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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > General Techniques > Ditching the hydrometer?
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Old 07-22-2012, 04:17 PM   #1
MacGruber
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Default Ditching the hydrometer?

I've noticed on my last three beers I haven't taken hydrometer readings. I simply forgot to take the OG after the first one. I panicked then realized it was still going to be beer and as long as it tasted good I didn't care about the readings. If I were competing I'd obviously care way more. I simply estimate abv based on my I brewmaster app. I'll be more diligent next time, but my beers have been fantastic and I haven't been as concerned because I'm not obsessing over a few points on the hydrometer.


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Old 07-22-2012, 04:31 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MacGruber View Post
I've noticed on my last three beers I haven't taken hydrometer readings. I simply forgot to take the OG after the first one. I panicked then realized it was still going to be beer and as long as it tasted good I didn't care about the readings. If I were competing I'd obviously care way more. I simply estimate abv based on my I brewmaster app. I'll be more diligent next time, but my beers have been fantastic and I haven't been as concerned because I'm not obsessing over a few points on the hydrometer.
I'd be concerned about not using a hydrometer to check FG if you're bottling just to ensure fermentation is finished and not stuck or slow to avoid bottle bombs. But for taking an OG, or for kegging beer, I would agree that an experienced brewer wouldn't need to use a hydrometer.


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Old 07-22-2012, 04:36 PM   #3
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I think it's nice to know. What if you have a brew come out too sweet, but it has a decent amount of caramel or honey malt in it? Sure it's possible to deduce, but it'd be nice to know you mashed a touch too high and your fg is .007 too high vs having too much crystal or something.
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Old 07-22-2012, 06:59 PM   #4
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I keep meticulous notes and make sure I hit my mash temps. Also, I let it ferment out for three to four weeks until I see it's fairly clear ( i can see an inch or two in from the side while looking at the yeast cake) and the yeast cake is compact. I also keg so I'm not worried about bottle bombs.
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Old 07-22-2012, 09:09 PM   #5
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I mean, if you want to be a terrible brewer and make terrible beer, then yea, don't take hydrometer readings.

Just kidding. I lost my hyrdrometer for a couple batches and it all worked out fine. Whatever works for you.
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Old 07-22-2012, 09:24 PM   #6
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The good thing about comparing OG and FG is that you can calculate ABV, and that is interesting to know: (OG-FG)/7.46 or (OP-FP)/1.87 if you work with Plato. Add .5% to the result to account for bottling sugar. If you are using specific gravity express OG and FG as points of gravity: 1.050 is 50 points of gravity. (If you work with Plato there's no base dropping (the 1.000 part) required.)

So for example 50 OG minus 10 FG gives 40/7.46 equals 5.36% ABV. Add .5% and your finished beer will be about 5.86% ABV. Yum!
You can also check that fermentation is done by seeing if the attenuation is what you would expect. The specs for various strains of yeast are on the websites of the manufacturers but for example if the yeast has an attenuation range of say 75% to 80% you can calculate in the above example 40/50 and see that the attenuation is 80% and it's time to bottle!
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Old 07-22-2012, 11:21 PM   #7
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I always take pre-boil OG, pre-boil vol, post boil OG and post boil vol in my notes as well as final OG and the volume that got bottled/kegged. I think this helps me tweak my recipes and fix any problems. I recently switched to a refractometer and that has helped a lot.
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Old 07-22-2012, 11:38 PM   #8
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after i get my wort cooled and ready to pitch i take an OG reading. just for curiosity tho. because if im a little low do you think im going to boil up some DME or dextrose to bring up my OG? hell no.. the yeast is going in no matter what.. i've never had a stuck ferment.. but i would say your FG is more important then you OG IMO.. but like i said i've never had a stuck ferment so other then letting me know the ABV of the drink its pretty much useless to me.

of course theres people who think there macking some magical beer they want to replicate and in that case you need one.. but im a tottaly laid back lazy brewer.. i just want beer
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Old 07-22-2012, 11:46 PM   #9
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I don't fix my gravity either, but I can use it to adjust my grain bill in the future (if I'm always low) or to look for new ways to improve my process. If my OG is consistently .10 too low, maybe I'm doing something wrong. My last batch was to be 1.088, but ended up 1.086. That's not a big deal to me, I make a note of it for future reference. But if it was 1.060, I would know I totally screwed something up.

It's the same with mash temps, if I don't record what temp I mashed at, how would I know what to adjust it to in the future if I wanted to dry it out?

I know it's not for everyone, but I'd hate to make a awesome beer and never be able to make it again.
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Old 07-23-2012, 12:57 AM   #10
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I've used my hydrometer for years and know how to calculate abv. I know my set up yields 70% efficiency. So when I create a recipe using iBrewmaster and it gives me my abv based on my recipe and efficiency, I feel okay if I forget to take an OG reading. The beer still tastes awesome even if I don't know exactly what the abv is on some batches!


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