Do you hate sanitizing transfer vessels or using a racking cane? The process of racking adds an additional step that could introduce oxygen or contaminates into your cider, not good. Also, it’s a lot of work!
To get around this, I recently started using a Fast Ferment 7.9 gallon conical and it has been awesome! Its allows me to make a batch using only one vessel saving a lot of time and work!
Once fermentation stops I can get the cider off of the lees simply by draining the lees of the bottom of the vessel through a valve.
Then I can let the cider age for a little bit longer and repeat the process. All without touching a racking cane or transferring the cider!
When I am ready to transfer the cider to a keg, I can simply attach a hose to the outlet valve on the conical fermenter and easily transfer the fermented cider. I prefer to transfer to kegs, but you could go straight to bottles too if desired.
This single transfer method has improved the quality of my ciders by eliminating extra racking steps and has made the process more enjoyable!
Are you ready to move over to a conical fermenter yet?
Types of Conical Fermenters
There are two main martials that conical fermenters are made from, plastic and stainless steel. They serve the same purpose and both work great but there are some pros and cons to each.
Plastic Conical Fermenters
Plastic conical fermenters are great for the home cider maker because not only are they affordable, and durable, but they are also lightweight.
These come in several sizes and with many accessories. I have a 7.9 gal with a stand, thermowell and yeast collection vessel.
It also came with a wall mount kit which is a cool feature and can also be used for mounting if you choose to build your own stand
The large top opening makes it easy to clean and all parts can be broken down to sanitize.
One complaint I have heard is that the plastic conical fermenters can leak. This is because plastic does not have precision threads like metal, so the threads can be a little loose. This is simple to fix though, the manual even says it clearly, just put 10-15 wraps of the included thread tape on the threads. That’s it, just like regular plumbing!
Stainless Steel Conical Fermenters
Stainless steel conical fermenters may cost a bit more but let’s face it, they look really cool. Most of these vessels have welded tri clamp fitting so many stainless attachments can be used without the hassle of threads.
Some stainless conical fermenters can be set up with temperature control, racking arms or even be pressurized for transfers.
One benefit to stainless is that it will last forever and will never stain or absorb flavors and scents. Stainless conical fermenters are also impervious to oxygen and light unlike some plastics which makes them better for long term aging.
Both materials will work great but deciding factors I believe come down to your level of cidermaking and the cost. Plastic conical fermenters are affordable and work great but stainless conical fermenters will outlast any plastic.
In the end, its what works best for you. I choose the Fast Ferment Conical to get started and if I decide to scale up, I will probably move to a larger stainless conical in the future.