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AlphaBrews
01-15-2017, 04:10 PM
Concrete Fermenters

Has anyone seen these? Used them? Drank beers out of one?

We've had a small problem with one of our sours. When we nail it its great, when we screw it up, its awful. So here is what we have figured out. The Lactobacillus on our grain likes to ferment at about 107F. When we put the brew in the stainless steel ferms that we are using now its difficult to hit that temperature because the glycol is running at 25F. A few times it has over cooled which gives us a sour that smells and tastes like butyric acid.

We were thinking of getting a concrete fermenter because they are better at holding specific temps.

Just wondering if anyone out there has any experience with these tanks.

dick murton
01-16-2017, 01:58 PM
Just get some proper stainless fermenters with decent attemperation systems and insulation. This will be far more hygienic than concrete. You will have to line concrete, so it will be extra expense, and will need internal cooling panels which are not easy to clean

dick murton
01-16-2017, 02:01 PM
I meant to say that I doubt if you could possibly ferment in unlined concrete as the concrete will be attacked by the acids and dissolve, and the concrete will generate the wrong pH (increase drastically) as it dissolves, so inhibiting fermentation and will probably taste awful as a result.

dick murton
01-17-2017, 03:00 AM
OK, so having replied off the top of my head, I then had a quick look for concrete vessels, as much as anything prompted by a comment in one of my brewing magazines about using concrete vessels for distillery fermentations. I found Sonoma Cast Stone tanks and have to say they look really smart.

Having said all that, I still think from a hygiene point of view in particular, due to having the ability to have wall attemperation built in, rather than as internal cols, and having impervious walls of stainless, rather than porous walls of concrete (or oak for that matter) you will have increased hygiene and flexibility to safely use for different yeasts etc.

But having seen them - I think if only purely out of interest, not with a view to installing then, I am also keen to hear comments from people who have used them.

Cheers

Karma
01-17-2017, 07:09 AM
I am extremely eager to hear from anyone who has used these as well.

My understanding is they are similar to a foeder. Slow, spontaneous, fermentation that doesn't generate a lot of intense heat so cooling isn't really necessary. I am curious if the concrete imparts a mineral aspect to the final product and if that softens or intensifies as time goes on. I am very, very intrigued by them!!

brewtrain
01-17-2017, 07:50 AM
If you have problems with over cooling I would check the automation on your temp control and shorten the cooling intervals. That being said when we "kettle sour" its in the fermenter and we knock out at 103 and don't really have to cool as it maintains an even temp during souring. If you are getting butyric its probably infection from another organism. We pre acidify our wort to 4.5pH to inhibit growth of anything but lactic. Also look into a commercial pitch and prop it up before use, we like Omega Labs.

As for concrete fermenters the only ones I have seen are at Walking Man Brewing in Stevenson Washington. They are the old open top ones but some great beers come out of them. Good Luck.

walkingmanbrew
01-17-2017, 03:23 PM
I'm the owner/founder/brewmaster at Walking Man Brewing in Stevenson,WA.
We do not and have never owned a concrete fermenter.
Perhaps you are thinking of Hair of the Dog in Portland?
They have one...
Cheers,
Robert