Plastic fermentation vessel.. Bad long term idea?

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MountainBrothers

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Has anyone tried using something along these lines?:
http://www.plastic-mart.com/product/5814/30-gallon-cone-inductor-tank-fully-draining-infd30-24

They make them in all kinds of sizes, and I know fermentation in plastic is fine, but I was wondering how much use I will get out of this. It even lists beer fermentation tank in the uses. "Medium-density polyethylene with U.V. stabilizers and is designed for liquids with a specific gravity of up to 1.70." Obviously stainless steel is much better, but also 10x the price. I plan on starting some bigger (20-40 gallon) batches soon, and I was thinking, if nothing else, I could get a couple of these, and use them until I save up for SS. Thoughts?
 
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MountainBrothers

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This may be a beginner question (hense why I use forums), but why do you have two valves? From my understanding, the bottom one allows you to drain out the yeast, to clone, or whatever, and the top one allows you to rack without carrying any sediment over. If that is the case, would one valve, and a false bottom work in almost the same way (in an opposite way)? My thought was just to use the single valve, and use a false bottom, or a 12" filter tube attatched to the inside of the valve.
 

Doctor_M

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This may be a beginner question (hense why I use forums), but why do you have two valves? From my understanding, the bottom one allows you to drain out the yeast, to clone, or whatever, and the top one allows you to rack without carrying any sediment over. If that is the case, would one valve, and a false bottom work in almost the same way (in an opposite way)? My thought was just to use the single valve, and use a false bottom, or a 12" filter tube attatched to the inside of the valve.
Which valve are you talking about eliminating? You could eliminate either the bottom valve or racking valve but both have separate advantages.

What function does the false bottom have?
 
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MountainBrothers

MountainBrothers

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My thoughts on the false bottom would be to rack without sucking up sediment. Am I correct in this thinking? Eventually, I will want to save and clean yeast, to reuse, but for right now, I am not ready for that. What would be the advantage to having both of these valves? If I simply wanted to use this as a primary fermenter, and eliminate sediment in racking, can I get away with only one valve? Another thing, if I use both of these valves, can I use the bottom one to clean out the dead sediment, and basically start secondary fermentation without racking to another vessel? Or would I use the racking valve to rack to secondary, and the bottom for easy dead yeast cleaning? All I have done is the simple carboy method, so I siphon to secondary, and leave the sediment behind.
 

eastoak

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My thoughts on the false bottom would be to rack without sucking up sediment. Am I correct in this thinking? Eventually, I will want to save and clean yeast, to reuse, but for right now, I am not ready for that. What would be the advantage to having both of these valves? If I simply wanted to use this as a primary fermenter, and eliminate sediment in racking, can I get away with only one valve? Another thing, if I use both of these valves, can I use the bottom one to clean out the dead sediment, and basically start secondary fermentation without racking to another vessel? Or would I use the racking valve to rack to secondary, and the bottom for easy dead yeast cleaning? All I have done is the simple carboy method, so I siphon to secondary, and leave the sediment behind.

unless you do not have access to refrigeration and a clean jar you can save and reuse yeast right now. just scoop it into a clean, sanitized jar, seal and refrigerate.
 
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MountainBrothers

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And then just use it in that state? Again, I have not done any research about this, because I thought it was a bit more detailed, but I can just use the (now mushy) yeast from the previous batch?
 

eastoak

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And then just use it in that state? Again, I have not done any research about this, because I thought it was a bit more detailed, but I can just use the (now mushy) yeast from the previous batch?
yes, you can use it right away or you can save it in a jar for later use. use the same sanitary practices when harvesting the yeast from the fermentor that you used in brewing the beer, very important.
 
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MountainBrothers

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Which valve are you talking about eliminating? You could eliminate either the bottom valve or racking valve but both have separate advantages.

What function does the false bottom have?
Back to the original topic, what are the advantages of having both valves?
 

Doongie

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Back to the original topic, what are the advantages of having both valves?

The bottom one is for removing yeast, the top one is for racking clear beer.

Your idea of using a false bottom may do what you want it to do, I can't really understand what you want it for. The yeast will settle to the bottom naturally, there is no reason for a separation between clear beer and yeast cake (unlike the NEED in a mash tun where you want to keep grain husks away from the valve). It is mostly for final clean up, but also, by draining yeast through the bottom valve you can harvest it for later use, and make sure it does not accumulate above the racking arm. In fact, if you put a false bottom in there, I think you would only be providing a surface for the yeast to settle on, negating the value of the bottom valve, and possibly allowing yeast to accumulate deeper than the racking arm, as well as providing a space below it for additional clear beer that is not accessible by the racking arm.

Just my 2 cents.
 
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MountainBrothers

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The bottom one is for removing yeast, the top one is for racking clear beer.

Your idea of using a false bottom may do what you want it to do, I can't really understand what you want it for. The yeast will settle to the bottom naturally, there is no reason for a separation between clear beer and yeast cake (unlike the NEED in a mash tun where you want to keep grain husks away from the valve). It is mostly for final clean up, but also, by draining yeast through the bottom valve you can harvest it for later use, and make sure it does not accumulate above the racking arm. In fact, if you put a false bottom in there, I think you would only be providing a surface for the yeast to settle on, negating the value of the bottom valve, and possibly allowing yeast to accumulate deeper than the racking arm, as well as providing a space below it for additional clear beer that is not accessible by the racking arm.

Just my 2 cents.
What I had invisioned for the false bottom was to have that as a way to stop the yeast from settling on the bottom, and essentially using the very bottom valve as the racking valve. That way, I figured I could get every drop out of it, and just scoop out the sediment. This idea of two valves seems easier in the long run, because, like you said, I can harvest the yeast, and I think it would make clean up easier as I would not have to scoop. Assuming I go with the two valves, how high should I mount the racking arm so I can utilize as much clear beer as possible? I guess you would have to take into consideration the grade of the cone, The amount of beer that will be fermenting. Would it be worth putting a filter on the end of the inside part of the racking valve, to assure I leave as much yeast behind as possible?
 

kombat

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What I had invisioned for the false bottom was to have that as a way to stop the yeast from settling on the bottom
That won't work. Yeast are microscopic. They'll just float right through any false bottom. You don't need a false bottom, you need a filter. And it would clog almost immediately.
 
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MountainBrothers

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Alright, then what about the other part of the question? How high would I mount the racking valve?
 

kombat

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I can't help you there, I have no experience with conicals. But that's why the racking arm is typically rotatable. You start siphoning into a waste bucket with the racking arm fully down, and you'll pull out some yeast and trub. You rotate it upwards until it flows clear. Then you continue racking into your next vessel.
 

masonsjax

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The nice thing about a conical with two valves is it gives you many options. If you want to reuse the yeast right away, just keg the clear beer using the upper valve leaving the yeast behind and put your new wort right on top. If you want to save yeast for later, hold a jar underneath and open the lower valve. Cleaning the tank entirely is easy with a bucket and an open lower valve. Want a quick sample? Pull one from the upper valve. Use it as a bright tank by dropping all the yeast from the bottom valve.
 
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MountainBrothers

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Thank you guys for the info. I will get to work on construction. Another thing - a friend of mine (another beginner homebrewer) were discussing what was the value to racking to secondary as opposed to cleaning out all the yeast that has come to rest, and just starting secondary in the same vessel? Could someone fill me in on why it is sometimes necessary to rack to secondary? Would cleaning out the rested yeast, and just considering that secondary fermentation work? The reason for my concern is that if I can get away with only using 2 fermenters for 2 different batches, I would not have to purchase (or find) extra equipment. My hope is to have 2 larger batches going at once, with 2 fermenters total, and keep my smaller carboys for experimental use.
 

kombat

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Unless you're brewing on a commercial scale (1bbl+ fermenters), there is no rush to get the beer away from the yeast.

At the homebrew scale, autolysis is not a real threat unless you're leaving the beer on the yeast for several months.

In addition, racking to secondary does not improve clarity. If anything, it impedes it. Think about it. Sitting on a yeast cake does not cause the beer to clear more slowly. Particles will fall out of solution at the same rate, whether they'd landing on glass, or dormant yeast cells. After fermentation has finished and the beer stops swirling, particulates begin to slowly sink to the bottom of the carboy. Thus, the top of the beer will clear faster than the bottom. Say after a few days, the top of the beer is pretty clear, while the bottom is still a little cloudy as the particles that were at the top continue to make their way to the bottom.

If you then rack that beer to secondary, you're re-mixing those bottom-most particles back into even distribution in the beer. There will be some at the top, where they must start all over again, sinking to the bottom.

Thus, getting the beer off the yeast to prevent off-flavours or improve clarity are outdated myths.

Now, there are some valid reasons for using a secondary vessel. But off-flavours and clarity are not amongst them. The only reasons I know of are:


  • You have a limited number of primary fermenters and need to free one up
  • You wish to re-use the yeast before the beer has finished conditioning
  • You are dry-hopping or adding fruit and want to maximize surface area contact (versus some of the additions sinking into the yeast and not imparting their full flavor)
  • You are dry-hopping or adding fruit and wish to re-use the yeast, so you want to rack the beer off the yeast before adding the hops/fruit so the yeast isn't contaminated by the additives.
 
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MountainBrothers

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Now, there are some valid reasons for using a secondary vessel. But off-flavours and clarity are not amongst them. The only reasons I know of are:


  • You have a limited number of primary fermenters and need to free one up
  • You wish to re-use the yeast before the beer has finished conditioning
  • You are dry-hopping or adding fruit and want to maximize surface area contact (versus some of the additions sinking into the yeast and not imparting their full flavor)
  • You are dry-hopping or adding fruit and wish to re-use the yeast, so you want to rack the beer off the yeast before adding the hops/fruit so the yeast isn't contaminated by the additives.
So, if I understand correctly, unless I am adding something, or want to reuse the yeast, leaving it in primary for the extra 2 weeks or so is not going to hurt anything? I think, regardless, I would want two of these larger conical fermenters - one for primary and one for secondary. I could get a batch through every couple weeks, depending on what I was doing, and what length of fermentation was required, and I could keep everything flowing just fine. Of course, there is always room for upgrades in the future.

Or - If I just use one fermenter per batch, dump the yeast at the end of primary, and slowly swirl the beer around, to get it evenly mixed again, would that essentially be doing the same thing? This is out of curiosity, as I think the first option would be the best all around option.
 

SavoryChef

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So, if I understand correctly, unless I am adding something, or want to reuse the yeast, leaving it in primary for the extra 2 weeks or so is not going to hurt anything? I think, regardless, I would want two of these larger conical fermenters - one for primary and one for secondary. I could get a batch through every couple weeks, depending on what I was doing, and what length of fermentation was required, and I could keep everything flowing just fine. Of course, there is always room for upgrades in the future.

Or - If I just use one fermenter per batch, dump the yeast at the end of primary, and slowly swirl the beer around, to get it evenly mixed again, would that essentially be doing the same thing? This is out of curiosity, as I think the first option would be the best all around option.
It looks like your very confused. Using conicals to ferment in is nothing like buckets or carboys. Forget that knowledge for this, there is no "secondary fermentation".
This is what I do:
Pump cooled 68 degree wort into conical.
Dump trub in an hour.
Add yeast catcher.
Pitch yeast.
Wait until fermentation has been completed and no diacetyl.
Pull off yeast catcher and save yeast.
Turn freezer down to 33 degrees to cold crash.
Dump more yeast over the next few days.
Keg clear beer out of racking port.

Go here for more questions https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/super-simple-15g-plastic-conical-276378/
 
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MountainBrothers

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lol I guess I was pretty confused, but the fun for me, is learning all these new methods. This seems to be a lot easier than I thought it was going to be. Thanks again for the help.
 

johngaltsmotor

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As for the height of the upper valve: that's the beauty of 2 valves. If the yeast starts to get high enough that opening the upper valve would stir up yeast in your clear beer, simply crack the bottom valve a little. As you pull out yeast the upper yeast surface will drop below your valve. You can adjust each batch to minimize loss.

Just figure the volume of typical trub and how much of the cone that would occupy. So a 16" bucket with 1" of yeast/trub after fermentation = (16"/2)^2*3.14*1" = ~200 cubic inches. Volume of a cone is 1/3*3.14*radius^2*height so you can determine how much of the cone will be full of yeast.
 
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MountainBrothers

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I would just like to point out how nice everyone this forum has been so far. Being a newbie, I have a lot of questions, and am very curious and excited about bettering my brewing, and everyone has answered my questions without making me feel like an idiot.

That being said.. back to the cold crash - Do you cold crash for certain lengths of time or to certain temperatures depending on the type of beer? What is the major benefit of cold crashing? Would you avoid cold crashing if you used some off centered ingredients?
 

kombat

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Do you cold crash for certain lengths of time or to certain temperatures depending on the type of beer?
Chill to just above freezing for several days, regardless of the type of beer. For improved clarity, administer gelatin (Google for the procedure or ask here if you can't find it) after the beer has been chilled (a day or so into cold-crashing).

What is the major benefit of cold crashing?
Beer clarity.

Would you avoid cold crashing if you used some off centered ingredients?
No, but I sometimes skip it if I'm in a hurry and brewing a dark beer (stout) where the clarity won't be appreciated.
 

Doctor_M

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Chill to just above freezing for several days, regardless of the type of beer. For improved clarity, administer gelatin (Google for the procedure or ask here if you can't find it) after the beer has been chilled (a day or so into cold-crashing).



Beer clarity.



No, but I sometimes skip it if I'm in a hurry and brewing a dark beer (stout) where the clarity won't be appreciated.
This is correct. If you decide to use gelatin (I do almost always) the reason why you chill the beer for a day or two before adding the gelatin is to cause haze forming proteins to activate. The gelatin causes the proteins to clump and become heavy so they will fall out of suspension.

It is good practice to do this even for dark beers where clarity may not be a concern as suspended yeast and proteins give off a certain taste in beer. Even though you may not see them you still may be able to taste them.
 
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