Grainfather Conical Fermentor - newbie questions

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Grizwald
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Grainfather Conical Fermentor - newbie questions

Post by Grizwald » Wed Sep 12, 2018 8:31 am

Hi folks,

First post here, and enjoying this amazing resource.

Am a newbie brewer (other than the usual kit brewing at Uni back in the day...) and have decided to go with an all-grain setup.

In terms of fermentation, I'm looking at the Grandfather Conical as I understand the importance of temperature control (and haven't space for a fridge chamber).

Couple of newbie questions for those in the know though:

1. We are renovating our house so in the short term, I would need to ferment in the spare bedroom. Strange question maybe, but how well does the GF conical contain the smell of fermentation? As understanding as my lovely wife is, she wont be happy if the smell is too strong. The room is a little way away so some whiff is expected and not the end of the world..

2. In the short-term, I will need to brew in 1 place (kitchen) and then move the fermentor upstairs. Would 23L in a GF conical be prohibitively heavy to carry to do this for the mortal normal man!? I assume this wont harm the brewing process in any way. (Moving the fermentor at the start of the process).


Cheers!

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gr_baker
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Re: Grainfather Conical Fermentor - newbie questions

Post by gr_baker » Wed Sep 12, 2018 9:28 am

Hi,

I've no experience of the conical you mention but I'd imagine that it will smell like any other fermenter. After all it's got to let the gasses produced during fermentation out.

I wouldn't want to carry it full of wort. The wort will weigh over 23 kg, then there's the weight of the fermenter. It's a double skinned stainless steel job with a built in heater and weighs over 28kg. So full it's 51kg plus, it's an awkward shape to carry too.

As fermentation temperature is important to you, how are you going to cool the fermenter? Are you planning on buying the glycol chiller too?

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Re: Grainfather Conical Fermentor - newbie questions

Post by bryanferry » Wed Sep 12, 2018 11:56 am

I have the grainfather conical. The main complaints from my other half has been over the airlock noise bubbling away at the start of the ferment. As the lid seals pretty securely all the gas is through the airlock. It does give off the usual yeastie smell but nothing too pungent.

Surprisingly it is easy to shift about given the two large handles on the sides and you can get your hands under it on account of the legs. I have mine set up with a cool box and frozen water bottles and the cooling pump kit. The pump is an additional noise but you may be able to muffle that with a better set up.
Grainfather conical Green hop ale
Corny Keg 1 - Silver
Corny Keg 2 - Purple Ginger beer
Corny Keg 3 - Copper Belgian blonde
Demi Johns Mead, cherry wine, poisonous red wine

Planning: - Selling up spare equipment, better brewing area, St Austell big smoke, Mistletoe mafia clone

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gr_baker
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Re: Grainfather Conical Fermentor - newbie questions

Post by gr_baker » Wed Sep 12, 2018 12:33 pm

Hi Bryanferry, the OP is planning on carrying the fermenter up stairs when full. Do you think that's possible using those handles? I don't think I could do it safely. I'm just thinking of when I used king kegs and had to carry them full of beer down the garden to the shed and that was only 25kg and no stairs.

Grizwald, why not buy a light plastic fermentation bucket too. You could carry the wort upstairs in that and pour into the fermenter upstairs. The pouring would be a good way of introducing oxygen into the wort prior to pitching too.

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Re: Grainfather Conical Fermentor - newbie questions

Post by Grizwald » Wed Sep 12, 2018 2:27 pm

Thanks for the quick replies folks!

Good thinking about the use of a plastic fermentor in the first instance @gr_baker - that would solve the carrying issue.

Also, thanks for the info @bryanferry - interested to hear more about your cool box and cooling pump setup. Are you just using it for cold crashing, or with a temperature controller for ongoing termperature control?

Another question - if it turns out that I have to move the fermentor, during (say, 3 or 4 days into) fermentation, will that damage the brewing process?
Last edited by Grizwald on Wed Sep 12, 2018 3:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Grainfather Conical Fermentor - newbie questions

Post by Kingfisher4 » Wed Sep 12, 2018 2:54 pm

bryanferry wrote:
Wed Sep 12, 2018 11:56 am

I have mine set up with a cool box and frozen water bottles and the cooling pump kit. The pump is an additional noise but you may be able to muffle that with a better set up.
Would you mind elaborating on the dual use of the integral heater and cooling pump via your set up above please?
If the grainfather conical with this set up will be a substitute for a much bulkier brew fridge I might be very tempted. The technical info suggests it should be possible to set a fermentation temperature or stepped fermentation, does your setup allow for automatic temperature regulation like an ink bird with a brew fridge and tube heater?
I appreciate the integral heater would work thermostatically, but will it also cool when needed automatically?

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Re: Grainfather Conical Fermentor - newbie questions

Post by gr_baker » Wed Sep 12, 2018 3:01 pm

How are you thinking of moving the beer? Physically moving the fermenter should be fine if you can lift it. If you're thinking of running the beer off then watch that you don't introduce more oxygen.

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Re: Grainfather Conical Fermentor - newbie questions

Post by Grizwald » Wed Sep 12, 2018 3:30 pm

@gr_baker:

I was thinking that should it have to be moved during fermentation (unlikely, but you never know with house renovations!), how much damage would be done to the brew by moving it whilst in the GF conical. One good thing about lifting/moving the GF is that with a house renovation comes some very helpful builders! :)

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Re: Grainfather Conical Fermentor - newbie questions

Post by bryanferry » Wed Sep 12, 2018 3:34 pm

I only bought my conical a few months ago so with the UK heat wave its mainly been cooling. You can set it to both operate the heater and cooling pump automatically to maintain the temperature. As the glycol price is pretty steep I've been sticking with ice bottles which i can rotate as necessary. Its been reducing to temp and then switching on and off to maintain. I'm hoping to put it in the shed over the winter and have the heater kick in to maintain the temp.

I haven't had trouble lifting a full conical up and downstairs but gr_baker makes very good points. Its a massive pain but needs must whilst renovating my house.
Grainfather conical Green hop ale
Corny Keg 1 - Silver
Corny Keg 2 - Purple Ginger beer
Corny Keg 3 - Copper Belgian blonde
Demi Johns Mead, cherry wine, poisonous red wine

Planning: - Selling up spare equipment, better brewing area, St Austell big smoke, Mistletoe mafia clone

Grizwald
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Re: Grainfather Conical Fermentor - newbie questions

Post by Grizwald » Wed Sep 12, 2018 3:46 pm

Cheers again @bryanferry - super helpful!

What are you using to cold crash? Is the pump aggressive enough to do that? If so, would love to hear about the process? :)

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Re: Grainfather Conical Fermentor - newbie questions

Post by bryanferry » Wed Sep 12, 2018 4:25 pm

(As is always the way with brewing) I am still trying to refine my process. So far I haven't been able to cold crash below 10c possibly due to the house temperature being above 25c. The pump however seems to be pretty solid considering its size.

I have a batch currently on the go and its holding nicely at 18c. Hopefully a pump through of fresh ice water will get the temp down and clear it up.
Grainfather conical Green hop ale
Corny Keg 1 - Silver
Corny Keg 2 - Purple Ginger beer
Corny Keg 3 - Copper Belgian blonde
Demi Johns Mead, cherry wine, poisonous red wine

Planning: - Selling up spare equipment, better brewing area, St Austell big smoke, Mistletoe mafia clone

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gr_baker
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Re: Grainfather Conical Fermentor - newbie questions

Post by gr_baker » Wed Sep 12, 2018 4:59 pm

bryanferry wrote:
Wed Sep 12, 2018 3:34 pm
I'm hoping to put it in the shed over the winter and have the heater kick in to maintain the temp.
I did this with a plastic fermenter over last winter. I had a 25 Watt heating belt on it. It was wrapped in insulating bubble wrap and I couldn't get the temperature up to the 12C that I needed to make a lager. I added a 2nd belt heater and it made 10C which Saflager W34/70 worked at quite happily. It made a really good lager.

The reason I mention this is that the Grainfather Conical heater is rated at 30 watts. Whilst I know that it'll be heating the beer directly through stainless steel rather than the plastic in my set up, I suspect that you'll need some insulation wrapped around the fermenter in the winter. If you're planning on making ale you might need some heating belt(s) too. Of course this coming winter might turn out to be a really mild one :wink:

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Re: Grainfather Conical Fermentor - newbie questions

Post by Aub » Sun Sep 16, 2018 4:43 am

I've used my Grainfather conical during the winter in Melbourne,Australia where our average winter temps are high 14 to 15c and lows 7 to 8c and have had no problem maintaining fermentation temps in the 20 to 25c range.

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Re: Grainfather Conical Fermentor - newbie questions

Post by HTH1975 » Sun Sep 16, 2018 9:07 am

Around 50kg is a hell of a weight to carry unless you’re very physically fit and do some kind of weight training. Between two people it’s still a reasonable amount to lift. I lift 25kg bags of grain at my brewery job and 25kg polys at my distillery job - it’s a decent weight to lift even when you’re used to do it all the time.

As suggested above, set up your FV where you want it, then transfer your wort into it using a plastic brewbucket. No reason why you need to lift the full 20’ish litre batch at once either - think smart and save your back by splitting it into two 10L lots.

As for moving the FV itself when full, I can’t see any problem with this. There will be minimal sloshing - I have to move my entire brew from the cellar to the kitchen when I’m bottling and have no issues.

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Re: Grainfather Conical Fermentor - newbie questions

Post by bryanferry » Mon Sep 17, 2018 9:07 am

New top tip for the conical as I put a batch on Saturday night. Do not (nail the process and have a very smooth brew session creating wonderfully clear wort) and then leave the tap on the conical open when transferring. It was filling nicely at 18c so I went for a beer, came back to a wet floor. #-o
Grainfather conical Green hop ale
Corny Keg 1 - Silver
Corny Keg 2 - Purple Ginger beer
Corny Keg 3 - Copper Belgian blonde
Demi Johns Mead, cherry wine, poisonous red wine

Planning: - Selling up spare equipment, better brewing area, St Austell big smoke, Mistletoe mafia clone

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