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Old 01-13-2009, 12:40 AM   #1
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Default how to properly take hydro readings

i am on my first batch ever. i want to take a hydrometer reading/readings to get an idea of when to end the primary fermentation process. i do not have a spigot on my primary fermenter (will in the future to avoid this problem perhaps).

the only way to get a sample is to remove the airtight lid, stick a sanitized turkey baster in, and collect a sample. i am worried about opening her up and exposing her to contamination. is this a newbie worry or should i not open it at all. i am on day 2 of fermentation and don't really need to open it for 1-2 weeks, but since i've read that one should not depend on bubbles to determine when fermentation is done, i want to rely on the more objective hydro readings. i want to take the proper procedures opening and getting samples to take those readings. does anyone have any advice on how to do this safely without risking contamination? thanks

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Old 01-13-2009, 12:47 AM   #2
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the only way to get a sample is to remove the airtight lid, stick a sanitized turkey baster in, and collect a sample. i am worried about opening her up and exposing her to contamination. is this a newbie worry or should i not open it at all.

does anyone have any advice on how to do this safely without risking contamination? thanks
That's how I do it, and done it that way for more than 250 batches of beer and at least that many of wine. No contamination so far!

If you remove the lid (or stopper if using a carboy) and use a sanitized (and of course clean!) turkey baster or wine thief, just pull out the sample, and then put the lid back on. Take the reading, and then drink the sample. It's that easy!

I don't like a spigot on the fermenter- one, it's usually too low to avoid the trub, and two, that's a place where contaminates can hide. Some do have them, of course, so it's a personal preference.

Welcome to the obsession!
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Old 01-13-2009, 01:00 AM   #3
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thanks a lot yooper. i'm looking for a definition of "trub" since you mentioned it and i've read it elsewhere. i have read about this worry regarding sipgots and contamination and i think i will avoid it based on your post. why risk it if you can just take a baster sample without worry (which apparently you have done 250 times with no problems). thanks!

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Old 01-13-2009, 01:20 AM   #4
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Have you seen our wiki? It's really helpful: Main Page - Home Brewing Wiki

Trub (trub or troob) - The sediment at the bottom of the fermenter consisting of hot and cold break material, hop bits, and dead yeast.

After fermentation, it's a thick "cake" of stuff, with all of the proteins, hops, and yeast that have settled out. Most of the spent yeast and the heavier floaters fall to the bottom of the fermenter after fermentation is over.

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Old 01-13-2009, 01:37 AM   #5
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baystatebrew, and anyone else...

Contamination does happen. However, people have been brewing for 1000s of years. If contamination was so sever and likely then I have my doubts that our ancestors would have managed to brew back long before they knew what contamination was. Stick to your basic sanitation strategies and don't worry about contamination. If it happens it happens. Lots of people brew dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of batches without any significant problems and odds are you will experience just as few as everyone else.

Its all good.

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Old 01-13-2009, 11:16 AM   #6
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I saw a video where the guy took out the sample for the OG and then poured the sample into a bottle. He then continued to use that same sample throughout the fermentation process for the readings. Since the sample had yeast, the assumption was it would ferment at the same rate as the primary fermentation.

Does anyone do or recommend this. This would solve the problem of taking off the lid and risk any contaminants.

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Old 01-13-2009, 01:03 PM   #7
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I thought the standard proceedure was to take a sample for a gravity reading before adding the yeast?

Even if you did add the yeast then get a sample I would question how much yeast, if any, ended up in the sample that was taken. I suppose if the sample were taken pulling directly from where the yeast was (assuming it were sort of visible...dry yeast) then I'd guess you'd get yeast.

However...if you do your calculations correctly or use a beer kit then odds are you're going to end up near your FG. In which case there is little reason for multple gravity checks. You just let the brew ferment as long as you're supposed want and then check. Taking readings throughout the actual fermentation process is a waste unless you are experimenting or what not.

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Old 01-13-2009, 05:53 PM   #8
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but if you are new and don't know when the fermentation process is done, i've read the best way to determine the completion of fermentation is by the specific gravity. this would require samples every few days, esp. towards the end of the first week or two. if you've got experience you probably know by the bubbles and just past knowledge, but for newbies, isn't SG the only way to determine when fermentation is really done (ie taking readings on consecutive days, you know it's done when the SG is constant for 2 or more days)? i've read it's a bad idea to just end fermentation when the bubbles stop, because that is inaccurate. i also worry about prematurely ending fermentation because of this whole "bottle bomb" issue. i wouldn't want CO2 continuing to release after bottling. thanks a lot.

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Old 01-13-2009, 06:32 PM   #9
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You're better off just leaving it in the primary for 3-4 weeks. Unless you're making something really high gravity, like a barleywine, it'll probably be completely done and have taken on a bit of age at that point. I'd suggest waiting until week 3 before taking a hydro reading, unless you're planning to secondary.

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Old 01-13-2009, 06:42 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by baystatebrew View Post
.... isn't SG the only way to determine when fermentation is really done (ie taking readings on consecutive days, you know it's done when the SG is constant for 2 or more days)? i've read it's a bad idea to just end fermentation when the bubbles stop, because that is inaccurate.....
I believe the rule of thumb is 3 days of the same reading.... but, if you wait until 14 days..... take a reading, then wait 3 more days, and take another reading.... if it is the same, you're ready to bottle, and you only had to take 2 readings.... if it's not the same, you didn't waste 10 days worrying & waiting.... and then you can take another reading on day 20.

Of course, it's hard to tell someone to be patient when they're anxious to drink their new brew, but more patience = better beer.
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