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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > Taking Temp and Hydrometer readings
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Old 01-19-2007, 04:46 AM   #1
brewawan
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Default Taking Temp and Hydrometer readings

As I'm at the end of day 4 of my first brew (wheat), I'm wondering about taking a temp and hydrometer reading to see where I sit with the FG. Primary fermentation wasn't too vigorous but lasting a solid 36 hrs. Now as primary decreases, I'm wondering if I need to take the readings.
The problem is I'm worried about contamination and oxidation. Because I shouldn't be taking the lid off until I'm ready to rack to secondary, correct (Brewers don't want to expose the wort to open air after you seal it?)? Then, I can take a temp and gravity reading. And finally, the FG really only matters when I'm going to bottle? Does anyone have any advice on racking to secondary for a less than vigorous Amer. Honey Wheat?

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Old 01-19-2007, 04:54 AM   #2
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I have a parshall answer to one of your questions.

Quote:
Beginning brewers often make the mistake of checking the gravity too frequently. Every time you open the fermenter, you are risking infection from airborne microbes. Check the gravity when you are ready to pitch the yeast, then leave it alone until the bubbling in the airlock stops. Checking the gravity in-between will not change anything except to possibly contaminate it. Also, always remove a sample of the wort to test it. Don't stick the hydrometer into the whole batch. Use a sanitized siphon or Wine Thief (turkey baster) to withdraw a sample of the wort to a Hydrometer Jar (tall, narrow jar) and float the hydrometer in that. There is less chance of infection and you can drink the sample to see how the fermentation is coming along. It should taste like beer even though it may taste a bit yeasty.
Appendix A - Using Hydrometers
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Old 01-19-2007, 07:22 AM   #3
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This is all so much bull****. I know a person who did their primary fermentation in open buckets and made the best homebrew I ever tasted hands down. Many old time breweries did, and still, ferment in open vats with no problems. Reason: The vigorous primary fermentation and krausen tends to protect the fermenting wort from contamination. I don't recommend it, but all she used to do was put cheeseclothe over the buckets. The reason is the krausen provides a physical barrier and the acidity of the vigorous fermentation is hostile to infection.

The times you are going to get an infection are BEFORE fermentation starts and afterwards during the secondary or settling stage.

Checking the gravity in-between will not change anything except to possibly contaminate it. Also, always remove a sample of the wort to test it. Don't stick the hydrometer into the whole batch.

Well that seems to be pretty common sense.

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Old 01-19-2007, 08:56 AM   #4
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1 thing i would say is get a stick on thermometer, that way you know what the temperature is always.
You should also have an Airlock on your fermenter... Keep in mind the 123 rule
1 week in primary
2 weeks in secondary/clearing
3 weeks in the bottle

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Old 01-19-2007, 05:55 PM   #5
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Brewawan,
My recomendation is to resist the urge to take a hydrometer reading. the fermentation is either going well or it isn't, and the hydrometer can help you find out which is happening, but at that point there isn't really much you can do about it anyway, so there's no reason wo worry about it. and even if it is not fermenting as fast as would be ideal, it's probably going to turn out just fine if given enough time anyway. As far as the risk of infection, I agree that it is less than it is when the fermentation has yet to begin, but there is still that chance everytime you open the fermenter. sure they used to brew in uncovered vats in the old days but they also used to drill holes in peoples heads to let the evil spirits out. ImHO the reward does not match the risk.

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Old 01-19-2007, 06:06 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeadYetiBrew
1 thing i would say is get a stick on thermometer, that way you know what the temperature is always.
You should also have an Airlock on your fermenter... Keep in mind the 123 rule
1 week in primary
2 weeks in secondary/clearing
3 weeks in the bottle
It's not a rule, but a guideline.

You only need to follow that if you don't take measurements and are only guessing.

Your beer is ready when it tells the tools (temp gage & hydrometer) it's ready!
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Old 01-20-2007, 04:46 AM   #7
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Thanks to everyone for all you help. I really want to pick up as much as I can with this hobby, and every piece of information helps. Thanks again.

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