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Old 07-05-2010, 04:47 PM   #1
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Default Checking gravity in the primary fermentor

I have a pale ale brewing right now, and I've never checked the gravity until I'm ready to transfer to secondary or bottle. My primary fermenter is just a 5 gallon sealed plastic bucket, and I didn't know what the impact would be of me pulling the lid off, testing the gravity, then resealing.

Is it ok for me to unseal the bucket to do this, or should I just be patient and wait the whole week?

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Old 07-05-2010, 05:12 PM   #2
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Each time you open the bucket, you stand a small chance of introducing an infection.
Why would you want to take a reading earlier than 1 week from pitching? Chances are that it is still fermenting, in which case a gravity reading is a waste of time. Even if it has finished fermenting, the beer will be better if you leave it in the primary for at least 2 weeks before racking to a secondary, or 3 weeks before bottling.

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Old 07-05-2010, 05:18 PM   #3
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ajf is right. Unless you had a situation where it looked like there was no fermentation at all and you're concerned about the viability of the yeast or something there's no reason to take a gravity reading for at least a week or two. While the chance of contaminating your beer to take a reading is small, why even create the opportunity if the beer isn't ready anyway?

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Old 07-05-2010, 05:34 PM   #4
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The only reason I ask is because I'm making a competition beer backup that I have to get over to secondary as soon as possible in order to give it enough time in the bottle to condition properly the following week. It was also just a general curiosity, since it has been stated before that you should wait until the gravity stabilizes prior to bottling in order to avoid explosions. Since I have a plastic bucket, it's not going to really work out that easily to just randomly check the gravity.

I'm using the Wyeast Trappist High Gravity Yeast, and it seem to make quick work of any wort I throw at it.

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Old 07-05-2010, 06:39 PM   #5
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Will not help for your curent batch, but for future batches you can install a spigot to you bucket, so you can easily get samples to test gravity without removing the lid. As long as you clean then up pretty good between brews, you shouldn't be worry about contamination.
I do that and also wash the spigot with star-san using a seringe everytime I take samples and have never had any contamination issues.
Check this photo.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/3296225...7616828991366/

To avoid fluid from the airlock been sucked back to the beer when I drain samples from the spigot, I installed a "pressure stabilizer" thing using a latex glove. When you drain the beer, the inflated glove feed the fermenter back with CO2.
Photos at
http://www.flickr.com/photos/3296225...7616828991366/
and
http://www.flickr.com/photos/3296225...7616828991366/

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Old 07-05-2010, 07:16 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Solaris79 View Post
The only reason I ask is because I'm making a competition beer backup that I have to get over to secondary as soon as possible in order to give it enough time in the bottle to condition properly the following week.
Why do you need to get it to secondary? Removing the beer from the yeast too soon will do more harm than good if you're trying to produce a final product on a tight schedule.
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Old 07-05-2010, 07:27 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marubozo View Post
Why do you need to get it to secondary? Removing the beer from the yeast too soon will do more harm than good if you're trying to produce a final product on a tight schedule.
This is not just a pale ale, this is an Apricot Pale Ale! I have to put 3 lbs of Apricot puree into the secondary.
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Old 07-05-2010, 07:29 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nilo View Post
Will not help for your curent batch, but for future batches you can install a spigot to you bucket, so you can easily get samples to test gravity without removing the lid. As long as you clean then up pretty good between brews, you shouldn't be worry about contamination.
I do that and also wash the spigot with star-san using a seringe everytime I take samples and have never had any contamination issues.
Check this photo.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/3296225...7616828991366/

To avoid fluid from the airlock been sucked back to the beer when I drain samples from the spigot, I installed a "pressure stabilizer" thing using a latex glove. When you drain the beer, the inflated glove feed the fermenter back with CO2.
Photos at
http://www.flickr.com/photos/3296225...7616828991366/
and
http://www.flickr.com/photos/3296225...7616828991366/
That's pretty nifty! Do you ever have issues of the krausen going into the glove?
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Old 07-05-2010, 07:48 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Solaris79 View Post
That's pretty nifty! Do you ever have issues of the krausen going into the glove?
Few times, but not much to worry. When the blow off is huge, I usually close the glove access and replace the airlock with a hose and a side bucket with star-san.
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Old 07-05-2010, 10:23 PM   #10
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I have been considering the "pressure stabilizer" idea for some time; but to use for those long-term secondary brews like the Bourbon Old Ale and O'Fest I have going on now. Seems to me that you could capture enough CO2 to compensate for pressure drops due to temperature changes over the 4-6 months these have to sit in the secondary and perhaps not even use an airlock. I worry about the airlock drying up since I do not check these daily.

On another note, if you replaced the latex glove with a condom, it would be funny as hell and make the SWMBO smile and a bit squirmy during "active" fermentation. Trojan anyone?

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