Author Topic: Conical Fast Fermenter vs. Bucket Fermenting  (Read 299 times)

Offline biigwigg

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Conical Fast Fermenter vs. Bucket Fermenting
« on: July 06, 2017, 07:30:17 AM »
Hi All,

I'm new to the home brew game, and I'm getting ready to brew my very first batch.  I've been doing a lot of research and reading (John J. Palmer's 'How to Brew').  I am continually seeing articles and suggestions to switch to a "fast fermenter" conical fermenter that allows you to do 1st and 2nd fermentation in the same container.  Supposedly to save time, money, and effort.

I'm curious if anyone else uses this type of fermenter, what your take is, and what your suggestions are for a first timer.

Offline Oginme

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Re: Conical Fast Fermenter vs. Bucket Fermenting
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2017, 11:10:37 AM »
There are a lot of acceptable options available. 

The cheapest is the HDPE bucket.  Make sure it is food grade quality.  They work fine and even some bigger name home brewers use them all the time.  Personally, I don't like the way the lids seal (or don't) and dislike taking the whole lid off to see what is going on inside.  Personal preference.

Next is the carboys.  I do the majority of my brewing in a plastic carboy.  I dislike the clumsiness of the glass carboys and the weight when full.  These have a smaller bung on top, so there is less of an air exchange when removing them.  That said, they are more of a problem with removing bags of hops, oak cubes, fruit, or other materials added during the fermentation.

Some people use sanke kegs for fermenting.  Never tried them, so cannot comment.

Conicals are pricey and, at least to me, take up more room than I can afford in my fermentation chamber.  Since it is not unusual for me to have 4 to 6 carboys going in the winter time, the space can become tight.  The ability to dump trub and collect yeast is, at least on the surface, attractive; it really doesn't seem that much more effort saving than recovering yeast after bottling. 

Others may differ in practice, but I have not seen much use in conducting a secondary fermentation.  Primary can sit on the yeast for 2 to 3 weeks without issue and the only time I do secondary is when I am doing a large fruit or other fermentable addition (and even then I try not to).

In the end, it comes down to your particular practices and needs.  Maybe at a lower price point, the conicals would be more attractive, but right now I just don't see myself getting any added advantage from them. YMMV.

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Offline jtoots

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Re: Conical Fast Fermenter vs. Bucket Fermenting
« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2017, 11:36:15 AM »
I do 10 gallon batches and ferment in one bucket and one glass carboy.  I like that you can see fermentation in the glass, but it's super tough to clean.  My next fermenter will be a better bottle or similar, wide mouth see through plastic.

Secondary fermentations are rare enough in my world (most but not all feedback you get these days will probably be the same) that siphoning is not an issue and a conical wouldn't be worth it.  I also don't harvest yeast.

Offline biigwigg

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Re: Conical Fast Fermenter vs. Bucket Fermenting
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2017, 11:53:33 AM »
Right, not planning on harvesting yeast either, but I like the idea of the majority of the trub and yeast settling in the collection ball.  Then close off the valve, remove it and you (in theory) have a relatively clear brew.  Then, take your priming sugar put it in a new collection ball, or put it in the top and stir slightly to mix.  No need to rack your brew into another container, and you complete you your fermentation on one container, then bottle straight from there.  The idea is intriguing to me....

Offline jtoots

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Re: Conical Fast Fermenter vs. Bucket Fermenting
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2017, 12:00:25 PM »
yup, i agree with that, sounds like a pretty easy process.  another thing to consider, which will be a potential future step, is how you'll achieve fermentation temp control.  if it'll be via chest freezer, you'll want to make sure your conical will fit. 

Offline durrettd

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Re: Conical Fast Fermenter vs. Bucket Fermenting
« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2017, 01:30:02 PM »
The idea of the trub setteling into a collection bulb is great - too bad it didn't work that way for me. I got a bulb of trub, including a lot of yeast, but there was a lot more trub above the bulb that had to be pulled off after the bulb was filled.

I bought a conical because I thought I had to get the beer off the trub before it started rotting. Turns out that's not really a problem with modern yeast. You can leave the setteled yeast in place for far longer than the time it takes to complete fermentation.

The difficulty of building a temperature-controlled space to house the conical fermenter was not worth the expense and effort once I learned - and proved - that yeast autolysis was not a problem.

Offline jtoots

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Re: Conical Fast Fermenter vs. Bucket Fermenting
« Reply #6 on: July 13, 2017, 06:24:57 AM »
The difficulty of building a temperature-controlled space to house the conical fermenter was not worth the expense and effort once I learned - and proved - that yeast autolysis was not a problem.

What do you mean by this?  Please go on!

Offline durrettd

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Re: Conical Fast Fermenter vs. Bucket Fermenting
« Reply #7 on: July 13, 2017, 03:36:46 PM »
The plastic conical I used was much taller than a keg or bucket fermenter it wouldn't come close to fitting in a chest freezer. I tried using a refrigerator, but the conical was too tall to fit. I tried ripping out the divider between the refrigerator and freezer compartments and it was possible - but difficult - to get it in, sitting upright on the bulb, but then I had to wrestle it out and suspend it so I could pull the bulb off and drain the trub above the bulb. It was possible, but was too much work and frustration.

Collecting the trub above the bulb was also frustrating. I had to either dump the first bulb full of yeast and then re-attach it and let it refill (allowing the air in the emptied bulb to bubble up through the beer and increasing the risk of oxidation) or let the trub drain into another container. Also, the trub in the bulb and above the full bulb does not flow freely. It took lots of tapping or using a tool to reach up from the bottom, through the open valve, to break up the trub and start it flowing. There was usually a bit of trub left in the conical and getting trub on my hands and splashing beer all over the place was not conducive to domestic tranquility.

If you're asking about autolysis, it's a biologist's word for rotting. Once a cell dies, the lysosomes inside the cell release enzymes that break down the cell.

 

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