I am considering purchasing a conical fermenter but I'm not sure if it would be worth the cost. I feel like it would allow me to make better beer with less effort, but it would be nice to hear from some of you who actually own and use a conical to see if it is really worth it.
I am thinking about either a 14 or 7 gallon Fermenator with sanitary tri clamp fittings.
I have a conical that a welder friend made me and I love it. The only problem is that it's not temperature controlled and it's too big. I can't fit it in my fermentation chamber and I have to brew 12 gallons to come close to filling it.
If you have the money, get one. Someday I hope to have a fleet of them.
I've been really tempted to get one of those plastic 7.5 gallon conicals I've seen. They are much less expensive than steel and I brew 5 gallon batches. The only thing keeping me from it is that if it gets one good scratch inside, it's worthless.
I recently picked up a Fermenator and brewed my first batch in it. I like it for the convenience factor, but I ended up having to dump out the first batch I brewed in it. Some black scum formed on the sides above the line the krausen leaves. Some quick research indicated that this could be from some residual oils leftover from the machining process that didn't get removed during my pre-wash and sanitation routine and were extracted by the alcohol or the heat generated during fermentation. I've never had a problem like this with glass. The beer tasted metallic or medicinal as well.
Batch #2 is fermenting in there now. This time I hit it hard: washed it with hot water and dish soap as per the instructions that came with it, the hit it with a winemaking sanitizing agent (Proxiclean), followed by a citric acid soak and then the usual BTF soak. We'll see if the problem recurs in a few days.