Fermenter Use & Care
Small Batch Brewer
Whether you are starting a winery on your own land, have invented a new tea, building a small micro brewery, adding great tastes to your restaurant menu, trying your hand at distillation or just making great taste for your own consumption, we refer to everyone as a brewer and the product you are making as brew. We hope you don’t mind. We think fermenting as brewing. With a MiniBrew fermenter you have the opportunity to brew great taste. If you are a restauranteur, micro brewery or brew pub, our small fermenters are an easy less expensive way to get started. You can develop the taste and the customer following before spending huge sums of hard earned cash on fancy stainless steel tanks. Once you gain the reputation and following, up grade to a larger unit, save our small vessel for yeast propagation and product development. If you are planning on making just enough for family and friends, be sure to buy the size that fits your recipe. By following the simple directions your MiniBrew fermenter will last a lifetime. If you have a good idea or improvement to our product line, give us a call. All ideas we use will be rewarded with a free gift.
Advantages of MINIBREW:
- Fill directly through the bottom and reduce the risk of infection. No more siphons. No More Pouring!
- Now gravity can do the work of moving the brew.
- HDPE is Very Thick at 5/16”. Strong. Durable.
- The large bottom valve will drain the thickest of yeast.
- Wine makers add a nice blanket of CO 2 rather than top off or float the lid.
- No need for secondary transfer - brew like professional brewers - no more siphons.
- Prevent off-flavors by draining dead yeast cells daily without disturbing the brew via the bottom valve.
- Use the racking port to fill kegs and bottles or for specific gravity samples and tasting. Measure specific gravity and temperature without risk of infection.
- Lager the wort by placing the fermenter in the refrigerator, or modified deep chest freezer.
- Build a cooling system by wrapping Copper tubing around outside and circulate cold water. Or use the Brew Jacket!
- Cleaning is easy. No more awkward bottle brushes. The large 4” access port makes it easy.
- No more messy overflow – The stand is enclosed below the valve. The tank is also sealable.
- Collect yeast for reuse and flavor consistency. Create a trademark a unique flavor.
- The hoops around the fermenter and stand act as handles - moving is easy.
About the Fermenter
All fermenter orders include the main fermenter vessel, stand, lid and all valves and parts necessary to ferment. Please check all parts delivered with the model you ordered. If fittings or parts are missing, ask the retail dealer where you purchased the product or notify us at www.minibrew.com. The large stainless steel valve at the apex of the cone is designed so the thickest of yeast will flow, and for filling directly from the kettle, or a primary red wine fermenter or cooling device. The 1/2” thread on the side of the cone is for the racking port valve. It is used for racking to either kegs or bottles, tasting and specific gravity testing without disturbing the settled yeast or exposure to bacteria. The 1/2" thread on the side of the cylinder is for a thermometer (only on certain models). The hole in the lid is for an airlock & cork, or you can easily attach a 1/2" EZ Seal to allow for easy transfers or optional quick connect components.
How to Use
Clean everything thoroughly with a good detergent. Rinse until all traces of soap and chemicals are removed. Sterilize with any of the standard agents available. We prefer 180 degree water as it sinks into the plastic, valves and fittings killing all bad bacteria. A diluted solution of bleach works well. Filling the Fermenter. Gravity is the best way. However, pumps will work also. The lid should be in place on the fermenter and all parts cleaned and sterilized before proceeding. If you purchased our air lock it should be in place. Place the kettle or container holding the juice on a stand or table above the fermenter. Make sure the temperature is close to pitching temperature. Connect a hose from the container or kettle to the filling valve at the apex of the cone. Open the valves and gravity will do the work. A closed hose system is ideal because it protects the wort from outside bacteria and provides an opportunity for programmed aeration. Once all wort has drained from the container, close the bottom valve on the fermenter and disconnect the hoses. Using quick connects makes changing hoses easier. The hops that transfers from the kettle can be removed in a few hours after it settles to the bottom.
Aerating the Wort
Boiling removes air from the wort and the yeast needs air to survive and work. Air, or better yet, clean oxygen needs to be replaced. The ideal way is to inject clean oxygen used for medical applications into the wort as it drains from the kettle into the fermenter. This can best be accomplished by inserting a “T” fitting in the hose in-line between the kettle and the fermenter. The clean air needs space to mix with the wort. Therefore, place the “T” at least five feet away from the fermenter. The oxygen flow rate needed is approximately 2 PSI. With this idea there is no need to shake the fermenter as is recommended by some.
Pitching the Yeast
Once you have the wort at the pitching temperature, pitch the live yeast. Replace the cover immediately after pitching. Fermentation should start within a few hours. The best way to tell when fermentation starts is by the smell of CO2 or you can hear it. Place your hand on the side of the fermenter, and you can feel it. Do not breathe CO2.
Do not worry, you will get used to the feel and the sound of fermentation. Another and more accurate way is to take a specific gravity reading.
Removing the Dead Yeast
Dead yeast cells will give your beer an off-flavor. Place a container under the bottom valve and open carefully. Do not open full. Remove the dead cells daily. You can’t remove all of them, don’t even try. A spray bottle filled with a mixture of bleach and water is needed to spray the valve end each time before opening and after closing. This procedure will wash out any excess yeast and disinfect the valve. The live yeast in suspension will become more active each time old cells are removed. Remove a small amount, a coffee cup full, or less of wort daily. The dead yeast cells can be used for tasting and specific gravity reading. Record the specific gravity and liquid temperature in a log daily..
Once you have reached your projected specific gravity and you are satisfied fermentation is complete, prepare for racking. The valve on the side of the cone is for specific gravity testing, bottling or keg filling, called racking. If you choose to save live yeast for your next batch, do not remove the yeast from the bottom the day before you rack. About 30 percent of the yeast in the bottom is alive. Check with your local retail store for instructions on cleaning and saving yeast. You can rack directly to bottles or a soda keg. Use a bottle filler and racking hose to fill bottles. The plastic bottle filler tube is much easier than other methods of bottling.
Connect the racking hose ball lock to the side with the stainless steel tube inside. Press the other end of the hose onto the barb connector or quick disconnect on the racking port valve. Open the racking valve and fill the keg. Once the keg is full, close and pressurize to 22 PSI, shake and place in a cold room or ice box.
The final yeast left in the bottom after racking can be reused. Brewers like to use the same yeast over and over again for three reasons. One: Provides consistency to a product. Two: Reduces cost. Three: The yeast will grow and develop into a unique product; a special taste that is yours alone. It becomes your personal trademark. The most important issue that you must be aware of is the yeast can easily become infected and needs to be checked regularly with a microscope. Professional brewers have access to laboratories with a microscope. They check for bacteria daily. The local wine or brew club might be interested in a joint purchase of a surplus microscope. The volume of yeast needed for reuse is very small. The yeast left in the bottom of the fermenter will layer. The middle layer is the best. This good yeast has a color that is almost white with a slight yellow cast. Therefore, drain off the bottom and watch for the color to change. Collect the middle layer, just a scoop full is enough. Place in a sterile jar and save at 38°f. This slurry of cropped yeast should last about two weeks. You will need to propagate the slurry up to the required volume a day or two before your next ferment. This will also ensure that your yeast is healthy and viable. Wash away the excess. Now you are on the road to creating your own unique flavors and tastes. Ask your local retail store for more information on yeast propagation.
Care and Cleaning
Clean all parts before assembly. Once assembled, remove the top and clean again. Rub the inside thoroughly with a soft cloth and a nonabrasive cleaner. A Teflon© type cleaning pad can be used. Always be careful to remove all residues from inside the MiniBrew fermenter after use. The last step is to sterilize. Pour hot water at 180° temperature down the sides or use two gurgles of bleach diluted with water. Now you can brew with all the convenience and the options of a Master Brewer. Cleaning and sanitizing is extremely important! The inside lip at the top on one of our models needs to be inspected as it is hard to clean. Use hard streams of hot water to wash out anything left in there when cleaning after the fermentation process. Our plastic is completely inert and will not absorb any bacteria. All surface residue should be removed. Now you can brew with all the convenience and the options of a Master wine maker or brewer.
A billion dollar pharmaceutical company purchases our 8 gallon fermentation tanks (without the label) for use in a blood plasma separation device they manufacture. The United States Geological Survey has purchased our 40 gallon fermenters for use in checking on polluters of our river and streams. A new bioscience company buys our fermenter to assist them is developing a product that will detect minute blood in fecal matter. The businesses mentioned here can afford stainless steel. However, they find our plastic provides a superior product at a reasonable price.
MiniBrew products are manufactured from high density food grade polyethylene. Some say a scratch will ruin plastic. If this is true, will a scratch also ruin stainless steel? Scratches in plastic can be repaired easily with a dull knife. The plastic resins used are HD-8600 series Escorene linear high density polyethylene. This tough plastic is resistant to all chemicals used in the brewing process. Our plastic melts at 240°. Your new equipment will last a lifetime with proper care. The next time you have the opportunity look at the bio science, medical, research laboratories or any place where sterilization is important. You don’t see much stainless steel.
FOR BEST RESULTS BREW WITH PROFESSIONAL EQUIPMENT