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!