SS Brewbucket Review

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If you have done any shopping online for brewing supplies than you have probably seen advertisements for the SS Brewbucket from SS Brewing Technologies. That was where my exposure to them began. At nearly $200 for the base model and $225 for the Brewmaster version, you might be wondering if they are worth trading in the glass carboys. Read on and make your own opinions.
Full disclosure, I purchased one of these in 2014 and recently purchased another just two months ago.

SS Brewbucket Features



The Brewbucket is a replacement fermentation vessel constructed of food grade 304 stainless steel. The inside of which is laser-etched with volume markers, listing both liters and US gallons. It has a maximum volume capacity of 7 U.S. gallons from the where the lid attaches all the way down to the coned bottom. It is important to note though, that this is not a conical fermenter as the term implies. There is no quick dump for the yeast or the trub. Just a racking spigot for the wort. Where the cone bottom benefits brewers is that it lowers the contact surface area of your beer and the trub, reducing the chance for autolysis. It also serves a secondary purpose of keeping the trub/yeast from racking along with your beer.
The spigot is located just at the top of the cone, before it meets the wall of the vessel, but on the inside is a dip tube attached to the spigot. By twisting the spigot clockwise from the outside, one is able to rotate the inner dip tube 180 degrees. This lets you guesstimate what height you would like to rack from. I’ll admit, though touted as a feature, this one leaves me a little clueless as to how it can really benefit you without knowing the level of the trub.
The lid is also stainless steel with a silicone seal that is held in place by four tension clamps. This seal is incredibly easy to remove and clean, and equally easy to re-install. If, for some reason, you cannot figure out how to do this, there is a YouTube video available. But, it’s really simple.
A 1/2” hole is pre-drilled in the lid and a pre-drilled bung is included with either kit. These will accommodate common S-type and 3-piece airlocks(neither included). Optionally, for just under $20 extra, you can order a 90-degree stainless steel hose-barb which will screw into this hole, providing a secure attachment for a blow-off tube.
If you spend the extra cash to get the Brewmaster version of the bucket, you’ll also get a welded-in thermowell and matching digital thermometer. This thermowell extends approximately 4.5” into the bucket at about the 2.5 gallon marker, which I think is a great place to give a relatively accurate temperature reading during fermentation. The digital thermometer has a matching 4.5” probe to fit in the thermowell and it held in place by a rubber casing that squeezes over a hallowed nipple on the inlet to the well. Ive never had any problems with it falling off.

Using the SS Brewbucket



The brewbucket has the sanitation security of a glass carboy with the ease of cleaning a plastic bucket-style fermenter. However, unlike glass, this thing is built tough - you wont have to worry if your next brew is going to come with a trip to the hospital to stitch your hand up from an accidental shattering. And, unlike plastic, you’d have to scrub this thing with a fork to scratch the interior walls. Its really a breeze to clean after brew day.
I was skeptical about the welded in handles and their durability when carrying 6 gallons of wort, but over 30 batches in I have not had any problems at all. In fact, its much easier to carry having two handles than the one handle on a plastic bucket or those awkward carboy carrying products.
One of the bigger draws for me was also the range of accessories for the BrewBucket that seem to be coming out every few months. For example, they released a new lid that can accommodate both dry-hopping without removing the entire lid, as well as support their own glycol cooling system. Its pretty neat - if you have the money for it.

SS Brewbucket Cons


I have purchased the Brewmaster version of both of my buckets. While I like the idea of a thermowell giving me an accurate temperature from within the fermenter, I have found the included digital thermometer SS Brew Tech includes is cheap and not able to be re-calibrated. One of my thermometers shipped accurate to about a 1/5th of a degree. The second one I got, the thermometer is off by 2 degrees.
“Sure, two degrees”, some say. But, in fermentation that can mean the difference between just right and phenolic. I asked SS Brew Tech about this, they responded:
“It's not uncommon for various thermometers to have a degree or two of offset. In fact most digital thermometers are accurate within 1-2% of the actual temp, so keep in mind that it's virtually impossible for them to read perfectly in tandem at all times. Thermometers that have a higher degree of accuracy and resolution are typically very expensive, and used in lab environments. “
I understand what they are saying, but, I’ve bought $10 thermometers that let me re-calibrate for probe anomalies. Further, if its not going to be accurate anyway(by their own admission), why spend the extra $25 to get a bucket with thermowell and thermometer anyway? For a product that is marketed as being a step up from “wet t-shirt around a carboy dark closet fermenting”, they don’t seem bothered by having a sub-par temperature reading device.
One other issue I had to work around very quickly was the potential for suck-back using the blow-off tube and barb accessory. Without thinking, its very easy to rack into a hydrometer tube and not realize that you are simultaneously pulling in from the blow-off tube. Its a problem not uncommon in any fermenter with a racking port. The most obvious answer is, of course: “Switch to an airlock after heavy fermentation has finished.” The problem is the lid must be removed in order to have the accessory blow-off barb removed.
Another issue I have is the rotating spigot/racking port. The directions do tell you to only spin it clockwise when fermentation is ongoing. I couldn’t help but notice through testing, though, how easy the nut on the inside catches and loosens if one were to rotate the spigot counter-clockwise on accident. I have not done this yet, in fact, I haven't done much rotating when fermenting, period. But, still...
As a cautionary note, I did find that the initial cleaning process required a bit more elbow grease to remove machining oils than anticipated. Despite my best efforts, my very first fermentation, a hefeweizen, was sludgy brown on the first hydrometer rack. Sure enough, it also tasted oily. If you end up with one of these buckets, I thoroughly recommend to clean, clean, clean until a hard scrubbing with a white cloth yields no residue on every surface, including the inside of the lid. Follow this with a proper passivation using some Bar Keepers Friend.

So, is it Worth the $200+?



For me, it was definitely worth it. A brewing buddy of mine had a carboy shatter in his hands, which sent him to the hospital, putting him out of work for a while (without working hands, its hard to operate a television-show camera). I knew I wanted the ease of using a bucket, but without the sanitation issues inherent to plastic bucket-type fermenters. I’ve never had an infection before the Brewbucket, and I’m pleased to report that I haven't had one yet. Did I pay for that peace of mind? Probably.
Will it be worth it for you? That's hard to say. Its a very good unit though, and it works great for its primary purpose: fermenting your beer.
 
I've never used the thermometer that came with mine. I stick my Inkbird temperature probe in the thermowell to monitor temps in my chest freezer fermentation chamber.
 
I think its important to understand the opportunity cost of spending $200+ on a fermenter.
For some this represents the cost of a used fridge+temp controller (fermentation chamber), a grain mill, or the equipment needed to start culturing yeast.
Extract brewers can go all grain for less than $200.
At $25 per brew for ingredients, this could be 425 12oz beers.
I built my keezer for under $200.
$200 could be used to improve aeration, chilling, measuring, and sanitation.
I personally have to have a lot more gadgets and gear in order to upgrade from my plastic big-mouth carboys...
 
Big fan of the BrewBucket here. I did not have any issue cleaning mine. I followed the instructions from SS Brewtech to clean with a TSP solution. It is an extra step and takes some effort, but I found it cleaned the bucket very well.
I do agree with the issue with the rotating dip tube. You do need to be careful how you turn the valve or you can start leaks. This is a minor issue and just something which you need to be careful with.
I am a big fan of the bucket and find it to be a worthwhile investment. It is not cheap, but it does eliminate a issues with durability of glass or plastic, ease of sanitization and O2 permeability. It also looks really nice.
The accessories are a major plus too. I added the FTSs system and am really liking how it maintains fermentation temps. This is something that is not possible with a bucket.
 
Agree on the opportunity cost. Buckets are cheap and if the get damaged, they are easy to replace. For me the ability to add the FTSs was key. I do not have room for a dedicated fermentation fridge. This gives me the same capability with a smaller space and energy footprint.
 
I have 2 of the Brew Master buckets now.
My only criticism is the "rotating" spigot - they ALWAYS leak.
I have several sets of Gaskets, i have swapped them out repeatedly, and ALWAYS get leaks. ( at 10 batches each )
SS Brew Tech needs to come up with a better solution !
I have come to the solution of putting the Racking arm at 90 degrees horizontal - and just live with what ever
yeast gets in my Kegs. 20+ batches, and a leak EVERY time !
Otherwise they are bullet proof ! Easy to clean ! WAY better than GLASS!!!
Have not been able to scratch one yet - yup i used the wrong scrubby pad once.
just my 2 cents
 
This is what I would like to do if I end up getting one of these. Does the Inkbird probe just slide right in or is there any rigging that needs to be done?
 
I got the brew bucket as a birthday gift a couple years ago and I think it has been helpful for my brewing. I don't have the version with the thermowell so I just use a fermometer (those stickers that go on the buckets) and that has been adequate. I agree with the issues of the counter clockwise turning. I have started some leaks when taking hydrometer samples. Luckily nothing too bad so far.
However I think there are a couple more pros to the product that are unmentioned:
Light weight and portable-without beer this vessel is easy to move around. With beer, I have had an easier time carrying it from my brewing set up to where I ferment than any other option, including the plastic bucket.
Convenient size- able to fit in my kegerator fridge with a couple kegs when I want to cool wort or cold crash
Easy to remove lid- I am a little bit of an impatient brewer and I like to see how my beer is doing. Yes carboys are easier to see, but I tended to use buckets for my primary and taking off those lids was a hassle.
While these may not specifically be worth the $200, I think they are factors to consider when making your purchase. For my brewing set-up, this was a good addition.
 
Not that anything you said was specifically wrong, I think I understand SS position on the whole thermometer thing. The thermowell, at least from what I've seen, accommodates most temperature probes fairly easily. So I think they probably looked at the cost of adding a more accurate thermometer or one that can be re-calibrated that fits inside the little rubber holder they included would've increased the cost too much. Its already over 200 for the bucket I'm sure their marketing people said that if it gets pushed much more above a certain number its that much harder to market it.
I think they probably figured, well, we could change all this and increase the price point, OR, we can make it so the thermowell can be used with a lot of the temperature probes on the market.
For myself, plus or minus 2 degrees, hasn't caused me problems, and I've had beers medal at competition(without active temperature control). I know that if I ever switch to active temperature control that, the thermowell thats already installed will work just fine with whatever controller I buy. I think you'd be pretty surprised by how little plus or minus 2 degrees affects your beer(from personal anecdotal evidence, and the blind triangle tests they've been doing over at Brulosophy where they've had beers fermenting 5-7 times higher variance than the measly 2 degrees).
 
Personally I prefer the Chapman stainless fermenter... it is around 1/2 the price!
Same style lid, although better for me as it is easily adapted with a 2 inch tri clover for my thermos well and CO2 transfers.
It has a flat bottom and I opted for the portless version as I prefer to pressure transfer from the lid using CO2.
Having a gravity fed bottom port and fake conical does nothing for me,
 
You are probably tightening the nut too much. It needs to barely be finger tight. I would even say less than finger tight. I've had a couple of leaks, but because I didn't tighten it too much all I did was rotate the valve to the right a bit, and that actually tightens the nut ever so slightly, and solved the leak.
 
I have 2 for a year now and love them. If you follow their instruction for the first cleaning using TPS there isn't an issue.
The rotating ball value can be annoying, I have never had issues with leaking but I just wasn't comfortable rotating it. I honestly stopped rotating it straight up and down and just positioned it halfway. This has provided clean running's on 15+ batches.
And you don't have to buy the SS Brewtech blowoff connect. Just buy the tubing and stick it the lid; works perfectly. Also makes switching to airlocks easy.
 
I have 4. 2 brewmaster and 2 standard. I got 3 of them used for around $75 each and the fourth i bought new on sale for around $125. Im certain I would still have purchased at least 2 at full price. I would however not purchase the brewmaster edition. I see no value in the thermowell and it is just another piece to wash & sanitize.
If you are at a point in your accumulation of brewing upgrades where you don't need items that will directly impact beer quality (temp control, aeration, etc.) then I would definitely recommend them. My only negative thought on them is the feet wear out to easy. I would love to try one of their chronicals but prefer to have 2 buckets over 1 chronical.
 
I got a reconditioned pin lock keg for $35. I can ferment under pressure and easily transfer to a serving keg. I use fermcap and make a little under 5 gallons so it doesn't come out the spunding valve or blow off valve depending which is hooked up. I'm okay with only making 4.5-4.75 gallons instead of 5
 
My dilemma is if you are going to drop $200+ on a brew bucket, why not spend a little more for a good conical. From Ss, they are pretty much double the price ($399 for the basic 7gal). You will get a lot more out of a conical fermenter than you get from going to a bucket from a plastic/glass carboy.
I guess it all comes down to price.
 
It could be that you have two O-rings, when there should just be one O-ring. We have an updated FAQ on this:
https://ssbrewtech.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/115000471303-My-Brew-Bucket-s-Ball-Valve-is-leaking-and-the-inner-O-ring-is-not-sealing-what-am-I-doing-wrong-
Happy Brewing!
 
I'd recommend the 12" ones, I have the 6" and after just looking when dry hopping maybe 2-3/4" to 3" of the thermowell is submerged below the 5gal mark.
 
Exactly how I do it as well. using the very common inkbird 308 with its probe sitting in the thermowell.
That is hooked up to a cheapo craigslist fridge and a seedling germination mat (for heat during the winter) that I taped to the side of the bucket.
 
As long as you are sanitizing your bucket... the well will get sanitized too. its not THAT hard.
my temp probe for my inkbird which is controlling the fridge sits in the thermowell nicely. I dont have to tape a probe to it and insulate it or any of that crap.
 
size.
None of the stuff I have can fit the dimensions of a full conical and would basically mean I need to try and search for a larger temp control setup.
 
I keep PBW in a spray bottle....give it a few sprays and wipe it out....rinse and dry....the Brew Bucket is a MUST HAVE in my opinion.....I've got 2!
 
I have the Brewmaster version and bought the fts temp control system with it. Overall I am happy with it as I can ferment at specific temps with little fuss. I use a cooler with either ice water or a aquarium heater to manage the water temp. I use frozen milk jugs and swap one a day.
My only complaint is that recently the bucket is not sealing well. Cannot pinpoint it and have tightened all fittings. For some reason, I am getting an air leak after starting fermentation. OG and other gravity readings confirm that the proper fermentation is taking place.
Easy to clean and transfer from.
 
I have actually been looking to get one of those wine fridges with the clear front door to hold a stainless fermented. The conical add so much height with their legs and their design, so it becomes an issue when you start seeing that a proper wine fridge is going to run you 800-1000 bucks to fit it.
The only thing I can think of is if I ditch the chamber idea and use the herms coil method of running hot or cold water through the fermenting wort. That can get very complicated and if you are using heaters and/or glycol, it is pricy.
 
I bought two wine fridges for my buckets. They were about $399 each, but we drink a lot of wine and have other uses for them outside just brewing, however, I wanted to add that I have moved onto using a FTS system drawing cool water from within the fridge now. Just using the fridge has the same problem that all fridges do - they cool far too slow. Your fermenter could be bubbling 6 degrees over ideal before the cooling starts to work. The FTS does it quick and from within.
 
Ah yes, I hooked the blowoff tube up to an S-Type airlock, and used a rubber band around one of the tension locked and just righted around the base of the S-Lock. Simple and works.
 
I got the Brewmaster just to use the thermowell for the inkbird probe. I hold it in place by installing the ss temp gauge but let that probe hang outside just see ambient temp, purely out of curiosity. And I think they say only turn racking arm clockwise for the exact reason that it will loosen if turned the wrong way. I also got the elbow for blow off tube, and being an auto mechanic I had an extra line clamp which I use to pinch off the blowoff tube when I cold crash. Highly recommend everyone check harbor freight and order one for a couple bucks.
 
I have two of them, been using them for several years with the FTS immersion chillers. I built a controller using an STC-1000, added a heating wrap between the bucket and the neoprene insulation jacket, I can keep temps within 1º or less. I have a large Pelican ice chest, with both chillers running at 68º, I replace the homemade block ice every 4 to 5 days.
 
I love my brewbucket. I've recently brewed NEIPA that requires a lot of dry hopping. Hop material settled above the racking arm and spigot gets clogged. I had to remove lid and auto-siphon was needed. I'm not a fan of exposing my beers to oxygen.
With all other brews, I attach CO2 to blow off elbow and push beer directly to keg through the OUT post. With the lid on, it can take 2-3 psi.
Cleaning and sanitizing is super easy.
 
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