One of the benefits of a conical fermenter is easy access to the interior of the vessel for cleaning, and, unlike a plastic bucket, the steel does not scratch easily. While the ability to apply a little elbow grease is nice, I’m lazy and want to just let the conical clean itself. Having a clean in place (CIP) solution was one of the first things I looked into when I decided to buy a conical fermenter.
SS Brewtech has a suggestion for a CIP build. I started with this as a base and made a couple changes. First, I set it up to use quick disconnects so I could leverage the hoses I already have built for my brew system. Second, I modified the outlet. SS Brewtech recommends using 3/4 inch hose on the outlet to get enough drainage. When I made my first attempt at the CIP solution, I used 1/2 inch hose on the outlet because that’s what I could set up with what I had on hand. Why buy more if I don’t have to? I had to.
As seen in the picture above, the cleaning solution could not drain fast enough and solution was draining out of the racking arm. The pump would drain the cleaning solution reservoir in about 20 seconds. Making a switch to the 3/4 inch fitting a hose would be a purchase for something I would not use at all in the rest of my brewing setup. Part of my new mentality in the brewery is having compatibility and spares throughout my system. Instead of a 3/4 inch tri-clover fitting and hose I am using a 1.5 inch tri-clover elbow. It drains beautifully and I also use it on the outlet of the conical.
- Submersible Pump (Amazon)
- CIP Spray Ball
- Garden Hose to 1/2″ FPT Adapter (MoreBeer)
- 1/2″ MPT to Male Quick Disconnect (MoreBeer)
- 1/2″ FPT to Male Quick Disconnect (MoreBeer)
- 1.5″ tri-clamp 90 degree elbow (MoreBeer)
- 1.5″ tri-clamp gasket (MoreBeer)
- 1.5″ tri-clamp (MoreBeer)
- 5 gallon bucket
- Teflon tape
As noted above, this setup was designed to work with the hoses that I already use with my brew system. You can set up a hose like this with:
- (2) Female quick disconnect to 1/2″ barb (MoreBeer)
- 6ft silicone tubing (1/2″ ID) (Morebeer, Amazon)
- Smooth-band hose clamps (Amazon)
- Attach the hose to 1/2″ FPT adapter to the pump. For all of these fittings, use a few wraps of Teflon tape to ensure no leaks occur during use.
- Attach the 1/2″ MPT to male quick disconnect to the hose adapter.
- Attach the 1/2 inch FPT male quick disconnect to the tri-clover lid.
- Attach the CIP fitting to the tri-clover lid.
- Drink a beer!
Clean in Place
Now that everything is assembled it is time to clean! Everyone’s favorite activity. After my first use of the conical I had some build up from the yeast krausen. Everything else had rinsed out nicely with the hose.
Setup and the actual cleaning is very easy. Attach the elbow to the lower outlet of the conical. Install the CIP fitting in the lid and clamp the lid down. Fill the bucket with 2 gallons of cleaning solution. I use PBW and heat it to between 130 and 150 degrees before adding it to the bucket. Hook up the hose to the pump and CIP fitting and place the pump in the bucket. Open the lower valve and the racking cane valve (to allow extra venting). Plug in the pump and let the PBW do its thing!
The leg extensions from SS Brewtech make this very simple. The height of the lower port is just above the top of a 5 gallon bucket. The extensions are not necessary though. You could easily just lift the conical onto something to get the right height. I did have an issue with the tubing kinking at the top. I ended up running it through the handle on the side of the conical to give it some support.
The elbow on the outlet worked wonderfully draining back into the bucket. With the elbow I’m not sure it’s necessary to open the racking cane as SS Brewtech suggests, but it doesn’t hurt anything to have it open so I figure better safe than sorry.
I let the pump run for about 1.5-2 hours while I took care of some other things around the house. After it was done, I filled the bucket with hot water and turned the pump back on to let it rinse out the conical for a few minutes. It cleaned very well. Happy with the set up.