SS BrewTech Chronical First Time Use

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ZeMadMonkey

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So, I had been visiting SS BrewTech's website daily for a week or so checking out their Brew Bucket. That is what I was intending to purchase in the upcoming month. It wasn't the Chronical, but I thought for $195 I couldn't go wrong. I checked out their Chronical and as far as conicals go the price was incredible. Well, someone in my life I casually mentioned it to actually went out and got me their 7 gallon Chronical as an early birthday present. I was very pleasantly surprised and it looks more awesome in person than it does on their website. OH, and the shipping was really fast. She had ordered it on the weekend and it was delivered on a Tuesday.

If you want to read a great review and unboxing of it with lots of pictures check out nickmv's thread - https://www.homebrewtalk.com/showthread.php?t=470730

So prior to my first brew using the Chronical I gathered some additional supplies to make the most of my first use. I bought some parts to make my own blow-off tube. I bought a 1.5" TriClover X 1/2" Male NPT Adapter, a 1.5" TriClover Clamp, a 1/2" High Flow Elbow Barb, and some 1/2" Ultraclear Silicone Tubing (all from BrewHardware.com). Even when I was fermenting in my carboy, I had wanted to upgrade my blow-off tube to 1/2", so jumped on my chance now with the Chronical. In my order from BrewHardware I picked up an extra few high flow camlock fittings so I could connect directly from my pump to the 1/2" ball valve and Racking Arm of the Chronical. I also bought the parts recommended by SS Brew Tech to allow me to do a CO2 pressurized transfer from Chronical to the keg.

Out of of the box I followed SS Brew Tech's instruction for first time use, which includes disassembling the Chronical and soaking/washing all the parts in warm water & TSP solution. Then after thoroughly rinsing everything with clean water, I filled the Chronical and a bucket of the disassembled parts in with a StarSan solution to passivate everything. (They provide you with the mixing ratio of StarSan)

On actual brew day I was very exited so psyched to be using the Chronical!

Brew Day

The Chronical came into play at the end of the brew day, after the whirlpool and resting period. With wort chilled, I used my tubing, double ended with Big C camlocks (instead of a 1/2" barb fitting for the 1/2" ball valve I outfitted with with a 1/2" Type F camlock), and attached it to the outgoing tee on my pump and attached the other end to the 1/2" ball valve and Racking Arm of the Chronical. I opened the ball valve on the racking port full on. I let the pump go, throttled it some, and let it fill the Chronical from my brew kettle via the Racking Arm. I let it fill to the 20 L etching on the inside of the Chronical. I then attached and secured the lid to the Chronical, I slid my oxygen stone down the TriClover opening and oxygenated for 1 Liter per minute for a full minute. Then attached and secure my blow-off tube to the TriClover opening.

I took my filled Chronical, via the handles on the sides, and set it into my fermentation fridge and slid my temperature probe right into the weldless thermowell in the Chronical to let it ferment.


Day 2 of Fermentation

Dumping Trub - I dumped some trub out via the 3/4" ball valve on the bottom. As I brewed and IPA I ended up with 1/3 of a pint of hop material in the mason jar I was draining into. I did this twice, trying to get as much trub that made it from the kettle out as I can. I probably lost some beer as it was my first time. I spritzed the ball valve down with sanitizer and used and small bottling brush to get it really as clean as possible.


Day 5 of Fermentation

Taking a Sample - This was pretty simple and I am so glad to have the ability to take a sample directly from the fermentation vessel now. I just cracked open the 1/2" ball valve attached to the Racking Arm a bit and filled my hydrometer tube. I spritzed the ball valve down with sanitizer and used and small bottling brush to get it really as clean as possible. I spritzed some sanitizer after it was clean and put a camlock cap on it.


Day 7 of Fermentation - The beer had reached terminal gravity and I was now going to dump the yeast and dry hop.

Yeast Dump - This part I am definitely going to have to get better at. I slowly opened the bottom 3/4" ball valve until it was fully open and slowly a slug of yeast started coming out (BTW I used WLP002). I'd say a small tube of yeast came out and then it changed mostly to liquid. I sealed it up and called it that. I did not want to lose a ton of beer and was pretty sure I somehow made a hole in the yeast at the bottom of the Chronical, and beer was flowing through that hole and not dropping any more yeast. I am actually going to reach out to other conical owners on the forum for tips, tricks, best practices for dumping yeast.

Dry Hop - I unfastened the lid and opened it just enough I could drop my 3 oz of Citra in and then fastened it back down. I really like how the lid attaches to the Chronical. On the underside of the lid it has a nice big o-ring. Then you set the lid on the Chronical and clamp it down in place via the clamps around the rim of the Chronical.


Today, 6 days after dry hopping, it is time to keg the beer. I did all the normal preparation for the keg.

CO2 Pressurized Transfer - I cleaned, sanitized, and assembled the fitting necessary to transfer the beer. My keg was ready to go and full of CO2. I connected the CO2 transfer fitting to my CO2 tank and dialed down the pressure to 2PSI. I went to my fermentation fridge and disconnected the blow-off tube and attached the CO2 transfer fitting. I then attached tubing to the 1/2" ball valve and Racking Arm, released CO2 from the keg, and slid the tube to the bottom of the keg. I turned on the CO2 attached to the pressurized fitting and then slowly opened the 1/2" ball valve on the Racking Arm half way. The transfer went very very smoothly, I slowly opened the ball valve all the way and watched as the beer quickly filled the keg. You are able to turn the Racking Arm while the Chroncial is full of beer, but I just left it as is. I had the Racking Arm in a horizontal position. I had been doing the whole carboy siphon dance for two long, this pressurized keg transfer was a real treat. The keg was done and filled! I sealed and purged the keg and then sat it in my kegerator. I was assuming because of the dumping trub, dumping yeast, and leaving the Racking Arm in the horizontal position I was going to have some beer loss but I was surprised how little beer was left in the Chronical. I had gotten pretty much all of it. I just saw hop sludge, yeast, and maybe a pint of beer at the bottom of the Conical. FYI the reason I chose to make use to the CO2 transfer ability is that the Chronical is sitting pretty low to the ground in my fermentation fridge and I did not think gravity alone was going to get all the beer to the keg and I definitely do not want to move the Chronical just so I could use gravity fill.

Just a note on the Racking Arm. I was hesitant to turn it while it was full of beer. When I was going to clean it I filled it with some water and played around with turning the Racking Arm while there was liquid in the Chronical. All I had to do was loosen the Triclover fitting on the 1/2" ball valve like half a turn and I was able to turn the Racking Arm up and down with not one drop leaking out.

Cleaning the Chronical was a breeze. I took it outside on the patio and rinsed it down thoroughly with the hose making sure to drain out of both of the ball valves. I filled and soaked it with PBW, then I gave it a thorough rinsing or two and dried it with some microfiber towels. I did disassemble the fittings. ball valves, and lid and give them more thorough cleaning and dried them off.

I gotta say for my first experience with a conical I could not be more pleased. It was easy to use, a lot of fun to use, and easy to clean up. I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a conical.

The one thing that worried me during all of this was possible oxygen pick-up when using these ball valves during fermentation and opening the lid to dry hop. In the sample I tasted today, direct from the filled keg, I did not taste any stale flavor. I am going to let it carb up for a week and then take my first pull next Friday. That is another reason I bought the parts for the CO2 transfer fitting, if I do taste any stale flavors I know to use that CO2 transfer fitting for those parts of the process as well.

Just FYI, in case anyone was wondering, the IPA I brewed is Zombie Dirt from Northern Brewer. Man o Man the Citra aroma coming off this beer is AMAZING! A wonderful tasting beer too. I can't wait unit it is chilled and carbed!

I tried to give as much detail as I could in this post about my experience using the Chronical for the first time, so if anyone else is considering getting one they would have a good idea of what to expect.

Rock On!
~ZeMadMonkey
 
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I am getting one of these. Just trying to decide which other add ons I need. The other funny thing is I have a Zombie Dust close in my primary which I will be transferring to my secondary tomorrow and dry hopping.
 

kcmobrewer

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Love mine. I replaced that stupid elbow and 3/4in ball valve though. I hated that thing.

Bought all my parts from brewershardware.com though. I was pretty disappointed with brew hardware's selection. The triclamp to 5/8 hose barb is nicer than what they offer also.

Put a nice butterfly valve on the bottom with a quick connect for hands free filling and easier dumping the yeast. I did notice, like you, that it made a hole through the yeast cake and started dumping beer. Haven't found a remedy yet though.
 
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ZeMadMonkey

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kcmobrewer - As I continue to use mine, I will hit you up if I find a better way of dumping the yeast, a non hole creating way. Being able to collect my yeast was one of the benefits I was looking forward to when getting this Chronical.
 
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ZeMadMonkey

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jdunn - let my know how your Zombie Dust clone comes out. I am enjoying mine right now.
 

kcmobrewer

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I'm brewing again tomorrow. Will be the first brew that I'll use the butterfly valve on. I'll let you know how it goes
 

ram5ey

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I like mine as well. I heard tapping on the cone with a rubber mallet can help the yeast slide down the cone.
 

dmcman73

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From what I read in other posts / forums, after 3 days in the conical you can crack open the valve to dump some trub/yeast that settled to the bottom in that time before it compacts. If you wait 6-7 days to do it, it will be all compacted down.

I've dumped after 3 days and then again after 7 days and each time I was never left with a cake of yeast on the bottom of my chronical and the beer was clear and very good.
 
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If they got rid of the threads and the wells fittings it would be a great conical. They dump vales should really be butterfly valves to all allow the thicker slurry to come out.
 

dmcman73

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If they got rid of the threads and the wells fittings it would be a great conical. They dump vales should really be butterfly valves to all allow the thicker slurry to come out.
That would make the price jump considerably though. If anything, they should offer a version without the valves so that people can buy the valves they want to use.
 

kcmobrewer

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I agree. I asked them about it actually and they wouldn't do it. The 3 piece with the racking arm is great. But all the hardware on the bottom is pretty much trash imo.
 
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jdunn - let my know how your Zombie Dust clone comes out. I am enjoying mine right now.
ZeMadMonkey - My Zombie Dust clone is very refreshing. Very little bitterness to it at all. Easily one of my favorite brews I have made in my short two years of brewing all grain. This will undoubtedly be the keg that kicks first over my Dunkelweizen made decoction mash style.
 

WWJPD

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Great write-up. I've already ordered mine and looking forward to using it. Question though since I'm new to conicals, but why is a butterfly better than the ball valve?
 

NoH20

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Ball valves can hold more nasties, harder to clean.

Todd
 

Bowtiebrewery

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Great write-up. I've already ordered mine and looking forward to using it. Question though since I'm new to conicals, but why is a butterfly better than the ball valve?
Ball valves can hold more nasties, harder to clean.

Todd

Agreed, although there are "sanitary ball valves". They are held together with 2 TC clamps, easier to clean, but still no where near as easy to clean as a Butterfly valve, and the price is just about the same.

Secondly, I believe even the 3/4" ball valve they give you is just not big enough to dump slurry and or trub. A good 1.5" dump butterfly valve is where its at:mug:
 
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