Small Fermentation Tank

Stainless Steel Brewery Tanks

Small fermentation tanks are a crucial component of any brewery, regardless of its size. These tanks are designed to hold the fermented wort during the brewing process, allowing yeast to convert the sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide. In this article, we’ll delve into the intricacies of small fermentation tanks, exploring their features, types, brewing process, design considerations, and more.

Overview of Small Fermentation Tanks

Small fermentation tanks, also known as fermenters or uni-tanks, are cylindrical vessels typically made of stainless steel or food-grade plastic. They are designed to provide a controlled environment for the fermentation process, ensuring consistent and high-quality beer production. These tanks come in various sizes, ranging from a few gallons to several hundred gallons, making them suitable for homebrewers, nano-breweries, and small-scale commercial operations.

Types of Small Fermentation Tanks

Tank Type Description
Conical Fermenters Featuring a cone-shaped bottom, these tanks allow for efficient yeast harvesting and trub removal. Conical fermenters are common in commercial breweries.
Cylindrical Fermenters With a cylindrical shape, these tanks are often more affordable and easier to clean. They are popular among homebrewers and small-scale operations.
Unitank Fermenters These versatile tanks combine fermentation and serving functions, enabling brewers to ferment, condition, and serve beer from the same vessel.

The Brewing Process with Small Fermentation Tanks

The brewing process with small fermentation tanks typically follows these steps:

  1. Wort Transfer: After the wort (unfermented beer) has been boiled and cooled, it is transferred to the fermentation tank.
  2. Pitching Yeast: Yeast is added to the wort, initiating the fermentation process.
  3. Fermentation: Over several days or weeks, the yeast consumes the sugars in the wort, producing alcohol and carbon dioxide.
  4. Conditioning: Once fermentation is complete, the beer may undergo conditioning or secondary fermentation to allow for further flavor development.
  5. Packaging: After conditioning, the beer is packaged into bottles, cans, or kegs for distribution and consumption.

Beer Fermentation Equipment

Design Considerations for Small Fermentation Tanks

Design Aspect Details
Capacity Small fermentation tanks range from a few gallons to several hundred gallons, accommodating various batch sizes.
Spaces Adequate headspace is essential to accommodate the foam and krausen during fermentation.
Shape and Layout Conical or cylindrical shapes facilitate yeast harvesting and trub removal, while unitank fermenters offer versatility.
Customization Many manufacturers offer customizable options, such as temperature control, sampling ports, and sight glasses.

Small Fermentation Tank Suppliers and Price Range

Supplier Price Range
SS Brewtech $500 – $3,000
Spike Brewing $400 – $2,500
Blichmann Engineering $400 – $2,000
DIY Homebrew Supply $200 – $1,500

Note: Prices may vary based on size, features, and customization options.

Installation, Operation, and Maintenance

Aspect Details
Installation Small fermentation tanks require a level and sturdy surface, along with proper ventilation and temperature control.
Operation Proper sanitation, temperature management, and yeast handling are essential for successful fermentation.
Maintenance Regular cleaning and sanitization, as well as routine inspections, are necessary to maintain tank integrity and quality.

Choosing the Right Small Fermentation Tank Supplier

Consideration Explanation
Reputation and Reviews Research the supplier’s reputation, read customer reviews, and consider their track record in the industry.
Quality and Materials Ensure the tanks are made from high-quality, food-grade materials suitable for brewing.
Customization Options Evaluate the supplier’s ability to provide customized solutions to meet your specific brewing needs.
Customer Support Consider the level of customer support and technical assistance offered by the supplier.
Pricing and Shipping Compare prices, shipping costs, and any additional fees across multiple suppliers.

Pros and Cons of Small Fermentation Tanks

Pros Cons
Compact size, suitable for small spaces Limited batch sizes compared to larger tanks
Affordable for homebrewers and nano-breweries Potential for temperature fluctuations in small volumes
Easier to clean and maintain than larger tanks May require more frequent brewing cycles
Versatile, with options like unitank fermenters Fewer customization options compared to larger tanks
Efficient use of resources for small-scale operations Limited headspace for krausen in some tank designs
Conical fermenter
Conical Fermenter

Advantages and Limitations of Small Fermentation Tanks

Small fermentation tanks offer several advantages over larger tanks, especially for homebrewers and small-scale operations. Their compact size and affordability make them accessible to a wide range of brewers. Additionally, their ease of cleaning and maintenance can save time and effort compared to larger tanks.

However, small fermentation tanks also have limitations. Their limited batch sizes may require more frequent brewing cycles to meet demand, and the smaller volumes can be more susceptible to temperature fluctuations, which can impact beer quality. Furthermore, small tanks may offer fewer customization options compared to larger, commercial-grade tanks.


Question Answer
How long does fermentation take in a small tank? Fermentation typically takes 1-3 weeks, depending on the beer style and yeast strain.
Can small tanks be used for both fermentation and serving? Yes, unitank fermenters allow for fermentation, conditioning, and serving from the same vessel.
How often should small fermentation tanks be cleaned? Tanks should be cleaned and sanitized after each brew, and deep cleaning should be done periodically.
Can small tanks be used for lagering? While possible, small tanks may not be ideal for long lagering periods due to temperature control challenges.
How do I choose the right size small fermentation tank? Consider your batch size, available space, and future expansion plans when selecting a tank size.

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