For the fermentation process you used to only have two choices, a bucket or a carboy. Both were acceptable ways to ferment your beer and they both had their own advantages and disadvantages. However, recently a newer type of fermenter has been gaining popularity for homebrewers. A type that mainly used by large scale breweries is making an appearance in the homes of homebrewers. This vessel I am referring to is known as a conical fermenter and it makes a great addition to any homebrewers setup.
What is a Conical Fermenter?
Like the name suggests, a conical fermenter is a fermenter with a cone shaped bottom. The top half looks like any other classic fermenter while the bottom is conical and comes to a point. The bottom also features a valve which is what makes it so useful compared to other fermenters. The higher end fermenters are made out of stainless steel, but you can also find them made out of plastic too.
Advantages of Conical Fermenters
These fermenters come with several advantages over the classic fermenters. The first major benefit is that you can remove the sediment, or trub, from the bottom of the vessel through the use of the valve. As your beer ferments the yeast and other unwanted products settle to the bottom. Due to the conical design, you can open the valve and just separate the bottom layer without removing any of your beer. This feature also provides the secondary benefit of allowing you to do primary, secondary, and even storage in this one vessel. These fermenters are also referred to as “unitanks” since it all can be done in one container. This saves you time and effort by eliminating the transfer steps during the brewing process. The final benefit it provides is making it easy to transfer and bottle the wort when you are done. Instead of having to use a siphon, you can use gravity as the driving force of your transfer. If the fermenter is at a higher elevation than your bottles or keg, gravity will do all the work for you. Many of the fermenters come with mounts so you can mount them to a wall and just place your desired storage vessel below it.
Best Plastic Conical Fermenters:
FastFerment Conical Fermenter
The FastFerment Conical fermenter is probably the most popular fermenter out there. It is a 7.9-gallon fermenter made out of BPA free and food grade plastic. In 2016, this fermenter won a gold medal at Homebrew Con. The vessel was designed in the same way as the fermenters used by professional brewers. It has a wide top opening, this allows for easier addition of ingredients to your beer. A yeast collection ball is also included with this product. This ball is an easy way to collect the trub from the bottom of the fermenter. The trub then can be disposed of and the ball is cleaned and reused next on your next batch of beer. Another included bonus is a bottle filling attachment, a tool that helps speed up the bottling process for both kegs and bottles. This kit also comes with a stainless steel thermowell allowing for fast and easy temperature readings. Just place a thermometer in the thermowell and you can get an accurate temperature. A very useful feature of this fermenter is the ability to mount it to a wall. Wall mount equipment is included with it allowing you to attach it to the wall giving you more floor space. Also, when it is attached to the wall you are able to use gravity to assist during the transfer process. Vessel Design – The sloped wall design is the same design used in professional breweries.
The Catalyst Fermentation System
The Catalyst Fermentation System is another great option for those searching for a conical fermenter. This one can hold up to 6.5 gallons,
making it a little smaller than the FastFerment one. It is built using Tritan, which is a BPA free and food safe polymer. It has the appearance of glass but is shatter resistant, scratch resistant, and has a barrier to protect the beer from exposure to oxygen. The material is even dishwasher safe and can handle temperatures up to 230°F. It also has a 3’ Trub Valve, making it one of the largest valves out there. The larger valve size allows for the attachment of various sized mason jars. A 24 oz. mason jar can be used to collect the trub, yeast, and other leftover hops. A 16 oz. jar can be used to pitch yeast during primary fermentation. Keep the jar attached and you will automatically collect the yeast as it falls out after fermentation. Finally, an 8 oz. mason jar can be used to collect the yeast at the end of secondary fermentation that is still useable. It can be collected and then stored for later use. This fermenter also comes with a stand allowing you to elevate the vessel for easy placement of the mason jars below. A bottling attachment along with all of the necessary transfer tubing and clamps are also included with this vessel.
The Fermentasaurus, as the name suggests, is a massive conical fermenter with a 9.25-gallon capacity. It is built with clear and durable PET. Similar to the other fermenters it features a dump valve and comes with a collection ball for collecting the yeast and other debris at the bottom of the vessel. The lid for this fermenter has an airlock to prevent over pressurization without letting any contaminants get into the beer. What really sets this fermenter apart from the others is the ability to serve beer straight from this vessel. Through the use of their pressure kit (sold separately), you can carbonate and serve the beer right from the Fermentasaurus. The removal of the racking and bottling steps reduces the chances of the beer becoming infected. Since it is all done in one vessel, as long as it is properly sanitized, there is no need to worry about infections! The stand for the fermenter is also very sturdy and high enough so serving can be done with ease.
Best Stainless-Steel Conical Fermenters:
Grainfather Conical Fermenter
For those who are serious about their homebrew setup, the Grainfather conical fermenter is a great option. It is an 8-gallon vessel built with double-walled 304 stainless steel. It is durable and insulated due to the double wall design. Unlike the average conical fermenter value setup, this one features two taps, allowing for easy sampling and transfer, along with yeast removal for later use. This fermenter also comes with a digital temperature controller for temperature-controlled fermentation. The controller can have up to four fermentation profiles and up to five different temperature setpoints. What makes this fermenter so great is that it can grow as your brewery does. There are several addons available for purchase to improve your brewing process. However, they are not required when you are just starting out. An example is the ability to be hooked up to a cooling pump to circulate coolant through the wort. While it is not necessary, it will give you much more control over the fermentation temperature.
Ss Brewtech Conical Fermenter
Last but not least, is the Ss Brewtech Conical Fermenter. It’s a 7-gallon, stainless steel fermenter and has an industry level feel, yet still is affordable to an average homebrewer. It was designed with convenience in mind – this vessel is stackable with other Ss Brewtech equipment – saving you space. Like all the other conical fermenters, the yeast settles at the very bottom of the vessel, which is below the racking arm allowing for a cleaner transfer. The racking arm is also rotatable allowing for an easier transfer process. Though the vessel may appear large, it still will fit into an average sized chest freezer for a cooler fermentation. The carrying handles are welded on too, so no need to worry about dropping it while moving it. The volume markings are etched on the inside of the vessel, allowing you to always be able to easily determine the levels. Temperature control is not included with the base model; however, you can purchase a chilling kit for a more stable and accurate temperature-controlled fermentation.
The Budget Option: If you are on a budget you should go with the FastFerment Fermenter. It is on the larger size allowing for both and small batches. Everything you will need is included and no additional addons are required.
My Personal Recommendation: The Catalyst Fermentation System is the fermenter I personally recommend. I believe it is the perfect size without being too big. The tritan material is also very durable and gives it a premium look. The stand is also very stable and the whole setup looks very professional. The ability to use different sized mason jars and to pitch yeast straight into the fermenter are some of the features that I believe really set it apart from its competitors.
The Professional Brewer Option: If you consider homebrewing more than a hobby, you should invest in a stainless-steel fermenter, specifically the Grainfather fermenter. The dual tap design for yeast separation and transfer is a very useful feature. Also, the ability to add additional features to the fermenter as desired is perfect for the most passionate homebrewers.
The conical fermenter is an upgrade every homebrewer should make. There are tons of benefits including the ability to easily separate the yeast and trub, and the elimination of the transfer steps. A conical fermenter will save you time and effort, and even money by reusing yeast, making it a great investment!