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Old 07-07-2009, 01:20 PM   #11
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So using the hydrometer is the way to go, huh?

I have only a vague idea on how to use a hydrometer. Here's what I think I'm supposed to do:

(1) Take a reading after my boiled wort has been chilled to somewhere below 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Record that reading.

(2) Take a reading after about 12 days of fermentation. Then again after 3 days. Once the hydrometer remains stable for 3 days, the beer is ready to bottle.

Is that right? If so, my only question is regarding what numbers I supposed to be checking for at the fermentation reading. Right now, I'd be confused. For example, if my reading after boiling was 1.010 and my reading during fermentation was 1.130, I'd be like, "okay... I've got these numbers, but what are they supposed to be telling me?"
OK, you're partially right...

When you take an initial reading, the OG, it's after the wort has cooled. In addition to that reading you also have to take a temperature reading so you can adjust the gravity reading. If the OG is 1.050 and the temp is 75 then you have to add 3 to the 50 making it 1.053 (See the chart that came with the hydrometer).

You can take a 2d, 3rd, 4th, etc., reading anytime you want, but make sure the kreusen (yeast) has already fallen. This could be 3 days or 10..., but be sure to take a temperature reading also so you can adjust your gravity readings.

Most yeast attenuates at 75%. If your OG is 1.050 (just use the 50) divide it by 4 for the projected FG, in this case 50/4=12.5, so 12-13 is in the range (1.012). The beers done fermenting. Time to rack to a secondary.

The secondary fermenter is actually for clearing and aging. No fermentation should be taking place although is you're greedy and suck up some yeast from the primary some activity may occur.

After your brew clears it's time to bottle.
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Old 07-07-2009, 02:25 PM   #12
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(1) When should I rack to my secondary fermenter.
Never?

No need.
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Old 07-07-2009, 04:42 PM   #13
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Lots of people don't rack to secondary anymore. Recent tasting have shown that it's not necessary for most beers. Yeast can be fine for several months under the right conditions, before they start to autolyize.

I'd still rack beers that are big and will sit for months on secondary, or lagers, or maybe even a dryhopped beer, but many don't even rack those.

That said, move it to secondary when major fermentation is complete. Use the method of choice to find out when that is. The secondary is help settle (clarify) the beer, and allow the yeast a bit more time to convert off-flavors. This can be done in the primary if the beer is not going to sit for months before bottling.

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Old 07-07-2009, 04:49 PM   #14
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Just b/c you've reached your FG doesn't mean it's ready to bottle - your yeasties still have a job to do, ie. cleaning up off flavors. Patience is a virtue, don't rush it.

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Old 07-07-2009, 08:16 PM   #15
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+1 on waiting to bottle.

Unless you are conditioning your beer at higher temps, racking off of the yeast cake as soon as final gravity is reached is more likely to hurt than help the beer. As several people have pointed out, no one has noticed autolysis flavors resulting from a few weeks in the carboy under normal conditions. If your final gravity is obtained after 1 week, it would probably be a good idea to leave the beer sitting on the yeast for another couple weeks, so that the yeast can slowly clean up some undesirable fermentation by-products that can be metabolised by the yeast, such as diacetyl and acetylaldehyde. The higher the conditioning temp, the sooner you will need to rack, because higher temps increase the rate of autolysis.

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Old 07-07-2009, 09:48 PM   #16
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Granted, whatever process you use is yours...we're only sharing our vast stores of knowledge so you don't have to repeat mistakes already made and remedies already identified...meaning...we're here to help.

With that said, if you run into a problem it may be too late to solve and you'll be dumping 5 gals or beer and supplies down the drain. We don't want that happening to anyone.
I always take hydrometer readings before and after ferment.
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Old 07-07-2009, 10:09 PM   #17
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Okay. I have read many posts such as this and have often wondered a couple of things.

When you take these gravity readings trying to determine when fermentation is complete, do you sanitize your wine thief and hydrometer so that you can replace the beer when done each of the 2 or 3 times? Do you just toss it which is wasting some beer (not much I know but still)? If you use buckets, I have one with the small grommet, what about removing the lid for the entire time to take the gravity reading each time as far as wild yeast go? What about the possibility of oxygenating your beer say when removing those tight a$$ lids?

Thanks!

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Old 07-07-2009, 10:23 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Yambor44 View Post
Okay. I have read many posts such as this and have often wondered a couple of things.

When you take these gravity readings trying to determine when fermentation is complete, do you sanitize your wine thief and hydrometer so that you can replace the beer when done each of the 2 or 3 times? Do you just toss it which is wasting some beer (not much I know but still)? If you use buckets, I have one with the small grommet, what about removing the lid for the entire time to take the gravity reading each time as far as wild yeast go? What about the possibility of oxygenating your beer say when removing those tight a$$ lids?

Thanks!
I'll try to address your concerns serially:

You always sanitize thief & hydrometer, or anything else that goes into or comes into contact with that beer. The guy who said this game is 90% cleaning & sanitizing exaggerated, but to a purpose: if you don't clean & sanitize properly, everything else is out the window.

If you want to be completely safe, you toss any samples taken. I don't. I don't want to be that safe.

Every time I think the primary's done, I remove that lid to take a hydrometer reading (and then rack, etc.). I have done it for about 50 batches now. I've never had an infection, and that's all I can tell you.

When you remove the lid, the empty part inside the bucket will consist of a blanket of CO2, which is heavier than air. It will sit on the beer and thus, very little oxygen will reach the surface. In any case, the surface of the beer is a very, very small area for oxygen (or any other gas) to be able to diffuse into the beer. I think you needn't be too worried here, just don't agitate or stir the beer violently.
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Old 07-07-2009, 10:30 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Yambor44 View Post
Okay. I have read many posts such as this and have often wondered a couple of things.

When you take these gravity readings trying to determine when fermentation is complete, do you sanitize your wine thief and hydrometer
Yes!
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Originally Posted by Yambor44 View Post
so that you can replace the beer when done each of the 2 or 3 times?
No
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Originally Posted by Yambor44 View Post
Do you just toss it which is wasting some beer (not much I know but still)?
No, Drink it, quality control ya know!
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If you use buckets, I have one with the small grommet, what about removing the lid for the entire time to take the gravity reading each time as far as wild yeast go?
Fairly brief period of time
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What about the possibility of oxygenating your beer say when removing those tight a$$ lids?
There is still a layer of CO2 on top of the beer, assuming you don't disturb it
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Thanks!
You are welcome.
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Old 07-07-2009, 10:43 PM   #20
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Agree with last two posters.

I prefer to drink my sample also...

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