Upgrading Your Fermentation Tank

Upgrading Your Fermentation Tank

Mot of us start making wine in small batches. It’s more manageable and more affordable. However, at some point beginners grow up and want to move on to producing larger batches of wine. The first thing you’ll need to look at if your thinking of increasing your batch size is your fermentation tank. You could just get more fermentation containers, however, requires a lot of duplication of effort, especially when it comes to racking. Instead let’s take a look at what larger fermentation tanks are available to you. There are quite a few options out there ranging in container size, what it’s made out of, and how much it costs. In this article we’ll take a look at quite a few of these options so you can get an idea of what direction you might like to go as your production volumes increase. Speidel Plastic Fermentation Tanks These little guys look like plastic barrels. They come in sizes ranging from 3.2 gallons on up to 31.7 gallons. The smallest fermentation tank starts at around $35 while the big tank will run you around $150. Speidel tanks come with lids large enough to get your hands into them so that you can scrub them down, gently of course, to prepare them for holding your must. The lids also come equipped with air locks for an air tight seal. They’re constructed from food grade high density polyethylene (HDPE) much like the plastic fermentation buckets you may have used in the past. As such you’ll want to be careful not to scratch the surface of the plastic less you give spoilage micro-organisms a place to hang out. One really nice feature that these fermentation tanks include is a spigot at the base of the container so that you can rack without having to use a racking cane or auto-siphon. The drawback to this is that you must take special care to ensure that the spigot is completely clean and sanitized before racking. Sealed Steel Tanks The next size up in fermentation tanks are sealed steel tanks. As you can imagine when you go from HDPE plastic to stainless steel there’s quite a jump in price. However, when properly cared for a stainless steel tank could last a lifetime or two. What’s your legacy going to be? These tanks range come in 14 and 28 gallon sizes. The small tank costs around $120 and the larger tank $165. They are a fixed volume containers meaning that if you don’t have enough wine to fill the container you may have to consider using an inert gas to top it up. While these tanks would be great for fermentation and temporary storage the threaded lids do not seal air tight. The threads are molded and therefore not snug enough to prevent the passage of oxygen if fermentation is not rolling along. Variable Volume Steel Fermentation Tanks This is where things start to get fancy. These tanks are available in sizes ranging from 26 to 172 gallons. Now we’re talking! The lids on these tanks use a special inflatable gasket that allows the lid to be placed...

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