Thursday 29 April 2021

FermZilla - All Rounder (30L) - Review

As part of my continuous journey in the pursuit of brewing better beer at home, I recently purchased the Kegland Fermzilla - All Rounder (30L) fermenter. My first 12 brews have been done on the very basic Coopers PET fermenter, and whilst it has served me well, I'm now looking into pressure fermentation and being able to perform closed transfers to move my beers from the fermenter to a keg - which I could not easily do with a Coopers fermenter, especially not without introducing oxygen into my fermented beer.

Enter the Fermzilla All Rounder. Available from KegLand - it's a very affordable and dynamic bit of kit. There is another Fermzilla model called the "conical", which is similar but boasts the extra feature of a removable collection jar and butterfly valve - features that at this stage I don't really need. These extra features also come at a cost and increased complexity of the unit. This in turn means more bits and pieces to clean, and more sources of air leaks which are especially problematic when dealing with pressure fermentation. 

Here are the key features/components of the Fermzilla All Rounder

  • 30L tank
  • Top lid assembly with removable air lock and pressure release valve
  • Stainless steel stand
  • Stainless handle assembly
  • Stick on thermometer and volume markings
I also opted for the pressure brewing kit which includes the following
  • Nylon web strapping (to attach the Fermzilla tank to the stainless steel stand)
  • 1 x red and 1 x yellow carbonation cap (used to connect liquid and gas lines)
  • Stainless steel float and silicone dip tube
  • Mesh filter attachment for the stainless float (to filter liquid going out through dip tube)
  • Integrated blow tie spunding valve
This review has been written after my first fermentation in the Fermzilla All Rounder. I opted for a simple Aussie Pale Ale - using US05 yeast. Whilst creating the brew (in my Brewzilla of course) I put together and tested the Fermzilla for leaks and was pleased to discover no obvious/major ones. It was holding pressure, and with gas pressure and some water inside, was not visibly leaking from anywhere when turned upside down. Awesome.

Putting the Fermzilla together was easy enough. One criticism is that there aren't any instructions included with it, but with a bit of thought and common sense it's easy enough to figure out. I've gone straight for the pressure fermentation option, so didn't need the included airlock - and the included carbonation caps screwed onto the lid without any issues at all. I love that they use the same simple thread as soft drink bottles - this means with a bit of ingenuity you can create customised contraptions for cleaning beer lines and carbonation caps using a good old coke bottle.

The included dip tube needs to be cut to length as the included length of line is far too long -  so I measured the length to a half inch or so above touching the bottom of the vessel (to avoid trub getting sucked up via the dip tube). I suspect the longer length is required for the larger 60L version - and they keep it the same to streamline the manufacturing process. Cutting it and having a spare length of tube never hurts anyway.

Attaching the nylon strapping was also easier than I anticipated. There is a lot of left over strap material once tightened though so I bundled up the loose ends and secured them with rubber bands to make it neater. I suspect the long dip tube and nylon straps are to enable one size being manufactured and shipped for the 30L and 60L versions to keep costs down. Fair enough.

You can tell a fair amount of thought and engineering has gone into the Fermzilla. Something as simple as the size of the opening is important - too big and it will be hard to maintain pressure, and if it's too small then accessing the inside of the vessel (eg. for cleaning) would be difficult. Thankfully Kegland have done an excellent job at allowing a generous size opening - large enough to comfortably fit your entire hand and arm in to make cleaning a breeze. Filling it was easy too using the pump and recirculation arm from my Brewzilla.

The stainless float and mesh filter was a little fiddly to attach - and there are 3 different points on the filter that the floating ball can be attached to - testing is the key here to see how it affects the depth of the dip tube.

And finally, the integrated blow tie and spunding valve. To calibrate my spunding valve I closed the valve all the way (tightened the adjustment as tight as it would go), then attached it to a keg that was filled with 10psi of CO2 gas. I adjusted by slowly opening the valve until I could hear/feel gas escaping and that was it.

One of the biggest problems with pressure fermenting is the susceptibility to leaks - which at least according to Fermzilla and Kegland Facebook user groups, seems somewhat prevalent with the Fermzilla's. There's definitely a mixture of user error and equipment failure that causes this - and I wasn't exempt from any problems myself which I will get to shortly.

Back to the first fermentation - my boiled wort transferred easily to the Fermzilla - dry yeast sprinkled on top, plenty of lube around the lid seal before fitting (to help prevent leaks), lid screwed on (firmly, but not too tight), handle and stand already attached and we're good to go. Fermzilla in the fridge and inkbird temperature probe attached to the side.

Lid on - ready to go!

I attached the spunding valve and after approximately 24 hours was seeing some very small signs of fermentation - and surprisingly the spunding valve gauge was already reading about 1psi. Beauty - at least it's holding pressure!

The spunding valve worked well during fermentation, however I think the readings from the built-in spunding valve gauge should be taken with a grain of salt. When comparing it to the reading on the gauge of my CO2 gas regulator, there was at least 2-3 psi discrepancy between them. Will definitely keep this in mind when calibrating the gauge next time.

Fermzilla in the ferment fridge with inkbird probe attached

Fermentation completed and I was surprised to see that overnight the pressure had dropped to 0psi. Seems strange, but perhaps all the gas was absorbed by the beer? So I charged it up with 20psi from my CO2 tank and sure enough, overnight it dropped back to 0psi. Almost certainly a leak, but after spraying the entire lid and carbonation caps repeatedly with a soap solution, I was unable to locate any leak/air bubbles forming.

Fermentation underway with spunding valve attached

Long story short, after much fiddling, I believe the leak was fixed by tightening one of the carbonation caps a little more - I was wary not to over tighten them initially as I had read from others that this can cause problems, but in this case another 1/8 turn was enough to seal it and stop the leak. This also explains why I couldn't locate the leak as I wouldn't be able to see air bubbles forming underneath the carbonation cap and it was a very slow leak.

Another huge benefit of using a fermenter that can be pressurised is the ability to perform closed/pressure transfers. This is the process of transferring the fermented beer into another vessel (keg) without exposing it to oxygen. This also went very well - I'm sure that oxidation has played a massive part in the deterioration of some of my previous beers so I'm very keen to have (hopefully) eliminated this from by brews.

Transferring the fermented beer to a keg isn't even required as the Fermzilla can actually act as a keg in itself. In my case I transferred approximately 19 litres of beer into my keg and was left with 3-4 litres in the Fermzilla that I was able to drink directly by attaching CO2 and a beer gun to. Much easier than bottling, that's for sure. One thing to note on this is that Kegland have advised that beer should only be stored in the All Rounder for up to a few months before it will inevitably begin to leak. It is made of plastic afterall.

First pressure transfer from Fermzilla to Keg

Overall my first experience with the Fermzilla All Rounder was a hugely positive one. It was frustrating having to deal with an air leak, but the benefit of the All Rounder design is there's really only a few places that air can be leaking from. Lubricating and sufficiently tightening everything really is the answer. The price point of the Fermzilla makes it hugely attractive, even with the pressure kit, which really is a must have - and because it is made of plastic it is light, and cheaper than alternatives made of stainless steel. Would highly recommend it to anyone looking into advancing into pressurised fermentations.

A summary of the pros and cons is below;


  • Lightweight, durable and simple to put together
  • Affordable
  • Well engineered - good size opening, sturdy stand,
  • Pressure kit takes the guess work out of knowing what parts are required to get started
  • Simple design - leaks can only come from a few different places
  • True uni-tank - ferment and dispense from the one vessel
  • Clear plastic - you can watch your fementation happening
  • Pressure kit costs extra
  • Susceptible to leaks
  • No instructions
  • Spunding valve gauge appears to be inaccurate
  • Dip tube has to be cut to size
  • Nylon straps are far too long for the 30L unit
  • Plastic - not as strong/durable as stainless steel
  • Stick on measuring tape not particularly accurate

Check out some of our other FermZilla related posts below;

FermZilla - Hints, Tips and Tricks

How to Dry Hop in a FermZilla All Rounder

FermZilla - How to Open Stuck Lid

FermZilla - Leak Troubleshooting Guide

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