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Old 06-21-2005, 10:08 PM   #1
BeerPirate
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I'm getting ready to brew my third batch soon (IPA) I think. I just have a quick question about testing my gravity when my beer is in a carboy. I have been using a graduated cylinder and filling it with dips of my racking tube and then testing with my hydrometer. I just poke my racking tube into the carboy, put my thumb over the end and pull out a sample. The only problem is it takes quite a few dips to get a full sample. I know you can buy a thief and take larger samples. I'm just curious to hear how you all test your gravities.

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Old 06-21-2005, 10:12 PM   #2
DyerNeedOfBeer
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The siphon starter (a.k.a. 'thief'). This is an invaluable tool in my collection.
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Old 06-21-2005, 10:13 PM   #3
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I use a turkey baster (mine, beer exclusive) after sanitizing it when I want to test. One extract is typically all you need.

 
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Old 06-21-2005, 10:21 PM   #4
bikebryan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DyerNeedOfBeer
The siphon starter (a.k.a. 'thief'). This is an invaluable tool in my collection.
The siphon starter and a Thief are not the same thing! The siphon starter is a racking cane with a built-in inner piston that starts the siphon. A thief just allows you to collect a sample and can't siphon.

 
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Old 06-21-2005, 10:31 PM   #5
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Turkey baster , stays in the brewery.
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Old 06-21-2005, 11:04 PM   #6
roverz
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Refractometer .. less waste of precious beer
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Old 06-22-2005, 03:40 AM   #7
DyerNeedOfBeer
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bikebryan
The siphon starter and a Thief are not the same thing! The siphon starter is a racking cane with a built-in inner piston that starts the siphon. A thief just allows you to collect a sample and can't siphon.

Hmmm, coulda sworn my siphon had a label in it that said 'thief'... maybe just an add for another product... Well, I use my siphon as a thief to take samples out of the carboy. I just don't put the inner piston in it and it acts as a sample drawing tool.
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Old 06-22-2005, 01:16 PM   #8
homebrewer_99
 
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I have a siphon and a thief. They look alike, but have different purposes.
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Old 06-22-2005, 01:35 PM   #9
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It is worth noting that a refractometer has to be used in conjunction with a hydrometer in order to read gravities of fermented wort. Also, refractometers are used for the sucrose content of liquids, not maltose. So there are correction factors that must be applied. Plus there are correction factors for temperature (unless your refractometer has this correction built in). In short, there is either quite a bit of math involved, or you have to get a little computer program to help you (Promash has one built into it for refractometers). Here is a good article on refractometers:

http://www.byo.com/feature/1132.html

As for carboy samples, I usually wait until I rack before checking gravity. Use your air lock to tell you when fermentation is done. It won't hurt a thing to leave beer in the carboy a little longer to make sure that it's finished. Use air lock activity to judge as well as your eyes (but only if you ferment in glass). Besides, everytime you stick something into the carboy, your risk of contamination goes up. If you simply have to take a sample, your best bet is an auto-siphon as previously mentioned by Dyer. Not only do you get the best siphon starter available, but you can remove the inner tube and use the main body to extract hydrometer samples in one step.

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Old 11-10-2005, 06:28 PM   #10
Thor
 
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Another method which works well: sanitize your hydrometer and leave it in the filled carboy. When you rack, it gently floats to the bottom. To remove, fill the carboy with water and it floats out.

If the carboy is a little foggy (water vapor), briefly shine a flashlight on the hydrometer to read.
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