26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on May 4, 2008
Anyone looking at the MiniBrew already knows this price is out of line, so I won't belabor that point; instead, I'll get on with a review of the unit since I do actually own one. Most homebrewers eventually get to the point where they want to move away from buckets and carboys as fermenters. Not that there is anything wrong with either of those items, but this hobby leads to new methods and devices just like any other hobby does. How many people started off with a spincast fishing outfit and ended up with a $25,000 Ranger bass boat with a load of accessories? Do you need all that to catch fish? Can you buy all the fish you'll ever want to eat for a tiny fraction of the price of the boat? A hobby is all about enjoyment, not about saving money. The best conicals are stainless, but you may find yourself hesitant to shell out the $600+ just to try one out. The logical alternative is a plastic unit and the minibrew is probably the best one available. In terms of construction it is well made of surprisingly heavy plastic. The walls are a full 1/4" thick, so don't fear that this is a lightweight affair subject to cracking easily. The only real disadvantage to this particular fermenter is......it's plastic! Plastic, unlike stainless, stretches with use, and I find that the valves constantly need to be re-tightened and even then there are small leaks. If I could make a suggestion to the manufacturer of this unit it would be to use stainless threaded fittings bonded into the two valve ports to help alleviate the leaks. I can't comment on yeast harvesting since I have not yet tried it (I still buy my yeast as needed), but it would work as well as with any other conical. I learned the hard way that brewing a chocolate cherry stout using whole cherries should not be done using this type of fermenter! The cherries clogged up both the bottom dump valve and the racking valve and after repeated attempts at unclogging the ports I resorted to siphoning the beer out. That batch was a very messy education for me, but from now on I'll use a bucket for that sort of beer. I should point out that there are alternatives for fermenting beer other than carboys, buckets and conicals. If you can locate a ten or fifteen gallon Corny keg (hard to find, but possible) you will have a stainless fermenter for much less than a stainless conical and the Corny will have some advantages over the conical. But, this is about the MiniBrew. It will do just what the manufacturer claims and is a whole lot cheaper than a stainless conical. It's rugged, tough, and will probably last a long time. Is it worth trying out? I think it is, which is why I bought one. In fact, if you decide to remain with 5-gallon batches this is probably the only conical you will ever need. Just be sure to locate it where an occasional drip won't hurt anything, or else put towels under it. One thing to note here: the airlock hole is sized for a carboy stopper, but my MiniBrew arrived with a very, very small stopper instead. I have a good selection of stoppers and it didn't matter, but someone else might not have any spares.
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on September 17, 2008
I have had this for about a year, you cannot believe the hassle in getting it. They shipped it twice to the wrong address. It was not until my CC company got involved that I finally received the dam thing. The idea is great, but the construction sucks. It is flimsy and unstable. If you want to clean it you need to jossel it around until you can remove it from the stand which by the way is really crappy.
Last but not least Hobby Beverage, the manufacture is a joke, I think they work out of van in some parking lot. Do yourself a favor look for the Vessel sold by Northern Brewer.
2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on February 16, 2008
Conical fermenters are great. Plastic conicals are good. This is a good plastic conical. Of course, you can buy it almost anywhere for $100 less than the price listed here. Just do a quick search on "plastic conical fermenter" and you'll be astounded that anyone would have the gall to charge $289 for this.