Too Many Hydrometer Readings Bad for Beer?
As a new home brewer, i definitely have alot to learn. I keep hearing that oxygen is bad for beer and can create an off flavor. When taking hydrometer readings, i am obviously opening the sealed fermentor and letting oxygen in. So, by taking multiple hydrometer readings, am i risking oxigenating my beer and ruining the flavor?
See those bubbles coming from your airlock and that feel that sting in your nostrils when you put your face into your bucket to sniff the beer? That's a big ole blanket of CO2 protecting your beer from oxygen. Just don't shake the bucket.
If there is activity, don't bother taking a reading.
After that, test until you see consistent readings for 3 days.
If you are worried about getting O2 in it, Do what I do (saw this in a video). After you take your inital SG reading record it. Then after pitching, draw some more up (before putting the wort in your primary), just pour what you took into an empty beer bottle and use that sample for all the future readings. Don't cap the bottle, just push part of a paper towel into the bottle just so the CO2 can release but snug enough to keep the O2 out and keep that right next to your primary. When you want to check you SG next time, just use what is in the bottle. No need to sanitize the bottle, you won't drink this sample.:mug:
You don't have to take constant readings. If you are doing what many of us are and leaving your beer in primary for a month, then bottling, then you really only need two readings, and that is really if you want to know if you hit your target gravity, and what your alcohol by volume is, and you do that one at bottling time.
If you choose to secondary, which less and less folks are doing, again if you give it sufficient time, and I recommend 14 days after yeast pitch, you could take on to see how close to your target gravity is. Or you could just rack it over.
The only time you really need to take a bunch of readings, is if you are worried about whether or not fermentation is happening. You don't go by airlock readings, anyway...but if you don't trust the yeast then that's when we recommend taking readings....Because that is your ONLY REAL diagnostic tool.
But if you come to realize that unless you pitched your yeast into boiling hot wort, that fermentation is going to happen, and that yeast RARELY doesn't work. In other words if you trust the process. Then you don't really need to take a lot.
Now if you decide that you you just have to secondary and THINK you NEED to do it immediately, then that's when you need to think about multiple readings....that's where the 2 readings over 3 consecutive days idea comes into play.
Now having said that, If using basic sanitization, taking a hydrometer reading is no risk at all. Like others have said there is a layer of co2 that protects your beer, and even taking multiple readings is nothing to worry about.
This is what I use, and it works with both buckets and carboys
Here's what I do....
1) With a spray bottle filled with starsan I spray the lid of my bucket, or the mouth of the carboy, including the bung. Then I spray my turkey baster inside and out with sanitize (or dunking it in a container of sanitizer).
2) Open fermenter.
3) Draw Sample
4) fill sample jar (usualy 2-3 turky baster draws
5)Spray bung or lid with sanitizer again
6) Close lid or bung
6) take reading
It is less than 30 seconds from the time the lid is removed until it is closed again.
Probably less if you have help.
And unless a bird swoops down and poops in your fermenter, you wont have any trouble.
Actually that "satellite fermenter" idea will only tell you WHAT YOUR BEER WILL FINISH AT, NOT when your 5 gallon batch of beer will be done.
It's used to measure attenuation of the yeast, not rate of fermentation.
It will take yeast a lot less time to chew through 12 ounces of wort than it will 5 gallons.....so don't trust that silly thing that someone came up with because they are too afraid to take samples from their beer as being accurate.
If you do take that as "gospel" you more than likely are rushing your beer off the yeast way to soon. You know "bottle Bombs" or suddenly posting an "is my beer in secondary ruined?" thread because now that you moved it to secondary because the "satellite" said it was done, you now have this scary looking growth that you have never seen in your bucket (because the lid is one) that suddenly grew on top of your wort and is ugly as sin....which we of course will tell you to rdwhahb because that is just krausen and it formed because you racked too soon and the yeast is still trying to work to make beer for you.
The idea came from commercial breweries, but you have to realize when they are using in it a 3 or 7 or 10bbl fermentaion setup, that their sattelite looks like this.
And they are drawing off hydro sample out of that bucket just like we do.
And they are STILL going to be taking readings and tasting the REAL beer in the ACTUAL FERMENTER, before making any determination.
It's been adopted by some home brewers, and unfortunately gets perpetuated by people (mostly noobs scared of taking real hydro readings) but it's about as accurate as airlock bubbling, (and you know where I count that in terms of fermentation gauges- slightly below the astrological calender :D)
But it sure sounded like a good idea.:D
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