brewing innovation

Fermenator™

NEW!  We've added modular extensions to our Fermenatortm line of conical fermentors!  Increase the capacity of your 14.5 gal to 25 gal gross, your 27 gal to 60 gal gross, and your 42 gal conical to a massive 80 gal gross! 

 

Worried about bacteria hiding in your conical fermentor’s welds? Or porosity you find in all welds, which can cause leaks? The Fermenator™ from Blichmann Engineering is the only weld-free interior fermentor on the market! The surface where the fittings penetrate is smooth, with no weld "ripples," so it's easy to sanitize. With weld-free fittings, you get the peace of mind that comes with clean, bacteria-free beer.

Note - the optional extensions are rolled and welded construction, but are 100% US made and welded and ground on precision robotic machinery.

Features

Worried about pesky bacteria hiding in the cracks of welds in your conical fermentor? Or the sort of porosity you find in all welds, which can cause leaks? The Fermenator™ from Blichmann Engineering is the only weld-free interior fermentor on the market! Everything that touches your beer is heavy-gauge stainless steel or FDA-approved silicone. And the Fermenator's™ surface where the fittings penetrate are smooth, with no weld "ripples," so it's easy to clean and sanitize. Our optimized design, identical to hydraulic systems under thousands of PSI, is also guaranteed to be 100% leak-free. Even the lid seal can be fully immersed under pressure! Yes, weld-free fittings come at a higher price than welded fittings, but you also get the peace of mind that comes with clean, bacteria-free beer.

Compare interiors

Fermenator™ (Left) vs. competitor (Right)

Easy-to-Clean Weld-Free Fittings: All fittings used for the bottom dump and rotating racking arm are stainless steel, high-quality industrial fittings, not makeshift hardware store parts and pipe fittings. Unlike welded fittings, ours can be removed for easy cleaning by sanitizer, boiling or autoclaving. And our competitor's welded-in fittings can't be replaced if they wear out or are accidentally damaged! Because our fittings can be removed from the tank, they are even easier to keep clean! Last, but not least, weld-free fittings allow you to orient the dump valve in any position you want, not where it happens to end up when tightening a welded fitting – such as facing the rear of the refrigerator!

Rotating Racking Arm: The rotating racking arm is standard equipment, just like the huge conical fermentors used by craft brewers. This feature lets you start your siphon with the racking arm horizontal and rotate it slowly downward until you just start picking up yeast sediment – the best and only way to siphon clear beer! Using the racking arm prevents wasting beer or carrying sediment into your kegs, which happens if you use the bottom dump to rack the beer. This exclusive, revolutionary design utilizes stainless flare fittings, in which bacteria can't hide as they do in compression fittings. Plus, the valve handle shows you the position of the racking arm at all times. 

Lid Hatch: This generously sized lid opening offers you easy, sanitary access to your fermenting beer. It also minimizes exposure of fermentables to oxidation and bacterial contamination when dry-hopping or adding finings as opposed to removing the lid entirely. It's also much easier to pitch yeast than pouring it through the small stopper hole.

Bolted Leg System: Our channel-shaped legs offer improved s:trength and appearance. An exclusive welding process is utilized to install fasteners on the tank wall, leaving the interior of the tank absolutely spotless and superior to TIG-welded designs in which weld distortion (rippling) is unavoidable. These legs can be replaced in minutes if they are accidentally damaged, and, most importantly, they are affixed to the tank so cleaning is much easier than if the tank simply sits on a stand.

Pressure-Capable Stainless Lid: Just like the big breweries, use CO2 pressure to pump your finished beer up to 6 feet above your fermenter to your kegs. This eliminates the need to elevate the fermentor above the kegs or bottling bucket. This is ideal for chest freezers but is not intended for carbonation.

Wine-makers: The sealing system is far superior to wine tanks and completely impervious to oxygen, forming a 100% pressure- and vacuum-tight seal so there's no need for a floating lid. Most stainless wine fermenting tanks have a loose-fitting lid for primary fermentation (to vent gas) and a floating lid for secondary fermentation (to prevent oxygen infiltration). This floating lid has an inflatable seal "tire" with a “bicycle pump” and must be checked periodically to be sure it hasn't deflated. It is also a source of bacterial contamination from fermentation material on the walls of the fermentor. During primary (alcoholic) fermentation the CO2 from fermentation blankets and protects the wine from oxidation.  After complete fermentation has been verified, simply apply a positive pressure of an inert gas like Nitrogen or Argon with a low pressure regulator to keep oxygen out.  During sampling and dumping the lees, the regulator will replace the drained wine and keep oxygen from entering.

Improved Lid Seal: An exclusive bead molded into the seal profile offers improved sealing on the tank lip and further protection of your fermentables from contamination. Its top-quality silicone material has improved bond strength for excellent sealing and temperature capability for long life. Plus, the softer material conforms better to the irregular tank surface for outstanding sealing capability far superior to all competitors.

Folding Handles: They fold neatly away when not in use and stay connected to the unit at all times!

fermentor handle

The 27 and 42 gal units cannot be moved when full due to the sheer weight of the unit. When empty, all units are light enough to easily be carried by the handle.

Ultra Low-Profile Design: The Fermenator™ can easily be placed in a full-size refrigerator or freezer for maintaining fermentation temperatures at a fraction of the cost of immersion coolers, which can run well more than $600. Plus, there's no worry about sanitation! (See the Data tab for dimensions.) And check out the FAQ tab to learn how economical and easy it is to convert a freezer into the ultimate lagering chamber!

Leg Pads: Plastic leg pads protect your counters and refrigerator from scratches.

Ale Brewer?: We have optional bolt-on leg extensions to raise the unit for easy siphoning into a Cornelius keg. This is a great feature for brewers who want to make both ales and lagers with the same unit. You can also place it on a counter or stand of your own. 

 

Data

Minimum interior refrigerator space required:

Wide Deep High
7 gal 15 15 27
14.5 gal 18.5 18.5 31.25
14.5 gal with extension (25 gal gross) 18.5 18.5 45.75
27 gal 24 24 35.75
27 gal with extension (60 gal gross) 24 24 60.75
42 gal 24 24 48.75
42 gal with extension (80 gal gross) 24 24 73.75
Leg extensions - - add 18"
Casters  (not available for 60 and 80 gal models) add 8" add 4" add 3.25"

Note: It is recommended that you have at least 1" on all sides for maneuvering clearance. Dimensions shown above do not include this clearance.  Dimensions also do not include airlock, which is not used in a refrigerator. For low-clearance installations, use the provided 90° elbow on the stopper and remote-locate the airlock. For upright freezers and refrigerators, it is recommended that you have 4 to 6" of clearance above the unit if you wish to dry-hop or add finings through the lid hatch.

 

Competition

Feature
FermenatorStainless Conical
B3 Stainless Conical
Plastic

Conicals

Weldless Spot-Free Interior
Standard
Not Available
Not Available
CO2 Pumping

(Pressurizeable)

Standard
Standard
Not Available
Removable / Replaceable Fittings*
Standard
Not Available
Not Available
Directional Bottom Dump **
Standard
Standard
Not Available
Stainless Steel Lid
Standard
Standard
Not Available
Rotating Racking Arm
Standard
Standard
Option
Lid Hatch
Standard
Not Available
Not Available
Bolt-On Stainless Legs
Standard
Not Available
Not Available
Beaded Lid Seal
Standard
Not Available
Not Available
Folding Handles
Standard
Not Available
Not Available
Low-Profile Design #
Yes
No
No
90° Bottom Dump Elbow
Standard
Standard
Option
Leg Extensions
Option
Option
Not Available
Scratch- / Scouring-Resistant?
Yes
Yes
No

* All competitors' units have welded fittings. The Fermenator™ has the only fully replaceable, 100% leak-free fitting design. If a threaded fitting or sanitary fitting on a competitor's unit gets damaged or wears out, the fitting cannot be replaced without cutting and welding, or replacing the entire tank assembly.

# The Fermenator™ is compact enough to fit in a typical refrigerator.

 

Manuals

Click the links below to download PDFs of the current Fermenator™ product manuals.

F3 Owners Manual-V9

F3-TC Owners Manual-V4

F3-42 Owners Manual-V4

Fermenator™ Caster Manual-V3

TC Blow-off kit manual V2

 

 

FAQs

What is the importance of weld-free design?

Our competitors talk about the quality of their sanitary welds and the skill of their welders. But a sanitary weld is nothing more than a procedure done in an oxygen-free environment on both sides of the weld using an inert gas. These welds are usually done from the outside of the tank while the inside of the tank (which is the critical area) is not visible to the welder while welding. Others do weld from the inside, but the small, confined area makes this weld very difficult and requires "elaborate" procedures to produce a reasonable-quality weld. Because there is little oxygen in the area of the weld, burning and porosity are greatly reduced but not completely eliminated.

In the real world, there is no such thing as a microscopically flaw-free weld, to which any welding engineer can attest. Depending on the skill of the welder, and the day he or she is having, remaining flaws (quench cracks, porosity, and cold laps) will vary and are usually not visible to the naked eye. Many elaborate methods are used to reduce these flaws, but unless they are microscopically inspected and repaired, there is no way to determine if the flaws in the weld are small enough (0.5 micron or less) to not present a sanitation or corrosion problem.

Clearly, the best design is one that is not susceptible to human or process error and doesn't require elaborate welding procedures to reduce quality problems. Subsequently, that design will have little variation in quality. This was the driving force in the design of the Fermenator™, and Blichmann Engineering quality is very high, very repeatable, and absolutely free of any possible flaw. Our weld-free fittings are easy to install and thoroughly clean, which simply cannot be done with a welded fitting.

Why do commercial breweries use welded tanks and fittings? Due to the sheer size of commercial fermentors, they are made by welding rolled sheets of steel together. The welds are subsequently ground, polished, and then non-destructively tested for microscopic flaws. Because commercial breweries often utilize hot steam for sanitization, it is less of a problem even if a flaw is present.

Because homebrew-sized fermentors are too small inside to grind and polish from the inside, these flaws can't be removed  or detected. Plus, improper grinding techniques can also cause micro-cracking. Steam-sanitizing is not a realistic option for homebrewers. Fortunately, homebrew tanks are small enough to be deep-drawn from a single sheet of stainless steel and formed without any welding whatsoever. So why take a flaw-free tank and add welds to it? 

What happens in these flaws?

Obviously, they are a good place for bacteria to hide because liquids carrying sanitizer have a hard time penetrating these small flaws, due mostly to the water's surface tension. Because oxygen can't readily travel to these flaws, the protective CrO2 layer that stainless steel naturally forms in the presence of air (oxygen) can't form on the walls of the flaw. Eventually, these flaws will grow through rusting of the base metal (iron). In extreme cases, these flaws can propagate through the wall of the tank and leak.

Although weld-free fittings are more expensive than welded fittings, Blichmann Engineering advises it for peace of mind, clean bacteria-free beer, and a fermenter that will last a lifetime.

Compare interiors:  Fermenator (Left) vs. competitor (Right)

 

High-quality fittings

All fittings used for the bottom dump and rotating racking arm are specially made, stainless-steel, high-quality industrial fittings, not makeshift hardware store parts and pipe fittings sandwiched between o-rings like most "weld-free kits" available at homebrew supply stores. Competitors' designs utilize compression fittings, which have inherent corrosion and bacteria problems. The ferrule on a compression fitting locks in place on the racking tube and, as above, prevents a flow of oxygen to the surfaces under the fitting, which allows pitting and corrosion to take place. Threaded fittings that can't be disassembled exhibit similar phenomenon. Others use short pipe nipples that can't be easily disassembled. The Fermenator, on the other hand, uses a flare fitting to eliminate this problem. All threaded fittings have hex flats for easy disassembly, and the o-ring design is identical to hydraulic systems capable of holding 4,000 PSI of pressure!. Again, it's more expensive than welding, but well worth the added cost.

Easiest fermentOr to clean

unlike welded fittings, ours can be removed for easy cleaning by sanitizer, boiling or autoclaving.

Because one side of the fitting on all competitive models is welded to the tank, it can't be removed, and flooding those surfaces (particularly threaded fittings) with sanitizer is difficult at best. That's why they recommend you Clean In Place (CIP) with expensive cleaners and time-consuming soaks. In less than a minute, you can remove the bottom dump and racking arm assemblies in your Fermenator and have them ready for a good cleaning.  If you're obsessed with sanitation, you can completely disassemble them in a few minutes more. Even then, it's much faster than readying all the CIP circulation equipment and significantly more thorough. Rest assured that you've got every nook, every cranny, every time, in just a little time. You choose the cleaning method that's right for you!

Replaceable fittings

Our competitors' welded-in fittings can't be replaced if they get accidentally damaged or wear out. Cutting and re-welding are the only way to repair a damaged or worn fitting on their tanks.

ORIENT THE DUMP VALVE HOW YOU WISH

Weld-free fittings let you orient the dump valve in any position you want, not where it happens to end up when tightening a welded fitting – such as facing the rear of the refrigerator!

Guaranteed 100% Leak Free!!!

Our optimized design, identical to hydraulic systems under thousands of PSI, is also guaranteed to be 100% leak-free. Even the lid seal can be fully immersed under pressure!

How can I cool my conical fermentor?

We get regular requests for jacketed or solid-state cooling devised for our line of conicals. While our competition offers these, they are very expensive and have limited performance. At Blichmann Engineering, we believe simple is better. While we would make more money selling you complicated equipment, our philosophy is to provide value. We would never recommend a product we wouldn't use in our own brewery.

That said, we have designed the Fermenator™ to easily fit into an upright freezer, which offers the following significant advantages over thermo-electric cooling and glycol jacked conicals:

  • It's a much lower cost than jacketing the conical. You can buy a brand-new upright freezer for $375 to $550. Our competitors' cooling options cost $850 to $1,275.
  • Adding a simple Ranco or Love controller to this freezer will allow you to get significantly more cooling power  easily down to 28°F or less! Eisbock? No problem! Solid state coolers can do about 25 to 30°F off of ambient MAX. So if you're in a garage in the summer, you'll be lucky to reach ale temps, much less lager temps. Using a lightbulb or pad heater will also allow you to heat the freezer in the winter.
  • It's much quieter, more economical, and reliable to operate. For typical use, these will cost about $25 per year In operation costs.
  • It can be used for beer storage when not fermenting.
  • It takes little more floor space than the conical itself.
  • There is no foam insulation or clumsy wiring to mess with for cleaning the conical and no condensation dripping on the floor.
  • In the Frigidaire (or the Kenmore equivalent), the 13.7 cu. ft. model FFU1464FW (28W X 28.5D X 59H) works well for the 7 and 14.5 gal Fermenators.  The 20.3 cu. ft. model FFU21F5HW and GLFH21F8HW (32W X 28.5D X 70H) both work well with the 27 and 42 gal models. These are all frost-free units. We have no control over the design of these freezers, so it is best that you measure the actual unit before purchasing it to ensure the Fermenator™ will fit. They will  require the removal of the door panel as instructed below.

Converting a freezer to a lagering freezer

This is very easy to do with basic tools (jig saw and drill). You will need to remove the door-shelf panel and replace it with a flat panel to gain access to the full depth of the freezer. You can either cut the shelving off and leave the foam insulation exposed, but a more attractive option is shown in the pictures below. The fiberglass sheet, Ranco controller, and plywood shelf will cost you about $100 to $125 total.

Click here to see the full process

How do I install a temperature probe in my conical fermentor?

Many brewers use digital temperature control to monitor and control fermentations. In our opinion, immersion probes are overkill for these small conicals  and open another area for contamination risk. We know it doesn’t look as cool, but a liquid crystal thermometer on the outside is inexpensive and actually has the accuracy of an RTD (+/- 0.5F).  We have measured the sidewall temperature versus core temperature at high krausen using precision instrumentation, and there is less than 1° difference – insignificant in reality. If you are using the probe for control, just tape the probe to the side of the tank using a small piece of aluminum duct tape. Again, you’ll be easily within 1°, and you have nothing to sanitize. In addition, this limits thermal cycling of your cooling equipment and overcooling that can happen with immersion probes. At Blichmann Engineering, we very much believe simple is better. While we would make more money selling you this equipment, our philosophy is to provide value. We would never recommend a product we wouldn't use in our own brewery.

Can I ferment smaller batches in my conical?

Yes, you can ferment, say, a 5 gal batch in your 14.5 gal conical. The CO2 gas from fermentation will fill the head space and protect your beer from oxidation. The only drawback is that you'll have less head pressure available to push out your yeast. Dumping more frequently will resolve that issue, or you can simply use the pressurization feature to push it out.

Options

Leg Extensions

The optional leg extensions bolt right onto the standard legs and raise the unit 18"  high enough to gravity drain into kegs. Leg extensions can also be used with casters.

Casters

Industrial-grade, non-marking casters with wheel locks are available for all F2 and F3 series Fermenator™ conicals! Wheel outriggers add stability. Casters can be used with the optional leg extensions, too, for the ultimate in versatility. This increases overall height by 3 1/4". Casters, brackets, and braces are steel-plated for durability.

Tri-Clamp Valves

The valves we use for our tri-clamp models meet 3A sanitary specifications and can be disassembled for cleaning in seconds. Cheaper butterfly valves, on the other hand, can't be readily disassembled. Beautifully polished and easy to use and install, the tri-clamp models add a practical and professional touch to your brewery.

Tri-Clamp Fittings

Our optional tri-clamp fitting model maintains all the operational features of our standard NPT fittings while adding a sleek, professional look to your brewery. This completely weldless design includes a 1” bottom dump assembly, complete with elbow, ball valve, barb fitting, cover plate, and all clamps and gaskets. The racking arm is a ½” tri-clamp design. Unlike our competitors, we also include the barb fitting, cover, and all clamps and gaskets!

Tri-Clamp Blow-Off Kit

An optional tri-clamp blow-off offers an added safety net for agressive fermentations. After high krausen, the hose and elbow can be removed and an airlock and provided stopper installed in its place.