Billed as the “world’s first small-batch conical fermenter,” BrewDemon’s 3-gallon fermenter is an exciting option for small-batch brewers. BrewDemon sent me a unit to review.
The conical retails for about $50 and comes in clear or amber. My unit was amber, although I think I’d prefer the clear unit as it’s easier to see what’s going on inside.
For this review, I brewed a simple 2-gallon batch of Cascade Pale ale and fermented it in the BrewDemon Conical.
BrewDemon Conical Fermenter Pros:
- It has a wide-mouth, screw-top lid, which makes filling and cleaning the unit very easy.
- It accepts a standard airlock.
- The conical shape allows for the yeast and trub to settle to the bottom
- It has a spigot for racking beer.
BrewDemon Conical Fermenter Cons:
- There’s no valve to easily remove the yeast/trub
- The spigot could be a little higher
I didn’t deviate from my normal brew day at all, but think that I may need to in the future to take full advantage of this little fermenter. I started with 2 gallons of 1.053 OG wort, and pitched half a package of US-04.
Fermentation kicked off quickly and the next morning the krausen was escaping from the sides of the lid and the airlock was clogged. I took out the airlock, cleaned and sanitized it, reinstalled it and soon realized that I was going to need to hook up a blow-off tube. I set that up and let it gurgle away for another day and then re-installed the air lock once activity settled down.
After fermentation slowed down, I tried to open the valve, to take a gravity reading, but the trub had settled over the spigot’s opening. It too, was clogged.
I racked the beer into the bottling bucket using a racking cane. I was able to get the beer out without disturbing the yeast that settled in the bottom of the conical.
Once the beer was removed, I was able to remove the yeast for harvesting. At first, I tried pouring the trub out, but that didn’t work well, so I sanitized a soup ladle and used that to transfer the yeast to a jar for reuse.
The next time I brew with the BrewDemon, I’m going to filter out as much of the hops from the kettle as I can. That should help reduce the particles in the krausen, which should help reduce the chance that the airlock will get clogged. It should also reduce the overall volume of the trub collected in the bottom of the conical, and hopefully allow for use of the spigot.
The Bottom line
The main advantage of any conical, in my opinion, is to reduce the surface area of the fermented beer that is contact with the spent yeast and other sediment. In that case, the BrewDemon small-batch conical does its job.
I really like the idea of a small-batch conical, but would like to have a valve to separate the trub from the beer. It’s possible that I over-pitched the yeast and had too much hop material in the fermenter. Straining the wort or using a pre-hopped liquid extract might also help. I’ll try to correct those in my next batch and see if I can get the trub below the spigot. Note that BrewDemon’s Big Demon 8-gallon fermenter does include the ability to drain the trub.
If used as a secondary, or with a few process/recipe tweaks, the BrewDemon Conical Fermenter will definitely be a useful tool in my brewing arsenal. Stay tuned for an update once I brew another batch.