I have grown quite fond of my Speidel Fermenters with their handles and spigot design. However after a couple of uses there were some slight annoyances I wanted to address with a couple upgrades. One of the most important aspects of fermentation is temperature control. I personally dislike the $4 sticker thermometers so I needed to find a quality alternative for reading temperature. The next important thing is transferring. Speidel fermenters already have made a great effort in making this easier with a spigot at the bottom of the vessel, however, if you are using it for a secondary vessel (or even primary) there is a decent amount of loss as the spigot port isnt as low as it could be. Even with trub or a yeast cake at the base I had always found there was some loss and thats something I wanted to address. Lastly, at quick glance you dont really know information about how long the beer has been in there or even what beer it is. Ive had fermenters littered with painters tape and writing on it but I thought it was ugly and after a while the tape falls off. So I wanted to be able to write on the fermenters in a non permanent way.
While walking through Lowes I found a small spray can of chalkboard paint and thought, this is perfect! The Speidel fermenters have a nice open space on the fronts with plenty of room for writing. All I did was tape off a section and spray chalkboard paint on it. *Note* the paint is extremely dense and has massive over spray. Be sure to use news paper to cover any parts of the fermenter you do not want painted and cover what you are spraying on (floor/table). Its really that simple! Now I can write on the fermenter with chalk the date it was filled, OG, FG, date of additions etc, and it whips off easily with a wet sponge.
Upgrading to Racking Arm
Although the Speidel has a spigot at the bottom, as mentioned before there is a good amount of loss that you have when transferring. Well good old SsBrewTech comes to the rescue here with their 2pc racking arm that comes on their Brew Bucket and Brewmaster Edition Chronicals. Here is a link to the SsBrewTech Racking Arm . What is really nice about this piece from SsBrewTech is that it has a pickup arm that extends down to the bottom of the Speidel. You can also rotate the valve to pick up at the top of the trub/yeast as well. The installation is super easy and honestly convenient. With the Speidel fermenters they provide a solid screw cap that you can use to replace the spigot or the the blow off on the lid. All I did was drill a hole in that solid cap and mount the Racking Arm. Just a note though, the Racking Arm is made to fit a 17mm hole which is just smaller then 11/16ths. Do not use a 11/16ths drill bit as you will end up with to large of a hole and potential leaking. You can use a step bit and be careful or SsBrewTech offers a 17mm drill bit for drilling into Stainless Steel. I went ahead and got the drill bit from SsBrewTech as its designed for their accessories and would definitely use this in the future when upgrading my own equipment. Here is the link to their 17mm Drill Bit . Thats it, drill the hole and mount the racking arm. Make sure you sand down and spurs that might be present.
Upgrading the LCD Thermometer
The last think I wanted was a better way to monitor temperature then those stick on thermometer strips. While browsing the SsBrewTech site for the Racking Arm I noticed they sell their LCD Thermometer and Weldless Thermowell that are seen on all their fermenters. Here are the links to the Weldless Thermowell and LCD Thermometer. Again the thermowell is made to fit a 17mm hole. I highly recommend using the 17mm drill bit SsBrewTech offers as the Speidel fermenters wall thickness is pretty thick. Trying to use a step bit and get the hole even on both sides can be tricky and if you dont you are prone to leaking. Its not just a $5 cap that you are drilling into now its the fermenter so be as accurate as possible. I found a location right above the Racking Arm, drilled the hole and mounted the thermowell and lcd thermometer. Looks really clean in my opinion.
As you can see the pickup from the Racking Arm fits nicely and gets nice and low in the fermenter. The picture above is on the 60L (15.9g) Speidel and you can see youll be able to pick up atleast another inch worth of beer which could have been about a gallon of loss. I am a big fan of Speidel Fermenters and with a little help from SsBrewTech I was able to turn it into an amazing fermentation vessel. Happy Brewing!