Brewtools has emerged as one of the leaders of the homebrewing industry, designing sophisticated brewing equipment with great attention to detail and excellent quality. I’ve been a distant admirer of the Brewtools line of fermenters since they first launched their initial sneak peek in 2021. In my quest to review every popular fermenter on the market, I absolutely had to see if this unitank lived up to my wild imagination.
Brewtools offers 6 “F” model fermenters, supporting 5.2-76 gallons of wort. Today, I’ll be walking you through the F40 (40 liters), which is the smallest unit capable of fermenting batches from 5.2-10.2 gallons. I’m going to break down every aspect of this fermenter and talk about my experiences assembling and actually fermenting in the unit. Let’s dive into all of the specifics!
Brewtools’ F40 is a 13.5-gallon/40-litre unitank fermenter, featuring top-of-the-line attachments and pro-level capabilities at every corner. Outside of the Brewer’s Hardware unitanks, the F40 was one of the first unitanks to offer a glycol jacket at the homebrew scale. This makes cleaning that much easier and also keeps your center lid port free for larger accessories and easy hop additions.
Out of the box, the F40 comes with everything you need to get fermenting. The kit comes with a long list of attachments and a surprising amount of hardware. It’s probably one of the few fermenters that comes fully stocked with every bell and whistle included in the box. The fermenter is pressure-rated up to 30 PSI (2 bar) and can be used for pressure fermentation and carbonating finished beer.
What I appreciate about this approach is the easy buying experience. You don’t need to sift through pages of attachments to determine what you’ll actually need. With that said, there were a few items that weren’t in the box that you may want to consider.
The F40 does not come with any attachments associated with heating or cooling your fermenter. While I was initially surprised given it’s a glycol-jacketed fermenter, I understand that everyone has unique needs and may need to customize their cooling fittings a la carte.
I think it’s important to touch on the glycol jacket because there is some confusion in the industry.
- A jacketed fermenter is not a fermenter with a neoprene jacket. These are two entirely different functions. A glycol jacket is an enclosed chamber carrying temperature-controlled glycol and water. The chamber surrounds the inner wall of the fermenter, greatly improving heat exchange and eliminating the need for internal cooling coils.
- While this is a jacketed fermenter, the glycol jacket does not extend into the cone portion of the fermenter, it only serves the main body. Commercial fermenter jackets extend deep into the cone, increasing cooling surface area and efficiency.
- A full jacket is very expensive and would significantly increase the cost, weight, and size of the unit. The partial jacket seems to be the gold standard in homebrewing.
Extra Accessories to Consider
Here’s what I wish I knew before I received my F40:
- If you’re going to be using glycol with this unit, you will need to grab their glycol quick connectors and TC/FPT adapters. These fit standard glycol tubing and seal when disconnected so the glycol doesn’t leak out. I went with this female connection and this 90-male connection to prevent kinking. These screw into 2 34mm TC/FPT fittings.
- The blowoff arm uses a special 34mm TC and butterfly valve, meaning you will need a 34mm fitting for attaching a blowoff tube at the bottom. I used this barb to attach to the end of the BV so I could submerge a tube in sanitizer solution during active fermentation.
- The F40 does not come with a thermowell. You will want to add one of these for your temp probes.
- The heating package is sold separately (understandably) and has a dedicated port on the fermenter. This is the only fermenter that offers a specialized internal heating element that won’t cook your beer. The part comes without an actual plug, so you will need to wire one yourself. I found this to be incredibly useful for warming my beer after soft crashing. I used an Inkbird controller to manage the temperature during this step.
- I don’t typically use a carb stone, however, they offer a 34mm TC fitting carb package.
What I Love About the F40
I could go on and on about features, but I thought I would list out some quick hit thoughts on the fermenter.
- The top port is very large and features an 8-inch TC cap with a 4-inch accessory port. This is phenomenal for easy cleaning and access. The supplied TC tightening rod is a nice touch!
- FLEXIBILITY. The 13.5-gallon capacity allows you to ferment 5.5 to 10-gallon batches safely and effectively! YES!
- There are a total of 13 different TC ports on this fermenter. Not even pro fermenters have this many options!
- The blowoff arm attaches to the side of the unit for stability. Not only does this look cool but it’s highly functional. You don’t have to worry about it breaking from normal use.
- The legs are fully adjustable so you can raise and lower the unit. This eliminates the need to buy extensions. The unit does need to be flipped over to adjust the legs as they’re secured with bolts via the supplied Allen wrench.
- The unit is surprisingly easy to move. It looks like it should weigh about twice as much as it actually does. Don’t confuse this with cheap quality.
- The finish is matte and cleans very easily.
- The finish and welding are absolutely flawless.
- The dump port is 2 inches for easier dumping.
- The body has a dedicated port for sampling, eliminating the need for changing accessories.
- The fermenter comes with a pressure gauge and gas post! If you want to safely ferment under pressure, you will need a spunding valve.
Using the Fermenter
My fermenter trials were very straightforward. I fermented a NEIPA, dry hopped under 10PSI using my spunding valve, soft crashed and dumped yeast, cold crashed, and pressure transferred to a serving keg where I conditioned until ready to serve. The fermenter performed exactly as I hoped and did a fantastic job maintaining steady temps during the summer months. The combination of the glycol jacket and the included neoprene jacket makes a huge difference in performance.
Cleaning the fermenter was also just as easy. As mentioned, the oversized TC cap makes hosing down the inside incredibly simple. I always opt for CIP, however, I like to do an initial dump and rinse to remove the bulk of trub from the cone.
One aspect I was slightly concerned about was cleaning the numerous ports on the body. Every additional TC port is one more spot for gunk to hide. The good news is these did not pose a problem. The body walls are not overly thick, meaning a good CIP regime will take care of all surfaces and nooks. As mentioned, a quick spray with a hose through the top works wonders on getting 90% of the initial trub and krausen washed away.
If you look below you will see some mild watermarks on the interior wall. I can assure you the fermenter is clean, however due to the nature of the finish, some discoloration may occur.
I don’t have any complaints about the F40 fermenter. The only thing I can pick on is the unit’s cold-crashing ability during my trials. I typically shoot for 35°F during a cold crash, however, I was only able to get the unit down to about 37-38°F on a 9-gallon batch and 40°F on a 5-gallon batch ( I may have been a little shy of the minimum recommended volume here so likely my fault). I’m guessing the smaller batch size contributed to the reduced cooling efficiency given the placement of the jacket.
The above is unarguably a picky critique. 37°F is very cold and still serves as an effective cold crash. It’s certainly not a deal breaker and not something that would prevent me from buying a slew of these. One of the biggest benefits of this fermenter is the ability to crash and cool both 5 and 10-gallon batches in a single unit. This gives you tremendous flexibility and is something to really consider when evaluating fermenters.
One last thing to mention is the unit’s unique 34mm TC connections sprinkled throughout the fermenter. Brewtools offers a host of accessories and several additional TC ports in the 34mm size. While this isn’t necessarily a downside, you need to account for the inability to use existing 1.5 TC accessories for those ports. Just something to note when considering accessories for this fermenter.
Just writing about this fermenter gets me really hyped to brew another batch. Overall, the F40 is a beast of a fermenter and just might be my new favorite fermenter in my brewery. While the $1,849 USD may seem steep for 5-gallon batches, it’s technically a 10-gallon unit. Regardless of the price, it’s absolutely worth the money. The build quality, attention to detail, and dedication that went into this product are written all over it. If you’re considering a new homebrew or even a nano brewery, Brewtools fermenters should be at the top of your list!