Home brewing stainless steel conical fermenters!
Back in my day, if you were a home brewer and wanted to ferment your beer, you only had a few options. You could ferment in a bathtub, plastic bucket, glass carboy or perhaps if you liked to hang out at the Renaissance Faire a bit too much you might ferment your beer in a wooden barrel.
But now a days with home brewing growing so rapidly in popularity we have it easy and there are a variety of fermenter options we can choose from! So wipe that mascara and tears from your eyes pirate man, because home brewers can now brew with small scale versions of what pro brewers use and for relatively low prices. As a matter of fact, right now you can pick up a 14 gallon stainless steel conical fermenter for $495. Click here for more details. These are not some piece of junk fermenter either, they are the real deal, constructed from Food Grade 304 Stainless Steel. Here are some specs on the stainless conicals:
You can pick up a 7 gallon version of this stainless steel conical fermenter for just $395, but I would recommend the 14 gallon version which is currently $495 and is perfect for 10 gallon beer batches. Even if you are not brewing 10 gallon batches now, you may be down the road, so it is something to consider.
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I have good news for my fellow home brewers. If you have always wanted a stainless steel fermentor for your home brewing setup but have been scared away from making the purchase by either the cost or the size than this might be the fermentor for you.
Last month MoreBeer.com released these new 7 gallon stainless steel conical fermentors and I picked up 2 of them. They currently retail for $225. There are several things that I like about these stainless steel fermentation buckets. First off is that they are small enough where the still fit in the chest freezer that I use as a fermentation chamber. Secondly, they have strong handles on the side that permit you to carry and move them around when they are full. Something that would be far more tricky with a larger 14 gallon conical stainless steel fermentor. Another thing that is great is that they have volume markers engraved into the side of the fermentor which is awesome!
Perhaps the best thing about this stainless steel fermentor is that it wont crack, chip, break or possibly shatter if you drop it and embed large shards of glass into your leg! In most cases this will also make the need for a racking cane obsolete. It is also larger than standard carboys! With its plus sized 6.95 gallon capacity you wont have to worry much about head space during high krausen on a 5 gallon batch. Lastly what I like about it is that it is far easier to scrub than a carboy since the large lid comes off so that you have full access to the inside of the fermentor. Honestly about the only thing about a carboy that I miss is being able to watch the fermentation take place. It would also have been nice to have another valve on the very bottom so that you could remove trub or harvest yeast from the fermentor. Those two points aside, if you are looking to purchase a reasonably priced, high quality stainless steel fermentor or stainless steel brew bucket as they call this, than this is a great choice.
You can purchase this stainless steel fermentor here:
Are you like most of the county or I should say world and can’t get your hands on a bottle or pint of Pliny the Elder, one of the worlds best Double IPA’s? Well don’t look so glum, you now have the ability to brew your own!
Thanks to MoreBeer, you can now purchase an authentic Russian River Pliny the Elder All Grain Brewing Recipe Kit or Pliny the Elder Extract Home Brewing Recipe Kit. Rest assured, this is not just some Pliny the Elder clone that they whipped up in the back of their warehouse. This is one of their exclusive BrewMaster Series Recipe Kit that comes directly from Vinnie Cilurzo, the owner \ brewer of the Russian River Brewing Company.
The recipe comes with all the ingredients that you need to brew a batch of Pliny the Elder, minus the yeast and they have a few options for you to choose from as far as that goes. I personally would recommend going with the Wyeast 1056 liquid yeast. Good luck and happy brewing!
The Pliny the Elder Recipe Kits are currently available here:
Top 10 Tips For Improving Home Brewed Beer
Home brewing is an fun but complex hobby, and home brewers are always on the lookout for ways to make their next batch of beer better than the last. The following is a list of the 10 easiest tips and methods for improving your home brewed beer.
1) Proper Cleaning And Sanitization
Probably the easiest way of improving the quality of your beer is to simply clean and sanitize your home brewing equipment properly. Cooled wort is extremely susceptible to contamination from bacteria and wild yeast strains. Anything that comes in contact with the wort once it has been cooled must be sanitized. Even small amounts of bacteria can quickly ruin the taste of your home brewed beer.
2) Use a Yeast Starter (or at Least Rehydrate Dried Yeast)
Many home brewers fall prey to under fermented home brewed beer, stalled fermentations, or off flavors caused by under pitching yeast or pitching nonviable yeast. A yeast starter is a great way of boosting your yeast cell count and of verifying the viability of a liquid yeast. If you are unable to create a yeast starter and are using dry yeast, at the very least you should rehydrate your dried yeast.
3) Aerate/Oxygenate Your Wort
Aerating and oxygenating your cooled wort is a fantastic method for improving the quality of your beer. Yeast requires oxygen to replicate quickly and once the airlock has been placed onto your fermenter, little to no new oxygen will be available for the yeast to consume.
4) Temperature Controlled Fermentation
Many home brewers who are first starting out take the importance of fermentation process for granted. During fermentation, billions of yeast cells are digesting malt sugars and converting them to nearly equal portions of carbon dioxide and alcohol. If the temperature of the fermentation is too high for your yeast strain, the fermentation may occur too rapidly and foul off flavors may be produced in your beer. If the temperature is too low, the yeast may not reproduce quickly enough and your beer may stall, be under fermented, or increase the possibility of a bacterial infection. So always pay attention to the temperature requirements of your yeast strain, and ferment your beer in a temperature controlled environment if possible.
5) Dechlorinate and Filter Your Water
Water is the primary ingredient in beer, and its importance should not be underestimated. Chlorine and contaminants can create significant off flavors in your finished beer. Carbon water filters are relatively inexpensive, and I highly advise that you pass your brewing water through one before using it during any part of the home brewing process.
6) Use Fresh Ingredients, Especially Hops
Home brewing ingredients, just like all other food ingredients, go bad and diminish in flavor and effectiveness over time. Whenever possible, always use the freshest available extracts, grains, yeasts, adjuncts, and hops when making your home brew. If you have spare ingredients, make sure that you store them properly for future use. Hops and yeasts should always be stored in the refrigerator.
7) Dry Hop Your Beer
Dry hopping is a simple and effective way of improving the aroma of a beer. Approximately 7 days prior to kegging or bottling your beer, simply add an appropriate amount of aroma hops to your fermenting beer to impart some fresh hopped aroma to it. Dry hopping is not acceptable for all beer styles, but can be a fantastic addition to IPAs and pale ales.
8) Do Not Rush Your Beer
It is easy to get excited about a beer and cut corners so that you can enjoy the beer more quickly. Unfortunately, cutting corners typically comes with a price. Beer takes time to brew, ferment, and condition. Do your best not to cut your boil short of 60 to 90 minutes, rush your fermentation by allowing the temperature to get too high, end fermentation early, or take shortcuts in bottle or keg conditioning.
9) Use Finings When Appropriate
A lot of things go into making a great home brewed beer. It is more then just taste. When appropriate, fining agents such as whirlfloc should be used to improve the clarity of your beer. Whirlfloc and other finings, such as Irish Moss, are very simple to use; you just drop a tablet in 15 minutes prior to the completion of your boil, and it will help precipitate excess proteins and tannins out of your wort, leaving you with a clearer and cleaner finished beer.
10) Do Not Oxidize Your Beer
Oxygen can quickly skunk the flavor of your home brew, and the only time when oxygen is a good thing is when you are aerating your wort prior to pitching your yeast. Even then you must be cautious not to aerate your wort if it has not been cooled to 80F or less, as you may risk causing hot side aeration. When racking or transferring your home brew, always be cautious not to splash or let the beer bubble up, introducing oxygen into it. If you keg your beer, it is a good idea to purge the head space of the keg with CO2 after filling the keg.
Those are the West Coast Brewer 10 Easy Ways of Improving Your Home Brewed Beer.
Many of the items mentioned above such as whirlfloc and Irish moss can be purchased here:
A home brewing single-tier brewing sculpture or beer rack is a single level brewing configuration where all of the brewing kettles are at the same level. Single-tier brewing racks typically consist of a hot liquor tank, mash tun, and boiling kettle. One or two pumps are used to transfer liquid from one kettle to another.
A notable benefit of a single-tier brewing sculpture over a multi-tier one is ease of access to the kettles. On a single-tier platform, the kettles are all at one low height, so it makes it safe and easy to stir the mash, add water to the hot liquor tank, or transfer the wort from the boil kettle. If the single tier system is constructed high enough off the ground, gravity can still be used to transfer wort from the boil kettle to the fermenter. Single tier beer racks also tend to be more stable then a multi-tier rack; trust me when I say that one of the last things you want is 15 gallons of burning hot liquid pouring down upon you due to an unstable rack or earthquake.
Cleaning and unloading grain from kettles is also very easy with a single-tier design since no step stool is required to reach any of your kettles. I personally use a single-tier brewing rack that I designed and constructed myself. It was a good deal of work, but I also learned a lot while building it. If you prefer not to build your own, there are some really fantastic stainless steel models available for sale here:
Below is a photo of the brewing rack that I built. It uses 2 pumps, 3 burners, and 3 (20 gallon) Blichmann brewing kettles. If you have any questions on building your own, please feel free to drop me a line.
Here is a MoreBeer.com single-tier brewing sculpture. You can click the photo to go to their site: