July 5, 2015

BrewDemon Big Demon Conical Fermenter – First Impressions

I know that is seems like forever since BrewDemon first started talking about producing a larger conical fermenter and in fact there were several false starts to getting this fermenter out. There was mention of having a 7 8 gallon fermenter in time for the holidays, then early spring, but I’m happy to report that the Big Demon has finally arrived and I have one t so that I can give you all the details of this devilish brewing vessel.

Whats in a name?

First, let’s talk about the name, Big Demon. This name is not just fitting because of it relationship it’s “little brother”, the previously introduced Little Demon (3 gallon) conical fermenter but it also describes its over all size. This thing is big! So if you are tight on space where you do your brewing and fermenting this might not be for you, however this after reading these initial impressions you might decide to find the a place to fit this conical fermenter in.

  • IMG_20150531_153454
    Big Demon comparison with 6 gal carboy, 5 gal carboy and 6 gal Ale Pale bucket

    *Total Height (with Lid, base/legs) = 24.5 inches (61 cm)

  • *Total Height (fermenter with lid only) = 23 ¾ inches (60 cm)
  • *Total Width (with base) = 13 ¾ inches (35 cm)
  • *Weight = 9 LBS (4.82 kg)

 

 

 

FastFerment vs BrewDemon
FastFerment vs BrewDemon (FastFerment courtesy of Wine Barrel Plus )

This fermenter does stands tall when you compare it to any of the more common fermenters such as the 5 and 6 gallon glass carboy fermenters and the 6 gallon “Ale Pale” plastic bucket but the size and design of this conical fermenter offers greater options then the others. It’s large, yes but it’s not the largest out there. Now compare the Big Demon to the similar priced plastic *FastFerment 8 gallon fermenter it’s considerably smaller standing more than a foot shorter, 13 inches or 33 cm to be more exact. Granted this is mostly due to the yeast/trub collection ball assembly of the FastFerment however you can easily add a yeast dump to the bottom of the Big Demon and still have less height then the FastFermenter. Width-wise the difference doesn’t seem to be as much but when you consider where the size is coming from its a slightly more significant difference between them. The width of the FastFerment is 14.25″ (36cm) mostly from the actual vessel, whereas the Big Demon is 13.75″ (34cm) however the legs of the stand make up nearly 1.5″ of that width.

Top down view of FF and BD
Top down view of FF and BD (FastFermenter courtesy of Wine Barrel Plus)

Design

big_little BD
Little & Big Demon

The first thing you notice about the new fermenter is that it looks an awful lot like it’s little brother the Little Demon fermenter. The shape, clean lines and 3 legged stand were obviously made to mimic the smaller 3 gallon fermenter.

There are some obvious differences between the two besides the size. One is the lid, on the Big Demon it’s full size, meaning that there is no lip or tapering like there is on the Little Demon. The lid simply sits on the side walls and is rotated to on to the 3 external pressure flanges to seal it where as the Little Demon has a screw on lid. Second is the dump plug at the bottom of the Big Demon. Third is that the spigot is heavier duty then that of the Little Demon with a larger diameter opening.

Both Big and Little are available in either clear or amber color.

Fit & Finish

IMG_20150531_143814Well I have to say with all honesty that I’m impressed with fit and finish of this new addition to the BrewDemon product line. The first thing I noticed was the heft of this thing. The total weight with the stand and lid is about 9 lbs (4.082 kg) and once you start looking at it you start to understand why.

The fermenter vessel is made of PET plastic and measures 1/8 of an inch(3.17 cm) wall thickness throughout. This makes for a very sturdy feeling fermenter which means you don’t have worry about it denting or cracking easily. The lid is equally as thick and has an inside lip that fits inside the fermenter easily so there won’t be an issue with it screwing on or not fitting correctly. The collar that the fermenter set in is also substantial and proportionally sized to fit this conical snuggly and ensures that there will be no collapse under the full weight of up to 6 + gallons wort and the legs are made of black 1-1/4″ PVC piping

The inside of the conical is very smooth with no detectable flaws or seams for bacteria to hide in and there are no sharp 90 degree corners that are hard to reach.

Besides the huge top opening the only other openings are where the spigot mounts and the threaded yeast dump in the very bottom. The Spigot as I mentioned earlier is much thicker material then that of the Little demon and just feels heftier and more sturdy. It also has a larger inside diameter for better flow.

The yeast dump opening has an inside thread and accommidates standard 1″ threaded plumbing. The thickness arround it is considerably thicker to withstand tork and sideway pressure. The persision of the the threading is impressive there are no flaws or burrs and I was able to thead both the plug that comes with the Big Demon as well as a 1 inch adaptor to create my own yeast dump without any issues whatsoever.

What comes with it?

IMG_20150531_143234BrewDemon is only offering up this fermenter as a “base” model right now with plans to offer different yeast dump options, both plastic and stainless steel along with leg length options.  The base model fermenter is available in both clear and amber color and both come with a black lid, adjustable flow spigot with retaining nut, dump plug with teflon tape, vent plug, stick on thermometer and the stand which consists of the collar and 3-13 inch legs. (Note: the legs shipped with my unit were only 9 inches. It now ships with the longer 13 inch legs.) Additional add-ons pictured here are the silicone lid gasket, bubbler air lock kit with drilled stopper.

The Little Things Matter

Just like it’s little brother, the Big Demon there are other things that this fermenter has that aren’t immediately apparent, but can make the brewing experience easier.

  • IMG_20150531_145650Clear easy to read measurements molded to outside back of the fermenter. The measurement marks start at 3 gallons and go up to 7 gallons in half gallon increments. It also has marks for 21 and 25 quarts levels. These marks in no way impact the smoothness of the inside of the fermenter
  • Top vent and bubbler option. There are a few brewers out there that prefer not to use an airlock while fermenting and the Big Demon can accommodate them with the included vent plug that easily fits into the vent hole in the lid. If you do want an airlock of some sort  you can easily add a blow off tube or you can but the optional bubbler kit.
  • The tap/spigot is sturdy and well made. I mentioned earlier that the spigot is larger and better then that of the 3 gallon fermenter but it bears repeating here. The quality of these taps/spigot can be all over the place. Some with thin plastic that would break by just looking at it but not this one. There seemed to be a lot of thought when choosing a tap for this fermenter and this one will not easily break. Additionally it is adjustable flow to make bottling or kegging easier.

Conical Concerns

So far I have pretty much sung the praises of this new fermenter but there are a couple of things that concern me. Are they big concerns? No, but I do need to mention them to give a well rounded review.

First, the fermenter is PET material. This isn’t a huge deal but PET tends to be more gas permiable then HDPE: Food Grade plastics. Simply put you don’t want to brew any sours or heavily flavored beers in this unless you plan to dedicate it to only brewing those types of beers.

Second, the base model that I got came with 9 inch legs so the only way to take advantage of the yeast dump in the bottom is to get longer legs. BrewDemon has started shipping longer 13 inch legs which does allow for adding a yeast dump of some sort to the bottom without having to add your own longer legs.

Internal threaded yeast dump
Internal threaded yeast dump

Third, the yeast dump outlet has internal threads making it more challenging to properly clean. This does increase the risk of infection but if you are diligent and follow proper cleaning and sanitation processes this shouldn’t be a big issue.

Forth and final concern, price. At $125 ($117 with BeerBorg forum member Discount) I think the base model is pricy when compared with the other options that there are such as the FastFerment which sells for $99 and includes the valve and yeast collection container. I feel that some people will not want to pay that extra premium on this product. With that said I think the Big Demon is much more customizable for the individual needs of the brewer making it worth the little extra dollars.

The Bottom Line

I haven’t used this product yet to ferment, that will happen soon but my first impressions are that is a very nice fermenter with a lot of potential. I am really looking forward to seeing what other model options will be offered and of course the price points of those options.  With the solid materials and good capacity size it feels like a substantial piece of brewing equipment to brew in. Even though the price of this BrewDemon Conical more I see a lot of potential for this product based on the concept and the quality and can really take you to the next level in your brewing.

Check out the photo gallery below for more pictures of the Big Demon. Also head over the the BeerBorg Forum and join the conversation.

(Disclosure: The BrewDemon Big Demon fermenter was provided by BrewDemon at no cost for this review. My views of the product are solely my own and not of BrewDemon. –  *Winebarrel Plus provided photo access to the FastFerment product. I do not own and was not given the FastFerment product.)

 


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