Looking to turn a glass carboy into a "conical" fermentor. I need some feedback.

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Tim C

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I have a build mapped out in my head, but I'm fairly new to brewing. What I'm wondering is; If i make a contraption that the glass carboy sits in upside down, and I make a stand pipe that reaches to bottom of the 6 gal carboy and exits through my PVC valve (basically a long skinny "U"), when I invert the carboy and the bubble is now on the "bottom"/flat base of the carboy, will the gas pressure be enough to push the CO2 out though the stand pipe? Thanks for reading!
 

kh54s10

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How are you going to safely turn a glass carboy upside down when full? Sounds very dangerous to me. And to what purpose? Are you going to have a way to dump the trub? Are you trying to collect yeast for reuse?

If you don't have a valve to dump the trub all you have done is turned your carboy upside down. It is exactly the same as right side up.
 

Soulshine2

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I have a build mapped out in my head, but I'm fairly new to brewing. What I'm wondering is; If i make a contraption that the glass carboy sits in upside down, and I make a stand pipe that reaches to bottom of the 6 gal carboy and exits through my PVC valve (basically a long skinny "U"), when I invert the carboy and the bubble is now on the "bottom"/flat base of the carboy, will the gas pressure be enough to push the CO2 out though the stand pipe? Thanks for reading!
besides the comment above...what have you planned for a blowoff tube and what you are going to do about if that tube gets clogged by a heavy active yeast raft . i have a feeling pressure will build , IF the glass doesnt just explode , the now "bottom" plug WILL BE ejected and all of your would be beer WILL BE on the floor.
IF by chance your idea does work without said catastrophic failure or personal injury how are you going to transfer your beer to package without sloshing the trub or pulling the tube to get to the bottom and not lose it all.
keep the glass right side up and buy a conical thats designed and made for what youre planning.
 

day_trippr

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The slope of a carboy isn't remotely steep enough to act as a conical, so the premise of the concept is void from the jump...

Cheers!
 

doogie

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This was sold as a product in the late 90's. I bought one and used it once.....it didn't work. Yeast hung up on the shoulders, no benefits, all downsides. I still have the cap somewhere that was held in place with a zip-tie.
 
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Tim C

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Yeah, I was planning on having a shutoff valve with a detachable container to collect the trub. assemble it "right side up" then flip over and open the valve.

How are you going to safely turn a glass carboy upside down when full? Sounds very dangerous to me. And to what purpose? Are you going to have a way to dump the trub? Are you trying to collect yeast for reuse?

If you don't have a valve to dump the trub all you have done is turned your carboy upside down. It is exactly the same as right side up.
 
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Tim C

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besides the comment above...what have you planned for a blowoff tube and what you are going to do about if that tube gets clogged by a heavy active yeast raft . i have a feeling pressure will build , IF the glass doesnt just explode , the now "bottom" plug WILL BE ejected and all of your would be beer WILL BE on the floor.
IF by chance your idea does work without said catastrophic failure or personal injury how are you going to transfer your beer to package without sloshing the trub or pulling the tube to get to the bottom and not lose it all.
keep the glass right side up and buy a conical thats designed and made for what youre planning.
The long "U" pipe would essentially incorporate the blow off tube.
 

day_trippr

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That's a pretty skinny "blow-off" tube right there.
I could easily see someone who dumps everything in their kettle into the carboy plugging that tube up once the yeast get rockin'...

Cheers!
 

RPh_Guy

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This would work a lot better if you suspend it from a ceiling fan. That way you can turn on the fan and it will act as a centrifuge.

But seriously, conical shaped vessels serve no purpose at the homebrew level, much less one as poorly designed and dangerous as one made out of a repurposed glass carboy.
 

Ki-ri-n

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It is just a regular racking cane. The beer shouldn't be higher than the "top" of the cane. If it is, it just spills out, that's the blow off.

It works, but no better than siphoning the beer out. The little white piece, is a strainer basket for harvesting yeast.

Haven't used it in years.

Unfortunately, I still use carboys, and pressure transfer (carefully). Working on getting a conical.
 

madscientist451

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I have a build mapped out in my head, but I'm fairly new to brewing.
Do you have temperature control for fermentation yet? If no, get a small freezer, put a temp control on it and put your carboy in there, you'll make really good beer.
How about kegs, got any? Put your energy and $ into a used keg. Your small freezer can hold a couple of kegs. You'll be a happy brewer.
 

Dland

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But seriously, conical shaped vessels serve no purpose at the homebrew level, much less one as poorly designed and dangerous as one made out of a repurposed glass carboy.
Perhaps you should try fermenting with a conical,, my knowledgeable friend, might help make it easier to bring your brew to another level, with less effort than you think.

But I do agree the glass conical conversion rig in discussion would not be my first or second choice of vessels. If I were fermenting in glass carboys still, which I did for some time, I'd leave out the precarious stand and the less than robust looking plastic fittings, do it old school right side up glass carboys, 'till I could afford my stainless conical(s).
 

WhiteRhyno

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Would you care to elaborate how it improves the beer?
I'll jump in, whats the worst that can happen lol :)

I love my conical, only thing is I wish it was bigger. Its only a 30L Malt Mechanics, and with me now doing 40L batches I have to split the ferments.

Things I love about it is it gives me the ability to dump out trub, and I harvest yeast every now and then so very handy there.

I have also just made a little mini hop cannon, which I just connect up to one of the taps and shoot the hops in, virtually eliminating oxygen when dry hopping.

Whats there not to love about them :)

That said, OP while a novel idea, by the sound of the comments above, might pay to channel that thinking brain of yours onto another crafty idea ;)
 

RPh_Guy

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Trub dumping:
If you care about eliminating trub (which arguably you should), you should leave it in the kettle. The trub is mostly break material that contains a lot of staling compounds. More specially, the cold break is mostly lipids and fatty acids that can oxidize, creating undesirable flavors in even tiny amounts (ppb taste threshold). You don't want it in your wort when you aerate/oxygenation prior to pitching. It's too late if you're dumping trub toward the end of fermentation. The only sediment you should be getting is yeast, and it's not beneficial to remove yeast during active fermentation.
Leaving trub in the kettle will also help the beer clear faster after fermentation, unlike dumping it from the fermenter.

Harvesting yeast:
A more sanitary (and easier) way to prop yeast for a subsequent batch is to overbuild a starter. There are far more vectors for contamination when harvesting from a full batch. The yeast from a full batch will be less healthy because of the higher alcohol, limited nutrients, less access to oxygen, osmotic stress, and fatigue.

Dry hopping / oxygen exposure:
There are a number of ways to dry hop (or otherwise add hop flavor after the bulk of fermentation) without oxidizing the beer, pretty much regardless of the fermentation vessel you're using. The easiest way to eliminate oxygen exposure when dry hopping is to add hops toward the tail end of fermentation so that the yeast will be able to actively absorb oxygen and help purge the vessel.
You're fighting a losing battle against oxygen exposure by trying to dry hop and package after fermentation has completed.

Just one guy's opinion.
 

Robert65

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RE: Harvesting yeast. The greatest advantage is that subsequent generations of yeast are increasingly adapted to actual brewery conditions as opposed to propagation conditions, and performance is significantly improved. Overbuilding starters or other methods essentially starting from scratch each time preclude ever seeing optimal fermentation performance for the strain. Just one consideration in prioritizing fermenter functionalities.
 

day_trippr

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Interesting argument. I'd counter with preferring to start from scratch as it's a known place, while genetic drift has no specific time line, or destination...

Cheers!
 

Dland

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I stand by my statement "makes it easier to bring your beer to bring your brew to another level", emphasis on easier. I'm sure you can, as I have, make excellent beer in glass carboy.

Conical benefits include; ease of closed transfers, hydrometer readings and trub removal without exposure to O2 (gravity vs siphon, etc). Also safer and easier to handle and clean, no exposure to light, ease of use tri clamp sealed fittings, could probably think of more.

Since yeast cake in properly managed conical is never exposed to O2, even after racking, it is also possible to put new wort in fermentor on a nice dose of yeast without even re sanitizing the primary vessel. So far I've as many as 3 back to back fermentations this way with good results. Not sure I would venture more between full sanitizations, (we will see how daring I become).

This brings up another possible benefit I'm not currently set up to exploit, which is true clean in place capability. Something I intend to set up for sure.

Hope you all enjoyed your popped grain snack. I doubt I'll ever go back to carboys for making beer, though I have saved several in case I want to get into cider or mead again without investing in new wood barrels.
 

Robert65

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I stand by my statement "makes it easier to bring your beer to bring your brew to another level", emphasis on easier. I'm sure you can, as I have, make excellent beer in glass carboy.

Conical benefits include; ease of closed transfers, hydrometer readings and trub removal without exposure to O2 (gravity vs siphon, etc). Also safer and easier to handle and clean, no exposure to light, ease of use tri clamp sealed fittings, could probably think of more.

Since yeast cake in properly managed conical is never exposed to O2, even after racking, it is also possible to put new wort in fermentor on a nice dose of yeast without even re sanitizing the primary vessel. So far I've as many as 3 back to back fermentations this way with good results. Not sure I would venture more between full sanitizations, (we will see how daring I become).

This brings up another possible benefit I'm not currently set up to exploit, which is true clean in place capability. Something I intend to set up for sure.

Hope you all enjoyed your popped grain snack. I doubt I'll ever go back to carboys for making beer, though I have saved several in case I want to get into cider or mead again without investing in new wood barrels.
A conical is not the only way to achieve all these goals, and not all conicals sold to homebrewers are truly functional (many cannot hold sufficent pressure, and many, like the proposed carboy mod, have too shallow a cone.) I have modified a 10 gallon corny to provide the full functionality of a unitank, at considerably less cost and more convenience with respect to space requirements and ease of moving the unit. I considered all the available conicals and chose this route instead. But we are in agreement that carboys are the fermentor of last resort (or rather first resort in the usual arc of a homebrewer's career.)
 

kh54s10

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And then there is the cost. One stainless steel conical would cost more than ALL of my plastic fermenters. And my beer is more than just good. Especially when I have had as many as 7 fermentations going at one time. And very often more than one.
 

Jayjay1976

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Relax, don't do it.

IHMO, the only valid use for a glass carboy in the modern age is for long-term bulk aging of finished beers. For every other usage scenario, plastic fermenters are far superior. I have 5 PET fermonsters and they are perfect for conventional fermentation where glass would have been used previously. Easy to care for and weigh practically nothing and the large opening makes it a snap to clean. If you just have to have a conical get a catalyst or a fast ferment. Or go stainless if you can afford it.
 
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RPh_Guy

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Conical benefits include; ease of closed transfers, hydrometer readings and trub removal without exposure to O2 (gravity vs siphon, etc). Also safer and easier to handle and clean, no exposure to light, ease of use tri clamp sealed fittings, could probably think of more.
Let's compare a "conical" fermenter to a basic plastic brew bucket with a lid that actually seals and spigot. I wouldn't use glass.

Closed transfers: CO2 in the top, drain out the bottom. Conical shape doesn't provide any benefit to this workflow. Some vessels like kegs or Fermonsters are certainly capable of pressurized transfers (with a little DIY on the lid).

Hydrometer readings: Easy -- drain sample from the spigot. Advantage bucket since trub/yeast might get in the way of the bottom drain on a conical.

Trub removal: I already covered this. Leave trub in the kettle and leave the yeast in the fermenter. Our yeast don't suffer from the same hydrostatic forces that affect commercial production.

Handling: Advantage bucket.

Cleaning: Ease of cleaning is difficult to quantify. Fermenters with more pieces are arguably more difficult to clean. I can rinse out my [extremely lightweight] Fermonsters by holding them upsidedown with one hand and spraying the inside with a hose. Overnight soak, no scrubbing, easy peasy. Spigot and lid disassembled and soaked separately.

Light exposure: Conical shape provides no advantage. One could make an argument either way whether an opaque or clear fermenter is better. It's basically going to be in the dark anyway since it's going to be in some kind of fermentation chamber and not out on the patio.

Fittings: I agree TC fittings are ideal for cold side fittings because of their sanitary nature, as long as you have no threads in the entire fitting. Still, a plastic spigot is also pretty easy to assemble and disassemble as well as install and uninstall.

Since yeast cake in properly managed conical is never exposed to O2, even after racking, it is also possible to put new wort in fermentor on a nice dose of yeast without even re sanitizing the primary vessel. So far I've as many as 3 back to back fermentations this way with good results. Not sure I would venture more between full sanitizations, (we will see how daring I become).
Oxygen exposure and intracellular CO2 removal is very beneficial to yeast before pitching. The intracellular CO2 removal takes time, a matter of hours.
Yeast are ideally pitched at high kr?usen.
This brings up another possible benefit I'm not currently set up to exploit, which is true clean in place capability. Something I intend to set up for sure.
I'm actually not trying to be snarky by asking this, but why would be bother with CIP if it's so easy to clean already?

It's good you like your fermenter, and I'm sure it's quality, but saying it's the pinnacle of homebrew fermentation vessels just isn't true. Everything has advantages and disadvantages. I'm pretty sure a conical would be too bulky to fit into my fermentation fridge for example.
 

Dland

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Let's compare a "conical" fermenter to a basic plastic brew bucket with a lid that actually seals and spigot. I wouldn't use glass.


Oxygen exposure and intracellular CO2 removal is very beneficial to yeast before pitching. The intracellular CO2 removal takes time, a matter of hours.
Yeast are ideally pitched at high kr?usen.

I'm actually not trying to be snarky by asking this, but why would be bother with CIP if it's so easy to clean already?

It's good you like your fermenter, and I'm sure it's quality, but saying it's the pinnacle of homebrew fermentation vessels just isn't true. Everything has advantages and disadvantages. I'm pretty sure a conical would be too bulky to fit into my fermentation fridge for example.
Never did say my fermenters (or probably by definition anything I own) are pinnacle of anything, {;

Someday I hope to have a stationary brewing set up, probably w at least half barrel jacketed conical and kettles to support. That would start to become too heavy to clean using my current methods.

Did not go fermentation 'fridge route myself for several reasons, multiple fermentors in use being one, but did build a glycol chiller, which I find to be more a lot versatile and plays to advantages of building I ferment in(has cellar w 12in concrete ceiling).

Not wanting to start an argument, and I agree, to each their own, but I will never be convinced that plastic brewing vessels, of any kind, are not subject to break down and scratching.

We seem to agree the pitfalls of glass(mostly danger of breakage/injury) usually outweigh the benefits for most people. Heck, I'd even go as far to say stainless kegs are safer than bottles, & have scar to prove it.

I'd probably still choose glass over plastic, but that reflects my bias, perhaps I spent too long in restaurant business when I was "too young to know better"(haha). I've seen what happens to vessels of all sorts, in a relatively short time, when in constant use, as opposed to the more occasional use of even a fervent home brewer.
 

eric19312

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Let's compare a "conical" fermenter to a basic plastic brew bucket with a lid that actually seals and spigot.
Where do you get one of these? Perhaps a Speidel tank as typical buckets just don't seal that well and are pretty thin walled. Plastic carboys are also pretty sealable and good oxygen barrier material but I don't think they are as compatible with spigots.

As for leaving the trub in the kettle I've never been very good at that. I can whirlpool and leave behind maybe 75% of the trub easy enough but don't have the patience to wait an hour+ for the kettle to settle to clarity (and I'm anxious having that cooled wort exposed to the environment due to possible contamination).

I find it is easier to leave some/most/half? of the trub in the kettle and then let the wort settle in the conical while I am cleaning the brewery. After an hour or so dump trub from the conical, pitch the yeast and oxygenate. 12 hours later I may do one more small trub dump especially if I am thinking I will be harvesting and saving the yeast.
 

Dland

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Oxygen exposure and intracellular CO2 removal is very beneficial to yeast before pitching. The intracellular CO2 removal takes time, a matter of hours.
Yeast are ideally pitched at high kr?usen.
I always apply generous pure O2 with stone when using re using yeast cake, plus the agitation wort gets being pumped 20ft into cellar. Yeast is always working actively by the next morning, sometimes sooner, at controlled lager temps, so they must be doing OK. Beer is clean w/o off flavors.

(Apologies to OP for thread hijack)
 

RPh_Guy

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Never did say my fermenters (or probably by definition anything I own) are pinnacle of anything, {;

Someday I hope to have a stationary brewing set up, probably w at least half barrel jacketed conical and kettles to support. That would start to become too heavy to clean using my current methods.

Did not go fermentation 'fridge route myself for several reasons, multiple fermentors in use being one, but did build a glycol chiller, which I find to be more a lot versatile and plays to advantages of building I ferment in(has cellar w 12in concrete ceiling).

Not wanting to start an argument, and I agree, to each their own, but I will never be convinced that plastic brewing vessels, of any kind, are not subject to break down and scratching.

We seem to agree the pitfalls of glass(mostly danger of breakage/injury) usually outweigh the benefits for most people. Heck, I'd even go as far to say stainless kegs are safer than bottles, & have scar to prove it.

I'd probably still choose glass over plastic, but that reflects my bias, perhaps I spent too long in restaurant business when I was "too young to know better"(haha). I've seen what happens to vessels of all sorts, in a relatively short time, when in constant use, as opposed to the more occasional use of even a fervent home brewer.
Sounds good!

There no question stainless is the ultimate in durability. IMO that's the main reason to use it.
However, plastic is also very durable in a home brewing setting if you properly care for it. ... Way different than plasticware in a kitchen.
Where do you get one of these?
For the record, I use Fermonsters and I have maybe 8 of them in various sizes. I like them a lot.
I was just comparing with a bucket for the sake of argument since it's the lowest price and still has all the essential features.

6 gal bucket with hole ($14)
https://www.morebeer.com/products/plastic-bucket-6-gal-hole.html
Spigot that rotates ($4)
https://www.morebeer.com/products/plastic-spigot-bucket-sediment-block.html
Lid with gasket ($4)
https://www.morebeer.com/products/lid-6-gallon-bucket-gasket-tear-strip-hole.html

This bucket and spigot are very sturdy.
As for leaving the trub in the kettle I've never been very good at that. I can whirlpool and leave behind maybe 75% of the trub easy enough but don't have the patience to wait an hour+ for the kettle to settle to clarity [...]
The fining agents used and kettle pH make a huge impact and don't require settling times that long.
I'm using Brewtan B, Whirlfloc, and Polyclar VT, and adjusting pH to 5.1 late boil. (Thanks @Robert65)

Cheers
 

eric19312

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The fining agents used and kettle pH make a huge impact and don't require settling times that long.
I'm using Brewtan B, Whirlfloc, and Polyclar VT, and adjusting pH to 5.1 late boil. (Thanks @Robert65)

Cheers
I'm using brewtan b and whirlfloc and working on getting pH down there.

But I am also chilling with immersion chiller with large quantity of whirlpool hops. My post boil volume is about 19 gallons. When I pull the IC I spin the wort for about 2 more minutes and then kill the pumps. I have a full kettle of murky wort at this point. It is literally an hour or more for this quantity of chilled wort to drop clear. Possibly you are doing hot whirlpool and then running to fermentor through plate or CF chiller. I believe hot whirlpool is supposed to drop clear much faster than cold.
 

Robert65

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The reason a hot whirlpool appears to drop clear faster, is simply that you haven't formed the (much finer particle size) cold break yet. So no matter how clear that wort is going to the HEX, you may still end up wanting to do a trub dump in the fermentor.

I use an IC and settle, but at only 7 gallons post boil, that goes much more quickly than at 19 gallons. At your scale, for lots of reasons, a unitank would be very attractive.
 

RPh_Guy

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I'm using brewtan b and whirlfloc and working on getting pH down there.
The things you're not doing are what made the difference for me. I had a murky mess with just BtB and Whirlfloc.
I currently pump through a CFC to chill the whole batch down to pitching temp in the kettle.
 
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eric19312

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The things you're not doing are what made the difference for me. I had a murky mess with just BtB and Whirlfloc.
I currently pump through a CFC to chill the whole batch down to pitching temp in the kettle.
Ok next brew I’m going to focus on getting kettle ph below 5.1 before adding whirlfloc. Polyclar I’m not ready to add just yet.
 

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I've got two of those. Bought them years and years ago...I never even used them. Looked like a great idea at the time (20 plus years ago) but I was scared to actually try it. Had visions of wort hemorrhaging out the fitting.

I still have them...probably not worth a thing...just another early home brewing oddity...
 
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