Fastferment conical review tips and tricks and pros and cons

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someirishman

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Hey guys, I am making a thread about these plastic conicals and what my thoughts are using them to make wine, Firstly I am not associated with the company in anyway, I have been making beer for years and over the last year I've started wine kits. I started with buckets but grew tired of racking 3 or 4 times during all the stages of fermenting so ended up trying the conical. settle in and pour a glass of wine for a long read.

Ok first thing I should say is I have 3 of these conicals and two of them are different, I think an old version and a newer version (bought them all from same store) Old version has a thin lid with a thin foam type seal ring on the lid,it does not form a great seal on the lid without lots of Vaseline.
The newer one has a wider lid with better grip and comes with a very thick round rubber ring for the lid and seals air tight for sure.

Second thing, There is two types of wine kits I have used. Cheaper kits ask to rack after secondary before clarifying and some winexpert kits say not to rack after secondary and to mix yeast back into the wine for the clearing agent to work properly. I will do two examples here of how I make both kits in the conical.

KIT 1 cheaper kit 7.5 liters of concentrate to make 23 liters of wine.

Because the wine has very little contact with the sediment (half inch) opening to collection ball there is really no point in removing collection ball at 1.010. The wine is not sitting on a large flat bucket in contact with the lees, I leave valve open until wine is fully fermented, normally wines in the conical finish at 0.992 where as the same kit in bucket finishes at 0.996. I cant explain why it ferments down more but it does, After wine is finished at at 0.992 -0.994 I closed the collection valve and degass with a drill and paddle, after adding stabilizers/clearling agent I open valve again and leave it until its clear, then close valve and remove collection ball, this is the only time the collection ball is removed right before bottling, then attach bottling tube and a spring loaded bottling stick and bottle.

KIT 2 16 liter concentrate for 23 liters of wine.

When spending more on a good kit you might want to follow instructions more, for this kit I fill my collection ball just over half way with star san solution the add sterilized marbles until water reaches top of collection ball, Then I empty star san keeping marbles inside and attach collection ball before making the kit, this way you wont waste 400ml of wine each racking. when wine reaches 1.010 gravity I close valve remove collection ball and clean it and attach WITHOUT marbles and open valve. after wine is 0.992 - 0.994 I degass and I add clearing agents I then close the valve and remove collection ball and add the sediment into the wine from the top and mix sediment back into the wine (if the kit requires it) Then its back to the marbles to save 400ml or so, attach ball with marbles and open it and leave until clear, then close valve and attach bottling tube.

Now Its time for pros and cons

PROS.

1. Very handy not having to rack 3 or 4 times during the process just close valve and remove collection ball and racking is done without effort or work.

2. I have sampling port installed so Its super simple to take a gravity reading without opening lid or cleaning a wine thief.

3. Seems to ferment faster and better than using buckets, typically 5 days from 1.090 to 1.010 and 7 days then to get to 0.992. 12 days compared to say 20 days in buckets however I still leave it longer in the conical to be safe.

4. The wall brackets are handy and free up floor space, newer version has improvements in this area also, the bolts in newer version are longer and stick out more making it easy to attach to the bracket, old version has short bolts and screw in too far meaning you need to unscrew them a little. new version has different shaped brackets also but I've found no difference from old brackets.

CONS.

1. Old version does not seal at lid great, smaller narrow lid and poor flat foam type ring at lid, luckily the newer rubber rings can be bought for the older version which I will be buying soon. Can be difficult to get the lid on the right threads, requires alot of Vaseline to seal lid air tight.

2. Thermowell can not be removed and sticks way out into the conical making it a real pain in the **** to degass.

3. Degassing, this is the worst thing about the conical, no racking means alot more gas in the wine and its difficult to get the gas out, I use a drill with plastic paddle and cannot avoid hitting side of vessel with paddle and it needs very vigorous stirring for a few days at least.


Time for Tips.

1. Get some marbles if you intend removing collection ball at 1.010 and after secondary to avoid wasting wine, that way you only dump dead lees/sediment and not tasty wine.

2. Use lots of Vaseline on the threads of the lid, it makes the lid go on the right threads easier and makes a much better seal although the new version with fat rubber ring does make an airtight seal the Vaseline helps to open and close the lid.

3. put a spring loaded bottling stick on the bottling hose and you wont need to worry having the valve open to much or trying to stop and start the flow with a clamp every bottle.

4. When degassing which is the worst thing about this conical start on high speed with drill and whip the **** out of the wine until it foams up then leave the lid off for an hour, if you are worried about bugs etc put a cloth over lid, I find if I replace lid with 3 piece airlock the gas will go back into the wine and degassing will never end! After the first fast degassing you can reduce drill speed and degass as normal for another few days.

5. when valve is closed and you need to add stabilizers and clearing agents dissolve stabilizers in 100ml of cool water and only add to conical when you have the wine mixing, If you add without the wine being stirred the stabilizers etc will sink to the valve and bottom and wont get mixed into the wine, I have drill going before adding clearing agent, if you mess up and forget remove collection ball and put a jug under valve and pour a liter or so into a jug and add it back into the wine from above while stirring try to avoid this tho.


Final thoughts

One of the most talked about and most often reasons people don't use these for wine is the bulk ageing with too much head space and not an air tight seal. As I've said the newer version with wider lid is 3.5mm in width and old version is 3mm in width, It might not sound like much but it screws down alot more and makes an airtight seal. I personally don't bulk age always bottle age so it don't bother me but I can say without a doubt the wine will keep fine in the newer version for months without any problems, If you bulk age for a year or more you probably already have carboys for long term storage and would only use this for it being so handy and no longer needing a siphon and racking every couple of weeks.

Overall I am happy with the fastferment conical, they cost about 100 euros here and it sure does cut out a serious amount of work especially when making 3 kits at a time, few pics below of the old lid and the new lid and a side by side of the old version on left and new version on right

Any questions anyone has about these conical fire away and I will give you my honest answers as best I can to help you decide if you should get one.

IMG_20170430_144725.jpg

IMG_20170430_144842.jpg
 
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rustbucket

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Thank you so much for taking the time to write such a detailed review. I've wondered how the FastFerment conicals work for wine making.

Based on your review, I don't think that the FastFerment will work for me as I live in Miami and don't have an air conditioned utility room to mount them in. I never would have been able to reach that determination were it not for your review. You've helped me make an informed decision.
 

someirishman

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Thank you so much for taking the time to write such a detailed review. I've wondered how the FastFerment conicals work for wine making.

Based on your review, I don't think that the FastFerment will work for me as I live in Miami and don't have an air conditioned utility room to mount them in. I never would have been able to reach that determination were it not for your review. You've helped me make an informed decision.
You don't have to mount them on a wall you can get a stand for them also, costs about 30 bucks infact I have two on my walls and one on a stand, My brew room is in a spare bedroom. One of the perks of being single :)

Also for anyone interested the wine on the left is we selection Chilean merlot 16 liter and one on the right is kenridge showcase chenin blanc 16 liters.
 
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