Got an email about a Black Friday sale on these conicals, 25% off. I have one and love it. Couldn’t pass up on the chance to get a second on discount. I figure I’ll use it as a bright tank and/or a second fermentor. These things are a cadillac conical, 22gal easily handles a half-barrel batch and pressurizable so you can fully carbonate your beer in them if you care to. I generally run pressurized fermentations, run it up to 15psi towards the end of the ferm for a head start on carbing, and then pressure-transfer to kegs and adjust final carbonation in them.
so riddle me this. If I had one of them big old fermentors and wanted to make a batch that was just 5 gallons would it work? I can see me getting one big enough to do 10 gallon batches, but that one is a monster.
Sure you can, I think 5gal only comes up to a couple inches or so above the conical but it’d work just fine. And I’ve done as much as 17gal.
Thanks Lennie, I see a conical in my future. Just not quite yet. It would be so nice to do primary and secondary in the same vessel. The only issue I could think of is if you were brewing a lager it would tie up the fermentor for a long time. I guess you could always rack to a carboy.
How do you control fermentation temp in that monster? Have you crafted a glycol jacket for it?
Scalded, this is one big reason I like these, oxidation is nonexistent.
KC I have the chiller they sell but haven’t used it much, I need a better way to keep the recirc water cold. Plus I think I’d need to insulate it to have it hold temp. I just put together a ferm chamber with a 32" dorm fridge and thats working well to keep things in the low 60’s. Otherwise I’ve been producing beers for the last couple of years just in my basement with a fan on the unit, I haven’t got above 70F doing this. I run pressurized fementations (7psi for a week, then to 15psi) and I think that keeps esters low.
Lennie, Can you educate me a little on pressurized fermentation? Sounds interesting. Should be doable with kegs also - I’m too cheap to buy a conical.
Pressurized fementation mimics the pressures found in larger commercial fermentors. It supposedly speeds fermentation rates and suppresses ester formation at the same time. Plus you wind up with at least partially carbonated beer, and you can avoid oxidation completely. I’ve had good results with this myself. People do use corny kegs for this technique.
Was in St Louis yesterday picking up malt and got a call from the boys at Brewhemoth saying my conical was ready. What great luck! I live 100 miles away so saving an extra trip means four hours and $30 in gas. So I picked up my Christmas present and brought it home yesterday. Here they are the Twin Towers. Now I can have two half barrel batches going at once, although I’ll use the second one as a bright tank at times.
The new one looks to be 2" longer in the barrel of the conical, so it might be a little larger than 22gal. Sweet! And the built-in spunding valve will be easier to use than my homemade model.
That’s really nice. I was thinking about how nice that would be as I was racking to secondary this morning.
Lennie, I didn’t see a thermowell mentioned. I’m assuming the model with the chiller has a thermowell? If not, how do you utilize the chiller without over chilling?
No thermowells, I just tape the controller thermocouple to the side of the fermentor with some insulation on the outside. I think it works pretty well and I doubt its terribly different from getting your reading through a steel thermowell in the center of the wort.
I’m doing all racking by pressure transfer which is nice, and it allows me to completely avoid air/oxidation. Plus I’m getting mostly natural carbonation with the spunding valve.
You can have them weld additional ports on the Brewhemoth by the way, and I’ve seen people install a thermowell in the cap. I didn’t see the need myself.
On my chillers I had someone weld in thermowells, it works pretty good but I’m not completely in love with the internal chiller. When I build my walk in cooler I’ll build external chambers drawing air off the cooler and I think it will work better.
I can go about 50 degrees below ambient, so in the summer I can almost always brew lagers but can’t cold crash.
Lennie, I am jealous, sir. I really need to tour your brewery someday. Have a good Christmas.
Oh, by the way, are you judging Saturday at Happy Holidays?
Bokonon, what is your system for chilling with the coil? I have that and never really got anything together that worked. I saw Penrose’s video on making a glycol chiller out of an AC, might give that a try. I was thinking you’d have to insulate the conical to get temps down, is this not right?
Beav unfortunately I have a family Christmas get-together that had to be on that day so I won’t be there. Sucks to since theres the Friday night pub tour and Gordon Strong is the speaker at the banquet. And I’ll renew my offer to host you and your crew if you ever decide to come up this way for business or pleasure.
I built a window ac glycol chiller, I have a single pump with a manifold and solenoid s for each fermenter. I think the biggest problem is the old chiller the OD (not ID) is 1/4". The newer larger chiller might be better.
For a few years I ran them with one wrap of reflectix insulation on them, recently when I got some free scrap insulation I doubled up one of them and it works slightly better but I am still limited on crashing. When I have free time and the other is empty I’ll give it another wrap.
My garage will be 100+ for part of the summer, but its crazy cold right now. The lager I have lagering is at 37 and cooling is used, but the ale in the other one is at 67 and heat is being used.
One major problem with my setup is the window ac is in the garage, so while it can keep the glycol at 28 in the summer the heat keeps accumulating in the garage making it quite the battle.
I’m also not convinced that an internal coil with this geometry works great. I don’t see any convective flow until fermentation startsand the fermentation stabilizes the temperature. The temp in the middle where my thermo well is might show 67, a test thermowell through the racking port showed 63, and various probes along the outside showed increasingly cooler temps.
I’ve taken to rocking the whole unit till fermentation starts to equalize the temps.
Thanks I may have to give the AC glycol chiller thing a try. My little fridge temp chamber should work for ales though, and probably lagers now that the garage is fairly cold.
Do you actually use glycol/water as your fluid? Does an aquarium pump hold up to this stuff?
I use RV antifreeze, not as good as dow glycol with rust inhibitors that you dilute yourself but it works good enough.
I was using a sump pump from harbor freight which eventually seized up after about 2 years of use. Of course that happened when I was out of town for 2 weeks so about 30ish gallons of lagers spent a bunch of time at 90+ degrees. I switched to an external march pump I had laying around.
A little plastic sump pump? Or something larger? I suppose you wouldn’t need anyting too large, especially with the smaller ID chiller.