A conical fermenter is a type of tank used in breweries, wineries, and distilleries by craft beer lovers. It’s the perfect solution for brewers looking to improve their beer brewing process and increase their production.
Conical fermenters are available in different sizes, shapes, and materials. Most manufacturers offer specific designs that you can choose from depending on your needs and preferences.
The tank has an open top and a cone-shaped body, which narrows to the bottom, allowing yeast sediment to accumulate in the cone. It allows the brewer to control the flow of liquid by using different outlets for outflow.
This type of fermenter is typically made from stainless steel or plastic and may be cylindrical or spherical. Fermentation occurs when yeast breaks down sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide gas (CO2) by consuming oxygen. This blog post will discuss how to use a conical fermenter for your next batch of beer.
Necessary Materials and Equipment
- A conical fermenter
- Airlock and stopper (rubber or plastic)
- Hydrometer for gravity reading, test jar, and bung/stopper to fit the hydrometer tube
- Thermometer for measuring temperature changes during fermentation and the temperature of your batches of beer before adding yeast (optional)
- Spoon/paddle for stirring the wort around during the conical fermentation process
- Heating system to heat lager fermentations above 45 degrees (optional)
- Wort chiller or ice packs and cold water to cool down fermented wort after boiling (optional), cold tap water will do if you do not have a wort chiller
- Bottles and caps for bottling your finished beer
- Bottle capper, bottle brush, or cleaning solution for bottles before filling with home-brewed lager
- Carboy or barrel to transfer liquid from the conical fermenter into bottles, kegs, etc.
Getting Started with Your First Batch
A conical fermenter is a great piece of brewing equipment that makes the entire process easier and more efficient on brew day. It allows you to drain or dump everything from one container, leaving behind sediment in just minutes. So let’s get started with how you can use this awesome equipment.
Step 1: Clean the Conical Fermenter
You must ensure that your conical fermenter is clean before you use it. If there are any cracks, scratches, or other imperfections on the vessel’s surface, you should fix them.
You can find out if a small crack exists by filling up half of the fermenter with water and checking if the pressure causes any leaks.
Step 2: Prepare Your Conical Fermenter
Once you have scrubbed and cleaned your fermenter, it is time to prepare it for use.
Place an airlock in a hole near the top of the vessel on one side of its lid. Fill up half of the fermenter with water to test for liquid and air leakage. If there are no problems, allow it to sit overnight so any gases can escape.
Step 3: Prepare Your Wort
While you wait for your conical fermenter to finish preparing, prepare a fresh wort made from malt extract or other sugars such as honey. The wort should be boiled in another pot to kill any bacteria or contaminants that may exist.
Step 4: Transfer the Wort into Your Conical Fermenter
Once you have brewed your beer, it is time to transfer it into the fermenter. You can use a siphoning tube for this purpose and ensure no air bubbles enter the line. You may have to use a secondary fermenter if you don’t have enough space in your conical fermenter.
Step 5: Pitch Enzymes and Yeast
Once you have transferred the wort, it is time for you to pitch enzymes and yeast so fermentation can take place. The vessel should be sealed tightly with its lid and left to sit for several days until the yeast has grown.
Step 6: Remove the Sediment
Once you have pitched enzymes and yeast, allow it to ferment for a few weeks, and remove sediment that may have formed on the bottom of your conical fermenter. There are specialized filters available if needed, but simply siphoning it out or using a racking cane will suffice.
Step 7: Transfer to Bottles
Once you have allowed the sediment to settle, transfer your beer into bottles and seal them tightly with caps. You may want to allow for secondary fermentation before drinking, but that is unnecessary unless you make champagne-style beers. The longer the bottle sits, the more carbonation will form.
Use an auto-siphon or transfer pump (bucket) if possible for transferring liquid out of the fermenter.
Step 8: Clean Your Conical Fermenter before Storage
Once you have finished using your conical fermenter, be sure to clean and sanitize before storage (avoid storing wet as this can lead to rust). Ensure that any valves or taps are closed off completely before storage with no airlocks in place.
A great way to avoid issues during fermentation is by placing the fermenter in a room at your preferred fermentation temperature and not moving it until the process finishes.
Using a conical fermenter does not have to be difficult, but a few common mistakes can hurt the brewing process. Here are some things to watch out for:
Using a Huge Fermenter
The biggest mistake is to use a fermenter that’s too big. The fermentation doesn’t need as much room as you think it does, and the beer will create its CO² during active fermentation, which helps with racking.
The biggest problem you can have is if there’s not enough room for the sediment to settle down, causing it all to come out during racking.
Not Cleaning and Sanitizing the Fermenter
Brewers often forget about the cleaning and sanitizing of a conical fermenter before adding yeast or wort into the fermenter.
If you don’t clean it before adding your wort, then there are still small amounts of anything that may have been left on the surface or in any crevices. This will affect how well fermentation starts and may slow down the process while contaminating your clean beer with off-flavors.
Using a Conical Fermenter without a Pressure System
Another common mistake is not using a conical fermenter with a pressure system or not having a good enough airlock.
You want to keep the CO² around your beer during fermentation, but you also don’t want too much since it can affect how well fermentation is working and make for some off-flavors in your finished product as well.
Using the Wrong Type of Conical Fermenter
Most importantly, though, if you’re buying a conical fermenter, make sure you buy one made specifically for home brewing. You can find some at your local homebrew shop or online.
Not Removing the Sediment Properly
Sediment is another common problem for brewers who are just starting to use the conical fermenter. If you don’t remove the sediment properly, it will mix with your beer when racking. This can cause off-flavors in your finished product and isn’t something that excites many brewers.
It would help if you had a way to drain all of the liquid so that none gets transferred back into the fermenter. If you don’t have a siphon hose, then make sure to use tubing so that you can get the beer into your carboy without any problems or sediment mixing in with it.
Advantages of Using a Conical Fermenter
- It prevents trub from getting stuck at the bottom of your fermenter.
- It’s much easier to clean than other types because you can remove the cone and dump out all the sediment at once after it finishes collecting in there.
- You can smell and taste your final product with ease because there are no flat surfaces to collect residual yeast in the way.
- The cone shape allows for easier oxygenation during fermentation because it makes stirring and racking easy tasks, which will keep your product fresh.
Disadvantages of Using a Conical Fermenter
- A conical fermenter is much more expensive than other fermenters.
- They also take up quite a bit of space in comparison with flat vessels, so you’ll need plenty of room if you want to use a conical fermenter for all of your brewing or winemaking projects.
FAQs about Using the Conical Fermenter
What types of beer can I make in a conical fermenter?
Conical fermenters are generally for making lagers, but you can also use them to ferment ales. The advantage is that the yeast will have more room to grow and spread out, so you won’t get as much sediment or trub at the bottom of the fermenter.
Can I use other equipment with my conical fermenter?
Conical fermenters are great, but they can be expensive. You may want to consider purchasing a cylindroconical fermenter or even converting your plastic carboys into fermentation vessels by using the Big Mouth Bubbler system. The most important thing is that you have a device for fermenting your beer- use whatever works best in your situation.
What are some of the most important things to consider when using a conical fermenter?
You need an airlock or blow-off hose – a large conical fermenter won’t be able to handle huge krausen like a plastic bucket or carboy. You’ll need to let out some of the gases to avoid blowing off your airlock and risking oxidation. However, you can’t ferment in an open container since it’s not a sealed space like other fermentation vessels.
How do I clean the inside of my conical fermenter?
It’s essential to keep your fermentation vessel as sanitized as possible. After all, you’ll be transferring beer into it and taking yeast out for later batches. But most importantly, remember that you want to use non-chlorine and non-bleach sanitizers.