Conical Fermenters

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Conical Fermenters

Postby Liquid Blur » Sat Jul 27, 2002 2:26 pm

Hi Everyone,
I have yet another question. Umm..More like a request for info. Anyway, what do you guys think of conical fermenters. Do any of you own one? If so what advantages are there and can you also give me a general idea of how the work. I can't figure out how your troob would be settled to the bottom so you would be able to seperate it from the wort. Oh well, maybe I'm way off. Thanks for your help guys!
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Postby dartedplus » Sat Jul 27, 2002 6:29 pm

Hey Blur,
I myself dont have one, but would like to get one. It works by allowing the trub to settle to the bottom by gravity. Its just that the bottom isnt flat, its a cone. So as it settles it goes down into this cone, and then when you want to get rid of it, you just open the valve on the bottom and it comes out first before any of your wort comes out. When you start to see clearer liquid, then you stop.
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Postby stouts » Sat Jul 27, 2002 8:13 pm

I have never used one but i hear they have problems plugging off.
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Postby Brewer2001 » Sun Jul 28, 2002 12:13 am


I had a nice response to your post but my modem timed out. Sorry.

I will recap, if you are thinking about a tank you will reap the benefit but need $$$ to do it unless you can get on used. The things you need to consider are:
Size: 7,12,27 gallons.
Material: plastic or stainless (I would not buy the plastic one)
Type of plumbing: ball valves or butterfly (ball valves are usually smaller diameter are prown to clogging).
Cooling and insulation: internal, external or secondary (glycol)
Cleaning: removable top or CIP

I have worked with medium (20 to 40 barrel) and small (5 to 10 barrel) Unitanks. All were SS, glycol cooled, insulated and used SS 2 inch Clover/Tri clamp fittings. For the tank to be usable most of the pro options need to be ordered.

Let me know if you need any additional info. Here is the short explanation on how they work. The cooling jackets are set so they produce currents within the tank to cool the beer and keep the yeast in suspenssion during primary fermentation. When the temperature is lowered the trub, dead yeast and live yeast settle out to the frustrum of the cone where they can be purged. This is done before yeast is collected and the beer is transferred to the conditioning tanks (secondaries).

They do help produce cleaner beer and yeast collection but cost $$$ and take up space.

Good brewing....

Tom F
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Postby Liquid Blur » Sun Jul 28, 2002 3:27 pm

Thanks for all the great info!
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Plastic Conis

Postby andytv » Mon Jul 29, 2002 8:43 am

My club uses 15gal plastic conicals. I know that stainless is better, but these seem to work pretty good, in fact we liked the first one so much, we bought 3 more. The benefit that we most enjoy is the easy removal of trub. After primary fermentation, I can remove the hops trub, and dead yeast from the bottom of the cone. We then let the beer sit for another 2-3weeks (this is where glass or SS would be better, but we still produce quality beers). Racking is a breeze. Their is a valve midway up the cone that allows you to drain the beer w/o having to open the fermentor while leaving any trub behind. Also, you can fill the fermenter w/ wort through this valve to minimize exposure.

We paid about $200 a piece for ours from Mini-Brew. They are about 5/16" thick food grade HDPE plastic and include two ball valves and the required fittings. So far cleaning them has been easy with only water and the occasional overnight soak w/ cleaner. The only issue is that the lids are not airtight. The MFR claims that this is not required. If you wanted to, you could fit a big o-ring inside the lid.

BEst Regards,

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Low $$$, high performance option

Postby mattg » Mon Jul 29, 2002 10:08 am

I use a 15 gallon glass demijon which is tear-drop shaped. It comes with a wicker basket for about $40 +s$h. I put a two hole stopper in the mouth and inverted it in a very simple wooden stand. Through one hole I put a 3/8 diameter acrylic plastic tube which extends up through the wort/beer to just short of the top (which is actually the bottom of the vessel but it's now upside-down). When I'm fermenting I put the end of the plastic tube extending out side the vessel in a glass of cheap vodka. This is an effective and infection-proof airlock. I switched to this lock setup when I discovered that during extremely active fermentation a partial vacuum sometimes occurs and draws the liquid in the airlock back up the tube. It never reached more than half-way up the tube and was of very short duration but no sense taking the chance of infected water being drawn into the mix. I brew 14 gallon batches and this allows a way for foam to escape without blowing off the airlock. If you brew in batches that leave enough space in the demijon for foam to build (<13 gallons) you can use a commercial airlock on the end of the tube by heating it bending it into a U shape and using a short piece of 3/8 vinyl hose as a coupler. This allows CO2 to escape and also allows for air to enter at the top when drawing off the trub.

Drawing the trub and draining the beer is done through a shorter tube inserted through the other hole with an inline valve on the end.

This method has an added advantage when using the demijon as a secondary. It allows you to vary the length of the draw tube (how far it extends up into the settled beer) and drawing the clear beer toward the top and removing the beer BEFORE the sediment. To be honest usually I still use a plastic flat-bottomed fermenter and only use the demijon for secondary and clarification. Admittedly, you have to use caution when moving the demijon (I broke one) but when using it as a sencondary its transparency far outweighs its fragility. Keep the wicker basket handy at all times.

Not only does the demijon's transparency and low cost make it a better choice than stainless for home brewers but there are also no welds or seems to harbor nasties. I'm sure you could locate a larger capacity if 1/2 barrel batches are too small.
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