In this article, we discuss the different types of best fermenters for home brewing.
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The mighty fermenter. It’s the last piece of equipment you use in the home brew process before bottling or kegging. Your fermenter can make or break your beer and can be one of the least expensive or most costly pieces of equipment you’ll invest in as a home brewer.
As new home brewers, we jumped right into the glass carboy. It seemed like a good idea at the beginning. However, as we brewed more and learned what worked best for us, we left behind the carboy. It was not the right fermenter for our needs.
For many people new to homebrewing, their first equipment kit comes with a plastic bucket. It looks pretty unglamorous and a little DIY, but it does the job and is a great place to start. The bucket isn’t suitable for every home brewer, so the question soon arises, “Which fermenter do I choose?”
There is no right or wrong answer to this question, and in general, the best answer is that each home brewer uses the fermenter that works best for their brewing needs and budget.
Understanding the Different Types of Fermenters
There are a few different types of fermenters that you can choose from. Each of them come with their own advantages and disadvantages. Before we can discuss the best fermenters for home brewing, let’s take a look at the different types of fermenters on the market.
Plastic bucket fermenters are made from food-grade plastic and are inexpensive. They stack together and are easy to clean and sanitize. Plastic bucket fermenters can easily be modified to include a racking spigot, but keep in mind that this takes away the stackability of the bucket.
Bucket fermenters also come in stainless steel. With stainless steel, you lose some of the convenience of stacking. However, what you lose in convenience, you gain back in durability and performance.
The downfall to buckets; there is greater surface area exposed to air. They are best for standard length fermenting, up to about 4-weeks.
Lots of home brewers like the glass carboy. The 6.5-gallon glass carboy is the perfect size for limiting surface area while still providing enough room for krausen to expand without foaming over. The downfall to glass carboys is that they are heavy. And even heavier when full of wort. They can be dangerous if you’re not paying attention when handling them and should be moved carefully.
Carboys also come in plastic and wide mouth options if you want something lighter or easier to clean.
The benefits of conical fermenters are gravity racking above the sediment layer, the ability to do both primary and secondary fermentation in one vessel, and the ability to separate yeast from the fermented beer for secondary fermentation or to harvest the yeast for propagation.
Some stainless-steel fermenters can be used as a boil kettle, and many come with temperature control jackets that allow you to monitor and adjust your fermentation temperature closely. The downfall to stainless-steel conical fermenters is the price.
Plastic conical fermenters can’t be heated, but for a much lower cost, they will give you many of the same benefits as the stainless-steel option.
It would take us a long time to test all the different types of fermenters available on the market, and some are pretty expensive. So, to build our list of best fermenters, we researched the best-rated fermenters and read lots of customer reviews.
Our list features the most popular fermenters with home brewers and those with the highest overall ratings across the internet.
Best Plastic Bucket Fermenter
Northern Brewer 6.5 Gallon Bottling and Siphonless Bucket Fermenter
Where to Buy: Northern Brewer
As fans of the plastic bucket fermenter, we like this option from Northern Brewer. It seals well, is quite sturdy, and is pre-drilled with a spigot hole on the bucket and an air-lock hole on the lid. It is a bit more expensive than some other basic bucket fermenters, but we found that it held up better over time, and the handle felt more secure.
- Reasonable price
- Pre-drilled for spigot
- It comes with a variety of spigot options
- More translucent than other bucket options.
- The lid can be tricky to remove.
Best Stainless Steel Bucket Fermenter
Anvil 7.5 Gallon Stainless Bucket Fermenter
Where to Buy: More Beer!
Certainly, this is a significant upgrade from your plastic bucket fermenter but isn’t as pricey as a stainless conical fermenter. We like this fermenter because it comes with all of the basic options of a bucket fermenter in a better-quality material. This fermenter has a racking spigot made from stainless steel and a hole in the lid for your airlock.
- Nice grade stainless steel
- Spigot is included with the fermenter
- Small foot to lift the spigot away from countertops
- More expensive than other options
- Didn’t do as well with heating wraps
Best Glass Carboy Fermenter
North Mountain Supply 5 Gallon Italian Glass Carboy
Where to Buy: Amazon
There are very few differences in glass carboys, so we did a little searching for an option that gave us more for our money. This option from North Mountain Supply is made from high-quality Italian glass and comes with two stoppers and an airlock. In addition, this carboy is made from thicker glass than some other options, so it was a bit more durable and heavier than other options.
- High-quality Italian glass
- Airlock and stoppers included
- Good value for the money
- Really heavy
- Some buyers didn’t receive the stoppers and/or airlock.
Best Plastic Carboy Fermenter
FerMonster 7-Gallon Plastic Fermenter
Who wouldn’t love a fermenter called the FerMonster? Well, luckily, this is a really nice option for a plastic carboy fermenter! We like the wide-mouth option of this fermenter and that it comes with a stopper and airlock. You can even buy this fermenter with a pre-installed spigot for gravity racking. It’s a great option if you want a carboy but doesn’t want to deal with the bulky glass.
- Lighter weight than glass carboys
- Easy to clean
- PET plastic is safer than other options.
- Clear plastic exposes beer to light
- Increased surface area compared to standard narrow-neck carboys
Best Conical Stainless Steel Fermenter
SS BrewTech Conical Stainless-Steel Fermenter
If you are ready to upgrade to a conical fermenter but don’t want to spend a lot of money, the SS BrewTech, 7-gallon conical fermenter is a great choice. This fermenter has all the bells and whistles but at a fraction of the price of other conical fermenters. The SS BrewTech fermenters feature spigots at the base of the cone and a gravity racking spigot, a domed locking lid with a stopper for an airlock, and the ability to upgrade the fermenter with a heating or heating/cooling wrap for optimal temperature control.
- High-quality stainless steel
- Rotating racking arm
- Etched volume markings
- More expensive than other fermenters
- Slightly complicated assembly
- Lots of price variation between suppliers