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Old 10-16-2008, 01:24 AM   #1
Cascadie
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Default Do I really NEED a hydrometer for Extract Kits?

I've made two extract kit recipes without a hydrometer, and I'm not being at all stupid or cheap. I'm aware that a hydrometer would help me if I had doubts that the brew was fermenting, but I've had lovely bubbling at the appropriate times on these batches. I'd certainly have one very soon if I had any doubts about the beer stalling. I don't really care about what the alcohol content is when it's all done, I've only ever drunk beer because I love the taste of it.

The one thing I wonder about is with my first brew I didn't really pay close attention to the amount of beer in the fermenter when I was pitching my yeast and when I bottled it all, I wound up with less than 4 gallons and it's "thicker" in the bottle than it should be. Is that my main reason to use one, to verify that the beginning gravity is correct for this brew, and then I can use that to verify the alcohol content later if I even want to? Or could I have just payed closer attention and put it spot on 5 gallons with my preboiled cool water?

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Old 10-16-2008, 01:32 AM   #2
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Yes, otherwise we'll have yet another "should I bottle yet?" thread...

It's a handy tool that lets you know what's happening in your brew. Get it, learn it, love it.

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Old 10-16-2008, 01:41 AM   #3
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Yes, otherwise we'll have yet another "should I bottle yet?" thread...
Or another HEY...Why Did My bottles Blow Up....

but the serious answer...YES.

I jest...Really If you're just a novice brewer...GET A HYDROMETER!
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Old 10-16-2008, 01:47 AM   #4
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and regardless of volume, which too much emphasis gets put on it, it will let you know how the ferment is going. Is the ferment stuck? or is it done? The hydrometer knows. Yes, you can use it to calculate ABV using the OG and FG readings, but I also think too much attention is payed to that rather than just making good beer.

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Old 10-16-2008, 01:51 AM   #5
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And bubbles or lack thereof in the airlock doesn't always tell you what's going on. You can have bubbles when nothing no fermentation is going on, and you can have no bubbles when there is still something happening.

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Old 10-16-2008, 01:54 AM   #6
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I found the hydrometer to be the best tool for understanding the whole process. Losing it would be like losing a limb. Think of it like this: a picture is worth a thousand words.

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Old 10-16-2008, 02:40 AM   #7
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Do you absolutely need a hydrometer? No

Is having a hydrometer a good idea? Absolutely.
Telling you why having a hydrometer is a good idea would just be echoing everyone else here, but it will give you a better idea as to what is going on with your beer and will also help you with consistency.

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Old 10-16-2008, 02:53 AM   #8
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Do you absolutely need a hydrometer? No
I don't agree. A hydrometer is one of those things you feel like you do not need, until you need it. Then, there is not a damn thing you can do without it. I've brewed extract beers that went into kegs, and I never even thought about pulling out the hydrometer, but I was always glad to have it if something didn't look right.

It's like saying you don't need headlights on your car because you only drive during the day or on lighted streets. Then, the lights go out one night, and you're screwed.

Spend a few bucks and get the frappin' hydrometer. Nobody says you need to use it at every step (unless you really want to understand what is going on), but have it for that time you really will need it.


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Old 10-16-2008, 03:18 AM   #9
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I don't agree. A hydrometer is one of those things you feel like you do not need, until you need it. Then, there is not a damn thing you can do without it. I've brewed extract beers that went into kegs, and I never even thought about pulling out the hydrometer, but I was always glad to have it if something didn't look right.

It's like saying you don't need headlights on your car because you only drive during the day or on lighted streets. Then, the lights go out one night, and you're screwed.

Spend a few bucks and get the frappin' hydrometer. Nobody says you need to use it at every step (unless you really want to understand what is going on), but have it for that time you really will need it.


TL
Guess we're going to have to disagree on this one. By need I am assuming the question means is it possible to brew beer without one. Seeing as people have been brewing beer for far longer than hydrometers have been around, I'm going to say it isn't absolutely needed.

Now, if someone was to ask me if they should get one, I would tell them to get one, it's a really good idea.
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Old 10-16-2008, 03:28 AM   #10
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You figure out the time to bottle by making sure the gravity reading doesn't change after a couple days, at least. For this, you need a hydrometer. Without one, you're flying blind and risking the addition of too much sugar for carbonation which would explode your bottles. Consider the initial $6.00 investment in a hydrometer an insurance for hours of your time well spent.

Using the airlock as a bubble counter is insufficient for good brewing practices.

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