New Brewing Bling – 60 Litre conical fermentor

I had a flash new bit of brewing bling turn up on my doorstep today thanks to the chaps at Farra Engineering . It was not that I had splashed out on some fine new stainless steel, but rather that the prize in the 2011 National Homebrew Competition for the Champion Homebrewer was a 30L stainless steel conical fermentor. Having won the prize I had a chat to the chaps at Farra I asked about upgrading from a 30L to a 60L fermentor as it seemed to make sense to have a vessel that was able to make a decent sized brew. They were only to happy to upgrade my prize for the difference in price between the 30L and the 60L.

The end result is that I have a bright and shiny new 60 L Stainless Steel Conical fermentor! It happens to look like this:

The next thing will be to clean it nicely and then start brewing in it… which presents some challenges in itself.

First of all I have no way of temperature controlling this vessel. All my brewing so far has been in my temperature controlled brewing cabinet (converted fridge with themostat that can switch on the heating or cooling). The only way I can currently brew in this beast is to dump the wort in and brew at ambient. Maybe I need to do 50L of a saison or such that does not really need temperature control?

Secondly I have a big enough pot and mash tun to brew a 50L brew, but I do not have a pump (yet?). I am not exactly sure just how I am going to go about transferring 50L of brew from the kettle to the fermentor? If I have my kettle high enough then I can syphon from the kettle to the fermenting vessel, but I might have to build myself some sort of stand for the kettle.

Those are the main things I have to figure out, but along with these concerns I have noticed some talk about the finish on stainless steel fermenting vessels specifically about the finish of the joins inside the vessel. They were talking about whether the inside surface was completely smooth or whether there was weld inside the vessel with nooks and crannies that might compromise the sanitation and sterilisation of the vessel. Having a look at the welds on the fermentor, while they are neat enough they are certainly not ground and polished inside the vessel meaning there is a lump where the sheets of metal have been joined. As to whether this will have any impact on the beer at all I am unsure. I think the temperature control is likely to play a bigger part in me making good tasting beers, but I am very interested to hear from anyone with experience of fermentors as to whether having weld showing on the inside of the vessel will make any difference to my brewing?

Anyway, seeing as I have more than 60 kg of pale ale base malt sitting in the shed I can probably afford some trials and if they become drain pours then so be it!

More photos of the vessel:

If you have not worked it out already the vessel is able to be pressurised and used as a serving vessel as well as a fermentation vessel which is a nice touch. I guess if I work out a way to bottle from this tank while keeping enough pressure in the bottles then I could pressurise the beer in the vessel (either naturally or by force CO2) and bottle beer without quite so much sediment in the bottle.

I am open to suggestions of what the virgin brew should be? Maybe something along the lines of a Cherry Porter? Let me know what you think I should brew!



About Zane

Mountain biking and beer brewing Zane. Mountain biking since 87 and love it. I really enjoy getting outback on challenging trails in real mountains with like minded mates. Brewing since 2010 and the beer keeps getting better.
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12 Responses to New Brewing Bling – 60 Litre conical fermentor

  1. Jake says:

    Hi Zane,

    In terms of carbonating, you could basically use that valve and pressure gauge on top as a spunding valve. Once you’ve been fermenting for a few days, take a gravity reading. When it’s down to about five points above your target gravity, shut off the valve to stop the CO2 being released. As fermentation will still be activity, pressure will build up in the fermenter. When it’s up to about 15PSI, ease open the valve to let it back down to 14PSI. Close it again, and monitor it for a few days. If it keeps rising then it’s still fermenting, so ease off the pressure back down to 14PSI and keep watching. Once it remains stable, then you’ve naturally carbonated your beer without priming or forced carbonation.

    However, you need to ask the guys that made it if it can withstand that kind of pressure. Mine can’t but I think that’s because of the lid and clamp design. The other option would be to bite the bullet and get a couple of corny kegs — no more bottling, can they can also be naturally carbonated with a spunding valve.

    • Zane says:

      Hi Jake, the vessel is designed with the ability to withstand the pressure and I have previously naturally carbonated a brew in a 50L keg. It is definitely a nice option being able to naturally carbonate the brew!

  2. That’s some serious bling. Perhaps you need to add a few insulated walls to the garage to make a temperature controlled brewing room? Those welds look reasonably smooth, a bit of a scrub out with a brush should do the trick.

    For a first brew would it make sense to do something familiar? That way you can get an idea of the differences using a bigger batch and the new fermentor? Probably needs to be something lots of people like since you will soon have a lot of beer on your hands.

    • Zane says:

      Yeh, insulating the garage sounds like hard work. Maybe I just buy a refrigerated shipping container and use that as my brewery? I have been thinking of keeping my eye out for a big ole fridge or freezer that I could fit this into?

      Doing the first brew as something familiar sounds very sensible but I was thinking that for a sense of occasion it would be fun to do something special to break the fermentor in. I have not had any problems getting through any of the beer I have made. Plenty of friends seem very keen to help out!

  3. That’s a great score!
    I like the idea of a Saison, but my understanding is you need to have a pretty high fermenting temp for saison yeast? We were thinking about doing one but we can’t maintain higher fermenting temps just yet

    • Zane says:

      Fantastic prize aint it! I was thinking that there might be a bit of a critical mass where by if you get enough volume of beer and a good active yeast that it will take itself up to those high fermentation temps? I have had a few brews already heating themselves up when they get active enough.

  4. samryan910Sam says:

    Hey Zane, nice fermenter! Congrats on winning best ale. I had a look around for the recipe for Inzane Brown, but it seems it’s not on here?


    • Zane says:

      Yeh is a nice fermentor. I have been meaning to put a number of recipes up but have not yet had time. I will try to get some more of my recipes up soon!

  5. Have you put any brews through this bad boy yet? I am interested in hearing if you think it makes the brew any better?

    • Zane says:

      Well as i have not yet had time to rig up something to temperature control the vessel I have not yet placed a brew in it. I believe that having temperature control on the vessel will make better beer than having a shiny stainless steel conical fermentor… Hopefully I will find time real soon!

  6. Robert says:

    Get some insulation panels and make your own brewroom to size. I made a temperature controlled cabinet that could ferment 7.5 doz or two lots of 23 litres. You just need a good thermostat. I used light bulbs for heat. This advise might be a bit old, but I’m surfin a bit an ready to get back brewin.

    • Zane says:

      Thanks Robert. I found a fridge that was big enough to put the whole fermentor into. I have wired it up with an STC-1000 thermostat which I can set the temperature etc with. Has both heating and cooling to enable me to keep the brew temperature constant. I currently have about 55L of cider fermenting in the conical… and it is going hard out at the moment!

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