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Old 02-26-2009, 12:45 AM   #1
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Default Fermentation Readings

Today is day 5 of my primary fermentation for an Amber Ale. When should I take the first reading to find out if fermentation is done?

Also, what's the best way to take the readings? Sanitize the hydrometer and just plop it in the fermenter, or take a sample in a tube and do the reading? I don't have a fermtech thief.

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Old 02-26-2009, 12:48 AM   #2
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Give it another 9 days or so. I usually wait 2 weeks before I start taking samples.

Do you have a turkey baster? Sanitize that guy, then suck up a sample and use that for your sample tube. Dumping your hydrometer into the carboy is a good way to break your hydrometer.

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Old 02-26-2009, 12:48 AM   #3
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I have a little cylinder that I can take a sample oit of that I use to measure, but have been known to dump the whole hydrometer in there too (just be sure you can get it out). If you are planning on racking to secondary, take the first measurement then, if you are skipping secondary, wait another week or two.

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Old 02-26-2009, 12:52 AM   #4
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You have more patience than I did. I must have dipped my mits into my first beer every 45 minutes over the first three days. You'd have thought I was curing cancer or something.

At 5 days I'd say you can start taking 24 hour readings to gauge the beer. It's something to learn from.

I use a small (very small) SS sauce pot to dip out just enough beer to pour into the hydro tube...then of course...you have to drink the sample.

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Old 02-26-2009, 01:17 AM   #5
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Give it another 9 days or so. I usually wait 2 weeks before I start taking samples.

I'm going to move it to secondary. Should I still wait this long to leave it in the primary? Isn't sitting on the dead yeast bad for the beer?
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Old 02-26-2009, 01:18 AM   #6
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I have a little cylinder that I can take a sample oit of that I use to measure, but have been known to dump the whole hydrometer in there too (just be sure you can get it out). ...
Why not just leave it in there? Sanitize it once and then you can check the gravity as needed. (note: I don't do this, but I might start now that I've thought of it)
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Old 02-26-2009, 01:20 AM   #7
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I'm going to move it to secondary. Should I still wait this long to leave it in the primary? Isn't sitting on the dead yeast bad for the beer?
Technically, yes, but we'd have to be talking about a really long primary before you start noticing off flavors. Many people don't use a secondary at all, instead preferring to leave it in primary for about a month to let it clear out. I actually have an IPA I'm doing that with now.
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Old 02-26-2009, 01:26 AM   #8
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Why not just leave it in there? Sanitize it once and then you can check the gravity as needed. (note: I don't do this, but I might start now that I've thought of it)
A) Your hydrometer could become covered in krauzen, making it unreadable.
B) You can't use that hydrometer on other batches you have fermenting.
C) If it breaks inside the fermenter you have bits of broken glass in your beer, as well as whatever sort of metal your counterweight is made of. Some are steel, some are lead.
D) If you don't use a thief/baster, you no longer have hydro samples to drink.
Or E) all of the above.

I'm going with E.
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I would never use a dead mouse in my beer. It's much better to use live ones. You could probably just steep a dead one, but live ones must be mashed. Actually, smashed and mashed would be best.
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Old 02-26-2009, 01:37 AM   #9
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A) Your hydrometer could become covered in krauzen, making it unreadable.
B) You can't use that hydrometer on other batches you have fermenting.
C) If it breaks inside the fermenter you have bits of broken glass in your beer, as well as whatever sort of metal your counterweight is made of. Some are steel, some are lead.
D) If you don't use a thief/baster, you no longer have hydro samples to drink.
Or E) all of the above.

I'm going with E.
A) you could/should wait for the krausen to drop
B) True - but if you only brew one at a time...
C) Probably minimal risk
D) Good point!
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Old 02-26-2009, 02:43 AM   #10
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A) you could/should wait for the krausen to drop
If you use pellet hops in your boil, it will be coated with the stuff. It just loves to settle out at the top for some reason.
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Originally Posted by JLem View Post
B) True - but if you only brew one at a time...
Then you need to step up your game.
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C) Probably minimal risk
You're probably right, but those things are crazy-fragile. It's just one less thing to have to worry about, and one less potential "OMG IS MY BEER RUINED???" thread.
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D) Good point!
Glad we agree on something.
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