What Is a Fermenter?

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Brewing requires equipment that will aid in the creation of beer. One important piece of equipment is a fermenter. You can’t have beer without fermentation; a fermenter is where this all takes place. So, what is a fermenter, and how does it work to aid the brewing process?

What Is a Fermenter?

A fermenter is a vessel in which yeast converts sugars in wort (unfermented beer) into alcohol. It is one of the key pieces of equipment in brewing beer. Most of the fermenters are made of stainless steel; however, you can also find fermenters made of plastic or glass suitable for homebrewing. 

Man checking the quality of his beer

A fermenter contains an airlock or blow-off tube, which allows carbon dioxide to escape while preventing oxygen and other contaminants from entering. Most fermenters have a spigot near the bottom, which transfers the beer to a bottling pail or secondary fermentation.

If you plan to have a fermenter, ensure it is sanitized before each use. This will help in preventing infection and off-flavors in your beer. You can use non-rinse sanitizer, boil it in water, or use ultraviolet light to sanitize your fermenter.

How Does a Fermenter Work?

The process of fermentation is key to brewing beer. It is the conversion of sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide by yeast. The yeast consumes the sugar and creates alcohol and carbon dioxide gas. The carbon dioxide gas escapes through the airlock, and the alcohol remains in the beer.

The fermenter also has a spigot near the bottom, which transfers the beer to a carboy for secondary fermentation. This process allows the yeast to settle out of the beer, and the beer will be clearer as a result.

The spigot also helps to reduce the entry of germs and contaminants that could spoil the beer. This is because you will not be required to open the fermenter during the transfer process. Also, when the beer is transferred to a bottling bucket or carboy, it will leave sediment behind in the fermenter.

Types of Fermenters

Fermenters have dominated the brewing industry for many years. They come in different shapes and sizes; however, they all serve the same purpose. The following are the most common types of fermenters.

Plastic Buckets

Plastic buckets are the most common type of fermenter used by homebrewers. If you are new to brewing, you should start with a plastic bucket fermenter. Plastic buckets are easy to use and clean. Some of them come with a spigot, which makes transferring the beer to a bottling bucket or carboy easier.

Buckets are also small, and one can store them in a fridge. They also cost less than other types of fermenters. The main disadvantage of plastic buckets is that they are not as durable as stainless steel fermenters.

Glass Carboys

Glass carboys are another type of fermenter that is popular among homebrewers. They are made of thick glass, which makes them durable. Glass carboys are also easy to sanitize one can see through them to monitor the fermentation process.

Man pouring beer out of a fermenter

The main disadvantage of glass carboys is that they are fragile and can break easily. They are also heavy and difficult to move around.

Stainless Steel Fermenters

These fermenters are the most popular type of fermenter used by commercial breweries. They are durable, easy to clean, and do not add flavor to the beer. Most of them also come with a spigot, which makes transferring the beer to a bottling bucket easier.

Most modern stainless steel fermenters have a conical bottom. This allows the yeast to settle out of the beer more easily. The conical bottom also makes transferring the beer to a bottling bucket or carboy easier.

Benefits of Having a Fermenter 

There are many benefits of using a fermenter. The following are some of the most important benefits.

  • Improved Beer Quality: This is because fermentation occurs in a controlled environment. This means that the beer is less likely to be exposed to contaminants that could spoil it.
  • Better Flavor: When you use a fermenter, you can control the flavor of your beer. This is because you can add ingredients to the fermenter to influence the beer’s flavour.
  • Easier to Use: Fermenters are easier to use than other fermentation methods. This is because you can easily control fermentation’s temperature and other conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Use a Plastic Bucket as a Fermenter?

Yes, you can use a plastic bucket as a fermenter. Plastic buckets are the most common type of fermenter. They are inexpensive and easy to clean.

What Are the Different Types of Fermenters?

The three most common types of fermenters are plastic buckets, glass carboys, and stainless steel conical fermenters. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages that you should consider before choosing a fermenter.


Fermenters are essential for any brewer, whether you are a commercial brewery or a homebrewer. By providing the correct environment for yeast to thrive, fermenters allow you to create the perfect conditions for fermentation and impact the final flavor of your beer.