SsBrewTech 14g Unitank Review

SsBrewtech’s Unitank is now available for home brew scale batches. We got our hands on one to check out!

 

Ssbrewtech a few years ago took the home brew market by storm with their stainless brew bucket. Over the years they have engineered some of the best home brewing equipment to hit the market. They didnt stop there, within the last year they began production on commercial brewing systems.  With the continued success at the commercial level, they never forgot their roots, home brewers.  Their Unitank was first available at 1bbl which was just out of reach for most home brewers until now.  Ssbrewtech has introduced their home brewing line up of Unitanks at the 7gal, 14gal and 1/2bbl sizings! Bringing commercial quality and design to the home brewers scale. We got our hands on the 14gal Unitank to take a look.

 

What is a Unitank and how is it different from a Conical?  Looking at them side by side, you probably wouldnt be able to tell the difference.  They are both fermenters and have the iconic conical shape. In a typical brewery you ferment in a fermenter, once the beer is done and clear you can transfer it into a brite tank to pressurize and carbonate.  Unitanks are designed to combine the fermenter and brite tank allowing you to ferment and pressurize to carbonate all within the same vessel.  So quick and dirty,  the difference is Unitanks you can pressurize to carbonate, Conicals you cannot.

 

Features

The Unitank is 17″ wide by 42.5″ tall and stands on 4 legs with adjustable feet and a stainless lower shelf. The 4 leg design makes this vessel very stable. When full, we bumped it a couple times and it was very sturdy.  Its designed for 5 to 10 gallon batches with the total volume of the vessel being 14 gallons.   Starting at the top, there are 3 TC ports, two 1.5″ and one 6″.  The two 1.5″TCs are equipped with a sanitary diaphram pressure gauge and a racking cane which includes a 3pc ball valve.  The 6″ is the center port where the large removable chiller coil is mounted.  The chiller coil itself has a 3″ TC port on it where a commercial grade 15psi pressure release valve is mounted.  The body of the vessel is a unibody design which means there are no lids or clamps.  Only welded fittings and TC ports.  The body of the vessel has three 1.5″ TC ports.  One is for the digital thermometer, one is for the carb stone and one is for the sanitary zwickle style sampling valve. Below the three ports on the cone is one 1.5″ TC racking port with a fully stainless butterfly valve as well as a 1.5″ TC bottom dump with a fully stainless butterfly valve. Additionally the vessel comes with a neoprene insulated jacket.  This is ready to use as a Unitank right out of the box.

 

Temperature Control

Temperature control is arguably the most important variable for your finished product.  You want to be able keep the temperature between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit (depending on the yeast) around 32 degrees Fahrenheit at which you can carbonate beer efficiently as well as cold condition a beer to clarify it.  SsBrewtechs Unitank comes equipped with a built in chilling coil and comes with a neoprene jacket to help reduce heat loss. No need to put it into a chest freezer, just connect it a chilling source such as a cooler with ice water or one of their glycol chiller.  SsBrewtech also offers a temperature control unit (FTS) available for purchase separately.

  

 

Pressure Transfer

Oxidation is a beers worst enemy.  Pressure transferring beer is the best way to reduce oxidation.  SsBrewtechs unitank is ready for pressure transfer directly out of the box.  Simply connect your gas line to the ball valve on the racking cane.  You are able to push the liquid from the top using 2-3psi and out of the transfer port or lower port of the conical.  This allows for complete closed transfer of liquid with minimal exposure to oxygen.  The really nice thing about this unit is that it comes equipped with a 15psi pressure release valve (PRV) which is great from a safety perspective. It also comes equipped with a pressure gauge so you can see the internal pressure of the vessel.  The unit is rated for 30psi which gives you a nice safety cushion as well knowing that you are not pushing the bounds of pressurization.

 

 

Carbonating

Carbonation is the big feature that makes this Conical a Unitank.  Out of the box SsBrewtechs unitank is ready to be used as a unitank.  As mentioned above the unit is rated to hold 30psi and is equipped with a 15psi 1.5″ TC sanitary PRV as well as a 1.5″ TC sanitary diaphragm pressure gauge.   What makes this unitank perfect for carbonating is the carb stone that is included.  Pressurization is pretty straight forward on the vessel. Connect your gas to the 2pc ball valve / carb stone and set your regulator to 20psi or so. Monitor the gauge on the top of the vessel for what the head pressure is.  Once the head pressure reaches the psi you are aiming for your beer is carbonated.  Whats really nice about this is you can carb a beer in 24-48 hours, not days or weeks like with a keg.   Few things to note when using this unitank, make sure everything is nice and tight. Check all your TC clamps and fittings and do a pressure test before putting beer into the vessel. We didnt have any issues but its always good to check a vessel before pressurizing.  When pulling samples its best to turn the gas off and purge off some of the pressure.  Or if you want to be fancy, SsBrewtech sells an attachment for the sample valve which is a coil that will help prevent the beer from foaming.

 

Overall Impression

SsBrewtechs Unitank is a commercial tank just at the home brewers scale.  Quality is top notch on this robust piece of equipment. What I love about this unit is that its 100% ready to perform as a unitank right out of the box.  Everything you need is included and engineered in a way to make the brew day easy.  From the PRV to the racking cane to the sample and carb stone ports, this unit was well thought out and purposely built.  Every fitting is a TC sanitary fitting and the vessel it self is of a unibody design.  That eased our mind 10 fold in regards to pressurizing the vessel.  Also the fact that the vessel was rated for 30psi, 2x what the recommended operating pressure is( 15psi) and manufacturer tested at 60psi, 4x the recommended operating pressure.  This unit was definitely impressive.  I would have liked to see etched volume markings inside the vessel so you can tell how much made it into the vessel.  I would have also liked casters to be included as opposed to purchased additionally. The 14gal has a little bit of weight behind it and without handles can be awkward to move. Other than that this unit was definitely impressive. As far as price, the 14 gal unitank costs $1099.  Its a hefty price tag but when you look at everything you are getting and the quality of what you are getting, it would cost more to try and build one piece by piece.  Overall, if you have the funds and are looking for an out of the box ready to use commercial grade unitank at the home brew level, there is no better option than this unit from SsBrewtech.