So, you’re a homebrewer. You’ve mastered the beer-making process and now you’re looking to upgrade your setup.
Every step of the beer-brewing operation is crucial to your overall outcome, making the quality of your equipment equally as important.
A great step to start enhancing your beer is fermentation. There are several types of beer fermenters on the market today; the most exciting being the conical fermentor.
These devices were once reserved for professional-grade beer production, mainly due to their price, but they have recently become much more affordable, making them an incredible addition to any serious homebrewer’s toolset – or for those opening a new brewery.
Fermentation is one of the most important components of the home brewing process; it’s essentially what makes beer, beer! This is when your brew develops its carbonation and alcoholic content, and it all happens inside a beer fermenter.
You have a lot of options when it comes to fermentation vessels themselves. You’ve got carboys, kegs, good old plastic buckets, and then there are conical fermenters. Conical fermenters are just what they sound like: they’ve got cylindrical tops and cone-shaped bottoms, with a valve located right at the bottom point.
Conical fermenters are a piece of brewery equipment that are typically either made out of plastic or stainless steel, and can come equipped with a number of different features like built-in stands, rotating racking arms, and even automatic temperature controls.
Stainless vs. Plastic Fermentors
The material a conical fermenter is made from can have a huge impact on the outcome of your batches. Stainless steel is easy to clean, doesn’t stain, and generally looks nice. Stainless steel conicals also often have options for temperature control systems and separate racking valves. The drawback: it is more expensive than the alternative.
Plastic conicals come at a much lower cost but are more easily stained and prone to scratches during cleaning. Scratches in the plastic leave refuge for unwanted bacteria to hide from sanitizers, so plastic fermenters need to be replaced more frequently to avoid potentially dangerous health consequences.
Best Stainless Steel Conical Fermentors
1. SS BrewTech Stainless Steel Chronical Fermenter
This 7-gallon fermenter has a ¾” dump valve and ½” racking valve, making trub removal a snap. The Chronical includes an elbow and ball valve at the bottom of the cone, a rotating racking arm, and it has a domed lid that leaves room for pressure transfers. It also comes with legs attached, so you won’t need to worry about wall-mounting or getting a separate stand.
Price: $399 – Manufacturer Link
2. The Fermenator™ By Blichmann Engineering
The Fermenator is guaranteed to be 100% leak-free and is the only weld-free interior fermenter on the market, this design eliminates any need for worry about bacteria hiding in weld cracks or leak-causing porosity. It comes in a wide range of sizes, from 7 to 42 gallons.
Price: Starting at $660 – Manufacturer Link
3. SS BrewTech Brew Bucket
Another fantastic option from SS Brew Tech is the Brew Bucket. It’s the first product they ever created. It features welded handles, a rotatable racking arm, and a ⅜” mini ball valve. Its design also allows it to be stacked during use, giving you a lot of space-saving opportunities.
Price: $199 – Manufacturer Link
4. MoreBeer! Conical Fermenter
This larger fermenter allows you to easily brew batches of up to 12 gallons. It has a rotating racking arm, a built-in stand, a 1.5” butterfly valve, and a domed lid with a 3” clover fitting to allow easy access for additions to your brew.
Price: $699 – Manufacturer Link
5. Grainfather Conical – Pro Edition
This double-walled conical holds 7 gallons. It has built-in temperature controls and a double-wall design that keeps the inner walls clean. The Grainfather’s dual-valve bottom tap makes the whole process cleaner and more convenient.
Price: $695 – Manufacturer Link
From online research, here are the best plastic conical fermentors in 2019:
1. FastFerment Conical Fermenter
The beginner-friendly 7.9-gallon FastFerment conical fermenter provides all the benefits of conical fermenters and comes with the added value of an attached yeast collection ball, a bottle filling attachment and an included ThermoWell.
Price: $100 – Manufacturer Link
2. The Catalyst Fermentation System
The Catalyst Fermentation System by Craft-A-Brew holds 6.5 gallons and has a 45˚angle instead of the more typical 60˚. The Trub Trap™’s 3” butterfly valve is the largest of any conical fermenter out there and is compatible with standard wide-mouth jars.
Price: $199 – Manufacturer Link
3. BrewDemon Conical Fermenter
The BrewDemon conical is smaller, ideal for 2-gallon batches. It doesn’t require an airlock, and its spigot is located a little higher up to allow for pouring without needing to remove the trub that has collected at the bottom. It also comes in an amber color which is perfect if you’re worried about staining a clear fermenter.
Price: $45 – Manufacturer Link
4. FermZilla Conical Fermenter
The KegLand FermZilla has a tank that holds just over 7 gallons and comes with a reinforced stainless steel stand. It’s well-suited for 5-gallon batches and has less headspace, so it’s easier to purge of oxygen. The 3” butterfly dump valve is excellent for removing trub and collecting yeast. It can easily be converted into a pressurized tank by adding one of KegLand’s stainless steel pressure kits.
Price:$129 – Manufacturer Link
Advantages of a Conical Beer Fementor
Conical fermenters provide seasoned homebrewers with a number of valuable advantages over other types of fermenters. They are surely more of an investment, price-wise, but the amount of time, energy, and money they can save you, in the long run, is invaluable.
The conical shape has tangible benefits for your brews.
It eliminates the need to transfer to a secondary fermenter if you use it as a “unitank”. It allows the trub and yeast to fall to the bottom of the cone, so instead of moving everything to a separate fermenter, you can slowly flush out this sediment through a dump valve at the bottom. Being able to use fewer vessels means you save lots of cleaning time.
It also allows you to wash and reuse your yeast, saving you lots of money over time and even improving the quality of your fermentation.
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Things to Consider When Buying a Conical Fermentor
Many conical fermenters have a number of add-on options and useful accessories available for purchase. From pressure kits, to carriers, to extensions of the vessels themselves, there’s tons of room for customization. As you continue to perfect your homebrew process, you’ll likely want to take advantage of some of these options.
Conical fermenters come in a variety of sizes. You might purchase a larger fermenter like the MoreBeer! for the production volume, but you’ll want to make sure you have the room to store it. There’s typically no harm in leaving some extra headspace in your fermenter, but if you typically make smaller personal batches, you’ll likely be perfectly fine with one of the smaller fermenters on the market.
The price range for conical fermenters on the market is very wide. This can make your initial search feel a little daunting, but it really just means you have a lot of room to choose one that fits your specific needs and budget.
Next Steps for Homebrewing
Now you’ve got just about all the information you’ll need to find the conical fermenter that’s right for you. They may cost more than other types of fermenters, but conical fermenters provide homebrewers with many tangible benefits.
If you are serious about honing your craft, a conical fermenter could be just what you need to increase your efficiency and improve your overall brewing experience.