...
 

Bohern

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Nothing more abrasive than the soft side of a sponge touches inside of my unitank! I'll use a brush on the outside cause I am not showing it off but I want the mirror finish on inside to last.

Also it is not really about whether you can reach the entire tank but whether you can easily see the entire tank. I would imagine the hardest part to see on the brewtech tank would be the inside of the dome near the port. I guess you could inspect with a mirror but have never heard of anyone doing so. It is additionally a concern because the CIP balls don't do a great job of spraying up. The part hardest to see is the part most likely to be missed by CIP...
I am about to put it to the test, but I will report back my results.
 

Tom R

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I agree about taking pains to ensure the interior finish of the fermenter is preserved.

I have a very soft brush, similar shape to a bottle brush, that I use to clean the ports. If I didn't have this I would wrap a sponge around a handle.

After CIP I use a sponge to clean the shoulder of the fermenter, since I can't see it without a mirror, as mentioned. But in practice, even my 10 gallon batches never leave residue that high up.
 

Bohern

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I agree about taking pains to ensure the interior finish of the fermenter is preserved.

I have a very soft brush, similar shape to a bottle brush, that I use to clean the ports. If I didn't have this I would wrap a sponge around a handle.

After CIP I use a sponge to clean the shoulder of the fermenter, since I can't see it without a mirror, as mentioned. But in practice, even my 10 gallon batches never leave residue that high up.
Tom, what size unitank do you own and I am assuming it is the SS version or no?
 

Tom R

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I'm a bit of an interloper. :ghostly:

I have a 15 gal Brewers Hardware fermenter. It has an 8" TC opening on top, so has similar access/visibility concerns as the SS Brewtech Unitanks.
 

Bohern

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I'm a bit of an interloper. :ghostly:

I have a 15 gal Brewers Hardware fermenter. It has an 8" TC opening on top, so has similar access/visibility concerns as the SS Brewtech Unitanks.
I looked at those. But on the other note I do agree while one can't see the inside shoulder it is very reachable and should be easy to clean. How ever looking I my CIP ball closer and how it is going to ride I think it may hit the upper area as best I can tell.
 

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I have the ss brewtech uni tank I. The thing works great but it is hard to clean and put back together. There are a lot of parts and with it being the small home brew size they are all close together. The tri clamps have to be placed in the perfect spot to not block another tri clamp much cursing goes on when it is time to put it back together. I have seen some that look like they would not have this issue including spike.
 

Bohern

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I have the ss brewtech uni tank I. The thing works great but it is hard to clean and put back together. There are a lot of parts and with it being the small home brew size they are all close together. The tri clamps have to be placed in the perfect spot to not block another tri clamp much cursing goes on when it is time to put it back together. I have seen some that look like they would not have this issue including spike.
What size do you have and how do you go about cleaning it if I may ask please?
 

Beenym88

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I believe it’s 7 gallon. The way I do it is probably different then most and I plan on purchasing a cip ball. But right now I take the thing in my walk in shower spray it down then let it soak with about 4 gallons of pbw mixture and shake it. Then if there is any residue I get in there with a sponge. I drain about 2 gallons of the pbw in to a bucket and take everything apart and let that soak which you have to do their is always still yeast in those spots when I take it apart. Then rinse thoroughly. Let it dry and put it back together.
 

Bohern

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I believe it’s 7 gallon. The way I do it is probably different then most and I plan on purchasing a cip ball. But right now I take the thing in my walk in shower spray it down then let it soak with about 4 gallons of pbw mixture and shake it. Then if there is any residue I get in there with a sponge. I drain about 2 gallons of the pbw in to a bucket and take everything apart and let that soak which you have to do their is always still yeast in those spots when I take it apart. Then rinse thoroughly. Let it dry and put it back together.
My plan as of now is to use my Blichmann pump to run 160 deg PBW mixture through the spray ball and see how that works. Not sure if that pump can do the job or not though
 

Beenym88

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I think that would work and be the more normal way of doing it. I just haven’t gotten around to buying the cip ball. It gets really frustrating the amount of stuff you find out isn’t included with some of these purchases. You definitely have to take apart the try clamps and clean those pieces individually the Sparta won’t get in there.
 

eric19312

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I have the ss brewtech uni tank I. The thing works great but it is hard to clean and put back together. There are a lot of parts and with it being the small home brew size they are all close together. The tri clamps have to be placed in the perfect spot to not block another tri clamp much cursing goes on when it is time to put it back together. I have seen some that look like they would not have this issue including spike.
how many batches have you done in it so far? I felt the disassembly and reassembly was a lot of work at first too but now it just happens as part of the brew day.
 
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