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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > General Techniques > Checking brew during fermentation
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Old 12-29-2004, 01:10 AM   #1
rightwingnut
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Default Checking brew during fermentation

I read a lot about checking the brew during the fermentation process...to see if there is activity, and to measure the specific gravity and such...I'll be using a plastic pail...is it ok to open it during fermentation to check on it? Wouldn't that risk contamination?

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Old 12-29-2004, 01:39 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by rightwingnut
I read a lot about checking the brew during the fermentation process...to see if there is activity, and to measure the specific gravity and such...I'll be using a plastic pail...is it ok to open it during fermentation to check on it? Wouldn't that risk contamination?
I had to do that with my last batch. I opened it twice, and didn't find it to cause any problems. I just wouldn't leave it open for more than a few seconds, though.
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Old 12-29-2004, 10:30 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rightwingnut
I read a lot about checking the brew during the fermentation process...to see if there is activity, and to measure the specific gravity and such...I'll be using a plastic pail...is it ok to open it during fermentation to check on it? Wouldn't that risk contamination?
You'll read a lot in the books about checking your beer as it ferments, and in my opinion, it's all crap. There is almost no need to check your beer while it is fermenting. Yes, it absolutely risks contamination, and for little or no gain.

I have been brewing for over 15 years and I don't even own a hydrometer anymore. I brew, put it in a primary, let it ferment one week, then rack to secondary. The beer is done fermenting when the bubbles stop. Then I put it in kegs. Who really cares about gravity?

Now, if you just *have* to know, then check it I guess. But it won't make your beer any better in the end and it risks infection, so to me it's just silly.

The whole gravity thing is one area where I think the books overcomplicate matters. Fermentation works. There will be some quantity of alcohol in it when it's done. Whether or not you checked it half a dozen times along the way won't change any of that.

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Old 02-02-2005, 05:13 AM   #4
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Risk of contamination? Good question. What's the environment you're brewing in? Nuclear power plant? City dump? Your kitchen/garage?

Chances are - no. Many beers are brewed using the open fermentation process (not covered).

Just try to keep it to a minimum.

As for your hydrometer reading...get one and use it. Someone is bound to ask you what the alcohol content is.

I've had a Czech Bud cold lagering for several months. I check the gravity weekly and it's been lowering every week. I can't stand around to see if there are any bubbles for 20 minutes, etc. There's better things to do with my time.

As far as Janx's 15+ years experience...well, let's just say what works for him may not necessarily work for you.

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Old 02-02-2005, 07:06 AM   #5
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My question is: Why do you want to bother checking it during fermentation? The reason you take fg is to find out how it's attenuated, right? So why not wait until it's done? Pour off a little into your hydrometer tube when you bottle. That way you know fermentation is done, so your measurements will be accurate, and you won't be exposing your beer to the open air any more then you really need to.

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Old 02-02-2005, 09:07 AM   #6
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I use plastic "cling wrap" held on with a large rubber band, instead of a lid and airlock. I just put a small pin hole in it to let the gas escape. This way you can just look in and see what is going on. While it is fermenting there is no easy way for anything to get inside because the plastic is usually bulging under the pressure with large quanitities of gas coming out of the pin hole.

When fermentation is really slowed down I rack it to a secondary fermenter with proper lid and airlock but by then I know fermentation is nearly complete and don't need to look in to check.

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