Originally Posted by rightwingnut
I read a lot about checking the brew during the fermentation process...to see if there is activity, and to measure the specific gravity and such...I'll be using a plastic pail...is it ok to open it during fermentation to check on it? Wouldn't that risk contamination?
You'll read a lot in the books about checking your beer as it ferments, and in my opinion, it's all crap. There is almost no need to check your beer while it is fermenting. Yes, it absolutely risks contamination, and for little or no gain.
I have been brewing for over 15 years and I don't even own a hydrometer anymore. I brew, put it in a primary, let it ferment one week, then rack to secondary. The beer is done fermenting when the bubbles stop. Then I put it in kegs. Who really cares about gravity?
Now, if you just *have* to know, then check it I guess. But it won't make your beer any better in the end and it risks infection, so to me it's just silly.
The whole gravity thing is one area where I think the books overcomplicate matters. Fermentation works. There will be some quantity of alcohol in it when it's done. Whether or not you checked it half a dozen times along the way won't change any of that.