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Old 04-17-2012, 08:52 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by TyTanium View Post
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.
I never primary for longer than 14 months.
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Old 04-17-2012, 08:56 PM   #12
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With extract its already done for you. The kits are designed to hit X gravity by the amount of malt they give you. Boil and top off per the directions and should should get same the results within a point or two.

let it sit in primary for 3 Weeks and it should be done. There would be only one reason you would need one at that point, is your fermentation temps were not in control. To cold and it didn't finish.

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Old 04-17-2012, 08:57 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TyTanium View Post
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.
+1 Big time. Like Ty said, You'll need it to know when you've reached FG. But furthermore, you will need it to troubleshoot. If you want to improve in your methods and understand why your beer is doing what it is doing, it's pretty essential IMO.

It's the one piece of gear that I use more than any other, and like you said, it's five bucks, so why not?

I'd say, pick one up the next time you're at your LHBS, til then RDWHAHB.
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Old 04-17-2012, 08:57 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by HibsMax View Post
I never primary for longer than 14 months.
Oh, well in that case. Haha.
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Old 04-17-2012, 08:57 PM   #15
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If you are using extract and specialty grains only then it's pretty easy to accurately calculate your OG using brew recipe calculators. It's near impossible to not hit 40-42 PPG using extract so the efficiency is not a variable.

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Old 04-17-2012, 08:58 PM   #16
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It's your beer noone really cares if you use it or not, BUT if you equate an airlock with fermentation and start threads like, "I have a stuck fermentation because my airlock isn't bubbling" or "Fermentation restarted because my airlock started bubbling" or "When is my fermentation done" or "Should I bottle this beer" we're going to suggest you take a gravity reading, because a gravity reading is the only way to know what your beer is doing.

But if you want to know what's going on with your beer, then take a gravity reading. The only way to truly know what is going on in your fermenter is with your hydrometer. Like I said here in my blog, which I encourage you to read, Think evaluation before action you sure as HELL wouldn't want a doctor to start cutting on you unless he used the proper diagnostic instuments like x-rays first, right? You wouldn't want him to just take a look in your eyes briefly and say "I'm cutting into your chest first thing in the morning." You would want them to use the right diagnostic tools before the slice and dice, right? You'd cry malpractice, I would hope, if they didn't say they were sending you for an MRI and other things before going in....

So it's up to you....if you want to know what's going on, then use one. You can't go by arilocks, the amount of krausen, or you recipe to tell you if a beer is done.. Yeast can't read calendars or instructions, and most of the time instructions are wrong anyway. For example a recipe may say your beer is done in 7 days....but as often as is the case, yeast can take up to 3 days to even start fermenting so if you do that arbitrarily, then you might be setting yourself up for stuck fermentations or worse, bottle bombs.

And I'm pretty sure they have fed-ex or mail in Maryland...if you don't want to drive an hour I betcha you can get one shipped to you......But then you miss the pleasure of going to a homebrewshop. I used to drive 45 minutes each way to my favorite lhbs....so what, it's a homebrew shop it's worth it.

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Old 04-17-2012, 09:02 PM   #17
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For taking the original gravity with extract it isn't necessary because you're putting x amount of sugars (malt extract) into y amount of water. Unless you deviate from the recipe in malt extract amounts or water amount it will be damn close to what the recipe calls for, if not perfect.

Finished gravity on the other hand may be a problem. A lot of times with extract it will stop at 1.020 and taste fine and be fine. On the rare occasion it stalls way high like 30, 40 you're going to have a bad day.

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Old 04-17-2012, 09:02 PM   #18
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While we're talking about the importance of a hydrometer, learn how to use it as well. Sorry, I don't mean to sound condescending but the readings are affected by temperature so you need to make adjustment unless your wort is around 60 F.

I take a few readings (same sample) in a row to make sure that I get the same reading. Sometimes it can stick to the side of the tube so I tap it and let it settle a few times. You can push your hydrometer down into the tube slowly and get it to stick there thus giving you a much lower reading than reality. And vice versa too. Just take your time taking the measurements and keep logs.

I don't know if it's me or blind luck but I have found that my latter brews have been closer to OG and FG than my first brews....probably because I've got the process down pat a little more. However, unless I was taking the readings I would never know that so a hydrometer is also a way of giving yourself a pat on the back.

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Old 04-17-2012, 09:05 PM   #19
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Quote:
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finished gravity on the other hand may be a problem...on the rare occasion it stalls way high like 30, 40 you're going to have a bad day.
+1
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Old 04-17-2012, 09:46 PM   #20
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If you just want to make beer then you do not need a hydrometer. If you want to make consistently good beer, then it is ABSOULUTELY NECESSARY! Personally, I do not consider a hydrometer optional.

Think about it like the gas gauge on your car. If you fill up every 300 miles, you will most likely never run out of fuel. But, if on a rare occasion, you do not get the tank all the way full, or you get worse mileage for some reason, you could find yourself walking. Yes, you can drive a car with no gas gauge, but I would not want to...

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