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-   -   Hydrometer? Some say necessary others not? (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/hydrometer-some-say-necessary-others-not-321961/)

justinm410 04-17-2012 07:32 PM

Hydrometer? Some say necessary others not?
So I know a hydrometer is like 5 bucks at the brew store, but I'd have to drive an hour to pick it up making a total of 20 bucks accounting for gas.

I have all my grains and extract ready to make a Bock style beer and I was reading that a hydrometer may be particularly important when brewing a Bock? Is this so? I'll probably end up just sticking it out and doing the drive, but I was hoping someone would tell me it isn't at all necessary... -_-

P.S. I bought a good instructional book that said it's optional, but I was prompted to ask when I read that it is important for Bocks in particular.


amandabab 04-17-2012 07:35 PM

If all you want to do is mix boil and hope, they aren't necessary.

justinm410 04-17-2012 07:36 PM

So basically there is no other way to determine whether the desired fermentation is reached aside from pure guess based upon distilling duration if I do not have a hydrometer?

Demon 04-17-2012 07:37 PM

I only measure gravity on about 25% of my brews. I'm lazy and I've got my systems efficiency pretty well dialed in. Even when I do take readings, if the numbers aren't exactly what I want I don't do anything about it. The readings are purely a reference for me.

SenorPepe 04-17-2012 07:38 PM

Well, most of the time you don't really need it...until you do. Most of the time, beer just wants to be beer so bad it works out despite you. But if you get stuck, or have any other kind of mash- or fermentation-related problem, you could be SOL and not even know it.

justinm410 04-17-2012 07:44 PM

Hmm, fair enough... So if something DOES go wrong and I went out and got a hydrometer the same day I'd be just as well off. I can live with that. Besides I'm following a recipe assuming they already figured stuff like the ferment duration out.

As a beginner I'm pretty sure I'd be SOL if anything went wrong, anyway.

ludomonster 04-17-2012 07:45 PM

I usually just measure FG and taste it.

djfriesen 04-17-2012 07:46 PM

For your first brew, it's not 100% necessary. For the future, if you care to have any ability to reproduce brews, you'll need a hydrometer. If you want to start from ground zero each time, hoping it comes out OK, don't get one. But you won't be able to post here asking how to know if your fermentation is done or if you're risking bottle bombs, or if your beer is ready to secondary. In fact, a majority of the questions you'd ask here, in search of advice or help, are going to require hydrometer readings to answer.

It depends on what kind of brewer you want to be be. If you want structure, get a hydrometer. If you want a more freeform experience, you can wing it.

Personally, I take an OG reading, and then let it sit for 3+ weeks. I usually don't take a reading to determine if fermentation is complete. I probably should, but I ferment at my brother's house, so I don't have the kind of hands-on control I would need to do this. I take an FG before bottling, and so far, it's been pretty close to where it should be. If it weren't, I would probably hold off and make sure I had done everything to ensure the yeast had finished.

HibsMax 04-17-2012 07:47 PM


Originally Posted by justinm410 (Post 4002898)
So basically there is no other way to determine whether the desired fermentation is reached aside from pure guess based upon distilling duration if I do not have a hydrometer?

You could leave it in the primary for three weeks, fermentation should be done by then I would think.

TyTanium 04-17-2012 07:48 PM

I wholeheartedly disagree. It's necessary.

You can brew without it if you're ok guessing on the numbers. I.e., you'll be fine if you don't drive out there right now, but I'd get one quick. It's also nice knowing when fermentation is complete so I don't have to leave it in the primary for 15 months or something.

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