DIY 15 gallon fermenter for under $40

This DIY fermenter is the easiest one I've ever made. It only takes 5 easy steps and just requires simple tools, and It only cost me $38. This thing works so well for me, I have built two of them and plan to build at least one more.

In this tutorial I'm going to take you step by step with clear pictures through this build start to finish. If by the end you have questions, leave a comment at the bottom of this post. I check comments daily.

The first thing you need to do is gather parts, supplies and tools. Let's start with the tools.

Tools Needed

  • 2 Medium channel lock pliers
  • 1 Drill
  • 1 hand saw, any kind will do, hack saw, wood saw, but the thinner blades work best
  • 1 1/8" Hole saw bit or paddle saw bit
  • Some Teflon tape


A food grade plastic barrel. The one I used is a 15 gallon used barrel I got at my local farmers coop. It was used to transport garlic and has a screw on top. You can use any size barrel that most appropriately works for the size batches you want to make. If you can't find something suitable in your local area Amazon has different sizes and styled barrels.

15 gallon food grade barrel

One 1/2" bulkhead double threaded adapter. These can sometimes be hard to find at your local hardware store, but Amazon has reasonably priced bulkheads

1/2" bulkhead adapter

Your local hardware should have all these parts.

1- 1/2" PVC Tee fitting

2- 1/2" Street 90 elbows

1- 1/2" PVC piece 1" long

3- 1/2" PVC pieces 7" long

1- 1/2" PVC threaded male adapter

3- 1/2" PVC caps

A 1/2" threaded water valve. Any kind of valve works really, but I chose this one. It was inexpensive and works well.

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The Super Simple Beginner recipe is one of the best recipes for someone just starting out in home distilling. As the name implies, it is super simple. What's amazing though is that it tastes great. It is surprising how smooth it is for such a simple sugar mash.

The bundle also includes the easy to follow eBook "The Beginner's Guide to Moonshine: Start to Finish". I wrote this eBook to go along with the Super Simple Beginners Recipe and the ingredients kit has everything you need to run this recipe. I have made it as easy as I can for you to get started making your own moonshine.

You can call off your search for that easy beginner recipe, or that ingredients kit that has everything you need, or even that instruction eBook to walk you step by step through the entire process. This bundle has everything you need except the sugar and the water.

Step 1 - Drill the bulkhead hole

Use your 1 1/8" bit to drill a hole near the bottom of the barrel. You want to drill up from the botton just enough to make sure the bulkhead seals. Notice in the picture my hole is up about a 3/4" from the bottom of the barrel. Be sure to clean up any plastic burs from the drill bit with a razor or pocket knife.

Step 2 - Insert bulkhead into the hole

Before you insert the bulkhead it is a good time to go ahead and thread on the 1/2" PVC male adapter. You want to screw it into the side of the bulkhead that is opposite of the side that receives the nut. You don't have to use any Teflon tape on this joint, and you only have to screw it in as tight as you can get it by hand.

Now insert the bulkhead with the nut side facing out , and the rubber washer goes on the inside of the barrel. NOTE: The nut is a reverse thread so it will screw on opposite from normal nuts.

1/2" bulkhead adapter

Step 3 - Cut Slits in 7" PVC pieces

For this step I used a vice to hold the PVC pieces. This isn't necessary, but I think it sure makes it easier. All you need to do is cut slits in the PVC about a 1/4" inch apart from each other and about a third of the way through the thickness of the PVC pipe. Leave about an inch from each end uncut to allow the piece to slid into the PVC fittings at each end.

Step 4 - Assemble and insert the PVC Manifold

Assemble the manifold just as you see in the picture. You don't have to glue any of these pieces. The first one of these I built I glued the manifold together, and it works fine, but I realized if I want to modify the manifold in some way I just have to build another one. Leaving the pieces un-glued allows for easy modification in the future. And it doesn't matter if these joints leak. It's designed to allow wash to seep in anyway.

Now, insert the manifold into the male adapter that you threaded into the bulkhead. I also did not glue this joint. This allows for easy cleaning. When I want to clean up the fermenter I just disassemble the manifold and hose off the pieces.

Stepp 5 - Install the valve

Finally, thread your valve into the bulkhead. You definitely want to use the Teflon tape here. Wrap plenty of tape around the the half inch male thread and screw in the valve tight with the channel locks. This is the last step. You now have a fermenter that will drain your wash off the grain. Also you can add an airlock from Amazon to the lid, if you want. I have one fermenter that seals with an airlock and I have one that I don't seal the lid tight and it has no air lock If you have any questions drop them in the comment section at the bottom of this post and if you would like to watch a video about this build just click on the YouTube thumbnail below.

Watch the video of the first build of this fermenter.


DIY, diy fermenter, home-distilling, Moonshine for beginners

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