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Old 10-16-2008, 10:56 AM   #1
jklotz
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Default yet another newbie hydromoter question

I have avoided taking hydrometer readings in my primary for fear of opening it to possible infection. If one were to want to practice good brewing technique, what would be good intervals to check? Am I not increasing the risk of infection by opening the fermenter more frequently? Even with good sanitary practices, what is the chance I'll screw something up by exposing it to air by taking a reading?

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Old 10-16-2008, 11:00 AM   #2
FishinDave07
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Beer is tough. But dont f%*k with it .

I always take a reading about 1-1.5 wks; after fermentation is over.

You could always sanitize a wine theif, take a sample, and put a santized hydrometer in then later put back the solution.

But i prefer the old turkery baster sample extractor where you get to drink the sample.

As far as opening the fermenter...try not to. It's hard at first not to look in. Maybe buy a better bottle or a glass carboy so you can see it fermenting.

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Old 10-16-2008, 11:01 AM   #3
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If your floating your hydrometer directly into your beer, make sure it's sterile. If you do that, your chance of infection is nil.

As far as how long to wait to take your readings, you'll probably get several different opinions on that. Personally, I wait 10 days or until the airlock almost quits bubbling (whichever is longer). I then check the next day, if it's the same, then it's time for secondary or bottling. If it drops, I seal it up for a few more days and check again.

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Old 10-16-2008, 11:11 AM   #4
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ok thanks. I'm doing a high gravity IPA, and it's been 12 days in primary so far. I haven't checked it yet, knowing that I'd be leaving it there for a while anyway. I haven't seen significant activity in the airlock for at least 4 days. After reading some good posts here, I thought I might try skipping the secondary this time (not dry hopping this one), but leave it in primary for a good 3 weeks. So at what point would it be a good idea to open her up and take a look? What are good intervals to check?

Thanks for all the help!

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Old 10-16-2008, 11:31 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jklotz View Post
After reading some good posts here, I thought I might try skipping the secondary this time (not dry hopping this one), but leave it in primary for a good 3 weeks. So at what point would it be a good idea to open her up and take a look? What are good intervals to check?
goooood! I'd check in about 2 wks. I try to "forget" about beers in the primary unless i will be brewing soon and will need it.
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Primary: Nothing
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Bottled/Conditioning: Cigar City Jai Alai IPA Clone, Apple Jack 1.0, Apple Jack 2.0
Drinking: Yakima Blonde (Imperialized), Banana Wheat, Russian Imperial Stout, and anything i can get my hands on
On Deck: Watermelon Wheat, Red Panda Ale, Gluten Free Brown Ale, Mojito IPA, Smoked Pepper Stout
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Old 10-16-2008, 11:31 AM   #6
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If you're planning on leaving it in the primary for 3 weeks, plan on checking it 3 days before you plan to rack and then check it again the following day to see if your readings are stable. Rack the third day.

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Old 10-16-2008, 11:38 AM   #7
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Opening your fermenter won't mess up anything, so long as you're careful. Yeast metabolize sugar and secrete lots and lots of carbon dioxide (as well as ethanol and trace chemicals called 'esters'). Since carbon dioxide is heavier than air, a layer will form on the surface of your beer. This layer is extremely inhospitable to infecting microflora, and contains little if any oxygen. So don't go sloshing around in your beer and you'll be fine.

Experience will tell you when you should start mucking about. For example, your high-gravity IPA can probably rest a good month in the primary. After the vigorous primary fermentation has completed - which optimally should be within seven days of pitching - the yeast have plenty of time to clean up after themselves.

Let it go another couple of days, to two full weeks from pitching. Then take a gravity reading. Do not return the sample to the fermenter. The risk of contamination outweighs the loss of beer. Wait a day, take another sample. Repeat. When you get three like gravities in three consecutive samples, your ferment is finished. You may feel free to rack, package, dry-hop, whatever.

Cheers,

Bob

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Old 10-16-2008, 11:48 AM   #8
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You guys are confirming what I already thought. Thanks.

One downside my inexperienced, small brain has already deduced about using a brew pail is the difficulty in removing the lid makes it hard to not disturb the beer to get in there. Maybe I'm just being paranoid....

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