How to choose a fermenter
How to choose a fermenter
If you’ve ever stepped into a brewery that has its operation on display, you’ve likely witnessed a towering conical fermenter.They are impressively beautiful, and most importantly, they’re extremely effective at fermenting beer. These works-of-art come in stainless steel and plastic constructs. We CarolinaBrewtech! offer state-of-the-art conical fermenters from 50L to 300BBL gallons for the serious brewers and hobbyists. We also offer much larger professional grade conical fermenters, up to 600 bbl sizes!
The conical fermenters are generally cylindrical at the top and fall into a cone (conical) shape at the bottom. The shape allows for a valve at the bottom for the removal of sediment without removing the wort. The conical fermenter can also be used for both the primary and secondary fermenting processes, as well as the aging functions. This greatly increases space conservation and saves a tremendous amount of time, especially if you’re a frequent brewer.
Some conical fermenters have options for temperature control, and they are able to withstand much more pressure than their carboy counterparts.
Conical Fermenter Pros:
Allow the entire fermentation process to take place in a single fermenter (no secondary needed for certain batches)
Stainless steel is easy to clean and can last a lifetime
No siphoning required
Conical Fermenter Cons:
Requires a larger area
Most expensive fermenter
More difficult to transport
Tip: Poor or lackadaisical sanitation ruins more brews than any other mistake. You can never be overly cautious. Sanitize multiple times to avoid a contamination.
Temperature Control For Your Fermenting Machine
Because beer fermentation releases excess heat, it’s important to properly control the removal of that excess heat so that the fermentation process can be controlled (different kinds of beer ferment at different temperature ranges, so temperature control is key).
What are your options?
Cooling jackets are the most popular choice for temperature control.The jacket wraps around the fermentation tank, and either hot or cold fluid is circulated through the jacket. There are different styles of cooling jackets available, such as dimpled or channel style, and your needs may also demand that the top or bottom sections of your fermenter be cooled by separate jackets. You should know what type of beer you’re going to be brewing and what your brewing goals are before speaking with us so that we can offer specific advice regarding cooling jacket installation.
In addition to using cooling jackets, commercial breweries often insulate the fermenters to help with temperature control. There are numerous options for insulation (for example, gel-based) so speak with us to see which would work best with your setup.
Cylindroconical Fermenting Machines – the new standard.
More and more breweries are using cylindroconical tanks (a conical bottom and a cylindrical top) for the fermentation process. The cone's aperture is usually around 60 to 70 degrees, which allows the yeast to flow towards the cone's apex, where, at the end of fermentation, yeast and other solids can be flushed out.
The cylindroconical fermenter boasts a number of advantages: industry suppliers frequently cite the low initial cost, low maintenance costs, ease of cleaning, better temperature control, and improved mixing among the reasons to operate a cylindroconical fermenter over competing fermenters.
Despite these advantages, the cost of a stainless steel cylindroconical fermenter may be over budget for small homebrewers, and most non-professional operations generally make do with either glass carboys or food-grade plastic buckets.
Many suppliers offer custom add-ons for your fermenter that you may want to consider. A dry hop port, for example, allows you to add dry hops to the beer after primary fermentation, which has numerous advantages (hoppy flavor and aroma added without too much bitterness). Speak with your supplier about the custom additions on offer. You may also be able to choose the position/quality of standard elements of your fermenter, including valves and manway doors, so do be sure to speak with us about the available options.
Uni-tanks are fermentation tanks that combine the ability to ferment beer with the ability to age/carbonate the beer. Essentially, uni-tanks combine the functions of fermentation tanks and brite tanks. Though this option is not entirely rare, many breweries continue to process their beer with a separate brite tank for aging and carbonation instead of using uni-tank.
Glass Carboys – Homebrewing Fermentation
Though food-grade plastic buckets are perhaps more popular for the beginner brewer, more advanced homebrewers often praise the usefulness of glass carboys for fermentation.
Glass carboys offer a number of advantages over plastic buckets. First, glass carboys allow the brewer to let the beer sit for months (the carboy can be sealed air-tight). This is useful if the brewer doesn’t have any organized or particular plans for distribution. Second, because glass carboys are transparent the brewer can monitor their beer as it is fermenting, which allows greater quality control over the process. Third, fermenting in a glass carboy is generally cleaner and freer of bacteria than plastic bucket fermentation.
There are also some disadvantages to consider. First, glass carboys require specialized cleaning (you’ll need to buy a bottle brush to clean it). Second, glass carboys are more expensive than food-grade plastic buckets, and they’re also much more likely to break. As a result, operating glass carboy fermentation will be higher cost overall than simply using plastic buckets.