Review: SS Brewtech Brewmaster Bucket
The SS Brewtech Brewmaster Bucket is a cheap alternative to a stainless steel conical. A 7 gallon conical will cost you almost $400. Cheap is relative as the standard model still runs almost $199 while the Brewmaster runs $30 more. The standard features will get you fermenting but there are multiple upgrades available and more constantly coming out.
I bought two of the seven gallon SS Brewtech Brewmaster Buckets a few weeks ago but wanted to get a batch though them first. I had a batch of my frozen concentrate hard cider in one and a peanut butter stout in the other. Both batches fermented out perfectly and were much easier to transfer with the racking spigot compared to using my glass carboys.
The buckets are sturdily constructed out of 304 stainless steel. The walls are nice and thick with absolutely no buckling or strain when moving them full of wort. There is a noticeable line where the wall seam is formed but it is perfectly smooth. The leg welds are good but not the cleanest ones ever. The foldable handles feel solidly attached.
The features are pretty comparable to a stainless conical minus the trub drain. First and foremost it’s made of easy to clean carefree stainless steel. The conical bottom is the next most notable feature. A rotating racking arm is present to take samples and to avoid dealing with an auto siphon. It’s great to avoid trub on messy beers but can leave behind beer on cleaner brews. Some people have had leaks but I’ve had none. I would make sure you only finger tighten it and leak test with a sanitizer before transferring your wort.
The standard lid provides a perfect seal with the four lid clamps down. The included gasket seems well made and is easy enough to take off for cleaning. A stamped hole is at the top for your bung and airlock. The hole isn’t sharp and a bung is included. An optional blow off fitting is available for more vigorous brews. I bought the fittings but have only test fitted them. My biggest complaint is the fittings are pretty pricey!
The Brewmaster edition includes a thermowell and thermometer. The thermowell is a weldless fitting that seals well. An Inkbird probe fits perfectly within the thermowell when using a fermentation chamber. The included thermometer is acceptable but not perfectly accurate. My two thermometers were 1 degree off with the probes in the same spot. This is pretty standard as digital thermometers are only as accurate as factory calibrated. My one gripe is these thermometers are not able to be calibrated. Overall I think the thermowell alone is worth the $30.
Clean, clean, and clean some more before your first use. I’ve bought several stainless steel items but the SS Brewtech Brewmaster Bucket has been the biggest pain in the ass to clean. A good scrubbing with TSP is a must to avoid the machining oils. Finally wash the bucket out with lots of hot water. A white cloth should pick up no black once the bucket is fully cleaned. Last but not least you need passivization.
Here’s a breakdown of the cleaning:
- Don’t assemble the bucket yet!
- Remove the gasket from the lid so you can prevent trapped moisture and clean more thoroughly.
- Wash all parts with hot water.
- Mix up a batch of TSP or TSP substitute in a spray bottle.
- Spray all parts with the TSP except for the level marks.
- Wipe with a soft white towel and use a qtip or rolled paper towel to get the inside of the spigot and racking arm.
- Repeat steps 5 and 6 till the white towel has no black stains.
- Wash well with hot water.
- Dry everything off and assemble the bucket minus the gasket.
- Make a Star San solution at 1 oz per gallon strength in 70F – 80F water and fill the SS Brewtech Brewmaster Bucket to the brim.
- Let soak for 30 mins and then drain out.
- A noticeable color change will present on the metal.
- CLOSE the valve when transferring the Star San… See picture below
- Repeat once a year according to SS Brewtech.
Dimension wise the Brew Buckets are awesome. I bought a stainless steel table from Webstaurant Store and the seven gallon buckets are able to fit on the bottom without issue when using a blow off setup. You can buy a set and use the upper one as a primary and let gravity transfer down to the bottom one for a secondary. These will fit perfectly in most chest freezer fermentation chamber set ups. They are 23 inches tall with the blow off fitting and 26 inches with a standard S airlock. The top is the widest part at 13.5 inches from lid clamp to lid clamp.
Options galore are available for both Brew Bucket models. Most notable is the Fermentation Temperature Stabilization System or FTSS that allows you to control temperatures without a fermentation chamber. It’s nice because you can either go with glycol or a few frozen bottles. The same system works on the conicals as well. A different lid is also available to easily dry hop.
There are several sizes available from the 3.5 gallon up to a 14 gallon version. Get the 14 gallon if you like brewing bigger batches. It’s only $140 more for double the volume. I decided on the 7 gallons as I like 5 gallon batches so I get more variety and 7 gallons of extra headspace on a 5 gallon batch is too risky.
Overall I’m perfectly satisfied with my SS Brewtech Brewmaster Bucket. It’s not cheap but it keeps my batches away from risk of broken glass and scratched plastic. These will fit perfectly in a chest freezer once I get around to buying another one.
**UPDATE: One of my buckets did come with a defective lid that was pitted or scratched. I contacted Ss Brewtech initially before I realized that I had to go through MoreBeer. Morebeer quickly sent out a new lid without any hassle. Sadly Ss Brewtech never even responded to my email so it gave me pause for buying their stuff directly from them. I can’t recommend their quality enough but I hate when a manufacturer doesn’t respond to customer service emails.
- Stainless steel
- Conical bottom
- Rotating racking arm
- Cheaper than a conical
- Volume markings inside
- Lots of options available as well as replacement parts
- Lots of cleaning needed to remove machining oils
- No trub dump
- Assembly instructions on website rather than in box