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Old 03-06-2009, 12:54 AM   #1
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Default How to most safely get a hydrometer reading in plastic fermenter

So I'm brewing my first ale in the 6.5 gallon plastic fermenter. It's been almost two weeks and I want to get a hydrometer reading. I'm aware of how we're supposed to protect the brew from outside air, but I don't see a way other than removing the lid to either get a sample or to drop the hydrometer into the bucket, given the equipment that I have.

Is this short term surface exposure to the atmosphere alright as long as I don't sneeze or drop hair, etc?

I've searched the forum, but am coming up empty on answers on this one. Recommendations?

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Old 03-06-2009, 12:57 AM   #2
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you want to pop the lid, and get a sample with a sanitized thief.

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Old 03-06-2009, 12:58 AM   #3
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Pulling the lid is a necessary evil... You'll be fine..... as for the reading, I'd sanitize a turkey baster or something to pull a sample out and use the hydrometer in a test jar.... besides than you get to taste your sample...... it will be very hard to read the hydrometer when it's in the bucket and on top of that you'll have to get yer grubby fingers in yer brew to fish the hydrometer back out...

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Old 03-06-2009, 12:59 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timsch View Post
So I'm brewing my first ale in the 6.5 gallon plastic fermenter. It's been almost two weeks and I want to get a hydrometer reading. I'm aware of how we're supposed to protect the brew from outside air, but I don't see a way other than removing the lid to either get a sample or to drop the hydrometer into the bucket, given the equipment that I have.

Is this short term surface exposure to the atmosphere alright as long as I don't sneeze or drop hair, etc?

I've searched the forum, but am coming up empty on answers on this one. Recommendations?
The easiest way is to sanitize a wine thief or a turkey baster, remove the lid, and draw your sample and simply replace the lid. It'll be fine to do that. As long as whatever you're using to take your sample with is sanitized, taking samples is ok. Make sure you don't pour your hydrometer sample back into the fermenter, though- you can drink that to see how things are progressing if you want.

It's important to be sanitary, but just opening a fermenter to air isn't going to harm it, or allow harmful yeast and bacteria to invade, unless you're fermenting in a barnyard.
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Old 03-06-2009, 01:00 AM   #5
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also, you dont have to worry about the beer being exposed to air, as after 2 weeks of fermentation, you have a nice healthy layer of CO2 on top of the beer to act as a buffer.

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Old 03-06-2009, 01:04 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Berserker_Brew View Post
you want to pop the lid, and get a sample with a sanitized thief.
Bingo. CO2 is heavier than air, so opening your bucket every once in a while isn't a big deal. That CO2 cushion will keep your beer relatively safe. Dunk in a sanitized wine thief, and either pour that into a hydrometer vial or just add your hydrometer to the thief.
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Old 03-06-2009, 01:47 AM   #7
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I take the airlock out of the rubber gromment, or the drilled stopper (which ever applies), and run a length of sanitized 1/4" OD plastic tubing down into the wort.

Then I siphon 3/4 of a cup into my gravity test jar, ease the tubing out of the fermentor, replace the airlock, measure the SG, AND drink the gravity sample.

Viola!

Pogo

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Old 03-06-2009, 03:10 AM   #8
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Thanks for all of the suggestions and reassurances. I'm off to grab a sample now.

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Old 03-06-2009, 04:08 AM   #9
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I've been reading on a few threads about not putting the sample for a gravity reading back in the fermentor. If you used a sanitized theif and hydrometer what would be the risk?
Anthony

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Old 03-06-2009, 04:58 AM   #10
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I've been reading on a few threads about not putting the sample for a gravity reading back in the fermentor. If you used a sanitized theif and hydrometer what would be the risk?
Anthony
Low but non-zero, there's always the chance a bug floats in.

Plus, many brewers like to drink the sample to get a feel for how the beer is progressing.
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