Modern Conical Options?

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VikeMan

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I've been fermenting most of my batches in an ancient MoreBeer SS conical for (I think) over a decade. It's no longer made, and the replacement lid gaskets now being sold are a different material than the original and are quite finicky with regard to getting a good seal. And to top it off, the sample valve needs to be replaced, so I'm seriously thinking about moving on.

So... a question for anyone with extensive experience with modern homebrew sized conicals (for 5-ish gallon batches), what would you recommend? I've seen a lot of options, sometimes in action at other homebrewer's homes, but I don't really have much personal runtime with any of them.

Whatever I end up with, it has to do/have/support the following:
- Sample Valve
- Thermowell
- Spunded (vice airlock) Fermentations at 2-ish PSIG
- Closed Transfers
- Reliable Seal

Also, nice to haves:
- a tri-clamp connection on the lid to accept a hop dropper.
- Dump Valve

TIA for any insights into a conical(s) you've been using for a while. I'd also consider configurations other than conical that meet the "must haves" listed above.

(I have a modded Fermonster, which I use as a backup. But I'm looking for a SS or at least extremely rugged HDPE conical to replace the MoreBeer unit.)
 
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duncannon
I have a couple spike cf15s, obviously cf5 would be your size range. They would check all your boxes. I love mine, I have no complaints, the lid seals just fine and good up to 15psi. They have a 3 port lid with a 4th port in the middle for glycol coil. The only downfall to the 3 port lid is the port for dry hops is 1.5 inch and in my opinion it should be 2 inch, getting hop pellets in can be finicky but I've got a good process for it now. I also plan to get a 1.5 to 2 inch adapter and put a 2 inch butterfly on it to allow the hops to drop easier. I have eyed some other ones, more beer carries some by brew tools now that look pretty awesome and I think they are jacketed. But I have no experience with them.
 
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I haven't had any issue with the 2 I have. I think someone posted on the spike conical best practices thread about having an issue and I think they resolved it by spike sending them a new clamp for the lid. The gasket fits nice and snug in the lid so it doesnt fall out when putting the lid on. Also spikes customer service is fantastic, they really are a great company to deal with. I have pressure fermented to about 11psi and held that for quite some time with a dopplebock I did recently. No problem at all.
 

OakIslandBrewery

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I've had the Spike CF10 for several years now and LOVE it. Before going with Spike, I looked at all the others out there, but Spike seemed to have everything I wanted at a little cheaper price. Everything you noted you're looking for Spike has but so does most of the others out there.

The notable things I like with the CF10 is the large opening cover to clean the inside. I later purchased 4-port cover, replacing the 2-port. The 4 inch TC in the cover is great for adapters, I only have the clear cap on mine. Nice to see inside! The Spike sample valve I replaced with a mini ball valve and barb fitting. The one that came with it seemed to have too much travel on it for taking a small sample. I either had too much or not enough. The mini ball valve works much better and is a whole lot easier to clean. Others might disagree but this works for me.

The CF5, 10 and 15 are all the same except capacity and what can reach inside from the 4" top TC.
 
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VikeMan

VikeMan

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Hmm. I went to Spike's site to order a CF5 and there's a note that says "Due to high demand, please expect a 3-4 week lead time for the CF5." Which is fine. But on the size dropdown, "CF5" is greyed out and non-selectable. Maybe the note means they are not accepting any new orders for 3-4 weeks? Otherwise, I'm stumped. I submitted a support ticket, which is probably the wrong tool, but I couldn't find any general/sales inquiry option.
 

Tartan1

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I have a Brewers Hardware 8Gal jacketed conical. Maybe a bit pricier than others but what drew me to this fermenter was the 12" triclamp lid with multi port access points. Lots of room for easy cleanup, no coils to worry about. Also because of my small footprint basement brewery the big advantage was that with a 12" spool I can increase the capacity to a 12ish gallon fermenter if I want to do 10G batches. 1 fermenter 2 batch size option.
I fabricated a cooling coil on the exterior of a 12" triclamp spool and the whole unit acts as one 12ish gallon fermenter. There are manufacturers who produce jacketed 12" triclamp spools but I'm happy with my cheapo retrofit. Anyways very happy with the performance and with a few add on's it ticks the boxes you have indicated above. I posted a couple a photos of the setup a while ago can't remember the tread it was in, but at least gives you a visual as to what it looks like modded.
 
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VikeMan

VikeMan

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I have a Brewers Hardware 8Gal jacketed conical. Maybe a bit pricier than others but what drew me to this fermenter was the 12" triclamp lid with multi port access points. Lots of room for easy cleanup, no coils to worry about. Also because of my small footprint basement brewery the big advantage was that with a 12" spool I can increase the capacity to a 12ish gallon fermenter if I want to do 10G batches. 1 fermenter 2 batch size option.
I fabricated a cooling coil on the exterior of a 12" triclamp spool and the whole unit acts as one 12ish gallon fermenter. There are manufacturers who produce jacketed 12" triclamp spools but I'm happy with my cheapo retrofit. Anyways very happy with the performance and with a few add on's it ticks the boxes you have indicated above. I posted a couple a photos of the setup a while ago can't remember the tread it was in, but at least gives you a visual as to what it looks like modded.

Intersting item. Also out of stock. But, question for you, since you may already know this. This conical uses a 12" lid with a Tri-Clamp, which sounds great. There's also a $50 option to upgrade the clamp for pressure fermentations. What kind of non-upgrade Tri-clamp would break at any reasonable brewing fermentation pressure?
 

Tartan1

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Intersting item. Also out of stock. But, question for you, since you may already know this. This conical uses a 12" lid with a Tri-Clamp, which sounds great. There's also a $50 option to upgrade the clamp for pressure fermentations. What kind of non-upgrade Tri-clamp would break at any reasonable brewing fermentation pressure?
It's not so much the pressures we ferment will break the stock clamp it's the torque required to provide a perfect seal. For non pressure fermenting it was fine, but I found when fermenting under pressure using the stock single thumbscrew type clamp, it was sometimes difficult to get the perfect seal because the 2 halves of the clamp are being torqued at a single point. When I did my mod (12" spool) I ditched the stock 12" clamp and went with 2 pressure type clamps. Because there are 2 halves to the clamp the bolts on each half can be torqued equally on each side providing equal pressure on each half of the sealing area. I use a torque wrench for this and have never had an issue since using these clamps. This option was not available at the time I purchased mine but if I were ever to do it over again I wouldn't hesitate with the upgrade they offer.
 
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VikeMan

VikeMan

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I use a torque wrench for this and have never had an issue since using these clamps.

Is there a specific wrench and torque setting you recommend?
 

Tartan1

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Is there a specific wrench and torque setting you recommend?
I use a torque wrench with increments calibrated in inch lbs, and I torque to 70 inch lbs for a double bolt pressure clamp. Also I put some food grade anti seize paste on the threads to prevent scoring of the threads on the bolt and nut. If purchasing a torque wrench make sure it is inch lbs and not ft lbs for this application. My former job required torque specs on everything I worked on. If it moved it was torqued, and something I learned early on was to always return the wrench to zero when finished as this releases the pressure on the internal spring thus preserving the accuracy of the wrench.
 

YeastFeast

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Hmm. I went to Spike's site to order a CF5 and there's a note that says "Due to high demand, please expect a 3-4 week lead time for the CF5." Which is fine. But on the size dropdown, "CF5" is greyed out and non-selectable. Maybe the note means they are not accepting any new orders for 3-4 weeks? Otherwise, I'm stumped. I submitted a support ticket, which is probably the wrong tool, but I couldn't find any general/sales inquiry option.
Weird they don't let you put in the order and ship it when it's available?
I'm 2 brews in on my CF5 and love it. Holds pressure, easy to clean (I hand clean it in my sink), plenty of ports on the lid for everything I need (blow off, all-in-one PRV, dry hopper, clear cap so I can see inside). Some don't seem to like the sample valve, mine seems to work great (with and without pressure).
Good luck with your decision.

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I can't speak on spikes behalf but I know they just had an inventory sale to make room for new equipment in their warehouse so my guess would be that they are in the process of building new stuff and likely that's what cause the backlog of the cf5, in this case I usually set up to have them email me when it becomes available.
 

OakIslandBrewery

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Hmm. I went to Spike's site to order a CF5 and there's a note that says "Due to high demand, please expect a 3-4 week lead time for the CF5." Which is fine. But on the size dropdown, "CF5" is greyed out and non-selectable. Maybe the note means they are not accepting any new orders for 3-4 weeks? Otherwise, I'm stumped. I submitted a support ticket, which is probably the wrong tool, but I couldn't find any general/sales inquiry option.
If you are set on the Spike CF5 you could maybe see if it is in stock at BrewHardware (.com). Thet state that do stock some items, but some maybe be drop shipped from Spike. Worth a try to at least see if you could get the CF5 sooner.
 

matt_m

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A lot of people recommended CF-10s instead of 5s when I was shopping. That's how I went and have no complaints. I did bump my batch size up to 6 gallons. In a non-dry hopped beer I end up with some extra which can go into a growler or cans since I now cold crash and carbonate everything. A hoppy beer its really just about right to get a completely full keg with no transfer troubles.

I've had no trouble with the bands. I use some keg lube on the gaskets and tap around the perimeter of the band with a rubber mallet after its "snug" then tighten the rest of the way "very tight."
 

OakIslandBrewery

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I'd say most of the SS conicals out there are good, there's always pros and cons to each model. Batch size is whatever you are comfortable with and have the space to park your conical. The CF10 fits my needs just fine. I had a 15 gallon plastic conical I built, then sold before settling on Spike. A bigger expense but I sure love it and wished I had bought it sooner. Great investment and if I decide to sell it it'll have more value than other fermenting vessels.
 
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