If the burner is the heart and soul of your brewery then the fermenter is the backbone. Your beer will never end up great without the proper fermentation vessel. Fermenters can range from a simple plastic bucket up to a complex jacketed stainless steel conical. You can make some great beer in almost any fermenter but each one does offer its own benefits. Whether you’re upgrading your setup or starting out, I’ll break down the pros and cons of each with this fermenter comparison. Check out the table below for a comparison of most fermenters on the market.
Plastic fermenters are a cheap and convenient way to start fermenting. The cheapest one of all is the plastic bucket. A 6.5 gallon or larger is recommended for a typical 5 gallon batch. A 2 gallon bucket is perfect for smaller 1 gallon batches. Buckets can conveniently be drilled for a spigot for easy bottling and racking. A plastic carboy is the next level up from a bucket. They are light and priced fairly cheap. There are both standard and wide mouth versions with the latter being much easier to clean. Plastic is a great start for brewing but will eventually get scratches that can harbor bacteria and other nasties.
There are few high-end fermenters in the plastic category. The Fast Ferment is a conical style fermenter that adds a dump valve and the proper shape to a standard plastic fermenter. The next level of fermenters offers the same features as the Fast Ferment but with pressure fermentation and transfer. My biggest gripe with these high-end plastic fermenters is the price verges pretty close to stainless steel fermenters.
Glass fermenters are the next level up from plastic fermenters. They come in sizes from 1 gallon up to 14 gallons. Glass fermenters offer scratch resistance and easy cleaning compared to plastic fermenters. On the downside, they are glass so there is always the risk of breakage. My number one tip for glass 5, 6, and 6.5 carboys is to put them in a milk crate. If you’re careful you’ll never have to replace them.
Stainless steel is the best material for fermentation vessels. You can go with everything from a bucket fermenter up to a jacketed conical. Properly cared for stainless steel will last for your whole lifetime. They offer features from pressure fermentation to dump valves. Of course, you get what you pay for and stainless steel fermenters aren’t cheap. My suggestion if you have the money and plan to brew a lot is to go with stainless steel.
- Cheapest of all the fermenters.
- These tend to be the lightest of all fermenters.
- Many sizes are available.
- Won’t shatter if dropped
- Can be easily scratched
- Scratches can harbor bad bacteria
- Can melt or warp if exposed to too much heat.
- Can see fermentation in progress
- Resistant to scratches
- Can almost always be cleaned back to new condition
- Will definitely shatter if dropped or bumped the wrong way.
- Won’t shatter if dropped
- Available in a wide range of sizes with lots of accessory options
- Very hard to scratch if properly cared for.
- Can generally handle very warm liquids.
- It will last a lifetime if properly cared for.
- These are the most expensive fermenters you can buy.
- Require a deep initial cleaning to remove machining oils.
|Fermenter||Price $||Volume (Gallons)||Material|
|1 Gallon Glass Jug||5||1||Glass|
|6.5 Gallon Ale Pail||12||6.5||HDPE – Plastic|
|1 Gallon FerMonster PET Carboy||15.99||1||PET – Plastic|
|3 Gallon FerMonster PET Carboy||23.99||3||PET – Plastic|
|3 Gallon Glass Carboy||27||3||Glass|
|5 Gallon Plastic Carboy||29.99||5||PET – Plastic|
|6 Gallon FerMonster PET Carboy||29.99||6||PET – Plastic|
|7 Gallon FerMonster PET Carboy||29.99||7||PET – Plastic|
|6 Gallon Plastic Carboy||32.99||6||PET – Plastic|
|5 Gallon Glass Carboy||35||5||Glass|
|6 Gallon Glass Carboy||41||6||Glass|
|6.5 Gallon Glass Carboy||44||6.5||Glass|
|3 Gallon FastFerment Conical||54.95||3||HDPE – Plastic|
|7.9 Gallon FastFerment Conical||99.99||7.9||HDPE – Plastic|
|4 Gallon Anvil Bucket Fermentor||99.99||4||Stainless Steel|
|5 Gallon Dumped Wood Spirit Barrel||110||5||Wood|
|7 Gallon Chapman UniVessel Fermenter||119.99||7||Stainless Steel|
|3.5 Gallon Ss Brewtech Brew Bucket||129||3.5||Stainless Steel|
|7.5 Gallon Anvil Bucket Fermentor||129.99||7.5||Stainless Steel|
|14 Gallon Chapman UniVessel Fermenter||149.99||14||Stainless Steel|
|10 Gallon Dumped Wood Spirit Barrel||165||10||Wood|
|15 Gallon Dumped Wood Spirit Barrel||165||15||Wood|
|30 Gallon Dumped Wood Spirit Barrel||165||30||Wood|
|14 Gallon FastFerment Conical||179.99||14||HDPE – Plastic|
|6.9 Gallon Ss Brewtech Brew Bucket||199||6.9||Stainless Steel|
|53 Gallon Dumped Wood Spirit Barrel||200||53||Wood|
|6.9 Gallon Ss Brewtech Brewmaster Brew Bucket||229||6.9||Stainless Steel|
|14 Gallon Ss Brewtech Brewmaster Brew Bucket||369||14||Stainless Steel|
|14 Gallon Ss Brewtech Chronical Conical||399||14||Stainless Steel|
|7 Gallon Ss Brewtech Chronical Conical||499||7||Stainless Steel|
|CF5 Spike Conical Unitank||525||7||Stainless Steel|
|14 Gallon Ss Brewtech Brewmaster Chronical Conical||599||14||Stainless Steel|
|1/2 BBL Ss Brewtech Chronical Conical||599||17||Stainless Steel|
|CF10 Spike Conical Unitank||625||14||Stainless Steel|
|7 Gallon Ss Brewtech Brewmaster Chronical Conical||699||7||Stainless Steel|
|CF15 Spike Conical Unitank||750||18||Stainless Steel|
|1/2 BBL Ss Brewtech Brewmaster Chronical Conical||799||17||Stainless Steel|
|14 Gallon Ss Brewtech Unitank||899||10||Stainless Steel|
|7 Gallon Ss Brewtech Unitank||1099||5||Stainless Steel|
|CF30 Spike Conical Unitank||1200||40||Stainless Steel|
|1 BBL Ss Brewtech Brewmaster Chronical Conical||1299||41||Stainless Steel|
|1/2 BBL Ss Brewtech Unitank||1299||15.5||Stainless Steel|
|1 BBL Ss Brewtech Unitank||1999||42||Stainless Steel|