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Homebrew Tip: Inexpensive 15 Gallon Fermentation Vessel


So you are currently brewing 5 gallon batches and they keep turning out so damn good.  You start day dreaming about upgrading to a 15 gallon or larger system.  This is something that most homebrewers eventually go through.  The problem is, most of us lack the funds to upgrade to that larger system whenever we feel the initial urge.  Our extra cash is usually spent on craft beer mix packs that we refuse to give up.  There is no reason to max out your credit cards and drop 2-5k on some fancy stainless steel beer brewing system.  Upgrade layaway style!  Slowly buy the small things you need to upgrade to a larger system.  Doing this will also give you the opportunity to learn each component as you attain it.  Being creative is another great skill to unleash!

How about a CHEAP fermentation upgrade idea?

If you buy homebrew supplies from a local supply store,  you probably have a decent relationship with the employees.  These homebrew supply stores usually have Briess liquid extract barrels that eventually become empty.  Considering their priority is putting more extract out, these empty barrels get tossed in the garbage.  Ask them if you can have their next empty container.  They may have some sitting in the back waiting for you to ask.

The smaller extract barrels are what you are looking for.  They are food grade.  They have a liquid scale on them,  they have openings on the top, and they have a damn good handle! 15 gallons of beer is not easy to toss around. All you need to do is install a #13 rubber stopper with an elbow for your blow off and you are good to go.  These types of barrels are plastic so you will need to make sure you have optimal temperature control during the fermentation process.  If you can manage that,  your beer will ferment very good inside of one of these.

A handy scale on the side
Install a standard #13 rubber stopper and an elbow for your blow off hose.



  • Thanks for the write up on these vessels. I did just what the article said, hit up lhbs and they gave me one, It fits perfectly in my mini fridge!

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  • Charles

    How are you getting the beer out of the lme tank after primary fermentation is complete?

  • BeerMumbo

    I used a modified auto siphon at first and then installed a fermenter spigot with a backnut. Both worked well.

  • I picked one up myself and am planning to do the same…spigot in the small opening and lay the fermenter on its side like a wooden cask, filling it through the large opening and off gassing through large opening similar to the method you show in the post. I just need to confirm that there is enough volume below the large opening to hold all 11-12 gallons.