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Old 11-08-2007, 11:56 PM   #1
AZ_Brew_Dude
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Default Advice needed: Better Bottles, Wine Thief, and air lock activity

Hello all - here's a few more questions for you while I'm waiting for my first batch to finish fermenting:

1.) It seems like the comments on this site are universally positive for the Better Bottle products. However, I went to the LHBS and the comments I heard for the BBs were almost universally negative - the consensus was that the BBs "try to be the best of both worlds, but end up being the worst of both worlds" (referring to plastic vs glass for the other noobs). I'm thinking I might pick one up for a secondary fermenter and check it out myself. Anyone care to speak up with their personal experiences?

2.) Does anyone have any experience with the Wine Thief (link below). It seems like a neat way of drawing a sample and taking a hydrometer reading in one step.
http://www.midwestsupplies.com/produ...px?ProdID=4356

Another neat product I noticed was the auto siphon. Anyone have any experience with that?
http://www.midwestsupplies.com/produ...px?ProdID=4766

3.) It's now been 4 days since I put my first batch into the fermenter. I started noticing activity in the airlock in as little as 3-4 hours. But it's not as active as some of the descriptions I've read. Maybe a bubble or two every 10-20 seconds. Is that the right amount of activity? Also, as far as I can tell, there's very little krausen on the top. Can someone attempt to describe how much the airlock should be bubbling and at what frequency? I'm brewing an ale, and the temperature is constant around 70F.

4.) Finally, I didn't realize aeration of the wort was important. It sounds like pouring the wort from the brew pot is bad since that'll disturb all the stuff that has settled to the bottom. But siphoning it won't aerate it much. Whats a good technique? I was thinking of siphoning from the brew pot (after the wort has cooled), and then sticking the other end near the top of the fermenter to have the wort splash as it fills the fermenter - so gentle sucking on one side, rough pouring on the other. Is there any reason that'd be a bad idea?

Thanks in advance for the advice and tips!

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Old 11-09-2007, 12:01 AM   #2
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1. Personally, I use glass but many many people use BB's with no problems.

2. I have a wine thief and an auto siphon, both of them worth every penny.

3. Every fermentation is different, it may have gone crazy overnight and you just didn't notice. Did you take any gravity readings?

4. Pour the wort through a fine mesh stainless steel strainer, that'll help with oxygenation. You can also sit the carboy on your lap and carefully shake the hell out of it before you pitch your yeast.

Hope this helps

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Old 11-09-2007, 12:03 AM   #3
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1. I've found that some people (including my own LHBS owner) have a bias against the better bottles - if it's not glass they want nothing to do with it. I (and many other experienced brewers on here (of which I am not one)) use and love better bottles. I would not hesitate to purchase one if I were you.

2. That wine thief is awesome, buy it. The auto-syphon is awesome, buy it.

3. Airlock bubbling is not a gauge of your fermentation activity so don't worry about that. Any leak in your bucket lid or the seal around the airlock stem will change the behaviour. Your hydrometer is the only thing you need to worry about. 4 days is also too soon so leave it be for another few days and then check. Some yeasts also develop more krausen than others so that isn't a good indication either.

4. I know a lot of people just pour through a strainer and then topping up with water from the tap provides all the extra O2 you need for a partially boiled batch.

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Old 11-09-2007, 12:06 AM   #4
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I can give you the short answer for a couple of your questions..

My LHBS said the same thing. He didn't like it, but i picked up one anyway. I've used it a couple of times and i like it. It's easier to clean and much lighter.. I like the glass carboy myself..The wine thief is great...The auto siphon is a must IMO..

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Old 11-09-2007, 12:07 AM   #5
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Well, I took a gravity reading but I'm pretty sure I did it wrong so it's probably worthless: first I took it at 90F which I know is too high, but there's a conversion factor to get it down to the 60F baseline. The real mistake I made was that I put the hydrometer in the fermenter after I had dumped the wort in there and there was A LOT of foam. So the foam probably prevented it from settling at the correct level, and it was also difficult to read through the foam to see the scale. I'm guessing I should just take the reading while it's still in the brew pot after it's cooled?

Initially I thought I really f***ed up, but there's several posts I've read where people say they don't even bother taking a starting gravity reading since it's a pain to do. That's why I thought that wine thief would be a good idea. I'll be more careful with the final gravity reading

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Old 11-09-2007, 12:07 AM   #6
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Well, to answer your first question:

I personally have never used better bottles. I like Glass carboys. I got a good deal on 8 glass carboys on CL, so that's what got me started on glass. It's just a personal preference. I think glass is the easiest surface to clean.

There are many people on here who use BB's with much success. I wouldn't weigh the opinion of one HBS owner against the 14, 353 members here.

I believe I brought up the issue of BBs being plastic and oxygen permeability. I think the general consensus was that it is blown way out of proportion. I think Edwort uses Better Bottles, and I think Evan does too....along with many of the other more recognizable people.

2nd Question

I just use a sanitized turkey baster.

3rd Question

RDWHAHB! It'll probably take off soon enough. You do have airlock activity, and that shows that you have fermentation.

4th Question

The way I always do it...once the wort has cooled to pitching temps, I pour it through a fine mesh strainer into an Ale Pail. The I poour it through a funnel into the carboy, generating a lot of splashing. that aerates the wort plenty.


Hope that helps!
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Old 11-09-2007, 12:18 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AZ_Brew_Dude
The real mistake I made was that I put the hydrometer in the fermenter after I had dumped the wort in there and there was A LOT of foam.
Another reason to get the wine thief, you can do the hydro reading right in the thief. And, I hope you sanitized the hydrometer before you dropped it in the fermenter
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Old 11-09-2007, 12:20 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AZ_Brew_Dude
Initially I thought I really f***ed up, but there's several posts I've read where people say they don't even bother taking a starting gravity reading since it's a pain to do. That's why I thought that wine thief would be a good idea. I'll be more careful with the final gravity reading
Taking a hydro reading is actually very easy, and the only sure way to tell if fermentation is complete.
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Old 11-09-2007, 12:27 AM   #9
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1 - I've never used a better bottle, but enough highly respected people here like them that I wouldn't hesitate to buy one. In fact, the next carboy I buy will be a BB. I prefer to secondary in glass, but I don't like the idea of dropping a slippery carboy and cutting my leg open. (Had a close call last week that brought me around on this point!)

2 - I have a long turkey baster that I bought at the 99 cent store...I can't imagine a wine thief would work any better. I do like my auto-siphon, and most others seem to as well.

3 - Too many variables to tell what is going on. Just take your time, and trust your hydrometer. When in doubt, wait longer and test again. Above all, don't worry about it.

4 - I pour from my kettle into a large plastic colander, which in turn is sitting in a wire mesh strainer over my ale pail fermenter. (All sanitized, obviously.) I'm just careful to stop pouring once I reach the trub in the bottom of the kettle. If I need top-up water, I pour it from a few feet above the bucket to introduce some more oxygen. Fermentation always starts promptly, and I generally hit my target FG within a few days, so I guess I'm doing something right.

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Old 11-09-2007, 01:24 AM   #10
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I love my Better Bottle. It's lighter and unbreakable and I'm a 130 pound weakling, so that's great. I have more glass carboys overall, but that's because I just started buying BBs.

I siphon and pour and splash and then pour the dregs through a strainer. I do that because I'm a 130 pound weakling and can't lift a full 5 gallon pot and pour it easily.

I use a turkey baster (sanitized of course) and pull my samples that way. It works for me. I love my autosiphon.

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