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Old 10-10-2012, 04:25 PM   #1
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Default New brewer, first batch - failed to get hydrometer reading

Hi everyone - a new home brewer here, and glad to find such a great forum for advice.

I recently received a True Brew Gold kit, and last night I started my very first batch: a True Brew Oktoberfest partial extract.

I did a lot of reading to get my bearings before getting started, and all in all, I think everything went pretty well. However, just before pitching my yeast I siphoned into a tall glass to get a hydrometer reading. The glass apparently was not tall enough, because the hydrometer did not float and just sat at the bottom. I did not realize that I could have used the plastic tube the hydrometer came in.

So, how much of an issue is this, that I do not know my starting gravity? It would be nice to know the final alcohol content of my beer, but more importantly, how will I know when it is safe to bottle? The instructions say fermentation should take about a week, but based on some reading here I think I'll let it stay in the carboy for 2 weeks before bottling.

Any advice?

The only other slight mishap I had was when I was cooling the wort. I was putting more ice into my sink, and 2 or 3 ice cubes accidentally fell into the wort. I quickly got 2 of them out with a sanitized spoon. Hoping it's not a big deal, but obviously the ice is unsanitized water.

I really appreciate any feedback. Thanks!

p.s. - Yeast began doing its job with slight bubbling of the airlock within a couple hours. Now 12 hours later the airlock is doing a steady bubble.

2012-10-09-18.10.54.jpg   2012-10-09-19.47.34.jpg   2012-10-09-20.26.04.jpg   2012-10-09-20.54.27.jpg   2012-10-10-08.45.45.jpg  

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Old 10-10-2012, 04:28 PM   #2
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The kit should have told you what the original gravity should have been close too. It may not be the exact OG you had, but it's close enough. Should have been 1.04 to 1.042 and your FG should hit between 1.01 and 1.012

PS - Looks like it is coming along splendidly. Do you have it in a cold room? Probably want mid 60s if you can while it ferments. Swamp coolers are cheap and very effective. Rubbermaid bin and some water with frozen water bottles. Fermenting too high can cause some bad off flavors.

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Old 10-10-2012, 04:29 PM   #3
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Congrats on your first brew, and welcome to the forums!

Since this is an extract batch, the OG reading isn't crucial. If you used all the extract and the proper amount of water, your OG will be what the kit/recipe calls for. It is good practice to take OG readings, and you can use them and your FG readings to calculate ABV, so that's helpful. But, with an extract brew, it's the FG readings that are most important, because you need them to know when fermentation is complete.

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Old 10-10-2012, 04:30 PM   #4
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no need to worry, I have forgotten many times to take an OG reading. Your yeast is going so everything is fine. It'll be done when you take at least 3 consecutive readings and the gravity reads the same. Just let it go for a couple of weeks.

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Old 10-10-2012, 04:35 PM   #5
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The ice cubes falling in shouldn't matter at all especially because the ones pictured look like ones from a fridge ice maker. Usually these ice cubes are made from filtered water so it's fine.

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Old 10-10-2012, 04:38 PM   #6
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In my experience the OG is nice to have, but for a partial mash, not necessary, just take a reading as soon as fermentation dies down, so you have a grasp of how things are moving along from that point. And if it makes you feel better I recently brewed a honey ale and not only forgot to get an OG but I forgot the honey as well :/
And as for the ice cubes they're probably not a big deal, there's always a chance for contamination after the boil but I'm assuming you had to add water to get up to 5 gallons anyway so a few icecubes isn't too bad. My grandpa used to brew long ago and he laughs at me when I take precautions like sanitizing my equipment and he claims to never have had contamination issues. I try to keep that in mind when I am a bit too relaxed about sanitation.

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Old 10-10-2012, 04:39 PM   #7
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Great - exactly the answer I was looking for!

As an aside - I have the carboy in my kitchen, covered with a blanket to protect from light. It's about 70 degrees in here. Is that too warm? The temperature should remain pretty consistent, ~67-70 degrees. Originally, I wanted to take it down to the basement, but I opted not to because the of the weight of the carboy, not wanting an accident, and not wanting any more aeration.

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Old 10-10-2012, 04:43 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coolhand78 View Post
Great - exactly the answer I was looking for!

As an aside - I have the carboy in my kitchen, covered with a blanket to protect from light. It's about 70 degrees in here. Is that too warm? The temperature should remain pretty consistent, ~67-70 degrees. Originally, I wanted to take it down to the basement, but I opted not to because the of the weight of the carboy, not wanting an accident, and not wanting any more aeration.
That temp may end up ok, you'll have to see after it turns out. The fermentation process creates heat inside the liquid though, so the "actual" temps may be closer to 75, which isn't too bad. If you read around on here though, most seasoned vets will recommend to start fermentation on the low side of the temperature range of the yeast strain.
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Old 10-10-2012, 04:47 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twistr25 View Post
That temp may end up ok, you'll have to see after it turns out. The fermentation process creates heat inside the liquid though, so the "actual" temps may be closer to 75, which isn't too bad. If you read around on here though, most seasoned vets will recommend to start fermentation on the low side of the temperature range of the yeast strain.
So, at this point should I make the effort to get it down to the basement?

Again, thanks everyone for all of your helpful answers!
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Old 10-10-2012, 04:51 PM   #10
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Yeah, you'll want to keep ambient temps below 70 for sure, mid 60s would be better. Assume at least 3-5 degrees warmer inside an active fermenter, sometimes alot more.

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can i drink this? I mean. Im gunna. But is it fine?
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it's not a barley wine. it's an ale.
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Have you seen the price of ketchup lately? And I'm not talking Heinz.
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