Thursday, December 30, 2010

Charlie Papazian

Dec 30th 2010

  I was lucky enough to get "Microbrewed Adventures" gifted to me this holiday season. Within minutes of receiving it I had leaped head first into the stories enclosed in it. Charlie has been described as the father of American microbrew. His books are great resources for the green homebrewer. In his time there wasn't Wyeast, and there wasn't local homebrew supply stores. He literally wrote the book on homebrew. Literally, if you want to read it, you can it's "The Complete Joy of Homebrewing." I picked it up because it was a used copy on sale for $2 at Powell's. What a great buy it was, and I'm glad that it was Charlie that ushered in brewing for me.
   In the Powell's coffee shop in Portland, OR I thumbed through my used copy of "The Complete Joy of Homebrewing." The author hinted that brewing was at times very frustrating. Then he would state, "Relax, don't worry, have a homebrew." I feel like he may have gotten frustrated a lot in those early days because he used the phrase a lot. I chose the nicest looking copy out of the 5 or 6 used copies sitting on the shelf. It was still fairly worn. There were no hardcover copies available. The cover was thin and bent. The paper on which it was printed had black fibers as if it was recycled paper. I considered it a good find. Now as I sat there with my drip coffee, I flipped to the section on ingredients. I still hadn't brewed. I had placed orders with many online homebrew suppliers, and I was either waiting for my brewing equipment to arrive or the equipment was in the middle of being assembled. Here I was not even a brewer yet and delving into Charlie Papazian's list of ingredients. I wondered as I read through each one what the strangest ingredient could be. Was it Ginger? Was it Coffee, or maybe hot peppers? As I read I imaged what each flavoring would be like and I kept wondering if I could ever brew so many different batches that I tried all of the ingredients that he listed. As I approached the last page of the ingredients section I came across the Cock Ale. I don't want to ruin this one for you, because Charlie is a much better writer than myself, but I will say that it refers to a rooster and that it does appear that it has been used before to flavor a homebrew. You can even try it you're self because there is a detailed recipe on how to make your very own Cock Ale in his book.
   As I sat there with my coffee getting cold and with Jen getting bored a huge grin spread across my face. I read the section out loud and immediately Jen and I had something to discuss and laugh about while we were hanging out in Portland that day. I had found a book that would guide me through the detailed technicalities of pitching yeast and all grain mashing, but more importantly I had found a book that was fun to read.
   Now 6 batches of beer later, I feel like a whole new world has opened up to me. "Microbrewed Adventures" is a great way to spend the overcast days in Seattle. There as so many ideas that come to mind while reading this book, and a little bit of inspiration comes through in Charlie's words and stories to get me motivated. I wont recap on the entire book, but I do really like one of his stories. During the Great American Beer Festival, as Charlie was handing out an award to Rogue Ales' John Meier. John said to him, "That's your recipe taken right out of your book." (Story taken from "Microbrewed Adventures")
   So rememeber if you want to win a brewing award know what the judges like, and if your judge happens to be Charlie Papazian, then you can't go wrong with one of his own recipes. Happy Brewing Everyone, and Happy Holidays.

Friday, December 24, 2010

How to make a Conical Fermenter - DIY Tutorial

Dec 24th 2010

   We'll I posted previously about how much it would cost to build a conical fermenter. Since then I was able to get all the supplies I needed to build the Polyethylene Inductor Tank Conical Fermenter. It was actually very easy. I even took pics of the project from start to finish so that you could get a real feel for it. Lets start with what parts I needed and what I did with them.

   I got the inductor tank that already had a screw on lid and also a 1.5 inch threaded plug. This made is much easier to add the ball valve to the bottom because 1.5 inch is a standard plumbing size. I bought a 1.5 inch male fitting, 1/2 inch female fitting, and a 1/2 male ball valve. I also got three 4" casters wheels for the stand. The  casters have a threaded bolt that is 3/8 inch which matched the bolt holes already in the stand.





Delivered!   Unwrapped!














 Stuff I needed.












It rolls good. This will help when moving it while it's full. I brew in the garage and ferment in the house.























 
   The tank comes with a plug. Take the plug with you to the hardware store so that you can get the fitting that you need. Pick up a Ball valve while you are there. You'll also need some PVC primer and Blue Glue.

   The PVC Primer and Blue Glue are a 2 part type of glue that is similar to a plastic welding process. When the PVC Primer is mixed with the Blue Glue it will harden and weld with the PVC.








































   Put all your fittings and ball valve together. You'll need to apply Teflon tape to the ball valve threads because it's metal. Use a lot of Teflon Tape. Normally you want to do at least 3 layers of teflon. However some experts will go with more. I've had luck with 3 layers so I use it, but if I'm worried at all about the surface condition of the threads, I'll add a couple of layers. You'll never want to use less than 3 layers.





Take the plug out and insert the modified ball valve assembly. Looks Good, Feels Good.
















 Once you're confident that you got the seal right fill it with water and test your work. I'm testing mine in the shower for a few days with tap water.



   So far I have successfully added the Yeast dump valve and the casters. Still to do is adding a racking valve, gasket for the threaded lid, and a hole for the Air Lock. Since I have 2 weeks before my next brewday. I'll focus on those things next weekend.
   When adding any thing to your fermenter, you'll want to go with a weld less fitting. Drill a hole just slightly larger than the weld less fitting. You should be fine.



Dec 27th 2010

   Ok, I got around to finishing up the racking valve. Here's a photo. This valve will be connected to a hose for filling bottles and kegs so there is a barb on it. Since this is all custom work I recommend that you customize yours to what ever equipment you have. I use a small barb for small diameter ID hoses, just because that's what I prefer, and it's easily adaptable. Go with what you like.






Jan 9th 2011

   I decided to place a temperature controller on this fermenter. By doing this I don't have to turn the heat on in the house while no one's home. This heating pad lines about 25% of the exterior of the fermenter. I have also ordered an On/Off Switch Temperature Controller with temperature probe. The Temperature controller will turn the heating pad on when the temperature gets too low and off when it gets to the right temperature. This will allow for better control over the fermenting process.










Jan 13th 2013

   Time flies. I still use this fermenter for brewing and it still gives a very good beer. Kevin recently purchased a stout stainless steel conical fermenter for his brewing process. It's a gorgeous 14 gal fermenter. I like how it looks, but I just can't justify upgrading when this one works just as good or maybe even better.
   Of course the poly ethylene is much softer than 304 stainless steel so I have to be very careful not to scratch the inside while cleaning it. If that's a concern of your's I would definitely pay the extra few hundred $$ for the steel fermenter. Another drawback to the steel fermenter is that the stand does not readily accept casters, so you have to weld or rig up something if you want rollers. The steel is a bit heavier but when either of these fermenters is full they are pretty much, equality hard to move around.


   For comparison I've added this photo of the Stout Conical Fermenter. This is a well made inexpensive fermenter that's made in China. You notice that is doesn't have any holes on the legs to mount casters, so if you want them you'll have to make a bracket drill some holes and bolt it on, or weld them on.

Image taken from
conical-fermenter.com

 



   This fermenter also has a thermometer mounted on it. If your using a temperature controller then you'll already be monitoring the temp with the controller, however it's always nice to have extra temperature monitoring. All of the valves and thermometer have hardware holding them on that is completely removable and cleanable. You can also order parts for everything from Stout. 

   Of course I'm only discussing this in comparison to the Polyethylene that I build before. Between Kevin and I we've brewed at least 50 times using the Polyethylene fermenter and it still provide consistent good tasting beer. I will Post on here as soon as it dies. 

   This is something that you should never have to worry about using a stainless steel fermenter, as you can clean it as hard as you want with severe cleansers and the steel should hold up well. Although I've read that you should not use highly concentrated bleach on 304 stainless because it may cause pitting. With Polyethylene you must to use mild detergents.  







Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Hello My Name is Beer Home Brewery

Dec 21st 2010

Hello, My Name is Beer: Belgian Wit Brew Day Dec. 19th 2010
 In above Photo Left: Matt, Right: Keith

And their brand new immersion chiller


Check out these guys at Word Press. I was fortunate enough to be able to brew with Keith and Matt this last weekend.

We started the Brew at 3pm and finished up around 6pm. Of course I left right before clean up started, but not before they revealed the final gravity.

Beer stats
Type of Beer: Belgian Wit
Starting Gravity: 1.060
Recipe: Partial
Batch Size: 6 Gal
Hops: US Goldings at 40 min and some German Hallertau at 20 min.


The recipe is a secret but I can say that it had flaked wheat, pale liquid malt extract, Chicory, Coriander, Irish Moss, and Belgian Wit Wyeast #3944, Hops: US Goldings and German Hallertau
The flaked wheat was seeped in boiling water for about an hour then rinsed and discarded.
They look like little turkeys ready for an Ompa Lumpa Thanksgiving.

+_-_+~~***THE BOIL***~~+_-_+
And 60 min later
Cooling the wort with the immersion chiller. I admit that the immersion chiller did an amazing job. It cooled the wort about 3gals in just under 20min. There is a reason why these have been used for so long. I could feel the hot water running out of the exit line. It felt like a very good efficiency. I'll take a temp reading next time. When the wort was 68F we...
Strain off the Trub

And Add water to make 6 gals

I really like the color that is coming out at the end of this. It's a pale/blonde color (it gets more blonde as it's diluted). There was a t-spoon of Irish moss added at 40 mins that should help to clean out any of the haze in this brew. Giving a nice color with good transparency. I can't wait til I get a taste of it.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Counter Flow Wort Chiller

Dec. 16th 2010

AKA: Inverse Flow Wort Chiller and Reverse Flow Wort Chiller

   This is one of those technical blogs. Someone once told me to write about what I know. We'll in order to do that I'll lose a lot of people. Not because it's too technical, but rather it's real boring. Counter Flow Wort Chillers are real technical and really boring, yet for some reason I can talk about them for hours. Can you believe it. A good place to start the discussion is why. Why did they ever figure they needed these things?
   An acquaintance of mine cools his wort by the addition of ice. He uses the bags of ice from Safeway so "it's sanitary."
   We'll, it's not sanitary, but he gets a good quality beer from it, and that's what works for him.
   Because cold at freezing temperature (-15 to 0 C) does not kill bacteria. Whatever bacteria that was in that ice when it was water is still in it. Sure bacteria doesn't grow at that temperature. It isn't even active, it's more or less dormant just waiting to get thawed out again. I know just enough to know that I wouldn't do it. I'm optimistic so really I'm hoping the best for his brew. Using ice to cool down your wart doesn't necessarily mean that your going to get an infection. It just means that you have a better chance of it, That's all.
   For my own brew, I like to take as little chance as possible. I sanitize everything with One Step Sanitizer, and I use a Counter Flow Chiller. That's about it. Those 2 things will help you reduce your risk of infection. The chiller itself is designed to keep the wort and the water from physically mixing while at the same time the heat is transferred from the wort to the water. It does this by separating the running water and the wort by thin copper plates. The water and wort flow in opposite directions so that the incoming hot wort is transferring heat to exiting water, and on the other side the exiting cool wart is transferring heat to the coldest flow of the incoming water. This means that you have cold water going in and hot water going out. Here's a simple diagram.

IN - Cold Water (40 to 50F)            (flow rate fast)               OUT - Hot Water (90 to 110F)
----------->Water Flow>----------->----------->------------>----------->------------->
______________________Water/Wart Barrier_________________________________

<----------<----------<-----------<-------------<-----------<Wort Flow<-------------
OUT - Cold Wart (68F)                    (flow rate slow)             IN - Hot Wort (180 to 200F)

  
   Notice how the hot wort is transferring heat to the hot water and the exiting cold wort as it leaves is transferring heat with the entering cold water. This allows for the wort and water to actually changes places heat wise.
   There isn't a 100% transfer, but you can drop the temperature of the wort from 200F to your target 65F is a matter of seconds while it is in the Wort Chiller. The Wort Chiller that I have has an inline thermometer in the wort exit line. This allows me to make small changes in order to adjust the water and wort flows. The heat transfer is done very fast but for a small amount of liquid. I use the 30 plate wort chiller also so it has a better efficiency than the smaller chillers. The wort chiller can chill the wort at .22 Gals/Min or about 10 gals in 45 minutes. This is much better than what I had heard about the efficiency on immersion chillers, however the biggest reason I chose to use a Counter Flow Wort Chiller is that the wort doesn't stay in the danger zone as long as when using the immersion chiller. While I should be careful here because the Danger Zone is actually 41F to 140F. So the wort will be in the Danger Zone even at 68F which is where I want it. Not only will it be in the Danger Zone it will be there for about an hour because it takes 45min to chill and 15min to aerate. On the other hand, there is a more dangerous part of the danger zone and that part is right in the middle. So my wort will not be at the worst temperature for more than a few seconds and on top of that, even though I have to wait an hour before pitching the yeast, immersion chillers and ice bath chilling methods can take as much as 5 times as long. With a very good immersion chiller I'd imagine it would take a could of hours to chill a 10 gal batch. I wouldn't know because I never used an immersion chiller. How can I dis it before I try it? I know. Shame on me. I just can, because well I like to read.
   There are a lot of benefits to the immersion chiller. It has stood up to the test of time. They're cheaper and almost everyone has used them. They are easy to use and very intuitive. To tell you the truth I didn't know for sure how the Counter Flow Chiller would work when I first tried it. When It's all hooked up there are hoses going everywhere. I have to use clothwire hangers and cable ties to keep the hoses from kinking, and you have to clamp each hose to the barbs or else you'll get some leakage. There's also a lot of set up involved, which could be a little difficult for one person while finishing up the boil. I like the mess of hoses, and the tightening of the clamps, and the fine tuning of the water and wort flows. It's the building of something mechanical and almost alive out of fittings, hoses, clamps, and cable ties. It lets me get my Franken Stein out. I named my Beer Stein Franken.
   I guess that a huge part of my beer making process is the ability to DIY everything that you possibly can. The Counter Flow Chiller that I have is manufactured. This is simply because I had no idea that you could make one until after I had bought it. They cost about $100 to buy but I think it is well worth it. The In line Themometer was another $45, and all the barbs and fittings were another $20 so it does start to get expensive fast.
   If you want you can make a counter flow wort chiller. It will look nothing like the manufactured ones however I have a feeling that it will work better depending on how it's made. In the end it will look very similar to an immersion chiller except it wont go in the wort, the wort will go in it. Here's a place that will discribe how to make your own Counter Flow Chiller.

http://www.thegatesofdawn.ca/wordpress/homebrewing/wort_chiller/

   So you can see that making your own Counter Flow Chiller is completely doable. There is some soldering involved, but the hand held propane torch you need only costs about $10 at your local hardware store, and learning how to solder shouldn't take more than a day at the most. I actually like the DIY design a little better than the manufactured one I use because the design is a little different. The manufactured on uses plates while the DIY uses a copper tube. With the plate design there is more chance that trub can get stuck in the plates and cause it to plug up. I can't imagine that this would be much of a problem for the DIY chiller.

Jan 14th 2013
I've found a place on line that supplies a great counter flow chiller for a great price. This is the type of chiller that I would buy if I needed to upgrade to something other than what I currently have.

Counter Flow Wort Chiller by NYBrew Supply

I have purchased one of these Wort Chillers for a friend of mine, and it works good according to him. He has a direct comparison between this chiller and the plate chiller.







Saturday, December 11, 2010

Barley Wine Woes... No no wait, it's ok.

Dec. 11th  2010

  Did you brew a couple of batches and think it was time to make yourself a Barley Wine or Imperial Stout? I just like the names of those beers. They're Large and in Charge. Just the idea of them is enough to keep me awake at night thinking about them. I decided early on that I wasn't going to wait long before I made myself one of these beasts. I barely had 30gals brewed before I set in motion the "Cabin Days Barley Wine." Fun to drink hard to brew. this one was a monster and on top of it you'll be tempted to keep sparging your mash. Why not, that stuff still has sugar water in it. Word to the wise. Don't collect more wort than you can boil. Your first runnings will have 1.090 specific gravity, and what makes it worse is that you'll still be getting 1.030 when you have to toss away your used up malts. I still haven't tried this but I've heard that you can make your High Gravity brew first then after you get done brewing collect some more wort off you mash and brew a lighter second brew. Huh? What? That sounds pretty good. You know caz you have to let that Barley Wine sit around for at least 6 months in the bottle before it starts to taste alright. If you made a lighter second batch you'd be drinking that in 3 week! Three weeks? Yeah 1 week primary, 1 week secondary, and 1 week bottle. You can even shave 5 days off if you keg. That is any normal gravity beer, and even that is rushing things. Personally I like do have the each batch spend at least 2 weeks in primary. If it's still actively fermenting then I leave it for another few days.
  With the Barely Wine one of the things that I had a hard time with was the question about how much time it needed to spend in fermentation. I read about it everywhere. I read anywhere from 2-8 weeks for primary and 2-8 weeks for Secondary. I just want to emphasis this. There is a really big difference between 2 weeks and 3 weeks. So when I read that you can keep it in for 8 weeks, I'm a little cautious. I fear the Autolysis. It's the Sulfur taste that will happen if the yeast starts eating itself. Yeah cannibal yeast! The last time an animal ate another we got Mad Cow disease. I just don't want to think about that or taste sulfur while drinking my beer. So if you have a conical fermenter your ok, because you can dump valve all day long, however if your like me and using plastic buckets or jugs or whatever you can get you hands on that works, then your going to have to find that magic in-between time where it's time to transfer to your secondary. This will help with that nasty Autolysis.
   Primary fermentation is just that, it's when most of your fermenting will take place. Also it comes first... The yeast only cannibalizes it self after all the fermentable sugar is gone, or at least until it is mostly gone and the yeast is surrounded by other yeast and cannot get to the sugar. So there's the problem. If you still see bubbles then autolysis should not be occurring, except for maybe at the bottom of the yeast cake in the bottom of the fermenter where the yeast don't know that a few inches above them they could be happily metabolizing some tasty dextrose. With normal beers it's easy because there's a lot less of everything including yeast, so you don't have to worry so much about autolysis if you transfer within 2-3 weeks. Barley wine is different because we have brewers out there keeping their beer in primary for 8 weeks! Disastrous risk. All that time spent in brewing. Let me tell you the mash on a barley wine is enormous, and the boil is like a sun spot. (watch out for the UV's) So the last thing you want to do is ruin this thing in primary.
   So I was up late thinking about making a Barley Wine and I was up late fermenting this stuff. I just couldn't win. It turns out that you can treat the Barley Wine the same as the regular gravity beers. They will stay in primary longer, but just wait for the activity to slow down to about 1 bubble every hour and you should be ok. Once it's in secondary then you can just leave the stuff. Go 8 weeks if you want. It doesn't matter. but there is one draw back to this. As in wines the yeast will all be dead. Depending on the yeast's alcohol tolerance and also just because when they run out of food they will want to go dormant but can't unless you drop the temperature to below 60F. So if you plan to bottle which you should on a 10% or better ABV Barley Wine. (It's dangerous to keep that stuff in you kegerator. You could lose a couple months of your life, and never get them back. Ever. As I was saying you need to add more yeast just before you bottle. This is a very good idea. also if you want to increase you ABV a percentage point then add it to the secondary about a weeks before you plan to bottle the stuff. You have to have yeast and sugar to get carbonation in your bottles so go ahead and add some priming sugar to the batch before bottling.
   I've heard different places that you can just rely on the residual sugars in the brew to get you the carbonation you need, however I'm a firm believer in not taking chances. I add priming sugar to all my beers before bottling. I tend to add less to my heavy brews. About 1/2 cup per 5 gallons. Lets go back to the whole yeast that you need to add in secondary. There are choices out there. If your a purest then use your London Ale #1028 or American Ale #1056, you know the one that you used originally, but personally I consider the reason I'm adding more yeast... to ferment the residual sugars and carbonate the priming sugar in the bottles. The London Ale yeast has a tolerance of 11% ABV. We're probably encroaching on that % already. Pretty close to it anyways. There are yeasts out there that can happily get those remaining fermentables however they will taste a little different. Can you taste the difference? I don't know. I probably can't, I like to use a lot of Chocolate Malts and a whole lot of Hops in my recipe, so Champagne yeast fermenting 1% of sugar is going to very minimal. The yeast itself doesn't have a huge impact on the taste, it's what types of sugars and how it ferments the sugars that makes the difference in taste. so it really is only about 5% of the taste. Tough call. I use it because it's alcohol tolerance is 15%. I can just feel safe knowing that my yeast isn't going to get alcohol poisoning. Just think of your London Ale Yeast to be the light weight at the party, There's nothing wrong with that, it's just that the real ugly smelly Champagne yeast can put down a few more shots. London Ale is peacefully sleeping on the sofa with a couple of dildos sharpied onto his forehead, while Champagne yeast is hitting on London Ale's girlfriend. Who am I going to trust to finish out the night. Hmmm.
  
    Before I go any further I should post my recipe.

Batch Size 14 gallons -

(I have a 15 gal brew kettle and I had a couple of pots with wort going on the kitchen stove at the same time. I like to make a lot, and I made the mistake of collecting more wort than I could boil).

Fermentables:
36 lbs of Pale Malts (Any of then will work, go ahead and try it.)
2 lbs of Chocolate Malts (I like Chocolate Malts a lot)
4 lbs of Crystal 60
4 lbs of Honey

Hops:
4 oz of Amarillo
4 oz of Cascade
4 oz of Simcoe
4 oz of Willamette

Yeast:
2 of Wyeast #1056 American Ale

I arrived at a 1.085 Starting Gravity and a 1.014 Final Gravity. 9.3% ABV.

I really didn't like this beerat first. 3 weeks after it was bottled, I opened one up. It was so bitter and sweet that I couldn't drink it. It didn't blend the flavors together at all. My mouth felt like it was being attacked on the sweet and bitter at the same time. It was very unpleasant. However 2 months later I opened up another after Kevin stated how good it was, and I found that the flavors had melded together a little more. You should never underestimate the effect of bottle conditioning on beers. The beer keeps getting better and I plan on leaving it for at least 6-12 months before really getting into again. It was such a bad blend of tastes at first that I almost took the beer for a loss. So I guess that in the end I learned this lesson: Never judge your brew too soon. If you don't like the taste give it 2 months and taste again. Conditioning will also break down some of the hoppy alpha acids. giving a much smoother drink. Of course the great thing about making a 9.3% ABV beer is the buzz after the first one. That's a nice benefit.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Stainless Steel Conical Fermenter - Parts and Costing

Dec. 10th 2010  

    If you're like me then right after you bottled your first batch of beer you sat there wondering about all of these really cool conical fermenters people keep writing about. It's everywhere on the net. They promise you things like the ability to reuse your yeast, the ability to ferment and condition your brew in one container (less really big containers to cleanup), and cool valves that you can use to bottle or keg. Really cool! However, after a few trips around the google block you might realize that your gonna be forking out a lot of money for one of those 304 stainless steel conical fermenters. Hard to cope with that cost when the return is minimal. We'll I've been there and analyzed that, and now I'm gonna share it all with you. In the bulk of this post I will even lay down some really cool websites, some price tables, and other gems that should get you on the right track to building your own conical fermenter. I feel like Bob Vila when I say this but, "Lets get started."

    Check out  www.conical-fermenter.com  Stout fermenters are the cheapest pretties fermenters I've seen online. They should be, they ship direct from China and I think they're hand polished. Hard to beat that. You have to order them in advance too. The next best thing is going to cost you a few more C-notes, but it will come from www.blichmannengineering.com/fermentor/fermentor.html  a place right at the heart of Indiana USA.  Yep these guys know what American brewers want...  gadgets, gadgets, and high price tags. Well I got 2 out of the three right. If you're like me then the high price tag negates the purchase possibility. We can try to go lower though. Can't we? We can always try to get something for nothing. That's my nature! Alright! Ready? Let's go.


#1)     304 Stainless Steel 15 Gal DIY Conical Fermenter:

    Lets DIY. That should save us some bucks and it does. But in order to DIY right we first have figure out how much all this stuff is gonna cost. Now I'm going for a very specific fermenter it has to be large enough to hold at least 15gals with room. It needs to have a racking valve, and also a dump valve for the yeast collection, and it has to have a lid that seals. There needs to be a lot of space in the opening so that I can clean the thing out, and there has to be some gadgets. Most importantly it has to be really well made. Why shouldn't it. It's gonna be made right here at home. Lets take a look at the parts list.

Costs are from 2010.

Cost for 1
Item#
Description
Supplier
Part#
Cost
Total w/Tax (9.5%)
Web Site
1
Conical Hopper
Tolido Spinning
TMS201014
 $          248.00
 $                  271.56
2
Lid
Tolido Spinning
TMSL2016
 $            59.00
 $                    64.61
3
Racking Valve
Stout
3/4" sanitary ball valve
 $            29.99
 $                    32.84
4
Hose Barb
Stout
3/8" Hose Barb
 $               9.99
 $                    10.94
5
Weldless Thermometer
Stout
Brewers Themometer
 $            24.99
 $                    27.36
6
Steel for Frame
I-Beam or C-Channel
 $            20.00
 $                    21.90
7
Misc
 $            50.00
 $                    54.75
Total
 $          441.97
 $        483.96
Cost for 5
Item #
Description
Supplier
Part#
Cost
Total w/Tax (9.5%)
1
Conical Hopper
Tolido Spinning
TMS201014
 $      1,035.00
 $              1,133.33
2
Lid
Tolido Spinning
TMSL2016
 $          295.00
 $                  323.03
3
Racking Valve
Stout
3/4" sanitary ball valve
 $          149.95
 $                  164.20
4
Hose Barb
Stout
3/8" Hose Barb
 $            49.95
 $                    54.70
5
Weldless Thermometer
Stout
Brewers Themometer
 $          124.95
 $                  136.82
6
Steel for Frame
Anywhere
I-Beam or C-Channel
 $          100.00
 $                  109.50
7
Misc
 $          250.00
 $                  273.75
Total
 $      2,004.85
 $              2,195.31
Price/Unit
 $                    439.06


    If you want to build one then it will cost about 483.96. If you want to build five then they will cost about 439.06 each. Of course this is a 21gal fermenter, but you can custom make any size you need since it's DIY.

   This is for a 21gal fermenter and it includes the information you need to purchase each item. There's the website and even a Part # for the more important parts. I have to warn you though. You have to be good at welding. This is my down fall as well. I don't have one. But as soon as I have a Ar/CO2 gas shielding wire fed MIG 110v Welder then... Oh yeah Watch out. Caz I'm gonna build 5 of these. You save $44 on each one if you build 5 at a time. Not a huge savings, but worth it if you have buddies that want them. 

So 483.96 to get the stuff you need to build one. That's still expensive, but it might make you feel better to know that when you get to the 21 gal size your actually saving about $500. That's worth it too me, but not doable under current economic conditions. 

#2)    Inductor Plastic Conical Fermenter:

    I thought for sure that I mentioned earlier that we wanted to get one of these things for free. We'll I don't know if we can get it for free but if you're willing to compromise in material (steel to plastic) then we can  get the price down to a fraction of even this, with out the need to use any welding. Basically if you can put in the pipes under a sink then you can construct one of these "Inductor" conical fermenters. Remember the word "Inductor" because that's what these plastic conical fermenting tanks go by. just type it into  your browser and see for your self.
    First of all we aren't going sacrifice quality at all. We are simply going to compromise on materials that we use. With that said go ahead and check this one out  http://www.plastic-mart.com/class.php?item=2800  This is by far one of the best inductor conical tanks that I've seen online. It's not the cheapest but it does state some very important information that makes it a little easier to plan ahead with the construction of the final product. They give us the size and type of fitting for the Dump Valve. It will work with regular plumbing so everything you need will be at your local Hardware store, and since it's plastic you can drill holes in it and use any of your weldless fittings on it. It also appears that the plastic that they use is very durable, you can get your arm in there to clean out the tough to reach places, and best of all there is a pressure tight threaded screw on lid that comes with it. Quality, yes? I think so. And no need for that MIG welder. Oh yeah it comes with a stand. 

These links and hints should get you started in the right direction. I will post more when I have finished with these DIY projects myself.

There are a few people that have come before us, and I think that it's only fair to give them an honorable mention. They are in the "League of Extraordinary Home-Brew Do it Yourselfers"

Long Lasting:
Stainless Steel 21 gal Conical Fermenter DIY:
Yuri Rage
http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/diy-conical-fermenter-14855/

Frugal:
Polyethylene 14.5 gal Inductor Conical Fermenter DIY:
Joe Airstrup
http://frugalconicalfermenter.blogspot.com/


Recently I've finished my 50th home brew in a Inductor Tank Conical Fermenter that I build my self. See Below.

These tanks last a long time but you should be careful cleaning them. I will most likely upgrade to a stainless steel conical however I wont do it until my Inductor Tank Conical fails me.


_________________________________________________________________________________
DO IT YOURSELF INDUCTOR TANK CONICAL FERMENTER
-HOW TO TUTORIAL-



Dec 24th 2010

   We'll I posted previously about how much it would cost to build a conical fermenter. Since then I was able to get all the supplies I needed to build the Polyethylene Inductor Tank Conical Fermenter. It was actually very easy. I even took pics of the project from start to finish so that you could get a real feel for it. Lets start with what parts I needed and what I did with them.

   I got the inductor tank that already had a screw on lid and also a 1.5 inch threaded plug. This made is much easier to add the ball valve to the bottom because 1.5 inch is a standard plumbing size. I bought a 1.5 inch male fitting, 1/2 inch female fitting, and a 1/2 male ball valve. I also got three 4" casters wheels for the stand. The casters have a threaded bolt that is 3/8 inch which matched the bolt holes already in the stand.





Delivered! Unwrapped!














Stuff I needed.












It rolls good. This will help when moving it while it's full. I brew in the garage and ferment in the house.
























The tank comes with a plug. Take the plug with you to the hardware store so that you can get the fitting that you need. Pick up a Ball valve while you are there. You'll also need some PVC primer and Blue Glue.

The PVC Primer and Blue Glue are a 2 part type of glue that is similar to a plastic welding process. When the PVC Primer is mixed with the Blue Glue it will harden and weld with the PVC.








































Put all your fittings and ball valve together. You'll need to apply Teflon tape to the ball valve threads because it's metal. Use a lot of Teflon Tape. Normally you want to do at least 3 layers of teflon. However some experts will go with more. I've had luck with 3 layers so I use it, but if I'm worried at all about the surface condition of the threads, I'll add a couple of layers. You'll never want to use less than 3 layers.





Take the plug out and insert the modified ball valve assembly. Looks Good, Feels Good.
















Once you're confident that you got the seal right fill it with water and test your work. I'm testing mine in the shower for a few days with tap water.



So far I have successfully added the Yeast dump valve and the casters. Still to do is adding a racking valve, gasket for the threaded lid, and a hole for the Air Lock. Since I have 2 weeks before my next brewday. I'll focus on those things next weekend.
When adding any thing to your fermenter, you'll want to go with a weld less fitting. Drill a hole just slightly larger than the weld less fitting. You should be fine.



Dec 27th 2010

Ok, I got around to finishing up the racking valve. Here's a photo. This valve will be connected to a hose for filling bottles and kegs so there is a barb on it. Since this is all custom work I recommend that you customize yours to what ever equipment you have. I use a small barb for small diameter ID hoses, just because that's what I prefer, and it's easily adaptable. Go with what you like.






Jan 9th 2011

   I decided to place a temperature controller on this fermenter. By doing this I don't have to turn the heat on in the house while no one's home. This heating pad lines about 25% of the exterior of the fermenter. I have also ordered an On/Off Switch Temperature Controller with temperature probe. The Temperature controller will turn the heating pad on when the temperature gets too low and off when it gets to the right temperature. This will allow for better control over the fermenting process.










Jan 13th 2013

   Time flies. I still use this fermenter for brewing and it still gives a very good beer. Kevin recently purchased a stout stainless steel conical fermenter for his brewing process. It's a gorgeous 14 gal fermenter. I like how it looks, but I just can't justify upgrading when this one works just as good or maybe even better.
Of course the poly ethylene is much softer than 304 stainless steel so I have to be very careful not to scratch the inside while cleaning it. If that's a concern of your's I would definitely pay the extra few hundred $$ for the steel fermenter. Another drawback to the steel fermenter is that the stand does not readily accept casters, so you have to weld or rig up something if you want rollers. The steel is a bit heavier but when either of these fermenters is full they are pretty much, equality hard to move around.


   For comparison I've added this photo of the Stout Conical Fermenter. This is a well made inexpensive fermenter that's made in China. You notice that is doesn't have any holes on the legs to mount casters, so if you want them you'll have to make a bracket drill some holes and bolt it on, or weld them on.

Image taken from
conical-fermenter.com





   This fermenter also has a thermometer mounted on it. If your using a temperature controller then you'll already be monitoring the temp with the controller, however it's always nice to have extra temperature monitoring. All of the valves and thermometer have hardware holding them on that is completely removable and cleanable. You can also order parts for everything from Stout.

   Of course I'm only discussing this in comparison to the Polyethylene that I build before. Between Kevin and I we've brewed at least 50 times using the Polyethylene fermenter and it still provide consistent good tasting beer. I will Post on here as soon as it dies.

   This is something that you should never have to worry about using a stainless steel fermenter, as you can clean it as hard as you want with severe cleansers and the steel should hold up well. Although I've read that you should not use highly concentrated bleach on 304 stainless because it may cause pitting. With Polyethylene you must to use mild detergents.


If you have any questions about any of my posts, let me know. I will get back to you.

Travis