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As I start planning my pico brewery, I've been thinking about fermenters. I'd love some thoughts on ways to ferment 1/2 and 1bbl (15.5 - 31 gallon) batches. Options for when price is and is not a concern would be great.

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The thought for this question came from a probrewer.com thread -- probrewer.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?p=52206#post52206 –  hookedonwinter Apr 26 '10 at 1:02
    
I would think half barrels would be best as the vessel (sanke keg) is readily available, and still manageable as far as manually moving it around. A full barrel is pretty darn large, awkward to handle and too heavy to move manually. –  brewchez Apr 26 '10 at 1:19
    
@brewchez the benefit of a 1bbl would be double brewing, saving on yeast and space. But ya, getting a sanke is way easier than a 1bbl conical. –  hookedonwinter Apr 26 '10 at 1:36
    
I would think a one barrel conical would be a waste of money when compared to the cost of a 3bbl conical. I don't know the actual costs but it seems that a 1bbl would be very pricey over getting a 3bbl. –  brewchez Apr 26 '10 at 11:35
    
From what I've been reading so far, 1 bbl conicals exist for retail purchase, whereas anything 3 and over requires fabricating. But, if someone has a resource, I'd love to see it here :) –  hookedonwinter Apr 26 '10 at 14:43
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2 Answers 2

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I ferment 10gal batches in a 14gal conical but have been looking at this kit from Brewers Hardware recently to add some capacity at a better price.

The single 1bbl vessel .v. two 1/2bbl vessels is not going to affect yeast pitching quantities, you are just going to take the same original starter and split it between the vessels. The space saving and cleaning labor savings would be quite significant over the long run though.

When you start modeling your production expenses, you will quickly see that at pico brewery scale, labor costs are the most significant component of your costs. This shifts quickly to ingredients and then to energy and space as you move up in scale. Forecast and estimate your production volumes carefully and realistically. You could find that investing in bigger equipment will pay for itself quickly if your brews are in demand quickly. If, that takes longer, then making smaller investments in pilot-scale equipment and brewing more frequently (2-3 batches a day) might make more sense at the beginning.

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Awesome, thanks for the info Jim. Do you work in or around a brewery? Are you on the twitter? –  hookedonwinter Apr 27 '10 at 17:42
    
Nice comments about scale and economies. –  brewchez Apr 28 '10 at 12:50
    
PJ, I think I have been following you for a while - you are @hookedonwinter right? I'm @jmdenmark and like yourself, I only contemplate brewing for a living. –  Jim Denmark Apr 28 '10 at 14:43
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I use a Sanke keg for fermenting my 10-15gal batches, works great. You can also look into using plastic conical fermentors. You can get them in 15-500+gal sizes.

http://www.usplastic.com/catalog/item.aspx?itemid=25197

http://www.tank-depot.com/product.aspx?id=854

I'm looking at getting a 15gal and a 65gal.

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How do you convert your Sankey's? and where do you get them from? –  hookedonwinter Apr 26 '10 at 18:00
    
You ferment 15 gallons in a sankey? –  brewchez Apr 27 '10 at 11:52
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