Looking for a stainless steel fermenter that doesn’t break the bank? How about a stainless steel conical bucket fermenter for under $200? Here’s our Delta Brewing Systems FermTank review!
Like most homebrewers, I got my start fermenting in plastic buckets and glass carboys. After hearing too many horror stories of lost beer, deep lacerations, and even death associated with breaking a glass carboy, I eventually decided I didn’t want to risk using them anymore and started looking for a better option.
First, I tried a very low-priced option that still felt like a small upgrade from the plastic buckets: a 6-gallon ported Big Mouth Bubbler. It worked pretty well overall and I still have it, but it lacked most of the features of a fancier fermenter, and the thin, soft plastic it is made out of was not built to last forever.
I wanted a stainless steel conical fermenter, but at the time there were no good options in my price range. I eventually settled on a Catalyst Fermentation System. Overall I was pretty happy with it (here’s our full review of that system) and used it as my main fermenter for a couple of years.
Then the Delta Brewing Systems FermTank came along. It sounded too good to be true. A stainless steel conical bucket fermenter with a thermowell, dump valve, and pressure transfer rating for under $200? Sold. Like most people, I figured there was a catch, so I talked to the owner of Delta Brewing Systems about their company and products (click here to read our full interview). After talking to him, I decided it was worth giving the FermTank a shot and ordered one.
Ordering Process and Customer Service
The ordering process was great. The website was clear, responsive, and secure, and includes a tracking system so you always know your order status. The customer service was excellent, and I was able to ask questions through the website’s chat feature prior to ordering. I got a response immediately and all of my questions were answered.
I ordered on Black Friday during a great sale. A lot of other people had the same idea, and the FermTanks sold out before my order could be fulfilled. Delta Brewing Systems immediately contacted me to tell me that they sold out and offered me a full refund or the option to wait for the next shipment of FermTanks, which was expected to take about 4-5 weeks. I was happy to wait for the next round, and really appreciated how clear and consistent the communication was.
There was a second delay (just another week or two) and the owner once again contacted me offering a refund if I did not want to wait. The wait was not a problem for me, but I was impressed with their dedication to customer satisfaction. During the wait, Delta Brewing Systems also sent out a small gift card for the inconvenience. That type of excellent customer service and communication alone made me happy to have supported the business.
Unboxing and Assembly
There was a small amount of assembly required, which was fairly self-explanatory and took less than 5 minutes. Assembly included installing:
- The ball valve and racking arm
- The hose barb and plug on the lid (the second hole is standard to make it easy to install the pressure transfer kit)
- The thermowell and thermometer
I was surprised at both the size (it looks bigger than I expected it to) and the quality. For under $200, I expected thin, flimsy metal, poor welds, and cheap construction. That’s not what I got! It is heavier and more sturdy than I expected, the stamped measurements were accurate, and the welds were clean. To be honest, I was shocked at how nice it is, especially at the price.
A few people have mentioned that this is the same fermenter that several other brands sell. This isn’t quite true. Delta Brewing Systems did start from an available model, but made some important improvements to the design and production that sets this fermenter apart. First, the lid is completely redesigned from the other similar models. It is stronger, dome-shaped, and forms a fully airtight seal that is pressurizable to 4PSI for doing pressure transfers. Instead of cheaper etched measurement lines like similar models, the FermTank’s measurement lines are stamped into the steel. The ball valve has also been upgraded from the one included on similar fermenters. These differing features make the Delta Brewing Systems FermTank it’s own product, and a better one at that.
Cleaning and Sanitizing
Before my first use I cleaned the FermTank very well with hot water and PBW to make sure that no oils were left from manufacturing. During the first cleaning, I knew that I was going to love this fermenter. The dump valve on the bottom is a game changer for cleaning. The whole fermenter fit in my utility sink without ever having to pick it up and dump it out. It was clean in minutes and I didn’t get soaked like I usually do cleaning my fermenters.
Sanitizing was as easy as spraying Star San solution throughout the inside of the fermenter, lid, and valves. It was much easier than cleaning and sanitizing a carboy or the Catalyst fermenter.
Out of the box, the FermTank is set up to be used with a blow-off tube rather than a standard airlock, probably because it keeps the height just low enough to fit in many fermentation chambers. With everything on the lowest setting, it stands 25.5″ (advertised as 27″ just to be safe) to the top of the barb for the blowoff tube if the barb is installed on the lower lid port rather than the one on the top. The extendable legs rise an additional 3″ to a total height of 30″.
Because it’s stainless steel, there is no concern of light skunking your beer, and it can easily be used with a heating and/or cooling kit to maintain consistent fermentation temperatures. There is also an optional neoprene jacket for the FermTank that helps insulate it.
The thermowell works perfectly. The included thermometer is accurate, but it was a bit small and I opted to use my Inkbird ITC-308 temperature controller with the thermowell to monitor and control temperatures. I didn’t have any issues with temperature accuracy.
Transferring and Dumping
Transferring was very easy. When without the pressure transfer kit, I was able to do a closed transfer to a keg without any problems. I recommend the pressure transfer kit, though, because it makes the process a little bit easier and removes any concern of oxidation.
Delta Brewing Systems does not claim that the bottom valve is able to be used for harvesting yeast, but several people have reported that they were able to do so without issue. I was not able to, but I am planning on trying again on the next batch.
Again, this is where the Delta Brewing Systems FermTank really shines (haha, get it?). Cleaning was easier than any other fermenter I have ever used. Between the stainless steel construction and dump valve, it only took a minute or two to clean it. The ease of cleaning alone makes this my favorite fermenter.
I love this fermenter and can’t believe it was under $200 with all of the features it includes. I think it’s better than the average stainless steel bucket fermenter, and I definitely don’t think you can beat it for the price. If you’re in the market for a stainless steel fermenter and have about $200 to spend, I highly recommend you consider the Delta Brewing Systems FermTank! I am extremely happy with mine and plan to buy another one soon!
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Thanks for Reading!
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