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HBC2193
07-19-2015, 07:54 PM
Hi all,

I'm planning to open a nano with a 3bbl system I already have and purchase 4 or 5 3 bbl plastic conical fermentors. I'm looking at plastic conicals like this: http://www.plastic-mart.com/product/10826/duracast-150gallon-cone-bottom-water-plastic-tank

I have three questions for this nano concept which Ive seen others have done...

1) How do you control fermentation temps for different beers in different stages?

2) Where can I find "fermwraps" for a vessel of this size? I've seen that others have chosen not to cool their fermentors, but warm them with electronic ferm wraps inside their cold rooms. (seen here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=As6aTYHxM20). Where can you buys these wraps?

3) Are there any decent, large scale, conical plastic fermentors out there for sale? It seems there are top lid sealing issues or not enough valves on the majority out there.

Steve

bwalden234
07-19-2015, 09:01 PM
I would first point you to this thread -> http://discussions.probrewer.com/showthread.php?22617-temp-controlled-plastic-conical

There has been a lot of discussion on this topic here on probrewer. I would also point you to Mike Hess's blog at hess brewing. This is how he started and he shows how to add fittings as you need.

To answer some of your questions:

Cooling - Plastic is a great insulator, thusly trying to cool from the outside is not the best option. Many of us have found one way or another to put stainless coils on the inside of the fermenter. Either permanently mounted or through the lid (there are pros and cons to both). From there how you cool is up to you. Some people use beer line chillers, purpose built bulk glycol chillers, cold rooms, water pumped from cold rooms, etc. The best efficiency will most likely come from a purpose built glycol unit meant to chill fermenters. At our brewery we will be using a beer line chiller to cool a 55 gal drum of salt water brine that will be pumped through 50' of 316 stainless coil. We ordered them from NY Brew Supply (great company) and they came with in a week. We will be using STC-1000 temp controllers (found on Ebay) coupled with solenoid valves (Ebay as well) to cool the FV to specific temps based on the beer style and fermentation needs. We will use a second unit to cool our brite tanks which are steel and will be cooled from the outside. Is this the best way? No, but it's what we can do, and will be changed out (unless it is more efficient than I am thinking)

Warming - I am not sure if they make ferm wraps that big but you could use multiple small ones. or use the same internal coils with warm water as well. But if you use a system like the STC's you could control both the cooling and warming systems with one unit.

A lot of your third question can be answered here ->http://discussions.probrewer.com/showthread.php?26572-Plastic-Fermenter-setup

He actually has a lot of functional ideas, some of which we are copying to use at our brewery. Plasticmart and US plastics are where you will find those fermenters. I would urge you to double size them so you can eventually double batch into them.

Good luck with your build out, ours has been the most stressful and most fun time of my life (other than my wife and kids). If you have any questions you can get us at oddbbrewing@gmail.com Now off to find that most elusive of creatures....Citra!

NS_Nano
07-21-2015, 10:47 AM
As Bill notes, there's a ton of discussion on the general issues of plastic conicals on the forum and Hess' blog is very useful.

Re: heating, I don't know if you can buy ready made products, but you can buy heat tape by the foot and just do it yourself: http://www.ebay.ca/itm/Flex-Watt-Heat-Tape-Reptile-Pet-Terrarium-Cage-Egg-Incubator-Heater-Warmer-/230921106672

Good luck!

HBC2193
07-22-2015, 07:01 AM
Hi, what about using electric heating pads or blankets or even the elements used to heat tile floors? Is it possible to tie that into ta thermoswitch?

bwalden234
07-22-2015, 08:03 AM
My concern is that blankets and heating pads are for light duty use and not meant to run for long periods time. Ferm wraps (the blue strip) are to small to make a difference (depending o fermenter size. They make a net like thing that I have seem some breweries use on plastic fermenters. I would think the concern here would be placement and insulation. I would def investigate a two stage controller if your going to cool and warm. Do you know the ambient temp swing of your facility? Maybe you won't need to warm the FV's at all.

populuxe
07-22-2015, 09:44 AM
Hey that's my video!

We use 2 of these around the cone of the 1.5bbl FV to control temps:

http://www.morebeer.com/products/fermwrap-heater.html

Both go into a 3-way plug to control them with a single A419. We section off a portion of our cold room which we keep at 55 and ferment in there. Each FV needs to run at different temps because we make a bunch of different styles which wouldn't really work without that kind of control.

BTW - the only time we ever really have to "chill" at that size is because we can't get the wort cold enough using ground water. Active fermentation doesn't really add much temp wise at that size. I'm not sure how large you'd need to get before noticing a rise.

Cheers,
Peter

bwalden234
07-22-2015, 04:03 PM
That's the net like thing.
Populuxe, Is your video the one with the four or five plastic conicals in the shop space. That was one of the first videos I showed to my business partner to show that we could use plastic effectively.


Bill Walden
Oddball Brewing Co.
Suncook, NH

Whitewall
07-23-2015, 11:29 AM
We also used Populuxe's idea for the first 6 months we were open. I had the heat tape made by a reptile aqairium company for Reptile basics. You can order it whatever length you want and it comes with the cords. To equip 3 FVs it cost about 55$. Ran them off off Rancos that had the probes inserted into Stainless thermowells from the top.

bwalden234
07-24-2015, 03:52 AM
How long were your thermowells? We have the 240 gallon version of those tanks, and we need long ones.


Bill Walden
Oddball Brewing Co.
Suncook, NH

Whitewall
07-24-2015, 09:18 AM
How long were your thermowells? We have the 240 gallon version of those tanks, and we need long ones.

Bill Walden
Oddball Brewing Co.
Suncook, NH



Two feet if I remember correctly

NS_Nano
07-24-2015, 11:19 AM
You can get the long thermowells here: https://www.brewershardware.com/24-Stainless-Steel-Thermowell-TWS24.html

jcmcdowell
07-24-2015, 03:40 PM
We started with 4 and I added 4 more.

Some notes:

RACKING ARMS:
The first 4 I had a racking arm- which was a PIA to customize because of the thickness of the bulkhead and resulting stainless trip-clover fitting. The second I skipped and just installed 1/2" bulkheads at the 3 gal mark. Before I transfer I purge the bulkhead of gunk but also use that sample to measure final gravity. I can top crop the yeast and direct pitch or bottom crop for storage if we cannot direct pitch. The best time to bottom crop is the day after you cold crash, the slurry is like milkshake consistency and I bleed off a Liter before saving the next 4 liters. If I add more, I plan on putting them even lower (maybe between 2-3 gal mark) so I can capture more clear beer.

COOLING:
I had Stainless Brewing fabricate stainless coils that dropped straight down to about the 80 gal mark and then coiled all the way down to about the 10-15 gal mark. They have disconnects on them that run to a window unit AC and IGLOO cooler chiller that uses RANCO controllers and little giant pond pumps to recirculate the food safe antifreeze (about 12 gallons) through the coils. I have 4 fermenters hooked up like a spider to the chiller. There are 4 RANCO controllers for the fermenters and one for the AC/ Glycol temp. In the summer our outside temps in Montana are in the 80's to 90's most of the time. Keeping a Ferm temp of 63-73 is no problem for 4 full fermenters. Crash Cooling in the summer I can only get down to about 41 degrees F and that's with a 3/4" closed cell foam wrap. In the winter it's not a problem. I can crash cool 2 fermenters at a time in the summer.

I installed the temp probe right at the 40 gal mark. I brew about 85 gal per batch to try to fill fully 5 kegs. I think that's the max with this size fermenter because I use high krausen top cropping yeasts that will puke 30+ gallon in volume.

By the way, I centered the coils inside the fermenter, not in the lid. I use a small portable power washer to clean out the big gunk then run a CIP cycle with acid and rinse with a spray ball attached to a spare lid. I run a sanitization cycle prior to filling which sanitizes the tank and the transfer hoses (3/4" silicone). I break down all the fitting every cleaning cycle and will re-assemble prior to filling. I don't remove the bulkheads or the NPT stainless trip-clover fittings. But I pay special attention to cleaning them with the power washer. I have as yet had no need to remove the coil for cleaning. We don't use ANY abrasives on the plastic but I will run my fingers along the top of the stainless coils to ensure they are free of gunk right where the krausen has dried like glue to the stainless.

HEATING:
It gets pretty cold in Montana in the winter. My building doesn't have central HVAC- only a monstrous wood stove to heat the building. So it can drop below freezing inside the building. I wrapped the bases around the cone with some reflect foil insulation and we put a 60 watt light bulb clipped inside the cone. We also wrap all the fermenters with the 3/4" closed cell foam insulation. The fermentation process is exothermic but can stall if the volume drops below fermentation temps. By keeping the cone heated with 60w it keep she exothermic process going until fermentation is complete. That's often how we tell that the fermentation process is tapering as the temp drops below the RANCO set point.

FERMENTATION:
I don't have a blow off tube. I tried using seals on the lids but found too much crap gathered in and around the lid each brew. I needed to remove the threaded insert and the lid each brew to clean. Now I don't use any screws but I do press in the threaded insert and use the lid- basically to keep dirt and bugs out (although the CO2 and low PH does a fine job at that). I use PBW at 130 degree F to clean after power washing (which takes about 15-20 minutes). Once tries to using VERY hot water to sanitize and it deformed the plastic and now that fermenter is a PIA to get the threaded lid insert into. I basically consider these open fermenters. The opening is big enough to get into to top crop and re-pitch or dirty skim safely.

In conclusion, I think the plastic conicals are a super good startup option for Nano's (under 3bbl). Honestly there is just not enough revenue to justify $5k per fermenter when you can put together a glycol cooled plastic fermenter for about $600 each for the same size. I can replace a fermenter per year and it would take about a decade to equal the costs of one stainless jacketed fermenter.

I don't bottle, can, or distribute our beers. They are only available in our brewery tasting room. With 8 fermenters running I can produce 80 kegs per months- which is a 60 hour a week gig for one person- but doable.

JC, brewer and owner
Bandit Brewing Co.
Darby, MT.

jcmcdowell
07-24-2015, 03:56 PM
Two feet if I remember correctly

I use 6" and they work just fine.

JC

ipabrewer
11-16-2015, 06:52 AM
I posted this on its own thread, but its not getting any traction, and I'm in a bit of a hurry because we've already filed TTB...
I'm opening Wages Brewing Company (pending TTB approval) in West Plains Missouri, and I'd very much like to visit a brewery that is using plastic fermenters such as the plastic-mart.com ones discussed in this and other threads. Anyone near within 5 hours that would give me a tour? I'm within that distance to St Louis, Kansas City, Little Rock, Memphis, and Springfield, MO.

declue2
11-28-2015, 09:03 PM
I posted this on its own thread, but its not getting any traction, and I'm in a bit of a hurry because we've already filed TTB...
I'm opening Wages Brewing Company (pending TTB approval) in West Plains Missouri, and I'd very much like to visit a brewery that is using plastic fermenters such as the plastic-mart.com ones discussed in this and other threads. Anyone near within 5 hours that would give me a tour? I'm within that distance to St Louis, Kansas City, Little Rock, Memphis, and Springfield, MO.

PM me. I'm in KC and use the plastic 60 gal

claponsie
11-29-2015, 07:38 AM
While we use stainless 3 bbl conicals, they are unjacketed, so we had to face a similar challenge. We welded in two couplings at the top of each tank and attached a stainless coil to them. We T'd off our glycol chilled beer lines into a manifold with solenoids for controlling each fermenter. We have no problem holding our fermentation to within a degree of set point. Your concern about heating them can be solved by keeping the vessels in a room slightly warmer than the temperature that you want to hold the fermentation at after primary. We have our fermentation chamber set to 74 degrees, so that the cooling coils are always competing a little bit with ambient temperature. Works like a charm.

Cheers!

ipabrewer
12-03-2015, 06:50 AM
PM me. I'm in KC and use the plastic 60 gal

Awesome! I sent a PM a couple days ago but didn't hear back. Please email me at phil (a) wagesbrewco dot com at your earlier convenience. Cheers!