Review: Stainless Steel Brew Bucket and FTSs Temp Control

Check out the video above to see my full review of these two items from Ss Brewing Technologies: The Brew Bucket and the FTSs Fermentation Temperature Control System.

Transcript:

Hey Brewers its Billy Broas from the homebrewacademy reviewing a new gadget for you guys. One Ive been using for a little bit and Im really excited to share with you. And this is from SS brew tech, now I should clarify here Im actually reviewing two different items. These are two different products, but because they go together like peanut butter and jelly. Made sense to review them together.

So, they are the brew bucket and this is a ferment or a stainless steel fermenter and then there is the FTS fermentation system. And thats a way to regulate fermentation temperatures. So theres a fermenter and then there is the way to control the temperatures- and I guess said they go together really well!

FTSs-homebrew

So the FTS is made for the brew bucket. They also make conical fermenters, larger conical fermenters and they have temperature control systems for those as well. Ive never used their conical before so Im just going to focus on the brew bucket and the FTS that goes with it. So the brew bucket gives this fermentor, you see before you.

And just to clarify this neoprene sleeve does not come with the brew bucket. It goes with the FTS. I think feel like taking it off so Ill show you a picture of what it looks like when its not wearing this jacket. Here but this is a 6.95 gallon stainless steel fermenter. Ive been trying to go stainless for my fermenters for a long time. Those conical fermenters are so damn expensive I could just never justify it.

So its nice that this is a pretty affordable stainless steel fermenter. Stainless is not cheap, this at the time of this video is a hundred ninety five dollars on the SS brew tech website which which is what youre going to pay for stainless. And I think its a great value.

So my journey has really been from glass carboys to plastic, and then to a better type of plastic which is the the spidel Ive been using. So I really upgraded from mainly better bottles plastic better bottles to the spidel fermenter which I really love. You might have seen my video on that.

And now to the stainless fermenter and stainless and brewing!

Its really the pinnacle even on the hot side if youve gone from an aluminum kettle to a stainless kettle. You know that theres a big difference there and theres still different qualities of stainless steel. This is really high quality, when you see this you will be impressed by it. Its really nice, so let me show it to you a little bit its got a nice stainless lid on it you can see there. It has a hole drilled for the airlock. I would say that this hole is actually pretty sharp and so first I try putting the the blow-off tube in there, which I almost always do with my fermenters.

So I just put a I think was half an inch silicone blow-off tube into here to put it through the hole. And cut a slit in the hole, because its pretty sharp. And then the same thing happened with the airlock you use one of these small rubber stoppers here and it cut off a slit I cut in that as well. So I was kind of disappointed by that but I talked to the guys at the company and they were aware that and theyve actually fixed it since then. So on the the newer lids and heres a good example, so the lids that come with the still got some water in there.

So the lids that come with the FTS, this you probably cant tell but its a much smoother so thats not going to cut into any hose or any stopper that you put in there. So that kind of stunk, but Im glad that theyre on top of things and they fixed that. So you shouldnt have to worry about it now.

FTss-coils

We also have these great latches on the side, these are spring-loaded latches so theyre really strong just really durable and its easy to take the lid on and off. And then you also have these handles on the side as well so it makes this thing really easy to lift. And for being stainless steel its its really light when empty.

Now on the bottom, you have some rubber caps. So thats nice, its not going to scratch up something that you put it on. And these things are stackable as well, I only have one but you could easily get multiple root buckets and stack these things up. So if youre fermenting in like I do normally, until I got this if youre fermenting in a chest freezer. Obviously youre going to have to lift this thing out of there. But with the handles make that really easy and theres still enough room between the floor and the bottom of the valve there they can still get a gravity reading.

So I just stick a small cup under there and I get plenty plenty of beer to take a gravity reading. But this is really nice, this barbed valve here you can easily take a gravity reading or you can transfer into a keg or into your bottling bucket. And its got a little handle here, and a really cool thing about this is that you can rotate it and the spigot.

So Ill show you guys the spigot; you can rotate the the valve here and itll rotate the spigot. So what I do when Im filling up the fermenter, I rotate the spigot down so it doesnt get filled up with a bunch of troob. And then when I transfer out of it I rotate it up and I rotate it to the point that I start getting clear. Beautiful seeing through the tubing so thats really nice. So you can avoid transferring a lot of troob over to your your keg or your bottling bucket or another fermenter.

brew-bucket-volumes

Another nice thing about it is that you can easily see how much beer you have in here. Theres markings on the inside for the gallons, its at four or five and six and the half gallons are marked. As well, theyre etched on there which is nice. I know my old plastic carboy so Ill just put tape on the outside but that got really messy. And because this mouth is its so wide you can really get in there. You can get your arm in there and you can scrub it out and with stainless steel thats one of the great benefits of it. Its tough and it cleans up really easily and its not porous at all. Youre not going to get bacteria hiding in there like you might with plastic if you get a scratch in your plastic carboy.

brew-bucket

And finally this thing is just really compact so you can see by the size of this its very small. Its about the size of a five or six gallon plastic carboy. So its got a small footprint which is really important to me. I dont like my gear taking up a ton of room. So this is a really great fermenter!

So lets me move on now and talk about the FTS. So like I said these two things go together like peanut butter and jelly. I feel like if you get the brew bucket then you almost have to get the FTS. they just work really well together.

So Ill demonstrate here how it works, I mean this is essentially just a way to control your fermentation temperatures which is super important, especially when fermentation heats up there or the first few days and you want to bring it back down. So what essentially does is it it recirculates cold or hot water. If you want to heat it up, it can do that as well. But it recirculates water through these coils in the beer, so the beers about maybe right here and you have an external heating or cooling source.

Ill show that to you in a second and this just goes on the lid here. So when you get this kit, you can see you get the coils and you get this specialty lid here with the holes already cut. And I was surprised by how easy it was to set up. I was a little intimidated at first, but its really its not a whole lot of parts and I got this whole thing set up in about five or ten minutes.

So you really just screw in or you bolt on the coils here and then theres a thermo well right here that bolts on. So you have three holes total two for the coils and one for the thermo l and then, of course, the one for the airlock or blow up tube.

So that goes on like that and then you have your very nice controller here. And when it lights up you get these nice blue numbers so that goes on the middle this is the temperature probe here, which of course goes into the thermo well and you have your airlock that goes on here. And they also, like I said when I was using the blow-off tube, I just put the tubing in through this airlock hole.

Now they actually have a blow-up tube assembly that looks like it works a lot better and its a barb that gets bolted on through this hole.

Ill try to show you the cooling source so here we go so youre going to have to set this up yourself. I had to buy a separate cooler for this. I didnt have one of my own, you might have one thatll work. This is a cord cooler and I found that works really well too. Ive seen a lot of coolers that people are using with this and theyre freaking huge and I dont think they have to be that big. And thats kind of the whole point of this thing is to have a smaller footprint.

So it was this corded one worked great for me, and I cut the holes in it through the lid. And then you get the tubing with the kit as well. The bottle tubing which you just need to cut in half because youre going to have two pieces. You have the begin and the out and then you get the pump as well. So theres the pump, so all you do is you take the two pieces of tubing and you hook them up to the end and the out.

Let me show you a really short clip itll much better demonstrate how this whole thing works. So coming out of the controller and you have your temperature probe which is right here and that goes into the thermo well. You can see it actually just cut on dont know if you can notice that. And theres the cat ,she loves this thing too.

So this goes into the thermo well its pretty cool, so this looks pretty short right? But you can actually pull this out and then if you have a lot of slack, I had a lot of slack you can tuck it back in into the controller there. Which is pretty cool, so you dont have a bunch of wire dangling.

Okay, so that goes into there and then this is power. So I just had this hooked up to an outlet and then over here this is power to a pump. So let me show you that all right?We have the pump down at the bottom here right there that sits on the bottom. And then I just have the one frozen bottle in here right now.

Fermentation is over right now, and Im just maintaining so its not too hard to keep it there. So all I need is one frozen one quart or one liter bottle, so thats enough. And then, so it so pumps through here so you can see I drilled the holes in the lid right here. And those are pretty tight so, it pumps through here goes through the coils that are underneath the lid and they go into the bucket and then it returns through this one comes back through here and you just saw spitting water back in here and thats it and then it recirculates back through. So obviously an example of how you can change the settings on this thing.

So you can see I set it at and were at sixty nine point eight right now. So it really doesnt much overshoot at all its going to wind up pre pretty darn close to whatever your setpoint is. So the way it works really simple, just click set here and if I want to set it to say get out of there hit set again. And I dont know if you can hear that but you can probably see it cut on so it tells the pump we need colder water in here, and so the pump cuts on brings it down to and as long as that water is cold enough to bring it down to.

Then youll be good, so its a pretty simple setup but pretty brilliant too and works really well.

So my experience using this the cooling has worked really well. So on the most recent brew, I chilled down to with my plate chiller and then I took this down to using the FTS and I only took maybe 5 minutes tops. With a couple frozen water bottles in there, I normally do a one gallon frozen bottle in here with a couple maybe one or two one liter frozen bottles and that works great. I was worried about maybe having to change them out all the time but at the peak of fermentation, you check it once a day maybe even once every two days and youre good to go.

Its not going to overshoot like a swamp cooler where theres no temperature regulation. You want to see in a blog post I did a few years back where I did that and I put too many frozen water bottles in the swamp cooler and it overshot like crazy. Thats not going to happen with this.

You just need to make sure that your your water here is cold enough to get it down to where ever you want it, and then the controller will handle the rest. So youre not going to be changing out bottles a whole lot. I havent tried lagering, I really doubt you could lager with this because of course with the lagering process, you need to bring it down to near freezing degrees and hold it for months. Not really feasible.

You could ferment a lager though, I believe that is possible, although I havent tried it. So if you want to hold it at say 45degrees I think thats very doable, youre going to have to check can change out the bottles a little bit more. But its definitely something I think its possible.

So overall Im really happy with both of these. If you ever wanted a stainless steel fermenter and youre like me and you just couldnt afford the conical, this is a really great way to go and thats a great price for a stainless steel fermenter. So its not cheap, but like I said at the time of this video. And then the FTS fermentation control super important.

This is a small footprint way to do it and it just works so well with with the brew bucket here and its so efficient having the coils in here versus doing something like the chest freezer. s

Theres certain people of course, that are totally fine just fermenting in a plastic bucket. And thats totally cool if thats your thing, but theres a lot of people that want to spend the money on higher quality. So the question for them is is this worth it?

And yes I think it is. I think if you buy this the system one or both of these it shows up at your house youre going to be impressed by it. Youre not going to think its a waste of money. The biggest drawback to the FTS is obviously changing out the water bottles. But what again do is its a great system and you got to have a heating or cooling source somehow.

So it doesnt bother me if you really want to get away from that and not have to do anything manual then youre looking at a glycol system, which actually plenty of people have done with this and so that could work really well too. So hope that helped you guys out if you have any questions or comments leave them down in the comment section and I will talk to you later, thanks!

Where to buy the Brew Bucket and FTSs?

Thanks to Ss Brewing Technologies for providing the FTSs for review.

If you have questions about the gear or want to share your own experience, leave a comment below.

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