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SsBrewtech 14gal Unitank Product Review ( and photos )

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Joe_CraftBeerTraders

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SsBrewtech's Unitank is now available for home brew scale batches. We got our hands on one to check out!






Ssbrewtech a few years ago took the home brew market by storm with their stainless brew bucket. Over the years they have engineered some of the best home brewing equipment to hit the market. They didnt stop there, within the last year they began production on commercial brewing systems. With the continued success at the commercial level, they never forgot their roots, home brewers. Their Unitank was first available at 1bbl which was just out of reach for most home brewers until now. Ssbrewtech has introduced their home brewing line up of Unitanks at the 7gal, 14gal and 1/2bbl sizings! Bringing commercial quality and design to the home brewers scale. We got our hands on the 14gal Unitank to take a look.



What is a Unitank and how is it different from a Conical? Looking at them side by side, you probably wouldnt be able to tell the difference. They are both fermenters and have the iconic conical shape. In a typical brewery you ferment in a fermenter, once the beer is done and clear you can transfer it into a brite tank to pressurize and carbonate. Unitanks are designed to combine the fermenter and brite tank allowing you to ferment and pressurize to carbonate all within the same vessel. So quick and dirty, the difference is Unitanks you can pressurize to carbonate, Conicals you cannot.



Features
The Unitank is 17" wide by 42.5" tall and stands on 4 legs with adjustable feet and a stainless lower shelf. The 4 leg design makes this vessel very stable. When full, we bumped it a couple times and it was very sturdy. Its designed for 5 to 10 gallon batches with the total volume of the vessel being 14 gallons. Starting at the top, there are 3 TC ports, two 1.5" and one 6". The two 1.5"TCs are equipped with a sanitary diaphram pressure gauge and a racking cane which includes a 3pc ball valve. The 6" is the center port where the large removable chiller coil is mounted. The chiller coil itself has a 3" TC port on it where a commercial grade 15psi pressure release valve is mounted. The body of the vessel is a unibody design which means there are no lids or clamps. Only welded fittings and TC ports. The body of the vessel has three 1.5" TC ports. One is for the digital thermometer, one is for the carb stone and one is for the sanitary zwickle style sampling valve. Below the three ports on the cone is one 1.5" TC racking port with a fully stainless butterfly valve as well as a 1.5" TC bottom dump with a fully stainless butterfly valve. Additionally the vessel comes with a neoprene insulated jacket. This is ready to use as a Unitank right out of the box.







Temperature Control
Temperature control is arguably the most important variable for your finished product. You want to be able keep the temperature between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit (depending on the yeast) around 32 degrees Fahrenheit at which you can carbonate beer efficiently as well as cold condition a beer to clarify it. SsBrewtechs Unitank comes equipped with a built in chilling coil and comes with a neoprene jacket to help reduce heat loss. No need to put it into a chest freezer, just connect it a chilling source such as a cooler with ice water or one of their glycol chiller. SsBrewtech also offers a temperature control unit (FTS) available for purchase separately.




Pressure Transfer
Oxidation is a beers worst enemy. Pressure transferring beer is the best way to reduce oxidation. SsBrewtechs unitank is ready for pressure transfer directly out of the box. Simply connect your gas line to the ball valve on the racking cane. You are able to push the liquid from the top using 2-3psi and out of the transfer port or lower port of the conical. This allows for complete closed transfer of liquid with minimal exposure to oxygen. The really nice thing about this unit is that it comes equipped with a 15psi pressure release valve (PRV) which is great from a safety perspective. It also comes equipped with a pressure gauge so you can see the internal pressure of the vessel. The unit is rated for 30psi which gives you a nice safety cushion as well knowing that you are not pushing the bounds of pressurization.




Carbonating
Carbonation is the big feature that makes this Conical a Unitank. Out of the box SsBrewtechs unitank is ready to be used as a unitank. As mentioned above the unit is rated to hold 30psi and is equipped with a 15psi 1.5" TC sanitary PRV as well as a 1.5" TC sanitary diaphragm pressure gauge. What makes this unitank perfect for carbonating is the carb stone that is included. Pressurization is pretty straight forward on the vessel. Connect your gas to the 2pc ball valve / carb stone and set your regulator to 20psi or so. Monitor the gauge on the top of the vessel for what the head pressure is. Once the head pressure reaches the psi you are aiming for your beer is carbonated. Whats really nice about this is you can carb a beer in 24-48 hours, not days or weeks like with a keg. Few things to note when using this unitank, make sure everything is nice and tight. Check all your TC clamps and fittings and do a pressure test before putting beer into the vessel. We didnt have any issues but its always good to check a vessel before pressurizing. When pulling samples its best to turn the gas off and purge off some of the pressure. Or if you want to be fancy, SsBrewtech sells an attachment for the sample valve which is a coil that will help prevent the beer from foaming.






Overall Impression
SsBrewtechs Unitank is a commercial tank just at the home brewers scale. Quality is top notch on this robust piece of equipment. What I love about this unit is that its 100% ready to perform as a unitank right out of the box. Everything you need is included and engineered in a way to make the brew day easy. From the PRV to the racking cane to the sample and carb stone ports, this unit was well thought out and purposely built. Every fitting is a TC sanitary fitting and the vessel it self is of a unibody design. That eased our mind 10 fold in regards to pressurizing the vessel. Also the fact that the vessel was rated for 30psi, 2x what the recommended operating pressure is( 15psi) and manufacturer tested at 60psi, 4x the recommended operating pressure. This unit was definitely impressive. I would have liked to see etched volume markings inside the vessel so you can tell how much made it into the vessel. I would have also liked casters to be included as opposed to purchased additionally. The 14gal has a little bit of weight behind it and without handles can be awkward to move. Other than that this unit was definitely impressive. As far as price, the 14 gal unitank costs $1099. Its a hefty price tag but when you look at everything you are getting and the quality of what you are getting, it would cost more to try and build one piece by piece. Overall, if you have the funds and are looking for an out of the box ready to use commercial grade unitank at the home brew level, there is no better option than this unit from SsBrewtech.



http://blog.craftbeertraders.com/ssbrewtech-14g-unitank-review/
 

BarleyPopBrewer

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Not to be that guy but can you disclose if you work for SS, got free equipment, etc? It seems like a shill advertisement....
 
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Joe_CraftBeerTraders

Joe_CraftBeerTraders

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Not to be that guy but can you disclose if you work for SS, got free equipment, etc? It seems like a shill advertisement....
No it's a fair question. I do not work for Ss or have any financial connections with them. We get equipment from them to do testing and reviews on. We do the same with Spike equipment. We reviewed their kettles as well as their CF10.
 

BarleyPopBrewer

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So you got free equipment to keep from SS for a review or you have to return it? Thanks for clarifying!
 

Morrey

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If given the choice between Ss Brewtech Uni and the same sized conical from Spike, which would you pick?
 
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Joe_CraftBeerTraders

Joe_CraftBeerTraders

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If given the choice between Ss Brewtech Uni and the same sized conical from Spike, which would you pick?
Me personally I like Ss better but they each have different things going for it. Spikes is nice because you're not forced to buy everything all at once upfront. You can piece of together as you wish. The big things that make me like Ss better is that there isn't a lid and a band clamp which makes it feel safer to me when pressurizing. I also like the multiple ports for sample and carbstone as opposed to a single where you need to switch attachments. But that's just my personal opinion. They both perform very well as designed
 

Morrey

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I felt the same way and went Ss...but Spike is/was certainly a strong contender. Ss packages all of what you need upfront, and honestly, some folks may not know what they need if given the choice to have to piece it all together like Spike does. First appearances seems that Spike is much cheaper in comparison, but when all the pieces you'll need are added in, the prices are very similar. I went with Ss and the 14G Uni...like it so much I bought a 7G Uni too which I like equally as well. Spike has a great series of products and I'd have no hesitation to try their conical in the future.

May I add this about my Ss Uni's heat control: I brew in a non-temp controlled enclosed man cave in SC. Normally my glycol chiller does overtime duty keeping fermenting wort cool, but this winter has been exceptionally demanding on the FTSs heat system. Just recently we experienced several nights in the single digits with daytime highs not much over freezing. For added security I draped a mover's blanket over my Uni, but to my surprise, the heat pad kept the wort at 65F and it never dropped below that. I continue to be impressed with this tank and the features (as you mentioned) it offers.
 
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Joe_CraftBeerTraders

Joe_CraftBeerTraders

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I felt the same way and went Ss...but Spike is/was certainly a strong contender. Ss packages all of what you need upfront, and honestly, some folks may not know what they need if given the choice to have to piece it all together like Spike does. First appearances seems that Spike is much cheaper in comparison, but when all the pieces you'll need are added in, the prices are very similar. I went with Ss and the 14G Uni...like it so much I bought a 7G Uni too which I like equally as well. Spike has a great series of products and I'd have no hesitation to try their conical in the future.

May I add this about my Ss Uni's heat control: I brew in a non-temp controlled enclosed man cave in SC. Normally my glycol chiller does overtime duty keeping fermenting wort cool, but this winter has been exceptionally demanding on the FTSs heat system. Just recently we experienced several nights in the single digits with daytime highs not much over freezing. For added security I draped a mover's blanket over my Uni, but to my surprise, the heat pad kept the wort at 65F and it never dropped below that. I continue to be impressed with this tank and the features (as you mentioned) it offers.
Absolutely agree. Spike has been releasing more and more accessories to complete the Unitank build. Out of the box their unit is not a unitank, its a conical and you have to buy the accessories to use it as a unitank. As you mentioned for some this is a great approach but in the long run it will cost the same or more. I also wasnt happy that the PRV wasnt included with the Spike systems. Its a safety feature that you have to purchase. But the fact that Spike now has a PRV, Gas Post manifold accessory, carbstone accessory, chilling coil accessory and a Temp Controller and Jacket accessory allows for us to get a good comparison. We experienced cold weather just like you (we are in NC) and the FTSs with heating pad kept us fermenting at 65 when it was 10deg outside. As i mentioned there are PROS and CONS to each. I personally found more PROS for the Ss unitank and our setup
 

rizziot

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I am currently looking at one of these as well. What is your experience fermenting 6 (5) gallon batches in a 14 gal uni? I am limited on space and would really prefer a tank that does either 5 or 10 gallon batches.
 

Jtvann

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I like Ssbrewtech equipment. I have the 14 gallon version and love it. That said, I only brew 12-13 gallon batches.

I think the spike cf10 may suit your needs better. Someone from spike will probably chime in on that.

The reasoning say that is for a very large head space, but that can be over come. The chiller coil will not be in contact with a large volume of your beer. I want to say that the spike coil rides lower. I could be wrong ... need a spike person to chime in. You can swap out positions of the thermowell on the spike cf10 to keep it in the body of the beer. You can do that as well with the unitank, but would have to give up the sample valve or carb stone.
 
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I am currently looking at one of these as well. What is your experience fermenting 6 (5) gallon batches in a 14 gal uni? I am limited on space and would really prefer a tank that does either 5 or 10 gallon batches.
I like Ssbrewtech equipment. I have the 14 gallon version and love it. That said, I only brew 12-13 gallon batches.

I think the spike cf10 may suit your needs better. Someone from spike will probably chime in on that.

The reasoning say that is for a very large head space, but that can be over come. The chiller coil will not be in contact with a large volume of your beer. I want to say that the spike coil rides lower. I could be wrong ... need a spike person to chime in. You can swap out positions of the thermowell on the spike cf10 to keep it in the body of the beer. You can do that as well with the unitank, but would have to give up the sample valve or carb stone.
Correct, all of our tanks are specially designed to accommodate both full and half batches. Everything from coil design, to port location to geometry enables this.
 

rizziot

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Thanks for the input, what is the gallon mark for the thermowell on the cf10?
 
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