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Old 10-27-2008, 02:04 PM   #1
illnastyimpreza
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Default hydrometer kind of pointless ??

ok so I've used the thing a couple times, but honestly I don't really care what it says

I leave my beer in the primary for a MINIMUM of 2 weeks(usualy 3) anyway. I am a little curious of the alcohol %. But its not really important. so does anyone else not use a hydrometer ?

can anyone convince me I SHOULD use one ??



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Old 10-27-2008, 02:13 PM   #2
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you dont really need one when everything goes according to plan but the only way to know if something has gone wrong (stuck ferment etc...) is to use a hydrometer. also when you get into AG brewing you dont know your OG of efficiency without one.



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Old 10-27-2008, 02:16 PM   #3
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I always use one. There is a lot you can learn other than ABV%.

Granted, nothing bad will happen if you primary for minimum of 3 weeks then bottle.

Since I am all grain, I take gravity readings to determine efficiency. Although I usually don't take readings to see when the beer is done fermenting, I do use my FG to calculate attenuation. If my yeast pooped out at 1.030 (extreme case), I'd like to know. If I just bottled, I'd have a sweet tasting beer and not know why.

For a new brewer/kit brewer, using one is a matter of preference. The more experience you gain, you will realize it is an extremely useful tool.

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Old 10-27-2008, 02:20 PM   #4
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Illnasty,

I have a hydrometer same as you and since 'mein Hammerbier'
is usually 8 Lbs of DME with speciality grains steeped in,
I know it will be 6 3/4% alcohol, I don't need a hydrometer reading.
7 Lbs is kinda light and 9 Lbs drys me out in the hot weather,
which in Texas is basically all the time.
I am making the same thing, '8 Lb Hammerbier',
the speciailty grains vary, but that doesn't matter.
If I were making all kinds of different brews
I, of course, could see how a hydrometer would be useful.

As far as time in the primary,
I let the krousen fall, about 5 days then rerack to the secondary.
Another 7 days and bottle.
Thats it, so if the hydrometer reading would be the same as last time,
why bother.


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Old 10-27-2008, 02:26 PM   #5
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If you don't care to monitor your process, then that's your prerogative.

By the same question, why use a thermometer to tell what fermentation or steeping/mash temperature is? Too hot makes for fusel alcohols, too cold retards yeast growth and development. Temp shock your yeast and you end up with a cloying sweet beer that's under fermented. You can check with a hydrometer and ... Oh, wait...

It's a tool that one uses to make the best possible and repeatable outcome. Why strive for mediocrity? If I'm taking my time to do something, why halfass it? I would rather be proud of my accomplishments than be another ho-hum I slapped it together brewer.

*grrr*

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Old 10-27-2008, 03:39 PM   #6
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I really only use one to check for a stuck fermentation (which has happened to me on my last two brews). I dont trust it completely though, its kind of a crappy cheap one. Its off by a little bit, so i just take that into account when looking at FG. You can definitely make good beer without one but every once in a while you might just get a sicky sweet undrinkable brew cuz your yeast crapped out at 1.020

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Old 10-27-2008, 03:47 PM   #7
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I'm in the always use one camp. I just took a reading on my Anchor Special Ale Clone that's been 17 days in primary. I took a reading after 8 days and it was at 1.020, which was estimated to be my FG. But because my OG was a bit lower than the estimate, I let it sit. Today it's at 1.014 and far clearer than it was at day 8. The vanilla that I hadn't tasted at day 8 comes through now, as does the slight licorice taste from anise.

Had I not used the hydrometer, I would have gone ahead and bottled because I had already hit my estimated FG. But I'm glad I've decided to wait and happy that I trusted my hydrometer rather than my eyes or an estimate.

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Old 10-27-2008, 03:50 PM   #8
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My first brew I didn't use one (because I didn't own one )
and it turned out ok. Last batch I did, I didn't get the OG but then bought a hydrometer and by checking my batch found it needed to sit and ferment longer than I would have if I hadn't checked it. This latest batch has been 2 weeks in primary and still sitting at 1.020. It be stuck. I wouldn't know that unless I had checked. I could have gone ahead and bottled and ended up with bottle bombs, but instead I'll swirl a little and let it sit awhile longer. Doesn't hurt to check that final reading and save yourself from potential beer bombs. Besides, you get to taste the progress of your beer by checking.

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Old 10-27-2008, 03:58 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mmb View Post
If you don't care to monitor your process, then that's your prerogative.

By the same question, why use a thermometer to tell what fermentation or steeping/mash temperature is? Too hot makes for fusel alcohols, too cold retards yeast growth and development. Temp shock your yeast and you end up with a cloying sweet beer that's under fermented. You can check with a hydrometer and ... Oh, wait...

It's a tool that one uses to make the best possible and repeatable outcome. Why strive for mediocrity? If I'm taking my time to do something, why halfass it? I would rather be proud of my accomplishments than be another ho-hum I slapped it together brewer.

*grrr*
Quote:
Originally Posted by ba70665 View Post
I really only use one to check for a stuck fermentation (which has happened to me on my last two brews). I dont trust it completely though, its kind of a crappy cheap one. Its off by a little bit, so i just take that into account when looking at FG. You can definitely make good beer without one but every once in a while you might just get a sicky sweet undrinkable brew cuz your yeast crapped out at 1.020
I both agree and disagree. Hydrometers are useful for all-grain brewing, where knowing and hitting OG targets is an important part of the process. Taking good hydrometer readings at that time is an important part of making good beer.

For extract brewers, I think a hydrometer is overrated. The gravity will be what it will be based on the quantity of extract and water. Calculating a "paper OG" based on measurements is plenty accurate for extract brewing.

I think once the yeast is in the fermenter, the hydrometer is much less useful. Sure, you can use it to tell if a beer is ready to bottle, but my experience tells me that simply allowing fermentation to go for three weeks works 90+% of the time. The rest of the time, taste and smell are enough to tell you something's wrong. I think more harm than good is done by encouraging new brewers to dig around in their fermenters every day.

Also, I think it's a bit overboard to accuse the OP of being a half-assed brewer. Brewing is a craft, and there are a lot of different ways to do it.

Rather than re-hash my point any further, I'll link back to a blog entry from a few weeks ago:

http://blogs.homebrewtalk.com/jds/My_Heresy__Beginners_do_not_need_hydrometers/
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Old 10-27-2008, 04:32 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jds View Post
...
I think once the yeast is in the fermenter, the hydrometer is much less useful. Sure, you can use it to tell if a beer is ready to bottle, but my experience tells me that simply allowing fermentation to go for three weeks works 90+% of the time. The rest of the time, taste and smell are enough to tell you something's wrong. I think more harm than good is done by encouraging new brewers to dig around in their fermenters every day.

Also, I think it's a bit overboard to accuse the OP of being a half-assed brewer. Brewing is a craft, and there are a lot of different ways to do it.

Rather than re-hash my point any further, I'll link back to a blog entry from a few weeks ago:

http://blogs.homebrewtalk.com/jds/My_Heresy__Beginners_do_not_need_hydrometers/
that is just how I feel. I think too much emphasis is put into the "science" of beer. I feel beer brewing should be like cooking. When I cook I NEVER follow a recipe 100%.... add a little of this and a pinch of that. that surprise and excitement is what I love about both cooking and brewing... you never know just what you've made ! hell I don't think I COULD possibly make the exact same beer twice, whats the fun in that ??


Most of my brews all have some sort of "strange" ingredients, whether it be honey or brown sugar, marshmellows, chocolate, cinnamon you name it !


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Last edited by illnastyimpreza; 10-27-2008 at 04:35 PM.
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