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Old 01-18-2012, 02:53 AM   #1
Jonnymack123
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Default Testing Gravity

I have a lot of questions because I not only worry about every little detail pertaining to everything, but I'm also new to homebrewing (i.e. I haven't attempted it yet, but I'm getting ready to). How do you test the gravity of a beer in the primary fermentation vessel without introducing oxygen to the system? Or do you just pop of the air lock/cork, test it, and then allow the yeast to "push" the oxygen back out? Do you guys just test it after the primary fermentation appears complete or do you test it earlier on and more often? Is it okay to dump the tested beer back into the fermentation vessel assuming that the devices used to test the gravity were sanitized? Also, the gravity of the beer should be near its final gravity when you move it to secondary fermentation correct? I hope all of these questions make sense... THANKS!

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Old 01-18-2012, 03:02 AM   #2
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Just sanitize and rack out a sample. Get your reading and go from there. I would make sure gravity reading is stabilized for 2-3 days before transferring. As far as oxygen you will introduce so little it's a non issue. This hobby is no where that scientific to worry about small amounts of oxygen. People frequently "swirl" their wort to stir up the yeast a little to ensure fermentation is complete prior to transferring

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Old 01-18-2012, 03:02 AM   #3
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I just pop the lock briefly and take a sample with a sanitized wine thief. I do this as infrequently as possible, but as often as necessary. The goal is to minimize oxygen exposure but you are unlikely to ever eliminate it completely.

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Old 01-18-2012, 03:04 AM   #4
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Oh and you *can* return the sample to the fermenter but most will advise not to. That small sample is a small price to pay to reduce risk of infection.

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Old 01-18-2012, 03:06 AM   #5
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If you do not stir things up getting a sample for a gravity test is not a problem. There is a layer of co2 over the wort.

I wait 3-4 weeks then take final gravity samples. Often I only take one on the day that I bottle. If it is what I expect for a final I assume it is good.

Never put your sample back into the fermenter. It is not worth the risk for about 3 ounces.

I rarely do secondaries anymore but, yes wait for the fermentation to finish before transfer.

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Old 01-18-2012, 11:21 AM   #6
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As long as the vessel you take the sample with,(& the hydrometer & tube) have been cleaned & sanitized you can safely return it to the fermenter. I only do that with the OG sample,since it's just sweet un-fermented wort. But when taking FG samples starting at 2 weeks,I record the Gravity number & taste the sample to see how it's doing. Also when I get a stable FG 2 days apart. That gives an idea how clear it is,& if it tastes good to bottle.
But I usually give it 3-7 days after FG to clean up & settle out more.
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Old 01-18-2012, 12:17 PM   #7
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I take a sample before bottling and agree that it's better to drink it than toss it back in anyway. I like to know what the beer is tasting like. And like the others, it's not worth the risk of infection and it's more fun to taste the fruits of your labor. Don't worry so much, just get brewing! You'll learn techniques as you go. It's a fun process when you dig right in instead of reading about it and studying it. Good luck and enjoy!

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Old 01-18-2012, 01:23 PM   #8
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Unless I have some reason to rack to a "secondary," such as bulk aging, dry hopping, or freeing up a fermenter, I just leave my beer alone for four weeks. I'll check the gravity a few days before I intend to bottle then again on bottling day to ensure they're the same. I've never been in a situation where I've felt the need to have a beer ready by a certain day. The bottom line is that, unless you're very interested in how quickly your beer is fermenting, you can just leave it alone for a few weeks before checking FG.

Waiting is difficult when you've just started brewing. Patience is one of those virtues you develop after you gain some confidence and understand that your role is to give the yeast the best possible conditions in which to work. After that, it's just a matter of sitting back and letting them do their job. The brewing process is much more enjoyable when you reach this state. The beer is usually better too.

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Old 01-18-2012, 01:32 PM   #9
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I agree 100%. Been there,doin that.
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Old 01-18-2012, 01:35 PM   #10
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I never measure, I just wait until it stops bubbling

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