Fermentation is by far the most important part of the brewing process and one of its key aspects is temperature since a higher or lower temperature could severely impact the quality of the end result.
In this article, I will be going over the three best fermenters you can buy that also allow you to control the fermentation temperature automatically and with ease since all you need to do is set it to a specific temperature and the fermenter will do the rest.
I only include these three because, first, there aren’t many available, and second, because one is mostly aimed at people with a limited budget (about $200) and the other two are much more expensive ($700-$1800).
The cheaper one offers only heating control while the more expensive one allows for heating and cooling.
So, without any further ado, let’s get started!
Why go with a stainless steel fermenter with built-in temperature control?
If you’ve been brewing beer for some time now, you may be considering ditching the plastic fermenters or glass carboys and going with a stainless steel one since they can virtually last you forever, they are very easy to clean, there’s less risk of contamination as stainless steel doesn’t scratch like plastic does, etc.
If you combine all of the above-mentioned benefits of stainless steel fermenters with having the ability to control the fermentation temperature at the press of a button, you will be able to produce higher-quality beer more consistently.
This is especially useful in colder climates where ale fermentation is more of a seasonal affair, as the cold climate can easily lower the wort’s temperature not allowing the yeast to properly ferment.
The only drawback worth considering is that plastic and glass fermenters are much cheaper to buy than stainless steel ones (but they can break more easily or scratch, at least in the case of plastic fermenters).
If you’re looking for a great and not so expensive solution that will last you forever, then stainless steel fermenters are a great choice, especially if they offer temp control.
Best Beer Fermenters with built-in Temperature Control
Let’s get straight into the list of the conical fermenters, starting with the one I consider to be the best for most people because of how cost-efficient it is:
The Bucket Buddy (≈$210)
Best bang-for-your-buck (only offers heating)
The Bucket Buddy is a stainless steel fermenter with built-in heating control that offers a total capacity of 35L or 9.25 Gallons.
The integrated 36W heating element, which is located at the base of the fermenter, can be controlled via a digital temperature control, and if the temperature drops below the threshold you set, it will automatically start heating up the wort from the bottom up until it reaches the desired temperature, allowing you have in-depth control over the fermentation.
This fermenter only allows you to heat up the wort in case the temperature drops, which is why it’s recommended for cooler climates.
For cooling, you can place the fermenter in a refrigerator or install a Temp Twister Cooling Coi by drilling a hole into the lid, and then a temperature controller probe can be taped to the side of the fermenter to control your cooling source.
Another benefit of the Bucket Buddy fermenter is its domed base, which is great for yeast flocculation when fermentation is complete and which allows you to transfer the beer while leaving the yeast cake behind with the included racking arm (which is also very easy to clean and sanitize because the racking arm and the ball valve assembly are weldless, and they can even be boiled to make sure they have been sterilized).
Lastly, the Bucket Buddy comes with silicone tubing to transfer from the ball valve to your bottles or cans, as well as a stopper and airlock for the domed lid.
- 304 stainless steel construction
- 9.25-gallon/35-Liters total capacity
- Digital temperature control
- 110V / 36W power
- Stainless steel outlet valve with rotating racking arm
- The temperature reads in °F or °C
- External Dimensions: 28″ H x 15″ W (including handles)
- Internal Dimensions: 22″ H x 11.75″ W
You can get the Bucket Buddy here: MoreBeer, Williams Brewing, Keg Land.
GF30 Conical Fermenter (≈$700)
All-around better option (can have cooling also)
The GF30 Conical Fermenter by Grainfather is by far the most expensive stainless steel fermenter on this list since it’s currently selling at about $650.
It has a capacity of 7 Gallons or 26 liters and it features a 30 Watt heating element located in the cavity between the cone and the outer body that can be controlled by a digital temperature controller and that is designed to heat the environment between the walls of the fermenter instead of the liquid directly, resulting in the wort getting heated in a uniform manner, which is much better for the yeast than using localized heating.
In addition to the heating element, and contrary to the previous fermentor on this list, the GF30 features a liquid cooling sleeve between the walls of the fermenter that can be hooked up to a glycol chiller.
When setting a specific temperature using the temperature controller, it will either activate the heating or cooling element, allowing you to finely dial-in the temperature your specific style of beer requires.
This means that you can brew ales in the winter as well as lagers in the summer without any issues.
As the name implies, it’s a conical fermenter designed at a 60º angle which allows for proper yeast flocculation without it getting stuck on the sides of the fermenter, and this lets you transfer the beer to another fermenter, or even bottle directly, from above the sediment line and without transferring any of that sediment to the other container, and this is all done through a dual tape valve which also allows you to dump yeast and take beer samples.
In addition to all of this, the GF30 can be controlled over WiFi using the Grainfather App on any mobile device, which lets you control the fermentation temperature from anywhere plus it also offers in-depth tracking.
- Size: 36 x 14’’
- Weight: 22lb
- Capacity: 8 US Gal
- Max Fermentation Volume: 7 US Gal
- Power: 12V, 30W
- Connectivity: WiFi control
- Cone Angle: 60°
You can get the Grainfather GF30 here: Williamsbrewing, Grainfather.
Brewbuilt X1 Uni Pro (≈$1500-$1900)
The most advanced homebrewing fermenter!
The BrewBuilt X1 fermenter is by far the most expensive one on this list, but also the most advanced one. You can get it in three sizes: 7 Gallon, 14 Gallon, and 27 Gallon.
This is a self-contained conical fermenter, meaning that it doesn’t require any external source, such as a refrigerator, glycol chiller, etc. to cool the wort since it uses Peltier technology to do so.
The “Peltier Effect” occurs when an electric current runs through a circuit of dissimilar conducting metals. This thermoelectric reaction that happens when the current passes from one metal to the other can produce either cold or heat depending on the direction the current is flowing.
For heating, the X1 Uni Pro relies on a low-watt density pad inside the neoprene jacket that gently raises the temperature of the wort from the bottom up, and if you combine these two technologies, you get a very efficient and precise temperature control.
It also features a pasteurizable flex chamber that can be used to harvest yeast, removing the trub, etc., and that attaches directly to the butterfly dump valve.
In addition to this, it’s one of the only fermenters that allows you to ferment, carbonate, and even serve finished beer directly from the vessel without introducing any oxygen and ruining your beer.
You can get the BrewBuilt X1 Uni Pro here: More Beer.
Can you use a Mash Tun for fermenting Beer?
Mash Tunes are designed to, well, mash and then boil your wort and aren’t really made to maintain it at a low temperature since most of them have a minimum temperature of 30°C, which is way too high for ales and lagers.
However, they are ideal for fermenting kveik yeasts since these require much higher temperatures than ale yeasts.
You can, however, use a mash tun to ferment any beer as long as maintaining the temperature inside it isn’t a problem, but you will only be able to control said temperature using the built-in heating element when fermenting kveik yeasts.
Now, since the lids on these mash tuns aren’t designed to be as air-tight as fermenters are, and they also don’t offer a hole to put an airlock in.
In this case, you will either need to buy a different lid, or you could risk it and drill a hole into it, and then use one of these rubber stoppers to insert the airlock into.
I’ve seen some people use this method and it works really well for them, but you would need to make 100% sure that it’s airtight, etc.
Which fermenter should you get?
For most people, the Bucket Buddy is the way to go since it’s 4-8 times cheaper than the other two, especially if you’re brewing ales and you don’t need a fermenter with built-in cooling as well.
As I mentioned, fermentation is the most important part of the whole brewing process and it’s why you should pay special attention to the fermenter you use, and stainless steel is your best bet.
The interesting thing is that buying a regular conical stainless steel fermenter isn’t much more affordable than going with the Bucket Buddy which also has built-in heating, making it a great choice for anyone living in a cool climate.