So you’ve made a bunch of 5 gallon batches and you’re looking to expand. You can either divide your batches between multiple fermentation buckets, or you can get a conical fermenter. Conical fermenters typically have two valves; one for draining directly out the bottom, removing the trub settles during fermentation, and another just above it to drain the beer after fermentation.
Conical fermenters are typically stainless steel and very expensive. They can easily run anywhere from $700 to $1200 for a 15 gallon fermenter. For most people, this means “back to the buckets”. However, I recently found a post on homebrewtalk.com where someone had bought an Agriculture based plastic conical tank that does the same job as the pricey stainless steel ones. The plastic on these are reported to be food grade and meet FDA standards up to 120 degrees. They’re also available in 15, 30, 40, 60 or 85 Gallon sizes, and the price ranges from $58 to $139. These prices don’t include the stand, but you could make one for pretty cheap if you got creative. With about $20 in parts from Home Depot, you could add valves to the base and cone to make a fully-operational conical fermenter for very cheap.
It’s a great way to brew big batches if you don’t want to shell out a fortune for a stainless steel setup. I haven’t actually tried these myself…. I’ve only ever done 5 gallon batches, to be honest. I’m interested, though.