Beer Fermentation Tanks: The Essential Guide for Homebrewers

Beer fermentation is a crucial step in the brewing process, where yeast converts sugars in the wort into alcohol and carbon dioxide. This stage can significantly influence the final taste, aroma, and appearance of the finished beer. Throughout history, fermentation vessels have evolved from traditional wooden barrels and open vessels to modern stainless steel tanks that provide brewers with enhanced hygiene, durability, and temperature control.

Key Takeaways

  • Beer fermentation tanks have evolved from wooden barrels to modern stainless steel tanks for improved hygiene, durability, and temperature control.
  • Stainless steel fermentation tanks are the preferred choice for brewers due to their versatility and resistance to contamination.
  • Key factors in selecting a fermentation tank include size, component features, and considerations for cleaning, maintenance, and the final steps of transferring, storing, and packaging the beer.

Beer Fermentation Basics

Beer fermentation is a crucial step in the brewing process that involves the conversion of glucose (sugar) in the wort to alcohol and carbon dioxide by yeast. This process is vital to the final taste and alcohol content of the beer.

During the brewing process, first, the brewer mixes crushed malted grain and water to extract fermentable sugars. This mixture, called the mash, is then boiled and strained to create wort. Hops are added to the wort to provide flavor, aroma, and bitterness. The wort is then cooled down to the right temperature for fermentation, usually between −1°C to 5°C for ale beers and slightly higher for lager beers.

In the fermentation stage, yeast is added to the cooled wort. Yeast is a single-celled microorganism that plays a crucial role in beer production by breaking down glucose in the wort into alcohol and CO2 through anaerobic respiration. The type of yeast used impacts the flavor and style of the beer. Ale yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, ferments at warmer temperatures and produces fruity and spicy flavors, while lager yeast, Saccharomyces pastorianus, ferments at cooler temperatures, creating a cleaner, crisper taste.

The wort and yeast mixture is then transferred to a fermentation tank, which is typically made from stainless steel, and comes in various capacities such as 20 barrel (bbl) tanks, which are ideal for small to medium-sized breweries. These tanks are often cylindrical and designed to maintain the optimal temperature and pH levels for the fermentation process. Craftsmanship and proper design of fermentation tanks is crucial for achieving consistent, high-quality beer.

Once fermentation begins, it typically takes about 10 days for the primary fermentation to complete, during which time the yeast consumes the sugars in the wort, producing alcohol and CO2 as well as other flavor compounds. The specific gravity of the beer steadily drops, and a thick foam called krausen forms above the liquid. The yeast then starts to settle, and the young beer, called green beer, is transferred to a maturation tank, where it is stored and conditioned for several days to weeks, depending on the style of the beer. This secondary fermentation or conditioning period allows the beer to develop the desired taste and carbonation.

Types of Fermentation Tanks

Fermentation tanks, also known as fermenters or brewery tanks, play a crucial role in the beer brewing process. They provide a controlled environment for the fermentation of beer, ensuring its quality and flavor. This section will discuss the different types of fermentation tanks and their features.

Cylindroconical tanks are the most common type of fermentation vessel among professional brewers. These stainless steel tanks feature a conical bottom, providing numerous benefits during the fermentation process. The cone shape allows for easier removal of sediment, such as yeast and other particulates, which collect at the bottom. This design also facilitates efficient cooling, temperature control, and pressure maintenance, ensuring the ideal conditions for beer fermentation.

In addition to stainless steel, fermentation tanks can be made from other materials such as plastic, glass, or wood. While stainless steel tanks offer superior hygiene, durability, and temperature control, plastic tanks can be a more budget-friendly option for small-scale or homebrew setups. Glass fermenters, on the other hand, allow for better visibility into the fermentation process but may be more fragile than other options. Wood fermentation vessels, although less common, can impart unique flavors and characteristics to the beer due to the porous nature of the material.

Fermentation tank sizes can vary, depending on the specific needs of the brewery and its production volume requirements. Smaller tanks, such as the 20bbl size, accommodate approximately 620 gallons and are suited for small to medium-sized operations. Larger tanks, like 100bbl fermenters, enable increased production capacity, allowing breweries to meet higher product demands.

Accessories and fittings, such as valves, pressure relief devices, carbonation stones, cooling jackets, and temperature sensors, can be included in fermentation tank setups, depending on the requirements of the brewing process. These additional components help ensure consistent fermentation conditions, maintain optimal temperature and pressure levels, and accommodate the introduction of carbonation or other gases if necessary.

The Best Beer Fermentation Tanks on Amazon

Craft A Brew Conical Fermenter Cover

Craft A Brew Conical Fermenter Cover

If you’re looking for a reliable cover for your Catalyst Fermentation System, the Craft A Brew Conical Fermenter Cover is definitely worth considering.


  • Protect your beer from UV light
  • Easy to move
  • Custom-designed for the Catalyst Fermentation system


  • A bit pricey
  • Doesn’t cover the Mason jar at the bottom
  • Annoyingly hard to see inside this thing

Craft A Brew Conical Fermenter Cover is made from thick 600D vinyl-laminated canvas, which blocks out 100% of UV light to keep your beer protected from light-struck. The integrated carrying straps with reinforced cross stitching make it easier than ever to move your beer around the house to wherever it’s needed. This cover is custom-designed for the Catalyst Fermentation system, so you can brew like a pro from the comfort of your own home.

Stainless Steel Conical Fermenter

Stainless Steel Conical Fermenter

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly fermentation tank for home brewing, this might be a good option for you.


  • Easy and convenient for home beer and wine fermentation
  • Made of SUS304 stainless steel material
  • Comes with a removable thermometer and at least 5 locks on the body to tighten the lid


  • Welds are weak and it drips from the factory fittings
  • Feet are not level
  • Thermometer is in Celsius, which can be annoying for some

This stainless steel conical fermenter is a great option for those who are looking for an affordable fermentation tank for home brewing. It’s easy and convenient to use, with all major parts made of SUS304 stainless steel material. The tank also comes with a removable thermometer and at least 5 locks on the body to tighten the lid.

Fermentation Tank with Cooling Coil Home Brewing Fermenter Craft Brew Keg 65 Liters


If you’re looking for a fermentation tank that’s easy to use and convenient for home brewing, wine making, and milk fermentation, this product might be worth considering.


  • Made of SUS304 Stainless steel material for durability and safety
  • Comes with a 1mm thickness liquid tank of full 65 liters capacity
  • Suitable for fermenting various kinds of wine/beer/fruit enzyme


  • No digital display for temperature control
  • The price may be a bit high for some customers
  • Some users report difficulty with cleaning the tank

This fermentation tank is designed with all major parts made of SUS304 Stainless steel material, ensuring durability and safety. It also comes with a 1mm thickness liquid tank of full 65 liters capacity, making it easy to store and use. Additionally, it’s suitable for fermenting various kinds of wine/beer/fruit enzyme.

FastFerment Plastic Beer Conical Fermenter

FastFerment Plastic Beer Conical Fermenter

If you want to make quality beer, wine, cider or mead with less work, then FastFerment Starter Kits are an excellent choice.


  • The kit provides everything you need to get started right out of the box.
  • FastFerment Starter Kits replace buckets and carboys with 80% less work.
  • The kit delivers consistent, high-quality homebrew and wine time after time.


  • The stand is too short.
  • The Starsan Acid cleaner can spoil the booklet, labels and finish.
  • The plastic seam excess is extreme on threads, making it difficult to get a seal.

If you are looking for a starter kit that guarantees easy and fun brewing experience, then FastFerment Plastic Beer Conical Fermenter is a great option. The kit comes with everything you need to get started right away, and it replaces buckets and carboys with 80% less work. With consistent, high-quality homebrew and wine every time, you can’t go wrong with this kit.

65L Stainless Steel Conical Fermenter

65L Stainless Steel Conical Fermenter

If you’re looking for a reliable and easy-to-use fermentation tank for your home brewing needs, the 65L Stainless Steel Conical Fermenter may be the perfect choice for you.


  • Easy and convenient for home beer, wine, and milk fermentation
  • Made of high-quality SUS304 stainless steel material for durability
  • Large 65L capacity with 1mm thickness liquid tank for efficient fermentation


  • May be too large for those with limited space
  • Some users have reported difficulty with the locking mechanism
  • No included instructions for assembly or use

This fermenter is perfect for those who want to take their home brewing to the next level. With its high-quality stainless steel construction, you can rest assured that your beer, wine, or milk will be fermenting in a safe and efficient environment. The large 65L capacity is perfect for those who want to brew in larger batches, and the 1mm thickness liquid tank ensures that your fermentation process is as efficient as possible.

Tank Components and Features

Beer fermentation tanks play a critical role in the brewing process. These vessels are designed to provide a controlled environment for yeast to ferment the sugars in the wort, ultimately producing alcohol and carbon dioxide. This section will discuss various components and features of fermentation tanks used in beer brewing.

Fermentation tanks are usually made of high-quality stainless steel, which offers excellent hygiene, durability, stability, and temperature control. The material’s non-porous nature prevents microbes and other contaminants from entering the tank, ensuring the beer remains uncontaminated during fermentation.

These tanks come in various sizes and shapes, but a popular choice among brewers is the conical tank design. The conical shape allows for easy yeast collection at the bottom of the tank once fermentation is complete. Tanks’ volume can range from small 20bbl sizes for craft breweries to larger 100bbl sizes for more extensive operations. The size of the tank should be chosen according to the brewery’s production capacity and floor space availability.

Stainless steel fermentation tanks often come with various accessories and fittings designed to aid in the brewing process. These may include temperature control systems, insulation, sample valves, carbonation stones, and butterfly valves. Temperature control systems are crucial as they maintain stable fermentation temperatures, ensuring optimal yeast performance and formation of desirable flavors and esters.

Insulation is another essential feature in fermentation tanks, as it helps maintain a steady temperature within the tank and can protect against external temperature fluctuations. Insulated tanks also help conserve energy, as less heating or cooling may be required to maintain optimal fermentation conditions.

Bright beer tanks (BBTs) are another vital component in a brewery setup, used for storing and conditioning beer after fermentation and before packaging. These tanks can aid in clarifying the beer and remove carbonation. Brite tanks are typically double-wall stainless steel and consist of a carbonation stone to control the beer’s carbonation levels adequately.

Jacketed fermenters offer additional temperature stability, with cooling jackets surrounding part or the entire tank’s exterior. Cooling jackets are especially useful when brewing lager, which requires lower fermentation temperatures than ale. Lager also undergoes an extended maturation process, making the enhanced temperature control offered by jacketed fermenters vital for producing high-quality results.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Cleaning and maintaining fermentation tanks are essential for the beer brewing process to ensure hygiene, minimize contamination, and protect the taste of the beer. This section focuses on cleaning and maintaining stainless steel fermentation vessels commonly used in homebrew and commercial brewery settings, as they provide excellent durability and don’t harbor bacteria if properly maintained.

A crucial aspect of cleaning stainless steel fermentation tanks is removing organic residues such as hop particles, yeast, and protein deposits. To start the cleaning process, first perform a pre-rinse cycle with water to remove visible debris. Then, use an alkaline cleaning solution, like caustic or PBW (Powdered Brewers Wash), at the recommended concentration to break down built-up residue. Heat the cleaning solution to approximately 75°C (175°F) and circulate it through the fermenter for 30 to 60 minutes, covering all parts, including cooling jackets, fittings, and carbonation stones.

After the alkaline cleaning, rinse the fermentation vessel with warm water to neutralize any remaining cleaning solution. An acidic rinse, such as a 1% nitric acid solution, can be used to remove remaining mineral deposits and effectively sanitize the surface. Following the acid rinse, flush the fermentation tank with cold water to bring it down to room temperature.

Temperature control plays a vital role in maintaining a consistent brewing environment, so it is crucial to inspect and maintain the cooling jackets, insulation layers, and temperature sensors regularly. Ensuring that the cooling system is functioning properly helps in maintaining the ideal fermentation conditions and preventing the growth of unwanted microbes.

Fittings, valves, and other accessories should also be inspected and cleaned regularly. Butterfly valves, for example, need to be disassembled and cleaned to prevent contamination. Using high-quality materials like stainless steel for connections and fittings can minimize the risks associated with microbial growth.

Welding quality and craftsmanship in the construction of stainless steel tanks are integral to their durability and function. However, even with the best quality craftsmanship, some maintenance involving checking for potential weak points or leaks in welds may be necessary over time.

Sizing and Budget Considerations

When choosing a fermentation tank for your brewery, it is important to consider both the size and budget. Fermentation tanks, also known as fermenters or conical tanks, are essential for the beer brewing process as they provide a controlled environment for yeast to convert sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide, allowing the beer to develop its unique flavors and characteristics.

The size of the fermentation tank you need will depend on several factors, such as the volume of beer you plan to produce, the number of batches per week, and the available floor space in your brewery. For instance, you should consider the tank’s diameter and height, as they can impact floor space and stability. Additionally, consider the desired pressure levels and cone angle of the conical bottom, as these can affect the fermentation process, yeast collection, and brightness of the finished beer.

Temperature control is another crucial aspect to consider when determining the appropriate size of a fermentation tank. A well-designed tank, coupled with efficient temperature control, will help prevent off-flavors caused by microbes or the production of unwanted esters. Thus, choosing a fermenter with proper temperature control capabilities is essential to ensure the success of your brewing process.

In terms of material, stainless steel tanks are the most popular choice for breweries due to their durability, resistance to corrosion, and ease of cleaning. However, other options, such as plastic or glass fermenters, might be more budget-friendly for homebrewers or smaller-scale breweries. It is also crucial to consider the type of valve installed on the fermentation vessel, as a butterfly valve offers more stability and control over the beer transfer process.

Jacketed fermenters, which have an additional outer layer for temperature control and insulation, are typically more expensive but offer greater precision and efficiency during the fermentation process. For breweries operating on a tight budget, it might be beneficial to consider non-jacketed fermenters as a cost-effective alternative. However, keep in mind that the quality and stability of the fermentation process might be compromised in non-jacketed tanks.

Final Steps: Transfer, Storage, and Packaging

The beer brewing process involves multiple stages, with one of the final and crucial steps being the transfer, storage, and packaging of the product. This stage typically occurs after primary fermentation and plays a significant role in maintaining the quality and hygiene of the finished product.

After primary fermentation, which usually lasts about 10 days, the end product is referred to as green beer. Most of the yeast is then removed, and the green beer is transferred to a maturation tank or a fermentation vessel such as a conical tank. The beer is stored at low temperatures (ranging from -1°C to 5°C) to undergo conditioning. Ale beers usually mature for several days, while lager beers may take up to a couple of weeks.

During the maturation process, the beer gains stability and its overall flavor profile is enhanced. In some cases, a carbonation stone is used to further improve the carbon dioxide content, leading to better carbonation and flavor of the final product.

Temperature control is crucial during maturation and conditioning, as maintaining appropriate temperatures helps prevent the growth of unwanted microbes, ensuring overall hygiene and safety. Cooling and temperature regulation accessories are commonly used in brewery tanks for this purpose.

Bright beer tanks (BBT) or brite tanks are often used for the storage of conditioned beer. These tanks have a double-wall design for effective cooling and temperature control. Brite tanks not only store beer, but they also ensure proper carbonation and hindrance-free bottling and kegging processes.

Transferring the beer from fermenters to storage vessels must be carried out carefully, as excessive exposure to oxygen can negatively affect the end product. Closed transfer processes that minimize contact with an external environment are preferred over open transfer methods.

Valves and fittings play a significant role in maintaining proper connections within the brewing process. Butterfly valves, for example, are commonly utilized as they ensure an easy, leak-free operation during the transfer of beer from one vessel to another.

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