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I’ve been toying around with the idea of using a shallow fermenter instead of my old bucket for a long time now.So I decided to finally act on it and look around for something that would fit the bill.I didn’t have to look far,or long.I found something at Walmart the very first time I started looking,and it was pretty cheap.Here’s a picture of it so you can all see what I’m talking about.[attachment=0]131203_245.jpg[/attachment]Sorry about the mediocre picture quality.My phone’s camera is not all that great,but I think it’s a good enough picture to put up here.I found it in the storage aisle at Walmart.It only cost $11,it’s weatherproof,lightweight,easy to clean,and after fermenting a batch in it,I can happily verify that it definitely does the job does fine.It fermented a 5-gallon batch in no time at all-less than 3 days,I think,with no yeast starter used-and the beer that came out of it tastes just fine,if a little underattenuated (although I think that’s a separate issue).As you can see,I drilled a hole in the lid and inserted a grommet and airlock,but I think the airock is actually unnecessary.There are slight airgaps in the sides,but they are insulated with some sort of weatherproofing foam.I never saw any airlock activity at all,and I could see (another bonus of this fermenter) that the yeast had dropped out of suspension in a pretty short amount of time,so I was worried that either the fermenter didn’t work,or the wort had something wrong with it.Not so.The beer is not the best Iv’e ever brewed,but the fermenter did what it needed to do,and I got to have one of those “I did that!” moments where my tinkering and experimentation paid off.So if there’s anyone here who,like me,is looking to experiment with a fermenter geometry that’s more like what a lot of old classic breweries actually uses,here’s a cheap substitute for you old carboy.Give it a shot.

What was the reason for going to this configuration? Something akin to a cool ship style fermentation? Sounds interesting, but I guess I would need to know why, since bucket and conicals seem to work so well…why mess with what works?

That’s just it: tall fermenter dont’ always work,at least not for all yeast strains.The Fuller’s ESB strain in particular,is notorious for falling out of suspension way too quickly and needing additional agitation to keep it working.With this approach,the yeast is given much more surface area of the wort to work with,and if it does need a little agitation because it fell out of suspension too soon,it’s much easier to rouse a fermenter like this without aerating the wort too much than it is with a tall one.The whole surface area issue in general seems like a valid area of concern and experimentation to me,for any yeast.Besides that,it’s been a widely held belief for centuries that different shapes of fermenters will give different flavors of beer.I just wanted to experiment and see for myself if that’s true.I’m going to stick with it for a while and redo recipes I’ve done in the past to see if I can detect a significant difference in flavor.

I have been using square style fermenters for years. My first was a 10 gallon fish tank that I purchased at Wal Mart. I just put aluminum foil over the top and it slid right onto a shelf in my fermentation fridge. I usually just put 5-7 gallons in it. I finally retired it after about 10 years, and decided I should get something more food grade. I bought some 6 gallon lexan rectangles at a restaurant supply store. They were about $25-27 each with a lid that sits on top, but does not seal. I only use them in the winter when there is less funk in the air and little bugs like gnats cannot get in. The best thing about these fermenters is that they are easy to clean and collect yeast. I changed my mind. The best thing is the complexity of flavors. The problem is an occasional infected batch.

I highly recommend you check to see if this container is food grade. Beer is acidic and I think it can leach out chemicals that you would not want to ingest.

You should definitely let the beer sit on the yeast for at least 7 days. It may look finished, but you will get diacetyl and bottle bombs if the beer does not finish out.

Many, many, many breweries used to use open fermentation. Many world class breweries still use open fermentation or square/horizontal fermenters. Stan Hieronymus talks about fermenter geometry a little bit in his great book Brew Like A Monk. Vertical fermenters make good beer, but it tends to be cleaner and less complex. This is a trait many modern breweries want. Of course this is all subjective, but if you like brewing old world styles and hate cleaning carboys, these fermenters are the way to go.

[quote=“SA Brew”]I have been using square style fermenters for years. My first was a 10 gallon fish tank that I purchased at Wal Mart. I just put aluminum foil over the top and it slid right onto a shelf in my fermentation fridge. I usually just put 5-7 gallons in it. I finally retired it after about 10 years, and decided I should get something more food grade. I bought some 6 gallon lexan rectangles at a restaurant supply store. They were about $25-27 each with a lid that sits on top, but does not seal. I only use them in the winter when there is less funk in the air and little bugs like gnats cannot get in. The best thing about these fermenters is that they are easy to clean and collect yeast. I changed my mind. The best thing is the complexity of flavors. The problem is an occasional infected batch.

I highly recommend you check to see if this container is food grade. Beer is acidic and I think it can leach out chemicals that you would not want to ingest.

You should definitely let the beer sit on the yeast for at least 7 days. It may look finished, but you will get diacetyl and bottle bombs if the beer does not finish out.

Many, many, many breweries used to use open fermentation. Many world class breweries still use open fermentation or square/horizontal fermenters. Stan Hieronymus talks about fermenter geometry a little bit in his great book Brew Like A Monk. Vertical fermenters make good beer, but it tends to be cleaner and less complex. This is a trait many modern breweries want. Of course this is all subjective, but if you like brewing old world styles and hate cleaning carboys, these fermenters are the way to go.[/quote]

I knew there had to be other homebrewers around who had experimented with the same idea.I just wanted to point others in the direction of a cheap unit that works.That’s a good point about the container being designated food grade.I just looked it over to see if there’s anything on it from the manufacturer on that point.There’s nothing to say one way or another.But I’m guessing from the fact that it’s designated as waterproof that it must have at least degree of resistance to degradation from acidic liquid.I might look into it further on the manufacturer’s website.

Not necessarily. That only means it has some sort of seal around the lid to prevent moisture from penetrating. Look on the bottom of the container to check for the SPI code. Stop using the container if it is PVC.

Not necessarily. That only means it has some sort of seal around the lid to prevent moisture from penetrating. Look on the bottom of the container to check for the SPI code. Stop using the container if it is PVC.[/quote]

I don’t see anything in the way of a code,and I wouldn’t know what it would look like,anyway.What should it say if it’s made of PVC?

Look for the “recycle bolt”. PVC’s resin code is 3.

I would doubt that the thing is food grade, which for me would mean I wouldn’t use it. A partially filled vittle-vault pet food container might be a better, but not cheaper option. I’m fairly certain that they are food grade and have nice threaded lids to seal well. I store malt in mine.

Are you talking about the 3 arrows forming a triangle with a number in the middle?The number inside it is 5,if that’s the same thing you’re referring to.I don’t know what that means exactly with respect to whether it’s a food grade material or not.

http://www.thedailygreen.com/green-home ... 21#slide-5

Thanks for the link.That page still doesn’t really say conclusively whether or not all containers bearing that number are inherently suited for food or liquid storage in all cases,but it would seem to indicate so.

I’ve never had an issue with wy1968 attenuating. It flocculates pretty well, but usually finishes out IME.

I have to ask. Why no spacing after punctuation?

The larger surface area would also mean a less dense protective layer of CO2.

[quote=“S.Scoggin”]I’ve never had an issue with wy1968 attenuating. It flocculates pretty well, but usually finishes out IME.

I have to ask. Why no spacing after punctuation?[/quote]

I don’t know.I guess I just get used to posting on YouTube, where characters are limited. Does it really bother you that much?

Can you elaborate a bit more on fermenter geometry? I don’t have the book…

Are you talking about the 3 arrows forming a triangle with a number in the middle?The number inside it is 5,if that’s the same thing you’re referring to.I don’t know what that means exactly with respect to whether it’s a food grade material or not.[/quote]

A lot of food grade stuff I use is 5. Don’t know if that means that all 5 is food grade.

Point taken.Yes,there are tradeoffs between both styles of fermenter.

[quote=“deliusism1”][quote=“S.Scoggin”]I’ve never had an issue with wy1968 attenuating. It flocculates pretty well, but usually finishes out IME.

I have to ask. Why no spacing after punctuation?[/quote]

I don’t know.I guess I just get used to posting on YouTube, where characters are limited. Does it really bother you that much?[/quote]

No, I was just curious, because I’m not used to it.

I’d be curious to split a batch in a carboy and in the shallow fermenter to see if there’s any distinguishable difference. I’ve seen open ferments at breweries in England with similar dimensions (although much larger).

As far as food grade is concerned. I’d just call the manufacturer

Can you elaborate a bit more on fermenter geometry? I don’t have the book…[/quote]

No,I can’t really give any definite information about the actual proportions or dimensions of the rectangular fermenters that commercial breweries use.I just know that they exist.
P.S.: Sorry, I’m mistakenly answering for someone else. :oops: I thought you were addressing me, and I can’t find a way to delete this post.

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