This review is by Homebrew Finds Contributor Brad Probert. Brad is an engineer, expert homebrewer and experienced reviewer. Grab a link to Brad’s website at the end of this review.
Ss Brewtech Brew Bucket
Right from the start I knew there was something special with the Ss Brewtech fermenter as I opened the box it came in. Having received some gear that came out of torn and collapsing boxes recently, it stood out to me how the box was completely together. While you might chalk that up to how careful the delivery guy was, I could tell this box was designed with purpose. The thickness of the layers, and the construction of the layers were clearly designed to handle both scrapes and crushing loads. All this might seem trivial, until you unbox that new shiny piece of equipment you’ve spent your hard-earned dollars on and find it scratched, scuffed, or slightly out of round. With the thought and purpose Ss Brewtech put into their packaging, you can tell that they wouldn’t accept those careless things to happen to their equipment. And that counts.
I evaluated the 7.5 Gallon Brew Bucket, together with the FTSs cooling system. The name Brew Bucket gives away its basic purpose, but there are a lot of additional details. It’s a cousin to the plastic fermentation bucket most of us had in our starter homebrew kits, just a lot more advanced. The obvious difference is that it’s made from stainless steel. Unlike that HDPE plastic bucket, it’s oxygen impermeable, scratch resistant, and not susceptible to holding hidden remnants of previous brew days to discolor it or hold aromas of hops past. It’s got a conical shape that helps collect yeast and hop trub when they precipitate out and drift to the bottom of your beer. And that cone shape is intended to minimize the surface area facing your beer, as most people find the flavor of spent yeast to be unappetizing. It’s got a good lid up top with a nice hinge system to lock and seal it, and handles at the side that fold down to allow it to tuck into tight spots. The final feature that stands out over the plastic brew bucket is the sampling spigot, to be used for gravity samples or transferring beer into your keg. And even better yet, it has a rotating rack arm that you can use to orient your sample to come from the center of your beer and not at the bottom in the midst of your deposited trub.
The FTSs is Brewtech’s fermentation temperature control system for when you need to lower fermentation temperature below the temperature of the room it’s in. They also have an FTSs2 option that adds a heat pad and a dual heating/cooling controller if you need to heat it up, but that wasn’t what I evaluated. The chilling is accomplished by a run of stainless coils that mount to the underside of the lid and circulate cold water from your user-supplied cold water source (cooler with ice water) with a provided submersible pump. Temperature is monitored by a temperature sensor that slides down inside a stainless thermowell which also mounts to the underside of the lid. In the 7.5 gallon fermenter, these extend far enough down to manage a 4.5 – 5 gallon batch of beer, or with optional extensions sold separately, can go as low as 2.5 – 3 gallon batches. The set temperature is easily entered with a simple digital controller, which displays the measured temperature and decides to turn on the pump (in your cooler of ice water) if the temperature goes 1 degree above your set point, and then shuts it off when it gets 1 degree cooler. To hold the temperature in and minimize effects from the room air temperature, it also comes with a form-fitting neoprene jacket (with hole to still access the sampling port).
Hands on Review
To test this set-up out, I made a Scottish Ale that needed to be fermented at 55F in my 67F basement. Everything went together very easily with simple o-ring seals on the joints. The inside of the fermenter was beautiful- shiny and completely seamless. The build quality was simply amazing. The same attention to detail that went into the box it shipped in went into the design and quality control of the fermenter. Good sturdy gauge stainless was used throughout, and every edge on it was rolled to eliminate any hint of something sharp or an unfinished appearance. With just over 6 gallons of wort at 73F, I hooked up the cooling system and it cooled it down to the 55 degree temperature mark in about 2.5 hours so I could pitch my yeast. I managed the supply of cooling water by putting 3.5 gallons of water in a 10-gallon Igloo water cooler with the pump and adding 5 empty 2-liter bottles of frozen water/ice. This required tending to, by changing out the frozen 2L bottles every ~36 hours, but had no trouble holding the 55F temperature I had set within +/- 1 degree. The unit came apart easily for clean-up, and the stainless performed its role well of being easy to clean. With the smooth, seamless walls on the inside, it was easy to be confident in its cleanliness, too.
Overall, the Ss Brewtech Brew Bucket was impressive, to be sure. The level of build quality and design detail sets a new standard for me on high-end brewing equipment. The sampling spigot made sample collection for gravity checks easy, which surprised me at how geeked up I got over this. The cleanup was simple and fast and the durability of the stainless steel clearly showed this is a tool that will provide great service for years to come. The FTSs performed admirably and did everything I asked it to. I loved how well the cooling manifold and thermowell integrated into the system. It was a top-end product with lots of handy little features.
Get the Gear – Getting a BrewBucket and FTSs
- Ss Brewtech Fermenters and Accessories at MoreBeer – Brew Bucket Fermenters in 3.5, 7 and 14 Gallon Sizes and FTSs Fermentation Temperature Systems
- Ss Brewtech Fermenters at Adventures in Homebrewing
- Ss Brewtech at Home Brew Supply
- Ss Brewing Technologies at Keg Connection
Special Thanks to Ss Brewtech for providing the unit used for evaluation in this review.
By Brad Probert. Check out Brad’s website – beersnobby.com
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