Hands On Review: Chapman Brewing SteelTank Fermenter


Chapman Brewing Equipment’s SteelTank line of stainless steel fermenters are available in 7 and 14 gallon sizes in both ported and unported versions.  The SteelTank features stainless steel construction, gasketed lid, pressed volume markers and an available port option.  The fermenters offer advantages over buckets and glass carboys since they resist breaking and scratching.

Here’s a look at the 7 gallon ported SteelTank fermenter

cln_img_1534A look at the fully assembled 7 gallon fermenter.  Dimensions from Chapman Equipment are… 12″ inner diameter, 16″ height.  14″ diameter at widest point and 20″ height (including ball valve and airlock),  Note that this is billed as a This is a UniVessel because it can double as a kettle.  You can boil and ferment in the same vessel.cln_img_1536A look at the handle.  It is well made, a good size and integrates nicely.cln_img_1540One of the four lid clasps.  These move smoothly and seal firmly.  These along with the lid seal provide a nice airtight seal.  At the price and considering it’s features, I will say that I am impressed by the quality of construction.  The smoothness that these operate and solidly clamp into place is an indicator of quality.cln_img_1543Folded down claspcln_img_1545Inside of the 7 gallon fermenter.  You can see the inside portion of the removable bulkhead on the left.cln_img_1547Pressed volume markings are visible inside the fermenter.  This is a great feature.  Dialing in your recipe, gravities and taste profile are dependent upon getting the right volume of beer.  These pressed markers help with that.  This is a 7 gallon capacity fermenter which is great for 5 gallon batches.  The 14 gallon size should easily accommodate 10 gallon batches.cln_img_1555Inside of the lid.  Notice the lid o-ring as well as the airlock grommet.cln_img_1564Airlock installedcln_img_1572The 3-piece stainless steel ball valve included on ported models can be disassembled for cleaning and sanitation.  The instructions recommend removing the ball valve each time before using and boiling for 5 minutes.  In addition, you can periodically disassemble to clean and sanitize.cln_img_1570My UltraShip Ultra-55 shows this weighing 7.41 lbs.

For the price and features, this is a great fermenter.  Considering it’s price and free shipping, this fermenter is a bargain.  It gets you a great set of features and away from plastic and glass.  Chapman’s SteelTank Fermenter is thoughtfully designed and well made.

7 Gallon Stainless Steel Fermenter and Chapman Brewing Equipment at Amazon


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15 thoughts on “Hands On Review: Chapman Brewing SteelTank Fermenter

  1. Kris Herambourg

    I have 4 of these fermenters, 2 with ports, and 2 without. Both of the ported fermenters have been leaky from the start. From my observation is that they drilled the port hole through the welded seam in the side of the bucket so the o-ring in the weldleess fitting doesn’t seal completely. I tried multiple fittings, valves, and I-rings trying to resolve this issue. Finally I took an auto body hammer to them and flattened the seam around the port. This worked on one of the fermenters but one still leaks.

    I also found that the small air lock o-ring in the lid failed immediately so I drilled out the hole with a step bit and use a rubber plug. I believe the newer fermenters now come with this instead of the o-ring.

    I did contact the manufacture about the leaking valve issue and was told I didn’t know how to properly install a weld less fitting. I have been brewing for over 10 years and have 12 weld less fittings in many different pieces of brewing equipment and none of them leak. Customer service is definitely lacking a bit.

    Despite my issues I do believe Chapman fermenters are the best bargain for the money. The second 2 fermenters I purchased were without ports and they work properly and clean up easily. I am planning to add more of these to my collection in the future.

    Hope this helps clear up some questions.

  2. alex

    so do you do the boil in this, and then go straight to ferment after coldbreak, or would you still have to do the boil in another vessel and transfer>

    1. admin Post author

      I have never boiled in mine, but you it can be used as a kettle. Personally, if I did that, I would use it as a true univessal and boil, chill and ferment in the same vessel. I know you’d have more trub that way, but I think the benefits of skipping the transfer outweigh the trub.

  3. Matt

    Mike or whomever,

    I just bought two of these and racked my first 5 gallon batch into one fermenter last night. My question to you is, did you rack into a secondary? If the beer is clear and the ball valve sits above the trub, I won’t use a secondary. What’s your experience?

    1. Mike Salsbury

      Hopefully this will answer your questions.

      With about 30 batches under my belt now, mostly Belgian styles but not exclusively, the number of times I felt I absolutely HAD to transfer to a secondary were pretty low. Only twice, with really high gravity beers that generated a lot of trub and yeast, did I need to do it to avoid sucking yeast into my bottles at bottling time. A couple of other times I did it because I planned to let the beer condition for 6+ weeks past fermentation and I wanted to get it off as much of the yeast as I could, to avoid off-flavors from autolysis.

      In most of the remaining cases, I’ve not bothered with a secondary and I’ve been unable to tell a difference. If I transfer out of the primary at all, it’s usually at bottling time, so I can mix the beer with priming sugar and perhaps some bottle conditioning yeast. (The bottle conditioning yeast will help make sure high-gravity styles carbonate properly – sometimes you wear out the yeast and they won’t carbonate.)

  4. Mike

    The rubber washer on the chapman’s lid that the airlock sits in is flimsy. My one broke recently (bought in Dec 2015). I am planning on borrowing a step drill to make the hole large enough for a rubber stopper.

    The ball valve/gasket setup is somewhat flimsy too…it leaks sometimes, I find.

    Other than that, they’re great. I got 2 for $240 or so and have really liked using them over glass.

    Because the stainless is fairly thin, it’s easy to alter these to your liking.

    I am buying a used speidel fermentor this weekend. It’ll be interesting to see how they compare.

  5. Mike Salsbury

    I have one of these and one of the SS Brew Tech Brewmaster Buckets. This one I got on a deal on Amazon for about $120 at the time. The SS Brew Tech runs about $225, so almost twice as much.

    Here’s my take on the two by comparison.

    Pros: relatively inexpensive, well-made, light but sturdy, looks nice, easy to clean, embossed markings are large and easy to read for those with older eyes
    Cons: Can’t be stacked on top of another Chapman, not easy to install a hefty blow-off tube if needed, and the included valve isn’t conducive to bottling or gravity transfer

    SS Brew Tech Brewmaster Bucket:
    Pros: well-made, includes thermowell and thermometer, can be stacked on other Brewmaster Buckets to save space, has a valve with an extension tube inside the fermenter to get above a yeast cake, blow-off tube option allows for a thick blow-off tube, conical bottom to capture yeast and trub
    Cons: About $70 more than the Chapman, valve isn’t a standard ball valve like the Chapman’s, gallon markings inexplicably only go down to 4 gallons

    I ended up replacing the Chapman’s valve with an inexpensive beverage dispenser valve that works well for sampling and bottling. I’m able to use the Brewmaster Bucket’s valve for sampling and bottling as-is, and the interior tube (plus conical bottom) makes it easy to avoid the yeast and trub in the bottom.

    The Chapman’s markings are easier to read, but don’t seem to be accurate in my testing. I placed 5 gallons of water in my brew kettle (aka The Grainfather) and it registered 5 gallons. The same liquid transferred to the Chapman registered just under 5.5 gallons. The amount of water was measured using the same one-gallon plastic pitcher. I haven’t tested the Brewmaster Bucket’s markings yet because it’s been in use since I did the test.

    The bottom line is that if you’re using plastic or heavy breakable glass, either of these fermenters in my opinion is a big improvement. Either seals well, either is easy to clean, either looks good. If you’re short on funds, you can probably get two Chapmans on sale for the price of an SS Brew Tech, so that’s probably the way to go. If you have the funds to spring for it, or want to be able to stack fermenters to conserve space, then the SS Brew Tech is my pick. The thermowell, valve, extension tube, blow-off tube option, and stackability are worth the extra $70 to me personally… but that’s a call you have to make for yourself.

    I’ve gotten good beer out of both fermenters, so I won’t tell you that you’ll get better results with one or the other. I suspect the results would be more or less the same, assuming the same beer went into both, the same sanitation procedures were followed on both, and so on. I do think I get better beer out of either of these than out of my plastic bucket fermenters, which tended to retain aromas between batches, which meant that might have been retaining flavors and yeast as well. You won’t have that with stainless.

    1. Ken Hammel

      Just wondering- What is it about the Chapman’s ball valve that makes it not “conducive to bottling or gravity transfer?” I thought gravity transfer is what it’s there for. Seems like the unit could be used as an easily sanitized bottling bucket too, unless there really is something about the valve that makes it unsuitable for bottling.

  6. Dale

    Is the port basically a weldless port? Or did they solder it in place? Looks like a great buy, I wish I had the space!

      1. Chris

        I disagree. I don’t ever want to see threaded fittings anywhere post boil. Threads, especially internal/female pipe thread are nearly impossible to clean and have no place in fermentation.

        1. admin Post author

          I get what you’re saying. My point is, considering that this does have threads, I think it’s good they come completely out for cleaning, sanitizing and boiling as needed. I have talked to Steve about the use of a ball valve and such and it is done to keep costs down. As it’s designed now, it’s a matter of disassembling and boiling each time.

  7. EchoTony

    I’m thinking this would be a great secondary for dry hopping. Put a screen on the port intake and keep most of the hops in the fermenter. Might have to get one … or two.

  8. Jeff

    I’d be interested on an update once you brew and ferment in it, namely what volume level the valve is at (how much volume is left inside) AND with standard yeast if you get clear beer without much hassle.


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