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More and more homebrewers are ditching their plastic buckets and glass carboys and upgrading to a conical fermenter. Even the most basic and inexpensive conical fermenter can make a huge difference when it comes to brewing beer.
A conical fermenter used to be out the question for an amateur home brewer because of the outrageous cost.
But over the last several years as the homebrewing hobby continues to grow, this once out of reach type of equipment has become much more affordable and can now be bought on just about any budget.
Table of Contents
The Best Conical Fermenters For Homebrewers
In this post, we are going to review the best conical unitanks and fermenters for home brewing, but if you are in a hurry, check out the ones below that we recommend you take a look at.
- Best Overall Stainless Steel Unitank For Quality and Versitility: Spike Brewing Conical Unitank
- Best Stainless Steel Conical Brew Bucket For Value and Price: Ss Brewtech Brew Bucket Brewmaster Edition
- Best Plastic Conical Unitank For Versitility: FermZilla Conical Fermenter
- Best Plastic Conical Fermenter For 5-Gallon Batches, Simplicity and Durability: Craft a Brew Catalyst Fermentation System
- Best Conical Fermenter for Small Batch Brewing: BrewDemon Conical Fermenter
- Best Basic Conical Fermenter Under $100: 7.9-Gallon FastFerment Conical Fermenter
What Is Most Important To You In a Conical Fermenter?
When it comes to picking the right conical fermenter, there are a few things you should consider to choosing the right product for your overall brewing needs.
It is important that the one you end up choosing works with all the variables to your home brewing environment: space, budget, amount of beer you want to make.
Of course conical fermenters vary in volume size, construction, and accessories, but the price is usually the deciding factor when choosing a particular model.
Basic vessels for small-batch brewing made from plastic are a much more cost effective than the larger stainless steel conical models, but there are limitations. It is always wise to buy the one you can afford, but not to limit yourself going forward for future brewing.
But, whether you are looking to spend less than a hundred bucks, or willing to spend a thousand, there is an option that can cater to just about every budget.
What It's Made Of
Stainless steel or plastic?
Stainless steel is the ideal choice for many homebrewers. Stainless is more durable and easier to clean compared to plastic. Although they are more expensive, they should last a lifetime if they are taken care of.
Of course the ones made of Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) will be less expensive, but they can scratch which can ultimately provide a place for bacteria to hide.
It is important to purchase a fermenter that is built with solid and sturdy materials that can be taken apart or removed easily when it is time to clean and sanitize for the next brewing day.
Physical and Brewing Batch Size
Conical fermenters come in a variety of sizes, so you want one that will fit into your brewing space, for sure.
If you do the majority of brewing in your basement, almost any size will do, but if you are a kitchen brewer who has to share space with a significant other, your options will be somewhat limited. Make sure you have a good idea how much space you have available for brewing and storage, and that will help determine the perfect size.
For the volume size, if you buy a model where you can only make 2 or 3-gallon batch sizes of beer, you are severely limited on future brews if you want to make the larger 5 or 10 gallon batch sizes.
Pressure Fermentation and Transfers
One of the benefits of some conical fermenters is the capability of doing a pressure fermentation and/or pressure transfers.
Fermenting under pressure will allow you to ferment faster, and at a higher temperature than normal without developing off-flavors in the finished beer. Pressure transfers can be done without the need for gravity and you can rack directly to a keg in a completely closed system, which minimizes the risk of oxidation.
There are both pressurized and non-pressurized stainless steel and plastic unitanks available, depending on your preference.
Yeast and Trub Dumps
All conical fermenters are designed to leave the trub and sediment behind in the fermenter when it’s time to package.
But not all models will let you do a yeast dump during active fermentation. So if harvesting yeast and making your own yeast starter is something you frequently do, you should look for a conical that also has a dump valve you can use while the beer is still fermenting.
Spike Brewing CF5 Conical Fermenter and Unitank
Material: 18 gauge 304 grade stainless-steel
Ferment Under Pressure: Yes
Tank Capacity: 7-gallons
Pros: 15psi working pressure, ferment and transfer under pressure, cold crash and carbonate in the brite tank, easy to clean
Cons: Top heavy when adding optional extension legs
Bottom Line: This conical unitank from Spike Brewing is a commercial grade piece of brewing equipment, but made for a homebrewer. It is built in the U.S.A and allows you to pressure ferment, pressure transfer, cold crash, and carbonate all in the same tank. The versatility of this unitank along with the available options is why the Spike CF line of fermenters is so popular among homebrewers.
All of the modular ports have sanitary welds and all use tri-clamp fittings. This tank also has a large 2″ bottom dump port and comes with butterfly valves instead of ball-valves.
Ss Brewtech Brew Bucket Brewmaster Edition
Material: Food grade stainless-steel
Ferment Under Pressure: No
Tank Capacity: 6.95 gallons
Dimensions: 12.5D x 20.5H
Weight: 14 pounds
Pros: Stackable, easy to read digital thermometer, rotatable racking arm, 4 legs for stability
Cons: Cannot pressure ferment, not able to collect trub during fermentation
Bottom Line: This 7-gallon 304 stainless steel Chronical Fermenter from Ss Brewtech became one of the first quality stainless steel conical fermenters on the market, and has many features that make it a top choice for many homebrewers.
It has etched internal volume markings, a LCD thermometer which makes it easy to keep an eye on the temperature during fermentation, a rotatable racking arm, welded carrying handles, large clamps to secure the lid, adjustable flow spigot, and four strong legs with rubber bottoms that won’t scratch your table or countertop.
A neat feature with the Brew Bucket is the ability to stack them on top of each other when brewing multiple beers at the same time, or when stored away.
FermZilla Conical Fermenter
Cons: Can eventually show signs of wear from pressure stress, plastic threads can strip, extended soaks of PBW and acid based sanitizer can degrade the PET material
Bottom Line: The FermZilla conical unitank from Kegland has a new design, and is an overhauled and improved version of their original Fermtasaurus model.
The FermZilla has a clear conical tank, made from durable clearPET,and is great for making 5 gallons of beer. It has many of the same advantages of similar stainless steel conical fermenters, but at a much cheaper price than a stainless steel conical/unitank.
One special feature of the FermZilla is the ability to ferment and do closed transfers under pressure, which cannot be done with other plastic fermenters. It also comes with a sturdy reinforced stand, a 3-piece airlock, a 1000ml yeast and trub collection jar, and an adhesive thermometer to monitor temperature control.
If you do plan on doing pressure fermentation, you will need to purchase the pressure kit separately.
Craft A Brew Catalyst Fermentation System
Material: Tritan® – medical-grade and food safe BPA free polymer
Ferment Under Pressure: No
Tank Capacity: 6.5 gallons
Dimensions: 16.5 x 15.5 x 18
Weight: 12 pounds
Pros: Scratch resistant, lightweight but durable, dishwasher safe, easy to collect yeast, small footprint
Cons: Removing trub can be messy, might need a blow-off tube for certain beers, butterfly valve can leak
Bottom Line: This Catalyst Fermentation System from Craft a Brew is easy to understand and assembly takes just minutes.
The multi-function conical design tank is made from Tritan®, a medical-grade and food safe BPA free polymer that has the clarity of glass, all the durability of plastic, and is dishwasher safe.
The tank will hold 6.5 gallons of beer, and is designed to protect your beer from oxygen, and is more scratch resistant than many other plastic fermenters.
It has a large 3″ trub trap and adapts to any size wide-mouth mason jars to efficiently collect sediment and dead yeast, without clogs. Anytime during fermentation, the butterfly dump valve can be closed off and the trub and yeast can be removed without disturbing the beer.
Brew Demon Conical Fermenter
Material: Clear BPA free food-grade plastic
Ferment Under Pressure: No
Tank Capacity: 2.5 gallons
Dimensions: 10 x 10 x 16
Weight: 3.04 pounds
Pros: Compact design, no external airlock is needed, can make beer, wine, mead, or kombucha
Cons: No yeast dump, trub can connect above the spigot, using Star San sanitizer is not recommended
Bottom Line: Claiming to be the “worlds first” fermenting system for small batch home brewing. This BrewDemon conical fermenter is a budget friendly fermenter created for the home brewer who is not interested in brewing 5-gallon beer batches. It is also great for making wine, kombucha, or mead from any 2 or 2.5-gallon recipe.
Made from a BPA-free, durable food grade PVC that won’t leave any unwanted off-flavors in your finished beer. It has a wide mouth opening which makes adding ingredients and cleanup easy. Because it has a unique venting design that allows CO2 to escape while keeping oxygen and contaminants out, a separate airlock is not required. Maybe not the most accurate, but it includes a stick-on thermometer to monitor the fermentation temperature.
Just remember that even though the plastic tank allows you to see what is going on inside, you still want to keep it out of the light and direct sunlight.
FastFerment Conical Fermenter
Material: BPA free food-grade HDPE
Ferment Under Pressure: No
Tank Capacity: 7.9 gallon
Weight: 8.42 pounds
Pros: Budget friendly, can be mounted on a wall, yeast collection ball
Cons: Plastic can scratch, small union valve can clog
Bottom Line: If you are looking to move away from your standard plastic bucket or glass carboy, this food grade 7.9-gallon plastic conical fermenter from FastFerment is a budget friendly option, and will handle a 5 gallon batch of beer, wine, or cider.
The top has a wide opening which makes it easy to add ingredients to your beer. If you want to harvest your yeast, it also has a collection ball with a butterfly ball valve at the bottom of the cone that will catch the trub and yeast.
It also comes with a bottling filling attachment which allows you to rack your beer to a keg or the bottles, and brackets for wall mounting.
What is the Advantage of a Conical Fermenter?
Conical fermenters can be made from stainless-steel or plastic, come in different sizes and shapes with or without the bells and whistles, and also a very wide price range.
Here is a quick glance at just a few advantages of a brewing with a conical fermenter.
- Primary and secondary fermentation in just one vessel
- Temperature control
- Collect and harvest yeast
- Ferment under pressure
- Perform closed pressure transfers
- Carbonate and serve from the tank
- Less cleaning and sanitizing
One Fermentation Vessel
When brewing beer at home, most people often use a plastic bucket or glass carboy for “primary fermentation”, then transfer to another optional “secondary” vessel to add additional ingredients and separate the beer from the layer of yeast and sediment.
But when using a conical, you can essentially do the same thing by removing the trub from the tank and leave the beer behind where it can age in the same vessel.
Reusing The Yeast
After the yeast has finished its job, it doesn’t die, it just becomes dormant. Another advantage of a conical fermenter is you can remove and wash the yeast and reuse it on future brews, which can save you some money.
In fact, many commercial brewers will use the same yeast up to 6 times or more before it is thrown out.
Check out our “How To Make a Yeast Starter” page if you are interested in making your own yeast starter the next time you brew.
Saying Goodbye To Racking
Many homebrewers will do a transfer two or three times during brew day. Once from the primary to the secondary fermenter, from secondary fermenter to the bottling bucket, and then from the bottling bucket to filling the bottles or keg.
Every time you transfer from one vessel to another, you are introducing oxygen to the beer, which is a risk for infection and oxidation. Using a single conical fermenter allows you to complete all the steps from one vessel.
Saves Brewing Steps & Time
Of course this goes without saying, but anytime you can eliminate specific steps in the brewing process, you can drastically cut down on your preparation and overall brewing time.
Less Brewing Equipment Means Less Cleaning & Sanitizing
Because you are using less equipment overall, you will save time by not needing to clean and sanitize unnecessary and extra equipment like a secondary fermenter when using a conical style fermenter.
Many units are made of stainless steel which makes cleaning much easier, and even the plastic models are easier to clean because they have a wide opening on top.
Even though a conical fermenter will be more expensive than a bucket or carboy, you will be able to eliminate these two items along with some racking and bottling equipment as well.
What Are The Drawbacks To Using A Conical Fermenter?
If you are thinking about buying a conical fermenter to take your home brewing to the next level, there are not a lot of drawbacks or disadvantages to using one, besides the larger physical size and the increased cost.
These fermenting tanks are larger than a plastic fermenting bucket or glass carboy and will usually require more space in your brewing area.
Keep in mind that conical fermenters are more expensive than your standard vessel, so if you are not sure about how often you want to brew or if you are experimenting with brewing for the first time you may not want to invest in this product just yet.
Also, a conical fermenter, particularly if it stainless steel, can be heavy and difficult to transport. If you are starting your brewing process in one place and moving to another, you need to take into account how to safely handle the weight and protect it so no damage occurs, to you or your beer.
When purchasing any piece of beer brewing equipment, you should never spend more than you can comfortably afford, but it also isn’t wise to buy the least expensive product too.
The overall quality and features of Spike’s CF5 stainless steel conical unitank is why this one is at the top of our list. and is also a favorite among many other amateur home brewers and professional brewers as well.
This conical fermenter has the look and feel of true beer brewing experience feel, and should easily last a lifetime if taken care of.