Quantcast

Review: SSBrewTech Chronical 7Gal Fermenter

HomeBrewTalk.com - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Community.

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

nickmv

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2010
Messages
780
Reaction score
70
Location
Memphis
I posted this in the review section, but I know it'll get quite a few more looks here. I'm trying to figure out how to get it featured on the front page, as I know it's something people will want to see.

The Chronical (TM)
7 Gallon Conical Fermenter
SS Brew Tech


Intro:
I thought it might be good to get a fresh review of one of these Chronical fermenters up, as I haven't seen any real in-depth versions as of late. SS Brew Tech has a lineup of 3 main products -- the 7 gal Brew Bucket (not a true conical), and the Chronical Series, which is comprised of a 7 gallon and 17-gallon (half barrel) model. This particular review is for the 7 gallon model. I'm going to try to break it down into different sections here.




Packaging:
The product, as with all SS Brew Tech items, comes very well packaged. The fermenter is packed tightly into the box, and the valves are already attached (though reversed and in the "wrong" location in order to prevent any possible damage). They did a great job here, but there's not much else to say in that regard. The box is of course pretty tall, as the fermenter itself is tall.


Build Quality:
As with the brew bucket, the Chronical is 304 Stainless Steel, and is very well made. Given the amount of work it takes to put together one of these beasts, the quality of the end-product is impressive. The entire fermenter is well buffed and polished, and there are no rough surfaces. Note that there are a few very small dimples on the inside of the bucket from the welding points where the legs and handles are attached. This is normal, and something that I noticed on my Brew Bucket as well. They do a good job of polishing and buffing these dimples til they are smooth, so there are no worries about rough surfaces.




The same goes for the conical portion. It is well polished,and aside from a few minor "machining" scratches on the outside of the fermenter, the cone itself is very sturdy, smooth, and polished.




Finally, in comparison to the Brew Bucket, the Chronical is definitely a good bit taller. But this is to be expected, as it is a true conical and has to accommodate valves at the very bottom.





Fittings/Accessories:
The Chronical series, unlike the Brew Bucket, takes advantage of the commercially-used tri-clover fittings. There are three 1.5" tri-clover ports on the unit -- 1 on the lid, 1 on the upper portion of the cone (for racking the beer off), and the 3rd one on the very bottom (for yeast dumps,etc). This was a great move on their part to support and include these fittings, and is something that I would expect to come with a true conical fermenter.




Because of the choice to go with tri-clover, the possibilities are
endless when it comes to accessories and fittings. For example, I use a 1.5" tri-clover-to 3/4" male barbed adapter with a 90 degree angle for the lid of the fermenter. This allows me to easily rig a blowoff tube to the unit. Additionally, as stated on the website, this fermenter supports up to 5psi for keg transfers. This of course is achieved through other tri-clover fittings that allow a gas line to be rigged up to it.





Other various accessories can be fitted, however the main one that SS
Brew Tech offers is a digital thermometer that can be mounted in the welded thermowell. There's not much to write about here -- it does it job well, and is simple in its function -- measuring the temperature of your beer/wort.


Utility:
There's not a lot to say here, because obviously it serves its purpose as a fermenter --- I don't need to tell you that. However, it's interesting to note that its size allows for placement a variety of chest freezers. I personally own a 7cu-ft GE brand chest freezer, and the fermenter easily slides in, however is a tad bit too tall. My next project will be to add a collar to the freezer, so that I can use it to control the fermentation temperatures in the Chronical.


It's also worth noting that the handles on the unit will easily accommodate the weight of a full batch, so there's no worries there. And finally, it of course comes with a pre-welded thermowell, so that you can measure and control the temperature of your fermenting wort with ease. This is one of my favorite features.



Complaints/Cons:
I don't have very many complaints at all, and they're all very minor. First off, there were a few machining scratches on the outside of the cone portion. While it would be nice to not have any scratches, it's inevitable with brewing hardware. Not to mention, it'll likely get scratched anyways. My only other complaint would be a lack of accessories at this time for the product. It does not come with any choice of barbed fittings for the valves, and there is no airlock or blowoff assembly included. You of course will have to order these separately, however this was very clear from the start, and certainly wasn't surprising to me.



Overall Impression:
I am quite impressed with the Chronical 7gal fermenter, and am very excited about its use in the future, as well as the future of SS BrewTech. They make some great products at incredibly low prices, and are shaking up the homebrewing industry a good bit. I expect this to quickly become my go-to fermenter, and am quite excited about being able to capture yeast with the bottom valve, and it truly feels like a commercial-grade product. I can't wait to see what SS Brew Tech will come up with next.




Note: Pug for scale :)
 

jaba

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 7, 2009
Messages
123
Reaction score
3
Location
Michigan
Looks pretty nice. Seems like a waste to put ball valves on it though. With the amount of money spent on one of these, might as well get some butterfly valves (~$47 each from Brewers Hardware) to make it completely sanitary and easy to clean. Would also make it much easier to add barbs and anything else you might want to for transferring etc
 
OP
N

nickmv

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2010
Messages
780
Reaction score
70
Location
Memphis
Looks pretty nice. Seems like a waste to put ball valves on it though. With the amount of money spent on one of these, might as well get some butterfly valves (~$47 each from Brewers Hardware) to make it completely sanitary and easy to clean. Would also make it much easier to add barbs and anything else you might want to for transferring etc
You just added $94 there, and likely $50 to the actual product price. Keep in mind the price point here. Thing is, what is the butterfly valve going to offer that the ball valve cannot, in terms of racking beer or dumping yeast? Mainly just easier cleaning ability.

I could see the point in adding one for the bottom valve, but it's an increased cost, and part of SS Brew Tech's mission is to undercut competitors and make quality products. In that regard, they've succeeded, and butterfly valves aren't needed.

Funny -- you're the 2nd person to mention that. I may eventually go back and add one to the bottom valve at some point. Another option would be for them to allow you to configure it yourself, or better yet, let you order the thing without any valves. You buy the fermenter, then purchase your own tri-clamps, fittings, valves, and gaskets.
 

Einberger1

Junior Member
Joined
Dec 18, 2011
Messages
94
Reaction score
35
Location
Windsor
Thank you for this write up. I was able to order one if these in the February sale but due to currently being in the process of moving, it is sitting over 1,000 miles away.

I am very excited to get moved, unpack, and christen it!

What are your thoughts on it in comparison to the Brew Bucket? Worth getting one of each or better off saving up for 2 Chronicals?


Sent from my iPhone using Home Brew
 
OP
N

nickmv

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2010
Messages
780
Reaction score
70
Location
Memphis
What are your thoughts on it in comparison to the Brew Bucket? Worth getting one of each or better off saving up for 2 Chronicals?
Ah jeez, that's a hell of a tough question. I definitely enjoy the Brew Bucket, so it's really hard to say. If their prices were radically different, I'd say the Bucket would be worth it, but seeing as the Chronical is less than $200 more, it's hard to argue with getting a second one.
 

Einberger1

Junior Member
Joined
Dec 18, 2011
Messages
94
Reaction score
35
Location
Windsor
Hey, all of the important questions in life are tough ones!


Sent from my iPhone using Home Brew
 

kcmobrewer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 29, 2013
Messages
678
Reaction score
90
Location
Kansas City
My big question is, can you do something about that hole in the front or do you have to buy the thermometer?

I also agree about buying it without any fittings, or customizing it from ss brew tech. If I could buy it without any fittings I'd buy one as soon as I could.
 
OP
N

nickmv

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2010
Messages
780
Reaction score
70
Location
Memphis
My big question is, can you do something about that hole in the front or do you have to buy the thermometer?

I also agree about buying it without any fittings, or customizing it from ss brew tech. If I could buy it without any fittings I'd buy one as soon as I could.
Yes, it's a thermowell, so the best use is for a temperature controller. I have a freezer with an STC-1000 (flashed with alphaomega's custom firmware), so I simply slide the probe into the thermowell, and it measures and controls the fermentation temperature.

As I mentioned in the review, it's one of the best features, as I always want a thermowell. I actually drilled a hole through the lid of my Brew Bucket and mounted a grommet, so that I can have a thermowell running down into the beer. So having this already done is to my advantage.
 

kcmobrewer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 29, 2013
Messages
678
Reaction score
90
Location
Kansas City
Oh ok, sorry I'm not too familiar with the concept. Looking to make a first time conical purchase. When you put the probe in does it just seal it up or do you have to put something on it to seal the hole?
 
OP
N

nickmv

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2010
Messages
780
Reaction score
70
Location
Memphis
Oh ok, sorry I'm not too familiar with the concept. Looking to make a first time conical purchase. When you put the probe in does it just seal it up or do you have to put something on it to seal the hole?
Generally, no, you don't need to seal the hole, however it depends on the size of the probe. It's easy enough to just put some tape over it to make sure no cold air gets in, but I doubt it'd be a problem, given it's small size.

I know for the thermometer that SSBT sells, that it covers up the hole. Either way, it's easy enough to take care of. Tape or even some toilet paper or paper towel rolled up into the shape of a plug. I honestly don't think it's even necessary though.
 

FastDogBrewing

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 15, 2009
Messages
49
Reaction score
3
Location
SoCal
Oh ok, sorry I'm not too familiar with the concept. Looking to make a first time conical purchase. When you put the probe in does it just seal it up or do you have to put something on it to seal the hole?
This may be a bit of confusion, it is not a hole, it is a thermowell. If you do not put anything in the thermowell, it does not let liquid out since it is completely sealed.
 
OP
N

nickmv

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2010
Messages
780
Reaction score
70
Location
Memphis
This may be a bit of confusion, it is not a hole, it is a thermowell. If you do not put anything in the thermowell, it does not let liquid out since it is completely sealed.
Good call, I think you may be correct in that he may have thought that it was a hole.

It's a tube that's sealed on one end, and allows temperature probes to be inserted so that beer temp can be measured.
 

kcmobrewer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 29, 2013
Messages
678
Reaction score
90
Location
Kansas City
Ahhh ok yeah I did think it was a hole lol. I feel kinda dumb but thanks for the clarification


Sent from my iPhone using Home Brew
 

Hopphead

Active Member
Joined
Apr 19, 2014
Messages
36
Reaction score
8
Location
East Millcreek, Utah
Good job on the review! It did ruin my day however. I thought I had done all the research I could and pulled the trigger on Brewers Hardware 15gal for $1006.28 shipped. Their site says on back order till 4/15 so I waited till then and called. Curtis @ BH told me that they are only getting 6 in, 2 are sold, ETA early May so I paid for mine. This 17gal SSBrewtech looks really nice and the price is a steal. $595.00 + free shipping late May?!? LOL I can buy plenty of butterfly valves for $400.00.
 
Joined
Dec 16, 2010
Messages
18
Reaction score
3
Location
San Diego
Maybe I missed it but what pressure are these rated to? Can I carbonate in one? And are the seals available on McMaster Carr? Will the ball valve allow for CIP or will I have to take it apart anyway?
 

FastDogBrewing

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 15, 2009
Messages
49
Reaction score
3
Location
SoCal
Maybe I missed it but what pressure are these rated to? Can I carbonate in one? And are the seals available on McMaster Carr? Will the ball valve allow for CIP or will I have to take it apart anyway?

5 psi rated


Sent from my iPhone using Home Brew
 
OP
N

nickmv

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2010
Messages
780
Reaction score
70
Location
Memphis
Maybe I missed it but what pressure are these rated to? Can I carbonate in one? And are the seals available on McMaster Carr? Will the ball valve allow for CIP or will I have to take it apart anyway?
1. Rated to 5psi

2. Since only rated to 5psi, no you can't really carb, unless you like your beers at 5psi :D

3. Which seals are you referring to? If you're referring to the tri-clover seals, you're going to have a better time finding that equipment at brewershardware.com. They have a great selection of professional tri-clamp equipment.

4. Ball valve is your standard 3-piece ball valve. I'm not sure what CIP protocol is on those, but it's no different than any other 3 piece ball valve that you can take apart.


In terms of the valves, I think Im going to replace them eventually with butterfly valves, in order to make things a lot easier.
 

Jps101

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2012
Messages
90
Reaction score
5
Location
Los Angeles
Well written review. While the cost is a bit more than the brew buckets, I do like the idea of dumping trub and harvesting yeast and this is an advantage over the brew bucket.

Thanks
 

CanadianBacon

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 25, 2014
Messages
158
Reaction score
5
Location
Canada
Ahh! I knew if I searched this I would find it here, I been looking everywhere for info.

So you can dump the trub with this from primary and leave it also in for secondary correct? This caught my eye on a web site and as soon as I started reading I was ready to hand over my credit card until I noticed it was out of stock! On a website i see them connecting a tube from the top that goes down off the frame? any idea what that's for? I understand you need to be very cautious with these conicals because it kills your yeast and you need the check it frequently.
 

billy_beer

New Member
Joined
Sep 9, 2014
Messages
1
Reaction score
0
i believe the tube you are referring to is the blow off. they are using a bucket instead of a bubbler airlock to blow off the CO2 during fermentation. that's the large batch brewing approach as bubbler airlocks are limited to relatively small CO2 rates from smaller fermentations.
 

WaltStarr

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 28, 2010
Messages
147
Reaction score
115
Location
Cheyenne
Quick question, do you use a heat transfer grease compound in the thermowell to insure accurate temperature gathering? Thanks in advance. I'm amazed at how well they've cut the costs of conicals.
 
OP
N

nickmv

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2010
Messages
780
Reaction score
70
Location
Memphis
I'm confused. Why would a conical "kill" yeast?


Sent from my iPhone using Home Brew
I dunno where the heck that's coming from. It's nonsense. If that were true, then they need to send a memo to every last brewery in America, because TONS of breweries harvest their yeast for re-use, and the overwhelming majority use conical fermenters.
 
OP
N

nickmv

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2010
Messages
780
Reaction score
70
Location
Memphis
Quick question, do you use a heat transfer grease compound in the thermowell to insure accurate temperature gathering? Thanks in advance. I'm amazed at how well they've cut the costs of conicals.
Nope, never done that. I don't honestly think it's necessay, but there's certainly nothing stopping you from it.

My probe fits relatively snug in the thermowell, so I think it gets pretty damn good coverage.
 

Maxedout

Member
Joined
Aug 30, 2014
Messages
15
Reaction score
0
This is a great review! I have been looking to buy 2 conicals, and have been looking at lots of places, these seemed to be the best looking to my taste, and a great price. Looks like I will be buying 2 as so as I get my ATV sold! I really hope SS Brewtech can keep up with the demand.
 
OP
N

nickmv

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2010
Messages
780
Reaction score
70
Location
Memphis
Quick tip, and I dont't think this is really specific to this model --- I think it's for most conical fermenters: Do NOT cold crash or let the beer sit for a month before harvesting yeast out of the dump valve.

If you cold crash, the whole thing will become a giant brick of yeast and trub, and you'll never get it to drain out. You can have the valve wide open and it ain't comin out.

If you let it sit there for a month, it compacts the yeast and trub cake down, and the same thing pretty much happens, though not as bad -- still enough to make it not worth it.


So if you're gonna harvest your yeast, try to do it within a week of fermentation.
 

dmcman73

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2013
Messages
936
Reaction score
183
I just got my 7 Gallon Chronical in today. It was well packaged and the thing is pretty impressive. This is my first one, I've used carboy's previously. The SS used is nice and not flimsy, everything seems very well made.

Right now I just filled it with tap water and I'm going to let it sit for a week or so for a few reasons. 1) to do a leak test and two, to see where the temperature will settle out at in my basement. I know that fermenting yeast will make it warmer but, at least I can get a rough idea.

I also ordered their temperature controller the other day, I was lucky to snag one before they sold out of them within 15 minutes of putting them on their website.
 

Yetiman

Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2011
Messages
5
Reaction score
0
Location
Cincinnati
For those that have dumped trub/yeast, do you have a barb in the 3/4 outlet or are you dumping across the treads?

Also, if you're using a pump to move wort to the fermenter, are you pushing it through the upper/1/2 outlet racking arm? That is what I was planning on doing (via quick disconnects).

I just got 2 of them and am very pleased. Temp controls are on the way!
 

j1n

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 26, 2014
Messages
2,151
Reaction score
1,029
Location
Northern
I'm confused. Why would a conical "kill" yeast?


Sent from my iPhone using Home Brew
He's confused. Conical Fermentors don't kill yeast. Big breweries that make very large volumes of beer get the beer off the yeast asap cause the amount of pressure being produced by that much liquid will kill the yeast and cause autolysis.

On a HB scale that's impossible. Also this one of the main reasons people used to always do a secondary. Now that we understand this, we know there isnt a need to do a secondary, at least for the purposes mentioned.
 

dmcman73

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2013
Messages
936
Reaction score
183
I installed a 3/4" barb in the dump valve but haven't used the conical yet, figured it would be cleaner than the trub just coming out over the threads.

I was thinking of pumping thd wort through the 1/2 valve but then again, I just got a pail strainer I want to try to minimize the amount of trub getting into the fermenter.
 

j1n

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 26, 2014
Messages
2,151
Reaction score
1,029
Location
Northern
How hard is it to clean and whats your cleaning process?

Wouldn't it be a pain to lift in and out of a chest freezer?
 

ibbrewing2

Member
Joined
Dec 14, 2013
Messages
15
Reaction score
0
I have the 7gal conical and am on my second batch in it ATM. I am very impressed with it's performence and IMHO my beer tastes better because of it, of course I'm sure it's just my imagination. Anyway, I'm looking at a solid CIP procedure and am wondering about using a spray ball affixed to the blow off hole in the lid (1.5"dia) but looking through brewershardware.com it appears that the 1" spray ball is not a reverse triclamp connection meaning it won't seat with the spray ball positioned inside the conical. Ok I know thats a confusing way to write it but hopefully everyone understands what I mean. If anyone has insight on this please let me know. :mug:
 

dmcman73

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2013
Messages
936
Reaction score
183
I have the 7gal conical and am on my second batch in it ATM. I am very impressed with it's performence and IMHO my beer tastes better because of it, of course I'm sure it's just my imagination. Anyway, I'm looking at a solid CIP procedure and am wondering about using a spray ball affixed to the blow off hole in the lid (1.5"dia) but looking through brewershardware.com it appears that the 1" spray ball is not a reverse triclamp connection meaning it won't seat with the spray ball positioned inside the conical. Ok I know thats a confusing way to write it but hopefully everyone understands what I mean. If anyone has insight on this please let me know. :mug:
Why would you need a CIP? The whole top comes off for easy cleaning. A CIP is perfect for those conicals that don't have a removable lid... Just my .02
 

pvpeacock

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 20, 2013
Messages
1,591
Reaction score
896
Location
Palos Verdes Estates
FYI, Stout Tanks & Kettles has food grade 1 1/2" tri-clamp ball valves for a decent price with no threads. These ball valves are easier to take apart and clean than those that come with the SS conical. I originally bought a Stout 7 gallon conical, but had no ability to control the temperatures. While the Stout valves are better than the SS ones, I much prefer the SS for a few reasons: the 90 degree elbow at the dump valve, the welded legs, the carrying handles, the lid latches and, most importantly, the temperature control option. I actually think the SS temperature controller might work on my Stout conical (it looks like its the same size. My only question is whether the lid will seal or not. I'll have to give it try once my current batch of Zombie Dust Clone finishes fermenting in the SS Conical.
 

pvpeacock

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 20, 2013
Messages
1,591
Reaction score
896
Location
Palos Verdes Estates
Okay, I am going to say it, my SS Conical and temperature controller are boring. Every time I go out to my garage the temperature is right where I set it: 60 degrees. I have yet to even see the pump turn on. The only action I see is the airlock bubbling. All kidding aside, this thing works great. Set and forget (other than swapping out frozen water bottles in the cooler 2x per day). It works so well, I just bought another one.
 

Yetiman

Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2011
Messages
5
Reaction score
0
Location
Cincinnati
Just unpacked and cleaned my third 7 gall Chronical. I have the temp control for each of them.

It's getting really cold now where I live - high teens over night and 30's during the day (F). I keep them in my unheated garage where it gets down to mid 30's overnight.

I'm using electric heatpads tucked into the neoprene insulation suit/jacket/sleve. The heatpads are slightly too big and was wondering if anyone is aware of smaller yet efficient heat pads that will allow you to keep it warm when cold.
 

dmcman73

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2013
Messages
936
Reaction score
183
Just unpacked and cleaned my third 7 gall Chronical. I have the temp control for each of them.

It's getting really cold now where I live - high teens over night and 30's during the day (F). I keep them in my unheated garage where it gets down to mid 30's overnight.

I'm using electric heatpads tucked into the neoprene insulation suit/jacket/sleve. The heatpads are slightly too big and was wondering if anyone is aware of smaller yet efficient heat pads that will allow you to keep it warm when cold.
Why not use the FTS temp controller you bought with the chonical? Instead of ice in the water tank, throw a fish tank heater in there to keep the water warm. The FTS not just a cooler but also to warm. Here are the instructions for the controller, look under the Advanced Controller settings to see how to put it into heating mode: http://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0239/5187/t/10/assets/FTSs_quick_ref.pdf?5126

You have the tools, may as well use them.
 

ibbrewing2

Member
Joined
Dec 14, 2013
Messages
15
Reaction score
0
Why would you need a CIP? The whole top comes off for easy cleaning. A CIP is perfect for those conicals that don't have a removable lid... Just my .02

Very true and you're correct in that I don't need to CIP. My reason for wanting to utilize a CIP procedure is simply ease of cleaning and dialing in the mechanics of it. Easy enough to pop off the lid and pour in some cleaning solution, but that's not as fun as having a sweet CIP that I just hook up and run while I focus on other brewing endeavors. Either way cleaning this conical has been a breeze, I just wanted to hear of any genius was others have come up with for a CIP system.
 

MPEbeling

Active Member
Joined
Apr 18, 2012
Messages
31
Reaction score
1
Location
Rocky River
Just unpacked and cleaned my third 7 gall Chronical. I have the temp control for each of them.

It's getting really cold now where I live - high teens over night and 30's during the day (F). I keep them in my unheated garage where it gets down to mid 30's overnight.

I'm using electric heatpads tucked into the neoprene insulation suit/jacket/sleve. The heatpads are slightly too big and was wondering if anyone is aware of smaller yet efficient heat pads that will allow you to keep it warm when cold.
Are you talking about the FTS temp control unit you can purchase? I am thinking about getting a 14 g and waiting until the spring when the release the temp control unit for that. It sounds like you are not using their set up...am I right? If not what are you doing something different? Is there a flaw with the temp control unit they are selling?

Also is there any reason to get the half bbl conical over the 14 gal? I cant fill it yet, but I may be able to grow into it someday.

This is my first conical (using plastic buckets now)...what are all the accessories I will need to buy to transfer the wort to it, monitor the temp, regulate teh temp (I am assuming the FTS temp control takes care of this), pressurize it and anything else special I will need to do with it that I am unaware of.

Thanks for the great review, hard to justify spending anymore on a different one if these are as good as they sound.
 
Top