Stockpots as fermenters?

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MTW
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Stockpots as fermenters?

Post by MTW » Mon Oct 29, 2018 4:19 pm

Just a quick check...

Any issues with basic stockpots with 2 or 3 piece ball valves at the bottom as FVs? I'm seriously considering making a small step up from plastic buckets, after many years. I'm prioritising stainless steel over getting a plastic conical or anything more fancy. Looks like job done to the door for around £70-£80 for 33L.

Do ball valves clog easily (especially with dry hop pellets), and would I need some sort of filter in there? I quite like the basic black plastic taps on my buckets, that work fine, but it somehow seems wrong sticking one of those on something shiny!
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Re: Stockpots as fermenters?

Post by TheSumOfAllBeers » Mon Oct 29, 2018 5:02 pm

If you are going the diy route, look at the brew builder pot conversions. More money than 70 quids, but you also get 2x triclamp ferrules and a clamped gasketed lid.

This lets you use standard tri clamp parts, like racking arm ball valves with dip tubes, do pressure transfers etc.

Seriously thinking of going with a 50L version for lagering.

Note that an advantage of a racking arm ball valve is that it is rotatable so you can get the pickup tube out of the sediment.

But it will block up with pellet hops.

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Re: Stockpots as fermenters?

Post by Secla » Mon Oct 29, 2018 5:28 pm

They don't seal but yes they would do the job. Personally I'd go for a sealed fermenter but plenty of people don't. You would probably find that gas would escape from around the lid so no need for an airlock

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Re: Stockpots as fermenters?

Post by Bigbud78 » Mon Oct 29, 2018 5:51 pm

Brewbuilder flay bottomed should be great, similar to my conical. If I was buying again I'd get the 33L version with a butterfly valve and racking arm :)

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Re: Stockpots as fermenters?

Post by Kev888 » Mon Oct 29, 2018 6:25 pm

I used the standard bergland stock pots as fermenters for some years and was fairly happy with them. The main positive was the stainless, I'm happy to scrub stainless with a non-stick-safe scrubby pad, so cleaning is easier, quicker and needs to use fewer (or even no) chemicals. Disinfecting/sanitising also felt more certain too (though TBH plastic gave me no problems either). Though more care is needed with things like strong (or long) bleach cleans, and stainless can rust if damaged (the base of my pots did sometimes, after being sat direct on concrete floors).

The main disadvantage (for me) was the loose and almost completely non-sealing lid. It wouldn't even contain excessive krausen (as well as a plastic bucket would) if the yeast got carried away - no chance of a blow-off tube handling it. So unless you're going to seal it with tape, it really needs to be quite generously sized to avoid spills. The lack of seal would put some buyers off WRT oxygen too, I wasn't too bothered about that but didn't see it as a particularly desirable thing for secondary FVs.

The ball-valves work very well and reliably. I've used 3/4" ones and never had any problem with the odd leaf hop or three, and 1/2" ones seemed to manage fine with some pellet matter - generally the tap was positioned to allow a bit of deadspace for most debris to settle into before racking. (For conical dumping of solid trub and hops, even 1" taps can block). Though they're more work: you really need to take them off and strip them down to clean and disinfect properly, as they have voids in that retain wort (I would also remove any associated threaded bulkheads for cleaning) - IMO their high pressure design makes that more fiddly than necessary for our purposes, but hey ho.

As others have mentioned: Had they existed at the time and if budget had allowed (which it didn't) I would have preferred the best of both worlds with something like a BrewBuilder flat-bottomed FV, as the lid seals properly - which means a blow-off tube can sensibly used, and I'd feel happier to use it as a secondary FV too. The welded triclamps obviously don't need removing, and make tap removal easier too. Similarly, I would also have gone for butterfly valves, which don't have the voids of ball valves (though could be a tad more prone to clogging). IMO 'if' you didn't expect to dump stuff from the bottom valves, this setup would be as good as and more convenient than an equivalent SS conical.
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Re: Stockpots as fermenters?

Post by MTW » Mon Oct 29, 2018 7:11 pm

Brilliant replies, thanks. I've got a green light from SWMBO for this :pink: and may be able to push to the flat bottomed sealed lid job. [-o< I've been fermenting in one way or another around a quarter of a century, and I've been very restrained on equipment this far!

By butterfly valves, are we talking about the £47 Brewbuilder ones, which presumably then need some sort of large spur on them? I don't really understand the bits I'd need. It may take another 25 years to justify much more than basic options on top of that pot.
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Re: Stockpots as fermenters?

Post by Kev888 » Mon Oct 29, 2018 7:32 pm

With Triclamp/triclover fittings, both parties (e.g. the bulkhead and the valve) have a big round flange. To mate them together, you additionally need a sealing gasket (which goes between the two) and the actual clamp to hold the two flanges together. (Ideally a third hand, too!).

This applies to whatever type of triclamp valve it is, ball or butterfly; sadly all triclamp vales I've seen are pretty costly :(

You'll likely also need a triclamp version of a hosetail (and so also a second gasket and clamp) for the other side of the valve. There are many other possibilities should you need something different. Ditto for the lid, really

Though for some purposes, you could just stick a bung in the lid's bulkhead if you wanted to save on extra clamps there. And if you already had a decent valve with a 1/2" thread, you could potentially use it by fitting a triclamp/thread adaptor to the FV, instead of a triclamp valve.
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Re: Stockpots as fermenters?

Post by MTW » Mon Oct 29, 2018 9:45 pm

Thank you for explaining. This is getting a bit pricey though. Sounds like we're talking over double the cost of a basic stock pot and ball valve, for the benefit of a sealing lid and threadless connections. I've emailed to see, anyway. It doesn't sound like the price points are quite where I want them: I'd pay £110 for a SS pot with a sealing lid and a ball valve, but having to add Rolls Royce parts on top, just to get the beer out, looks painful.

If the stockpot lid leaves gaps through which you can see the wort, that will also bother me. At least the lid on a bucket has a lip that goes over the rim. Hmm.
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Re: Stockpots as fermenters?

Post by Kev888 » Mon Oct 29, 2018 10:26 pm

Yes, it can certainly add up quickly.

The stock pot lids pretty much sit on the rim of the pot, but there is a small (albeit loose) lip and you can weight them down to make the gap minimal - certainly not a gaping void you can see through. They just aren't what i'd call a good/close seal, like most plastic bucket fermenters - let alone the posh ones.

I spent years dithering between higher end plastic fermenters and (usually more costly) lower end stainless. Ultimately I was worn down by the dilemma, and so shelled out for the combo.. which is nice but I can't honestly say my beer differed markedly between any of them!
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Re: Stockpots as fermenters?

Post by a-slayer » Tue Oct 30, 2018 8:23 am

I have used a Bergland 70 litre pot as a fermenter for several years, I got fed up of replacing plastic every few years.
I don't have a tap in it as I don't like difficulty of keeping them clean. The lid is loose fitting and all I do is wrap cling film round it to keep out anything.
As Kev said, beer is the same whatever the pot, but I like that the SS pot is easier to clean and going to last me years.

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Re: Stockpots as fermenters?

Post by MTW » Tue Oct 30, 2018 10:55 am

This is part of tightening up sanitation and handling during fermentation onward. I'm pretty confident in my hot side stuff, water treatment, mash/sparge etc, and in everything up to and including pitching healthy yeast. Having to replace buckets again is also a prompt. I've had a couple of off flavours this year which I deduce may have come from mild infections.

I'd be reluctant to go back to siphoning. It's just one of those home brew things that you'd never find in a commercial brewery, and that's usually a sign for me. It always felt intrusive and dodgy! I am going to redouble my cleaning, storage and sanitising regime though, wherever this leads.

I can see a £15 Chinese triclamp valve Looks easy to clean...
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Re: Stockpots as fermenters?

Post by Kev888 » Tue Oct 30, 2018 11:14 am

That valve looks interesting, well spotted. Though I'd want to know what the bore size was before ordering; it could be quite tiny if just for taking samples.
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Re: Stockpots as fermenters?

Post by Bigbud78 » Tue Oct 30, 2018 12:55 pm

Pick one of these up and put a standard Ball valve on it, you'll need a couple of clamps and a blow off for the lid

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/1-2-DN15-San ... rk:21:pf:0

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/1-5-Tri-Clam ... :rk:8:pf:0

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/1-5-Tri-Clam ... :rk:1:pf:0

Ive not ordered from any of those links, just examples

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Re: Stockpots as fermenters?

Post by MTW » Tue Oct 30, 2018 1:12 pm

Bigbud78 wrote:
Tue Oct 30, 2018 12:55 pm
Pick one of these up and put a standard Ball valve on it, you'll need a couple of clamps and a blow off for the lid

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/1-2-DN15-San ... rk:21:pf:0

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/1-5-Tri-Clam ... :rk:8:pf:0

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/1-5-Tri-Clam ... :rk:1:pf:0

Ive not ordered from any of those links, just examples
Useful links, thank you. That's around £42 worth, including a valve, and it gets me the blow off.
Kev888 wrote:
Tue Oct 30, 2018 11:14 am
That valve looks interesting, well spotted. Though I'd want to know what the bore size was before ordering; it could be quite tiny if just for taking samples.
I did an image search and landed on various similar ones on Aliexpress. The only one with an ID measurement of its 10mm spur shows 6mm.
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Re: Stockpots as fermenters?

Post by Kev888 » Tue Oct 30, 2018 2:36 pm

Hmm, 6mm is getting too small for my taste. Pity, they look good otherwise.
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