Homebrewers use carboys as their main fermenters. This works nicely in that they are cheep and functional, even if they are a little extra work. unfortunately they are not scalable and you need to work against gravity to move beer to and (more importantly) from them. To get around this, the industry uses conical fermenters, which are extremely scalable and easy to use. Well, we purchased one a while back (you may have seen in prior posts) and it arrived so we’re getting ready to use it! “Details after the break.”
We ordered a 50 gallon conical online. stainless steal and brand spanking new. It’s pretty much the first thing that I bought new and prefabricated instead of doing things myself (or with the help of thirsty buddies). First I’m not a welder and second, once you put liquid (wort) in the fermenter there can be no mistakes/equipment flaws that will taint the beer. Hence, we splurged to start fermenting in commercially made conicals, even if we may still use carboys when needed.
We may have been ambitious with a 50 gallon fermenter, given that we brew 20 gallon batches. The thought was a really long brew day could put out 40 gallons (double batch) and the extra ten gallon head space would be ideal. We probably should have gone with something slightly smaller, but we’ll learn to make it work.
I refused to pay $$$ for freight since it was coming to Portland, so I decided to make a single afternoon/evening/night road trip to and fro Portland. I was lucky enough to have a friend accompany me – Russell, a fellow homebrewer looking to start his own brewery “convergence zone” (watch for it!!! he makes great brews). It was a great long while talking about trials and tribulations of what we were doing. As always, in a 10 hour brainstorming session many good thoughts emerged about problems in the past, current processes, and directions in the future for both of us. It’s always nice to be “forced” to sit and think/discuss – like the case of our road trip.
After picking up the fermenter, we stopped at the Green Dragon, an excellent local spot to get some eats and get a few unique NW pints from one of their ~60 handles (I didn’t really count them). I realized that I had been at the Green Dragon about 5 years ago when I was touring through Oregon micro/nano breweries after doing an “internship” down at Golden Valley. At that time they were in the build out of the brewery / restaurant. It was crazy to see what had become of that build out. Motivation to be sure. It was also brewer’s night with Ninkasi, an outstanding brewery in it’s own right. After traveling so far we were far too tired to schmooze, but had a pint of their sleigher (winter beer) to celebrate their night. A very tasty beer to be sure. After a long 2.5 hours in the car we finally returned home.
It’s a pretty nice shiny beast the first one that I’ll have played with. It’s a 50 gallon (1.6 barrel) fermenter, with all triclamp fittings etc. but I always revert back to how shiny it is. We “upgraded it” with a spray ball for cleaning but still need to add a few bells and whistles. Regardless, it’s ready to go out of the box and we’re looking for the first beer to ferment in it. Likely to be our winter warmer: Dr. DA Snow Hop 2010. Stay tuned for that beer….
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