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Old 04-10-2014, 01:17 PM   #1
JustBob
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Default Hydrometer Madness

So Im brewing an American style lager, OG was around 1.046 and shooting for a little under 1.010 for FG. Its in the ferm chamber in the primary bubbling away for a week when it seems to stop. Ive seen this before, no panic but took the opportunity to move to the secondary as it seems the big Krausen is over. Took a reading of 1.020 but in the process of moving things around something tipped over and ever so gently broke the top of my hydrometer. A few choice words but no worries.

Next day fermentation takes off again and I have to replace the airlock with a blow out tube. It was very active for about a week (give or take a day). On my trip to my LHBS I pick up a new Hydrometer and when I get home I take a reading ... 1.020 again!

Now I might expect some difference between the two hydrometers but after a week of active fermentation I expected more movement than what I saw. My original hydrometer was a cheap one from my first starter kit. Wax in the bottom, it didn't even stand perfectly straight up and down in the liquid but I expected it was close enough for my purposes. The new one is nicer, with metal beads in the bottom and includes a thermometer but it isn't that special.

Obviously going forward I will just continue to use the new hydrometer but I wanted to ask... was I getting bad readings from the first one or have you all had a week of active bubbling but no movement on the gravity readings?

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Old 04-10-2014, 01:22 PM   #2
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I have seen some relatively slow bubbling without any fermentation going on. But, nothing that I would call "active."

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Old 04-10-2014, 01:22 PM   #3
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Possibly....
Be sure to calibrate your hydrometer, it should read 1.000 in 60F distilled water. If it doesn't you need to note the difference and apply that to all readings. Also, be sure to correct your readings for temperature if the samples are not at 60F
(Note: Check the hydrometer paper, it should say what the calibration temp is on the bottom in small print-most are 60 but I've seen some that are different.)

It is also important to ensure that fermentation is complete before racking to secondary as once you remove the beer from the primary yeast you risk a stall or stuck fermentation and under attenuation.

Since the beer really took off again it sounds like the first hydrometer was just way off and your initial 1.020 reading was just wrong. Give it a few days to work and take another sample to see where it's at.

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Old 04-10-2014, 01:23 PM   #4
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You should have seen a drop of at least a few points with a week of active fermentation.

A couple questions:
1. Did you ever calibrate your old hydrometer or the new one using distiller water? They should read 1.000 at 60F.
2. Was this extract or AG? What temp did you mash at. There's a chance you've just about run out of ferment able sugars if your mash temp was on the high side.


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Old 04-10-2014, 01:53 PM   #5
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To be honest I did not calibrate either hydrometer from sheer laziness I guess. It was one of first things I thought of and still didn't do it. Guess what I will be doing today? Of course I cant calibrate the old one now to compare between the two but I can at least know what I have now.

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As far as how active it was, it wasn't the most active thing I have seen but it was active enough to rise up to the top and fill up my air lock. Then again were talking a little over 5 gallons in a 6 gallon carboy. I just wasn't expecting it to over flow at that point.

duboman - thank you too for your comment. Its a bit of a different discussion but I always rack to the secondary prior to fermentation being completed. I started doing it because I read somewhere it was good to get the beer off the trub as soon as high krausen was over (or something to that effect). I then finish in the secondary before racking to a keg/bottling bucket. This isn't an unusual way to do it is it?

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It was an AG recipe.
5 lbs 8.0 oz Pale Malt (2 Row)
2 lbs 8.0 oz Corn, Flaked
1 lbs Rice, Flaked
Mashed at 152 for 90min
First runnings were 1.070 adjusted for temp and OG was actually 1.045.
Using Hallertauer and Tettnang hops and American Lager Yeast (White Labs WLP840)

Thanks for all your quick replies!!

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Old 04-10-2014, 02:34 PM   #6
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So racking off the yeast to prevent off flavors is basically an old wives tale, auto lysis is the concern but on the home brew scale it's a non issue.

In commercial settings when you have 1000's of pounds of wort sitting on and compressing the yeast is when it's a true concern.

Let your beer finish first, then rack if you so desire. Personally, unless I am adding fruit or oak or doing a big beer for bulk conditioning I do not use a secondary. All my beers start and finish in primary, clear and get packaged, even dry hopped too!

Cheers!


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Old 04-10-2014, 04:36 PM   #7
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Thanks for the advice!

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