Finally, a pressure-rated stainless steel fermenter with bottom drain and 4" / 2" tri-clamp connections. The MiniUni is high quality, has nice welds, is easy to clean, and opens up a number of options for fermentation accessories. Here are my first impressions using it.
I bought the fermenter to have additional options after my years of NC keg fermentation. I'm still not interested in a glycol/jacketed conical and wanted something that would fit in my fermentation fridge to control the temperature.
Tip: You can buy the Mini Uni directly from Brewtools or get one from https://mashcamp.shop/ if you don't want to deal with the import process. Other Tri-Clamp accessories shown in the pictures are available in our shop.
Since this is not a 60 degree conical fermenter, it would be pretty wasteful to do the trub dump straight out of the dome. For this reason, I built a yeast chamber under the vessel. This gives the yeast and trub more space to settle, and makes it easier to do the yeast dump. My 2" tri-clamp parts were still on the way at the time of fermentation, so I used a 1.5" reducer, a butterfly valve, an elbow, and a sight glass at the bottom. The NC adapter allows me to flush the assembly as I attach it.
The yeast dump chamber on bottom makes it easier to dump yeast and hops. This should have been all 2" components, and will be available in the shop.
On top I installed a 4" TC end cap with NC valves, relief valve and 1.5" port. The 1.5" port can be used for a blow off unit and a hop dropper.
The 4" Tri-Clamp adapter with swimming dip tube and blow-off installed.
First Batch: Process
- Filling. The filled fermenter is very heavy and has no handles. Therefore, you should fill it in place and not move it during fermentation. Filling was very easy: I put a long hose from my kettle pump group into the top opening and let it spray into the keg while filling.
- Clsoing up. After yeast pitch I installed the 4" Tri-Clamp with a swimming dip tube on the NC liquid port (you will want a longer tube for this depending on the size of your fermenter). On the 1.5" port i installed the blow-off assembly.
- Dump Assembly. At the bottom, I attached the yeast chamber. I connected the disinfected assembly to the lower valve and left the clamp loose. The gas was connected via NC coupling and a purging was performed. After purging, I closed the clamp completely and disconnected the gas. Finally, I opened the bottom valve. Since the chamber is slightly pressurized, this did not suck back fluid from the purge.
- Wort samples. To check fermentation progress, I used a Picnic tap on the NC liquid connection.
- Yeast Dump. I did an initial yeast dump after 3 days when I noticed the chamber was filled with trub. After closing the butterfly valve, I removed and cleaned the lower assembly. After disinfection, it was reinstalled and the port reopened. I repeated this process one more time after fermentation was complete and before dry hopping.
- Dry hopping. The dry hopping was low tech. I connected CO2 to the top NC port and turned the gas on at about 0.3 bar. After removing the blow-off assembly, I poured the hops in through the butterfly valve using a funnel. Finally, I closed the valve and flushed the fermenter several times with CO2. For dry hopping I removed the yeast chamber and connected the gas directly to the bottom of the tank. From time to time, I turned on the gas to promote mixing of the hops.
- Cold Crash. For the cold crash, I put the yeast chamber back on the bottom to catch more material. I put the fermenter under slight pressure, about 0.2 bar, to maintain positive pressure in the vessel during the chilling process.
- Draining. Finally, it was time to fill my NC kegs. I used the floating dip tube for this. This worked smoothly. With my first brew, I was able to fill two kegs with about 15 liters each. Next time, I could increase the batch size and get maybe 17-18 L per keg.
- Cleaning. This was easy! I used the new Keg Washer for this and soaked all the other parts in the same bucket.
Removing the dump chamber was easy, and there was a very thick sludge!
It should be possible to harvest yeast if you work cleanly enough.
For dry hopping, I connected the gas directly to allow for occasional mixing.
The first batch went really well and it was a lot of fun to use all the Tri-Clamp fittings on the fermenter. It's a bit of a shame that you have to use the NC Disconnect to drain the fermenter, as the NC valve could always get clogged. It should be possible to mount a racking arm with a 2" tee on the bottom, but that would get expensive quickly and would take up a lot more space that I don't have in my fridge.
|Good value for the money
||A leg adapter for easy access to the lower opening costs extra.|
|Tested, pressure rated stainless steel vessel
||Very heavy and without handles. Don't think about moving it when it's filled. A 4" handle clamp should be available soon from Brewtools.|
|Large Tri-Clamp openings on the top (4") and bottom (2")||No side wall opening for a racking arm. This port would be much more difficult to weld, so this is a cost compromise.|
|Available in a range of sizes
||No conical bottom. This saves space, but does not allow efficient yeast dump.|
|Fits in commercially available refrigerators
||The 40L was too tall for a reasonable hop dropper setup|
All in all, I'm very happy with the MiniUni. It's a real step up from NC keg fermentation without completely breaking the bank. If you're not ready to take the step up to a more expensive conical Uni Tank with glycol chiller, this might be just the thing for you.