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Old 04-07-2010, 07:09 PM   #1
NJames
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Default fermenter with built-in hydrometer

Has anyone tried building a fermentor pail with a built-in hydrometer?

I was thinking about a pail with a tube fixed to the outside which would fill with beer to the level the pail is filled. I have seen tubes like this on other opaque containers to indicate how full it is. In this case, we would float a hydrometer inside the tube. So we could see at a glance what the gravity of the beer is. No opening the bucket, no taking a sample.

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Old 04-07-2010, 07:18 PM   #2
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I've never seen it, but I think I know a couple of reasons why.

You'll have to cap that tube with it's own airlock or at least have a hose that comes off the top and goes back into the main fermenter to let the gas out and protect the beer from the environment.

The other (bigger) problem is that when your beer kraeusens, that tube will also get kraeusen in it, and it'll gunk up your hydro andtube and make the reading unreliable.

EDIT: that last comment is based partly on personal experience. I put a hydro into a carboy one time long ago with the same intention in mind... constant checking of gravity without opening the fermenter or taking a sample. The thing was gummed up, didn't float right, and I couldn't see the scale because of the crud stuck to it.

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Old 04-07-2010, 07:27 PM   #3
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Seems like an idea worth exploring if you ask me. I gotta believe there is a way to do it. I think the top of the tube would need to feed back into the fermentor. An airlock would not let the wort drain out of the tube. I would worry about the circulation through the tube too.. would it be an accurate sample, etc.. I can see that the kraeusen would be a hurdle to overcome..

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Old 04-07-2010, 07:29 PM   #4
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On top of what Walker said, could you imagine trying to clean the leftover kraeusen out of a site glass?

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Old 04-07-2010, 07:33 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drat View Post
On top of what Walker said, could you imagine trying to clean the leftover kraeusen out of a site glass?
I think this one would be large enough in diameter to slide a bottle brush into and clean easily. It's going to be at least as wide as a hydro sample tube, right?

Devil's Advocate: sell your hydro and sample tube. Add that money to the money you would have spent to make this built-in sample tube, and then buy a $30 refractometer.... you could remove the airlock and stick a straw in through the hole to get the couple drops you need for a reading.

You have to do some math to check anything other than OG with a refractometer (I think...).
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Old 04-07-2010, 07:43 PM   #6
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Here is more beer's explanation of how to use a refractometer. I've wondered about this a bunch myself. Once alcohol is present, it throws off the readings.. more beer has a spread sheet to use to adjust it.

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What kind of R-Value does your ferm chamber need? - http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/what...hamber-190459/
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Old 04-07-2010, 07:45 PM   #7
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Yeah.. There are some online calculators for it, and I think ProMash has a calculator built into it.

I personally don't even check anything other than OG. I want to see what my all-grain efficiency is, but when the beer is done fermenting (based mostly on me just waiting for several weeks), I just keg it, carb it, and drink it.

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Old 04-07-2010, 07:47 PM   #8
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I just see it as another possibility for infection. I use the more beer spreedsheet and a refractometer. But again, I usualy let my beers go 2 weeks so I know they are done and will take a reading as I keg.

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Old 04-07-2010, 07:56 PM   #9
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I say go for it........I could see this working if you drilled a hole say 1/3 way up from bottom bucket or so perhaps 1/4 way up and had the tube come to same height as bucker from there attached to the bucket on a clip of some sort. with it's own stopper and airlock system, you'll only have to worry about air to beer so the air lock will stop that shouldn't have much kraeusen since smaller sample and it's feed way below surface. sample would be a little off perhaps but not much. I could see it working.

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Old 04-07-2010, 07:56 PM   #10
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I typically don't use a hydrometer except before fermentation starts, to check OG, and when racking to another vessel.

If you really want to check gravity with a hydrometer mid-fermentation, you could install a side port like on a conical Or, just get a conical with a side port.


The only times that I'm really interested in doing so would be when I'm trying to duplicate some of more complex brewing processes used for, say, a commercial saison where they carefully control temperature depending upon the amount of attenuation.

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