Minimum interior refrigerator space required:
Why Is Weld Free Important?A sanitary weld is nothing more than a weld that is done in an oxygen-free environment on both sides of the weld using an inert gas. Since there is little oxygen in the area of the weld, burning and porosity are greatly reduced, but not completely eliminated. These welds are usually done from the outside of the tank while the inside of the tank (which is the critical area) is not visible to the welder while welding. Others do weld from the inside, but the small confined area makes this weld very difficult and requires "elaborate" procedures to produce a reasonable quality weld.
There is no such thing as a microscopically flaw free weld as any welding Engineer can attest to. Depending on the skill of the welder the remaining flaws (quench cracks, porosity and cold laps) will vary and are usually not visible to the naked eye. Many elaborate methods are used to reduce these flaws but unless they are microscopically inspected and repaired there is no way to determine if the flaws in the weld are small enough (0.5 micron or less) to not present a sanitation or corrosion problem.
The optimum design is not susceptible to human or process error and does not require elaborate welding procedures to reduce quality problems. Subsequently that design will have little variation in quality. That was the driving force in the design of the Fermenator and our quality is very high, easily repeatable, and absolutely free of any possible flaw. Our weld free fittings are easy to install and thoroughly clean which cannot be done with a welded fitting.
Why do commercial breweries use welded tanks and fittings? Due to the sheer size of commercial fermentors they are made by welding rolled sheets of steel together. The welds are subsequently ground and polished and then non-destructively tested for microscopic flaws. And since commercial breweries often utilize hot steam for sanitization, it is less of a problem even if a flaw is present.
Since homebrew sized fermentors (fermenters) are too small inside to grind, polish and polish from the inside, these flaws cannot be removed or detected. Improper grinding techniques may also cause micro-cracking. Since steam sanitizing is not a realistic option for homebrewers the homebrew tanks are small enough to be deep drawn from a single sheet of stainless steel and formed without any welding.
What happens in these flaws?Welding flaws translate into places for bacteria to hide since liquids carrying sanitizer have a hard time penetrating these small flaws because of the surface tension of the water. Since oxygen cannot readily travel to these flaws the protective CrO2 layer that stainless steel naturally forms in the presence of air (oxygen) cannot form on the walls of the flaw. Eventually these flaws will grow through rusting of the base metal (iron). In extreme cases, these flaws can propagate through the wall of the tank and leak!
High quality fittingsFittings used for the bottom dump and rotating racking arm are made stainless steel high quality industrial fittings. Other designs utilize compression fittings which have inherent corrosion and bacteria problems. The ferrule on a compression fitting locks in place on the racking tube and prevents a flow of oxygen to the surfaces under the fitting allowing pitting and corrosion to take place. Threaded fittings that cannot be disassembled exhibit similar phenomenon. Others use short pipe nipples that cannot be easily disassembled. The Fermenator uses a flare fitting eliminating this problem. All threaded fittings have hex flats for easy disassembly and the o-ring design is identical to hydraulic systems capable of holding 4,000 PSI of pressure!
Easiest fermentor to cleanAll fittings used for the bottom dump and rotating racking arm are stainless steel high quality industrial fittings. Unlike welded fittings ours may be removed for easy sanitizing by sanitizer, boiling and/or autoclaving.
Since one side of the fitting on all competitive models is welded to the tank it cannot be removed, and flooding those surfaces with sanitizer is difficult, particularly threaded fittings. When compared to clean in place fermentors you can remove the bottom dump and racking arm assemblies in your Fermenator and prepare them ready for cleaning. In addition if you prefer you may completely disassemble them.
Replaceable fittingsAll Blichmann fittings are easily replaceable.
Why Buy Conical Stainless Steel?Stainless steel is extremely durable and the easiest material to sanitize. It is nearly impervious to heat and will not shatter like glass and will not scratch, discolor, and harbor bacteria like plastic.
· Dumping cold break & trub takes a couple minutes
· Collecting wort samples is quick and completely sanitary
· You may easily harvest yeast
· You may pressurize it for CO2 pumping
· Impervious to UV light that causes "skunking" in beer
· Large open top makes scouring and sanitizing the interior a snap
· The rotating racking arm allows siphoning completely sediment free beer
Cooling your conicalThe Fermenator is designed to easily fit into an upright freezer which offers the following significant advantages over thermo-electric cooling and glycol jacked conicals:
· Much lower cost than jacketing the conical. An upright freezer can be had for $375-550 brand new. Cooling jackets may range from $850-$1,275.
· Adding a simple Ranco or Love controller to this freezer will allow you to get significantly more cooling power - easily cool to 28°F or less. Solid state coolers can do about 25-30°F off of ambient. Using a light bulb or pad heater will also allow you to heat the freezer in the winter.
· More economical, quieter, and reliable to operate. For typical use these will cost about $25/yr to operate.
· May be used for beer storage when not fermenting
· Small Footprint (takes up slightly more space than your actual conical)
· No foam insulation or wiring needed for cleaning the conical. No condensate will drip on your floor.
How do I install a temp probe in my conical?Many brewers use a digital temp control to monitor and control fermentations. Immersion probes are not necessary for these small conicals and open another area for contamination risk. A dual scale thermometer on the outside is an inexpensive and accurate method of monitoring temperature. If you are using the probe for control you may tape the probe to the side of the tank using a small piece of aluminum duct tape. In addition this limits thermal cycling of your cooling equipment and overcooling that can happen with immersion probes.