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Old 12-06-2011, 03:57 PM   #1
PaulC
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Hey everyone,
I brewed up my first batch of beer on Sunday, it was a lot of fun and I am looking forward to my new hobby!

I followed the instruction and I was a stickler about sanitation so I think it will come out okay.

What I failed to do was take a hydrometer reading betore pitching the yeast. It has been fermenting for a few days now, so I was wondering, is there any way at this point for me to measure the alcohol content? I have the siphon, do i need to open the bucket, siphon and reseal? Or do i insert a hose through the stopper?

Thanks for your help!

Paul

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Old 12-06-2011, 04:02 PM   #2
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It's too late to measure the actual alcohol content. The only thing you can do now is estimate the OG based on what you put in to the brew and measure the FG when it's finished fermenting. You can measure that at bottling.

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Old 12-06-2011, 04:04 PM   #3
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If this was an extract kit you probably got the recipe's OG. You can wait for 3 weeks and take readings over a few days, if the numbers are the same this will be your FG. You can then plug these numbers into an online ABV calculator to find out the alcohol content.

Or, Just brew the beer and enjoy it without worrying about how much alcohol it has!

Don't mess with the beer for at least 2 more weeks.

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Old 12-06-2011, 04:05 PM   #4
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You need to know what the original gravity was prior to fermentation. I'm assuming you did a malt extract brew? Did it come with a recipe sheet? As long as you hit your target final volume then the OG will be very close to what the recipe predicted.

You can then (and should) take a reading after fermentation to determine your final abv %.

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Old 12-06-2011, 04:05 PM   #5
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If it was an extract and you topped up with the correct amount of water your OG should be almost spot on with the recipe's estimate. Personally, I would just wait to take readings until after fermentation is done, and make an educated guess from there.

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Old 12-06-2011, 04:05 PM   #6
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I think it's too late. After a few days fermenting the gravity won't be the same. You might be able to roughly calculate it if you can determine the attenuation over time for that particular yeast and subtract the current gravity, but that's kind of a PITA. I've forgotten to do that before but I feel confident in my process to go with the OG provided with the kit and get a general abv once I've determined the final gravity.

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Old 12-06-2011, 04:06 PM   #7
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If this was an extract batch, I wouldn't worry too much. Generally if you mix all of the fermentables that ship with the kit, and add the correct amount of water, your OG will be close.

As far as taking a reading, you can still do that, but if it's already started fermenting, than you won't know your true OG. You can still find out your FG later though, and this is how to do it.

Sanitize something to collect some wort (like a turkey baster, or a thief or whatever), and draw a sample from the fermenter. If it's got krausen (foamy stuff during active fermentation) you can usually poke through that to get a sample of wort. Otherwise wait until it's subsided to take a reading. There really isn't a reason to take a reading during this stage for most people.

Pour the sample into whatever container you will measure your sample in (Thief or the special tube that sometimes comes with a hydrometer) and get rid of any carbonation that happens to be in there, and place the hydrometer in there and read it.

**DO NOT POUR SAMPLE BACK INTO FERMENTER!!

Feel free to take a taste of it if you wish though. Some people are curious to see what fermenting beer tastes like. If the fermentation is complete, this is a good way to judge how your beer *might* turn out. Or at least warn you if it's infected.

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Old 12-06-2011, 04:07 PM   #8
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Well, you technically CAN measure the alcohol content right now, but it won't do you much good, since it is likely still fermenting and your alcohol content will change between now and the finished product.

Since you didn't take a hydrometer reading before pitching the yeast, there is no way to be sure of your original gravity. However, if you used an extract kit and used the correct amount of water based on the recipe, you can get a very close guess as to what the OG was. If you were mashing at all, it'd be pretty much impossible to know for sure.

Just let it go for another week or two, no need to start taking readings just yet. And you can either just sanitize the hydrometer and place it in the bucket to get your reading (if you're using a bucket), or use a thief or siphon like you said (all sanitized) to skim off some wort to place inside a cylinder for a hydrometer reading.

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Old 12-06-2011, 04:08 PM   #9
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Get the FG, multiply by 4 and that will be a good estimation of your ABV. This assumes an attenuation of 76%, which is a good estimate.

I.e.,

FG: 1.012. Use the 12 part
12*4 = 48.

ABV ~ 4.8%
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Old 12-06-2011, 04:18 PM   #10
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Thanks for all the helpful responses!

I used an extract kit, and I did a full boil which ended up with 5 gallons pretty much spot on. I did add a 1 liter starter to that volume so I dont know if that will affect anything OG-wise.

I'm definitely not worried about it, but I thought it would be interesting to know. Also, i think the only way to really know if fermentation is done is to get the same gravity reading a few days in a row, correct? So to obtain that reading, do I need to open the bucket or can i siphon throuh the stopper hole?


Thanks again!

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