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Conical fermenters

LuceKos

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I am going to buy 2 conical fermenters.  I was going to buy 3 "out the shoot" but have decided that 2 is a good start for me.  I am pretty set on a Spikes Conical.  I have mainly brewed 5 gallon extract batches (historically) but I am planning on venturing into BIAB.  I chatted (online) with a rep from Spikes today and she said that fermenting 5 gallons in a 10 gallon fermenter is doable and a lot of people do that.  The price point between them is making me question getting the 10 gallon.  Room (space) is not an issue for these.  I would probably buy the heating and cooling bundle, too.  My question is should I buy the 10 gallon versions or the 5 gallon versions?

I would appreciate comments.  Positive, negative or constructive criticism about his topic is ok with me.     
 

Kevin58

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I can only speak of my experience. My beer drinking circle of family and friends is small so my overall consumption is modest at best. I thought making 10 gallon batches sounded great. I have had the equipment to do so for about 6 years or more. In that time I have only made two 10 gallon batches. I ended up with more beer than I could get rid of in a reasonable amount of time. One batch of cream ale got stale before I got through it all. It takes up space in my kegs that I could use for another beer. And lifting a bag of grain from a 10 gallon batch is nearly impossible without a friend to help of a pulley rig.

With one large conical yes, you could ferment a 5 gallon batch. But 5 gallons or 10, once it's in use you are done brewing until the first ferments out. With two smaller fermenters you can have two different 5 gallon batches going AND if you want to do a 10 gallon batch you just have to split up the wort between the two. Also by splitting the two batches you can conduct side by side experiments with different yeasts... dry hopping... additives like fruit or oak.

Again, that's my experience. I considered a conical capable of handling 10 gallons but in the end I went with two smaller ones and have been happy with them. Your mileage may vary ;)

Best of luck.
 

dtapke

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I'm somewhat the opposite of kevin, I have no problems burning through 10g, often my setup is used between 2 or 3 friends and we all brew together, brewing up to 25 gallons in a batch.

my only .02 would be to go bigger (10) and to go with SSbrewtech unitanks over Spike.
 

OceanBrewWorks

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Good question!  Personally I prefer to have only 5 gallons vs. 10 - same reasons as Kevin.  Not familiar with the Spike?s fermenters but know they make good products.  A small consideration is additional CO2 use if pressure transferring 5 gals to keg from 10 gal fermenter.  Also, additional headspace between 5 gals of beer and top of 10 gal fermenter can affect the consistency of temperature control within fermenter - also true if using external heating (wrap heater) around fermenters.

In the end it really comes down to how many 10 gal batches you?ll actually make.  I?m not endorsing one brand over another but I?ve been using two SS Brewtech Chronicles (one is the BME w/ butterfly valves) and have been very happy with them.  Lots of options for you with either brand.

Hope this helps a little in making your decision.  Whatever you decide, relax and enjoy the new fermenter!
 

Thermobrau

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When I was looking for a fermenter I was close to getting the small Spike, but ended up getting the half barrel SS Brewtech unitank. Awesome piece of equipment, but I am regretting the size. It is 15.5 gallons, and I can't do a 5 gallon batch because the thermowell sits at about the 7 gallon mark. This is important for temperature control. I keep it in my shop and need to be able to heat or cool to maintain desired temps. Also need at least 10 gallons to crash cool.

I just have to do larger batches, so I'm looking into a stainless steel 20 gal mash tun.
 

Jerz

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I can't remember the last time I brewed a 5 gallon batch.... seems no matter how much I brew it gets gone with friends, coworkers, etc... someone ALWAYS wants some so I opted for two of the Spike CD-15's... :D 
 

Rep

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Ho There....

What is the goal? Is it the best beer you can taste? Is it the less expense per pint? Is it more and bigger stainless than your neighbor?

For me it was the hobby. Do it yourself from kitchen stove beer extract kits at 5 gallons. Building standalone brew rigs and moving from cut off kegs to 30 gallon megapots.

Need to add yeast starters to your brewery system? Purchase a 5L beaker and build the stir plate to run it. The 5L liter beaker allows you to to expand your capacity in stages.

Move to fermentation temp control converting an old refrigerator. Buy build the control systemd yourself.

Then, begin converting the DIY equipment to more professional as you create your own stand a lone brewery.

Maybe your goal is to start at the top of the homebrew feed. Or, maybe at the basic level.

Good luck and enjoy.
 
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