When I started out homebrewing, I bought a kit that included everything I needed to make my first brew. There is nothing wrong with doing that, and in fact I would still recomend that be one’s first purchase when getting into homebrewing.
However, once I used the kit to make around 10 batches of beer, I decided to upgrade some of my equipment to make life (and brew days) easier. After all, this was a hobby that I wasn’t planning on quitting any time soon.
Glass and Plastic Fermenters
I quickly decided that I was going to replace the glass carboy with a metal fermenter first. Glass carboys have many problems, but the main ones include:
- They are extremely breakable. If you’ve ever handled a wet glass carboy you know exactly what I mean. It is only a matter of time before that thing slips and your brew day is ruined.
- Their top opening is too small. Trying to dry hop with a muslin bag in a glass carboy is like trying to squeeze a watermelon through a garden hose. Taking a gravity reading is a royal pain. Some have decided to purchase a Big Mouth Bubbler to give you more room at the top, but it is still glass.
- They don’t have a bottom spigot. I brew a lot of hazy IPAs, and because of that, I keg a good portion of my batches. Being able to utilize a spigot at the bottom of the fermenter would be so useful in keeping oxygen away from my precious beer.
Plastic buckets are another common “starter kit” fermenter option. While many homebrewer’s have used plastic buckets for years (they are cheap), I wanted something I could sanitize easily and could withstand many years of abuse.
Choosing My Steel Fermenter
During my research, I found five major brands of stainless steel fermenters, all with varying degrees of features and quality. I’ve listed them below with every specification imaginable that I could find on each of them.
Chapman has created a budget-friendly entry level fermenter that had the racking port I was looking for, but it was missing the conical bottom to help me discard/save yeast. I did like that you could also boil in it, but I already had a brewing kettle.
Spike and Delta had fantastic fermenters that were unfortunately a bit above my budget. There were even more steel fermenters at a price range well above these two that included Stout and Blichmann, but I didn’t show them here since their price tags were both well north of $400.
That left SS Brewtech and Anvil as my final two options. I decided to choose Anvil for a couple reasons:
- Anvil’s Bucket Fermenter is about $50 cheaper than SS Brewtech’s Brew Bucket.
- Anvil’s concave bottom is almost as good as the conical from SS Brewtech.
- I don’t have any space requirements, so Anvil’s larger frame did not bother me.
Top 5 Steel Fermenters Compared
“Priced for Quality”
|Buy Now||Buy Now||Buy Now||Buy Now||Buy Now|
|Manufacturer||Blichmann Engineering (USA)||Middleby Corp. (USA)||Spike Brewing, LLC (USA)||Chapman (USA)||Delta Brewing Systems (USA)|
|Material||304 Stainless Steel||304 Stainless Steel||304 Stainless Steel||201 Stainless Steel||304 Stainless Steel|
|Max Height (with airlock)||25.75″||24″||21.25″||20″||28″|
|Max Width (with handles/valves)||16.5″||12.5″||15″||14″||13″|
|Weight||10.5 lbs||13 lbs||15 lbs||8.5 lbs||17.4″|
|Volume||7.5 g||7 g||7.5 g||7 g||8 g|
|Rotating Racking Arm||Yes||Yes||Yes||Kit Available||Yes|
|Spigot||1/2″ male thread with 3/8″ barbed attachment||3/8″ barbed||1/2″ female threaded||1/2″ female threaded|
|Fittings||Weldless & o-rings||Weldless & o-rings||TIG welded tri-clamps||Weldless & o-rings||Welded drain port. Weldless racking port|
|Clamps||4 Spring Clamps||4 Spring Clamps||5 Spring Clamps||4 Spring Clamps||4 Spring Clamps|
|Blowoff||Attachment Available||Attachment Available||Attachment Available||Modification Available||Included|
|Bung||#7 Silicone||#3||Unknown||#10 Rubber||No Airlock Port|
|Thermometer||LCD Sticker||Upgrade to Brewmaster Edition for Thermowell (+$30)||LCD Sticker or Add Kit ($50)||None||Thermowell Included|
|Pressure Rated||3 psi with mods||1 psi with mods||2 psi||No||5 psi|
|Double as Boil Kettle||No||No||No||Yes||No|
|Extras||Handles are welded out and do not lay flat against bucket.||Welded fittings 4” tri-clamp welded port on lid allows for hop additions, temp control coil, top sight glass, other accessories.||Started as a Kickstarter campaign. Cuts out the middle man to save money.||Lid also has an extra port with plug. Adjustable leg height. Has a separate 3/4″ welded drain valve for easy cleaning.|
|Buy Now||Buy Now||Buy Now||Buy Now||Buy Now|