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Old 10-19-2008, 04:26 PM   #1
Pelikan
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Default When to bottle?

Forgive the newbie question. I have read the FAQ's, a few online articles, and even a book -- and if anything I'm a bit more confused as to when to bottle. For this first time around, I'd prefer not to use the hydrometer, only because I don't have an adequate sampling vessel on hand, and I don't want to introduce contaminates. By all accounts it doesn't seem hard to wing it.

In any case, I'm using one of the kits that have the big plastic buckets, and a partial grain oatmeal stout recipe. A lot of sources I read say fermentation will be done in 3-10 days, up to 14 days at most. Going along with this, the general rule (as far as my knowledge goes) is to remove beer from a plastic fermenter after 14 days max because of the permeability.

Okay, fair enough. But I've read conflicting reports regarding the primary. Some people remove the beer the second it's ready, others keep it in there up to five weeks.

Should I keep my brew in the primary for about 14 days, then bottle and leave in the bottles for about 3ish weeks, or should I remove it closer to 10 days because of the plastic? I don't have a secondary for this first time around, but if I leave it in the bottles a bit longer than the 2 week minimum, will the bottle act as a kind of secondary?

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Old 10-19-2008, 05:20 PM   #2
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Get something that's a proper sampler vessel for your hydrometer...some people even use the tube that the hydrometer is stored in as their vessel...that and a sanitized turkey baster is ALL you need.....If it was so risky why would you think it is so recommended in all the books and on here?

Sorry, but not wanting to contaminate your beer by taking a hydro sample is a cop out...And your beer is much stronger than inserting a sanitized turkey baster or a wine thief into it.

Learn to use the tool properly before you try to cut corners. It's not that hard to do, and it is one of the few gaurentees that everything is OK during brewing.

Read this...http://blogs.homebrewtalk.com/Revvy/...before_action/

When you are starting out, on your first few batches I think everyone should use it...You should get to know how to read the meniscus, know how to correct for temp. Just like you should learn to sanitize properly, and should understand what's going on during fermentation (and like I said in the blog you prolly didn't read) know how to troubleshoot your beer...So you don't ask if your fermentation is stuck, or when to rack/bottle....

To me, it's part of the basic brewing PROCESS...after you get a handle on it, after you understand what's going on, THEN you can choose whether or not you NEED to use it. I think you will find that most of the brewers who tell you it isn't necessary or that we don't use it at least learned how to in the beginning, and can use it if we need to. But we often don't, because we have seen enough fermentations to know what is normal and what isn't.

I liken it to parallel parking...when I took driver's ed Well over 20 years ago my instructor did NOT teach that skill, because she said, "no one needed it anymore." Well I don't know what the suburban soccer mom was smoking, maybe she only went to malls, but the first time I drove to any major city, I sure as hell needed that skill.

Luckily my brother, or dad, made sure I knew how to do it.....The same with driving a stick...even though my last few cars were automatics, I know how to pop a clutch.

In other words, I may not NEED to parallel park or drive a stick everyday....but when I have to, I can.


To me doing that is like putting on a seatbelt, it is part of my process....It's your choice what you want to incoroporate in your process....But before you drop the skill out of your to brew list, you should at least know how to do it....


Your beer will thank you when you learn to speak it's language.

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Old 10-19-2008, 05:28 PM   #3
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And there is nothing wrong with removing a sample and putting it in a glass to check the SG with. And you get to drink the sample afterwards.
If you really don't want to bother doing this, then, a few weeks after primary is finished won't oxidize your brew if it is left in plastic.

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Old 10-19-2008, 05:50 PM   #4
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Revvy: No need to be dogmatic and condescending, my man. I know how to use a hydrometer, have done so many times (just not with beer). I'm trying to go by the KISS method this time around, that's all.

So what would you suggest, let it go maybe 9 or 10 days, hydrometer, then hydrometer again the next day, then bottle if same readings? Also, how do you lower your sample vessel into the beer? Is there any device made for this purpose, with a built-in handle?

The reason why I'd just as soon skip the hydrometer is that, throughout my life, I've partaken of enterprises far more complex and demanding when compared to brewing beer. My grandfather ran a mushroom farm, which I worked on when younger. Mushrooming and mycology makes brewing beer look like child's play. Oftentimes the books or the experts would recommend this or that reading, pH, TDS, etc etc etc. But the unspoken rule more or less stated that if you have certain environmental and time factors within a certain range, these readings need not be taken.

With that in mind, my rational is this: A general recommendation is to leave fermenting beer in the fermenter as long as possible. In the case of plastic, this is generally 14 days. All accounts I've read are primary ferment done in 14 days max. So either way, hydrometer or not, if that beer isn't done fermenting in 14 days, it probably never will be without some type of intervention (and I'd just as soon dump it before doing that). Rather than introduce vectors for contamination during those 14 days, through opening and closing the lid and dunking various vessels into the mix, it seems prudent, to me, to keep an eye on my environmental factors and time, and go from there.

From mushroom farming, I know sanitation is far more important than taking readings, provided you have a good idea of what you're doing to begin with. Granted, I'm sure fermenting and fermented beer is far less susceptible to contamination when compared to a mycelial culture, but the fact remains. Of course, I know a hydrometer is an important tool of the trade, and will certainly use it if I feel uncertain -- but I don't know why it would be a 100% requirement.

I'm not trying to second guess someone with nearly 6K posts and obvious experience, but are my points valid in this case?

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Old 10-19-2008, 05:59 PM   #5
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If you're brewing blind then just leave it in the primary for about a month then bottle. This should be plenty time for the yeast to ferment out and clean up its mess AKA 'conditioning'....After bottling let it sit at fermentation temps for another 3 weeks.

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Old 10-19-2008, 06:02 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pelikan View Post
Is there any device made for this purpose, with a built-in handle?
Sanatized turkey baster will do the job of removing the brew to get a sample with.
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Old 10-19-2008, 06:04 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pelikan View Post
Also, how do you lower your sample vessel into the beer? Is there any device made for this purpose, with a built-in handle?
A sanitized wine thief or turkey baster gets the samples out really easy.
If you don't take samples, how will you get to taste your beer in process?
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Old 10-19-2008, 06:25 PM   #8
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A sanitized wine thief or turkey baster gets the samples out really easy.
If you don't take samples, how will you get to taste your beer in process?
Good point, although I'd probably just dump it because I want to hold out for the final product. In the end, I'll most likely hydrometer -- you guys have convinced me. It's just the sanitation concerns from my mushroom days made me wonder whether or not it was really worth it or warranted.
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Old 10-19-2008, 06:36 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pelikan View Post
Mushrooming and mycology makes brewing beer look like child's play

I always just grow my shrooms on a cow patty in the closet.
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Old 10-19-2008, 06:48 PM   #10
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Quote:
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Revvy: No need to be dogmatic and condescending, my man.
You gotta know how many times he's answered this very question to understand his response. Revvy has done a boat load of work trying to help people figure out the basics...as well as helping pretty experienced brewers make better beer.

Revvy will either point you in the right direction, or give good advice outright...you are just going to have to learn to accept the ribbing that comes with asking a question for the 15th time today. It's not the end of the world, and believe me you have not been flamed....I've seen forums where they'd nearly ban you for asking a question that's been asked before.

Also, you have to understand that we don't know if you've ever used a hydrometer before, so don't be offended if your basic questions get basic answers.

Welcome though...I'll look forward to seeing you around!
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