Best way to take hydrometer readings?

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RobWalker

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Standard demi johns, standard equipment...what's the quickest way to take hydrometer readings? Right now I'm sterlizing all kit, syphoning 100ml out, and taking the reading then. Is there another way to do it that isn't so bloody complicated? Doing this on a daily basis is tedious :D
 

BendBrewer

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Well if you are like me, you'll tire of the process and stop doing it all together. I take a pre-boil and post boil reading then a reading when I keg if I feel like it. Couldn't justify why I take the last reading outside of curiosity though honestly.
 
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RobWalker

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Booo, that's very lazy - I'm concentrating on wines and liquors so I want to know when to stop fermenting for dry, medium and sweet :)
 

BendBrewer

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Oh well this is a beer forum and I'm not lazy but I'm not anal either.
 

jwheelz

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I use a wine thief (just read someone uses a Turkey baster too) Thats got to be much easier then starting a siphon every time.
 

chefmike

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sanitize the hydrometer and float it in the carboy?

simplest thing I could think of.

Might need several hydrometers, but if you want a reading every day...

And you may want to post in the wine section, as most folks with beer won't be taking a reading daily unless a little OCD :)
 

juslod

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I use a wine thief (just read someone uses a Turkey baster too) Thats got to be much easier then starting a siphon every time.
I second the wine thief. It allows you to get just enough liquid to float a hydrometer and then you only have to sanitize one piece and it is a lot easier than creating a siphon each time.
 

D0ug

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I second the wine thief. It allows you to get just enough liquid to float a hydrometer and then you only have to sanitize one piece and it is a lot easier than creating a siphon each time.
+1, and you get a tasting sample to boot!
 

rico567

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I use the wine thief. Very easy. If you can't lower the thief far enough into the bucket or carboy to get adequate beer to float the hydrometer, just jiggle it up and down rapidly, and it will take in enough to do the job.

And.....yes, I take an FG reading, and yes, every time.
 

Gldnst8warrior

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I been using Turkey Baster for awhile, it works and I already had one. But it tends to dribble some beer back in the carboy. Not a problem but it ends up making me use the Baster two or three times to get the volume I need. Also if using a Turkey Baster be sure to push the air out of it before you dip it into your beer.
 

JonK331

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Standard demi johns, standard equipment...what's the quickest way to take hydrometer readings? Right now I'm sterlizing all kit, syphoning 100ml out, and taking the reading then. Is there another way to do it that isn't so bloody complicated? Doing this on a daily basis is tedious :D
I use a wine thief. There is no reason to take a reading every day. Doing so is a great way to introduce an infection. Just have patience and take readings when the visual signs indicate that it is time to do so. I take the OG and then the FG when it is time to keg. If the gravity is not where I want it when I'm ready to keg, I wait longer and do it again. I hardly ever have to wait longer though because I wait a full three weeks before I open up the carboy to take a reading before kegging. This is not a "lazy" way of taking readings, just give the fermentation time and let the yeast do it's thing. It you need something to do while you are waiting for your ferment, just make some more wort.
 

Gldnst8warrior

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I take the OG and then the FG when it is time to keg. If the gravity is not where I want it when I'm ready to keg, I wait longer and do it again. I hardly ever have to wait longer though because I wait a full three weeks before I open up the carboy to take a reading before kegging.
Exactly what I am doing and it's been working great. Just passed 50 gallon mark since I started and have yet to have bottle bomb, infection etc. 9 times out 10 3 weeks in primary and I am at my target FG for the recipe.
 

D0ug

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Whoops, missed the daily part! Yeah, as mentioned above that is more often than necessary.

I take an OG before pitching, a reading a few days after the airlock stops, and then three days after that. If the last two readings were the same I leave it for 2 weeks and take a final reading when I bottle. I also take a reading on the fourth day after pitching if there doesn't seem to have been any activity.

I could probably skip the middle readings and just take two readings three days apart after waiting for 2-3 weeks after airlock activity stops, but I like doing it that way.

That's just me though. But I think most would agree daily is too much. The important readings are the first before you pitch for OG, and the last two (3 days apart) before you bottle/keg for an FG and to make sure fermentation has stopped.
 

joeldp144

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I just sanitize my hydrometer, and drop it straight into the bucket. I always take mine after I believe that fermentation is fully complete (for beer application), so I pretty much never have to reseal the bucket. Therefore, I take one before fermentation and one immediately before kegging.

Part of the fun of brewing is knowing how your alcohol % ended. Especially when you make a big honkin 9.8% Belgian Tripel or an 8.8% Imperial IPA. Really impresses the ladies.....or your moocher buddies who drink all of your homebrew.
 

NWMOBrewer

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I ferment in my bottling bucket, and use my spigot to take readings, and just put it directly into my tube, take my reading, and taste it.
 

VTBrewer

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A wine thief that is clean and a spray bottle of diluted star san makes taking a daily reading, while a bit excessive, rather simple.
 

drathbone

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I use the ol' turkey baster. But I only take OG and another couple readings to ensure fermentation has completed a couple weeks later.
 

NWMOBrewer

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Do you get much trub/cake doing this?
I get none, i moved my beer to a second bucket that has the spigot and the spigot is about an inch off the bottom. Its no problem for me. Also I don't need to spend the money on the wine thief, I just have 2 fermenting buckets.
 

Yooper

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Standard demi johns, standard equipment...what's the quickest way to take hydrometer readings? Right now I'm sterlizing all kit, syphoning 100ml out, and taking the reading then. Is there another way to do it that isn't so bloody complicated? Doing this on a daily basis is tedious :D
Well, then stop doing it daily!

Take the SG right before you plan to do something. If you're bottling, racking, adding something, etc, take the SG. If you're planning on racking the first time, take the SG. If you plan on bottling, take the SG. But for ordinary racking, no need.

But why on earth would you take daily SG readings? I don't undertand at all.
 
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RobWalker

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It's to stop fermentation at the right time. I'm new to home brewing and I want to cut it at around 1015 so it's still got some residual sweetness, rather than backsweeten (or brew it so strong the yeast dies, heh) like my last brews. I'm yet to take SG for this batch but I want to monitor it so I can take it off at the right time! :)
 

VTBrewer

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How are you stopping the fermentation and what has made you think your yeast have died in the past? Most of us leave our beer on the yeast cake well after fermentation has stopped on its own.
 
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RobWalker

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In the past? Because the wine I made came out at around 18% ;)
This is what I usually do yeah, but I want to try different methods - in this case, I've added enough sugar to stop fermentation around this mark so it comes out at 5% and a little sweet. :)
I'm going to be stopping by adding k-sorbate and cold crashing. :)
 

Tall_Yotie

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On how to make it easier- if you are using a bucket, just pour out of the spout into the tube for the hydrometer, measure, and drink the sample. No need for sanitation at that point then, as you are not touching anything in the main bucket.
 

BendBrewer

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You control the sweetness of your beer in the mashing process. If you want it sweeter you need to have more unfermentable sugars. Your idea of trying to stop the yeast from eating fermentable sugars is a futile effort as I assume you are going to bottle.
 

Yooper

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I think we're talking about wine here? Even though it's in the beer forum?

I'm so confused! :drunk:

Sorbate doesn't stop fermentation, only keeps yeast from reproducing. So adding sorbate won't do anything to halt fermentation.

What you can do is crash cool at the desired SG. I wouldn't take daily Sg readings- I'd go by taste. If it tastes "right", then it's good. Then crash cool it until clear. Then rack off of the sediment and let it sit (still cold). When there are no new lees, THEN you can add campden and sorbate to stabilize. It might work, but it might not. Yeast likes to ferment until the fermentable sugars are gone, and it's not always easy to stop fermentation when you want with some residual sugars. It's like stopping a freight train. I can tell you that simply adding sorbate at chilling will NOT work, though.
 

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