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Old 02-01-2013, 04:53 PM   #1
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Default Hydrometers & 1-gallon batches

I am running into one of the gotchas of small batch brewing - my hydrometer is about 9 inches tall and physically won't fit in any of the brewing vessels. Using a wine thief and a graduated cylinder isn't a happy option either as the samples will be a significant volume of the product. Any thoughts?

At the LHBS there were these smaller hydrometers called vinometers, but they only indicated %ABV. I'm not sure why smaller hydrometers were not available.

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Old 02-01-2013, 05:01 PM   #2
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If you sanitize properly you can dump the contents of your hydrometer sample back into the brewing vessel. If you do it gently you won't risk oxidation.

Also, for future reference, we have a 1 gallon brewing thread. Try asking there first before making a new 1 gallon problem thread. Not that its a huge deal, but here in the open forum you'll likely have to sift through posts dissing 1 gallon brewing in general.

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Old 02-05-2013, 06:51 PM   #3
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If you sanitize properly you can dump the contents of your hydrometer sample back into the brewing vessel. If you do it gently you won't risk oxidation.

Also, for future reference, we have a 1 gallon brewing thread. Try asking there first before making a new 1 gallon problem thread. Not that its a huge deal, but here in the open forum you'll likely have to sift through posts dissing 1 gallon brewing in general.
I agree with your advice about the hydrometer. But I disagree about your advice regarding posting on HBT. Posting questions like this in the Beginners Forum relating to small batch brewing is just fine. If someone comes along and tells the OP to just brew bigger batches or something else equally dismissive, that would be an off-topic post and you can just hit the report button and we'll deal with it.
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Old 02-05-2013, 06:54 PM   #4
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I am running into one of the gotchas of small batch brewing - my hydrometer is about 9 inches tall and physically won't fit in any of the brewing vessels. Using a wine thief and a graduated cylinder isn't a happy option either as the samples will be a significant volume of the product. Any thoughts?

At the LHBS there were these smaller hydrometers called vinometers, but they only indicated %ABV. I'm not sure why smaller hydrometers were not available.
I've only seen hydrometers of the size you're describing, also. As suggested, carefully sanitizing and using a standard hydrometer and tube and then adding it back is probably your best bet.

I think that there is a lot of advice on this forum that encourages brewers (especially new brewers) to check gravity too often. For your first few batches, sure, check early and often. But once you have a feel for it and your process is down, I don't think its necessary in most cases. I usually take two readings: OG and FG at bottling/kegging.

Maybe you've found a niche market for that entrepreneur who will make tiny hydrometers . . .
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Old 02-05-2013, 08:23 PM   #5
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Actually they do make mini hydromters. You can order them from bell's. They're 5 inches long (The scale is limited though.) I've even seen plastic ones for distilling that were 3 inches long.

But honestly, you don't really need to bother taking a lot of grav readings, especially if you trust your least, and leave the beer long enough to ferment through and clean up. If you're leaving a beer for a month (regardless of the size of the batch)...it's going to be done.

You can then use a refractometer for pre fermentation readings which only use a drop...AND you can also use a calculator with a refractometer to factor in the presence of alcohol post fermentation.

When I do small batches I take an og reading with my refractometer, but don't bother with an fg. Or if I do, it's the fg, and I drink that as a test.

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Old 02-05-2013, 08:56 PM   #6
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Thanks Revvy. My interest in getting SG measurements is really just to try to tighten up the brew-to-glass timeline in a sensible manner. I'm not brewing big (high SG) beers, basically looking at IPA styles.

I know that I can wait it out, but I'd kinda want to know when I hit the point of diminishing returns and can move the beer on to bottles. How much I decide to condition in the fermenter vs. in the bottles I think will have to come with personal preference and experience.

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Old 02-07-2013, 01:06 AM   #7
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Thunder, if you are doing smaller beers ( x < 1.055) you may be able to tighten your schedule up to 1.5 to 2 weeks before bottling. However, your temperature control will greatly affect this timeline. Fermenting at proper temperatures can speed up or slow down the process as desired for the yeasts. If you are working on on tightening up your schedule, look into this heavily as well as the final S.G. Really though, the extra time gives the beer time to clean itself up. Rushing it won't really improve anything and more than not may provide more problems.

And of the 5 batches I've brewed already this year, last night's coffee stout was my first S.G. reading for the year. Including finished beers I've bottles and kegged this year that were brewed late last year...

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Old 02-07-2013, 02:36 AM   #8
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When I do small batches I take an og reading with my refractometer, but don't bother with an fg. Or if I do, it's the fg, and I drink that as a test.
+1. No use wasting the sample from the hydrometer. Though I always do a FG reading 'cuz I'm a noob and learning how to hit the parameters for a style of beer.

I did the sanitize-and-put-back method until I got a refractometer. They are great if you feel you can justify the investment. They are $25 and up (in 2012). Some people think that is cheap, some think it is expensive. Both are right, for them.
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Old 02-07-2013, 02:43 AM   #9
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I did the sanitize-and-put-back method until I got a refractometer. They are great if you feel you can justify the investment. They are $25 and up (in 2012). Some people think that is cheap, some think it is expensive. Both are right, for them.
I saw that you're from Amherst. I did my engineering degrees at UMass-Amherst and first started brewing while there. Fun times!

I'll have to chew on all of these ideas a bit. It seems possible to do a respectable brewing job so long as you give it time. SG is nice, but not indispensable.
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Old 02-07-2013, 02:48 AM   #10
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To me it is very annoying the size of threads in this forum. Considering each page is only 10 posts, it makes a lot of pages and loading.

In my opinion all threads should be at least 30 replies if not 50 and automatically closed when they reach 1000 replies. After that a part 2 part 3 etc thread can be opened and continued.

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