My long-term goal for my homebrew system is to approximate a professional setup at a five-gallon scale. Even at this super-nano size, it turns out that isn’t cheap. My latest baby step in that direction was to improve my fermentor. I’ve long used glass carboys or plastic buckets. Glass carboys are dangerous, and that tiny opening at the top is super inconvenient. Both carboys and buckets can require some extra transfers. I’ve grown increasingly wary of oxygen exposure after primary fermentation. I’ve had a couple of IPA batches with some off flavors that I attribute to oxidization.
I found the handy chart on this comparison of conical fermenters for home brewing:
My first thought was that I had to get that Spike Conical Unitank at the bottom of the chart. It’s comparable to a professional fermenter including a working pressure of 15 PSI, allowing you to pressure ferment, spund, carbonate, and pressure transfer all in a single vessel. Alas, the Spike Conical was not in the budget. Moving up the chart the Catalyst Fermentation System looked like a good bet with a more affordable price of $199.
The Catalyst Fermentation System is built from medical grade, BPA-free Tritan plastic. Tritan plastic is harder than the plastic used in the other plastic fermenters. The Catalyst’s 3″ butterfly dump valve connects to a standard wide-mouth mason jar. This allows you to use a glass mason jar for trub or yeast collection. The large mouth on the Catalyst makes it very easy to use.
I found the Catalyst to be very easy to use. It was easy to clean and I was able to ferment, dry hop, and bottle without transfers. My wort went straight from my mash tun into the Catalyst, and stayed there until bottling. It fermented in the Catalyst with the large lid easily removed for adding hops. It easily fits into an old refrigerator that I used with a temperature controller for fermentation. Once fermentation was complete I attached a mason jar to the butterfly valve to clear trub, then swapped that out for the bottling attachment and transferred the beer directly into the bottles.
Someday I’d still like to upgrade to a stainless steal conical fermenter. In the meantime, the Catalyst Fermentation System will do just fine and it is a big upgrade from the glass carboys and plastic buckets I had been using.