Maybe I'm a moron, but...

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FlyingSailor

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Ok, just brewed my first batch today and it went pretty well. The only real issue that I encountered was how the heck to use the beer thief that came with my starter kit. I thought you dipped it into the carboy, it filled up, you could drop a thermometer or hydrometer into it, then when you were done you could deposit the wort back into the carboy. Instead, I put it into the wort, it filled up and when I brought it back out the wort just flowed out, not giving me enough time for any tests or even to transfer it to a testing vial. In the end I just pour some wort out of the carboy into a glass to do my testing but I thought that the thief would have made it much easier, thats why I'd like to know how to use it. THANKS! :mug:
 

bradsul

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Congrats on the first batch! :mug:

It sounds like the valve at the bottom of the thief is sticking in the open position. Normally the weight of the liquid in the tube will seal it shut.
 

GreenwoodRover

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And don't return your samples to the fermenter, drink them it's a good learning experience in terms of your beer at it's different stages. You'll also benefit from not accidentally contaminating your brew.
Get a hydrometer jar (a tall skinny tube with a stable base) to take your readings in...

Edit:

+1 on the congrats!!!
 

viking999

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Agreed. You had it figured right about the thief, so it's either stuck or broken. Unless of course it's the kind where you have to put your thumb over a hole in the top, but I doubt that.

Also, I wouldn't put the wort back into the fermenter. If you have perfect sanitation it's usually going to be ok, but I wouldn't risk infecting the entire batch to save an extra 10 oz. or so. Plus, for measurements after fermentation has started, you risk introducing more oxygen into the beer by returning the sample. And if you keep the sample, you get the added educational bonus of being able to taste the beer at different stages in the process.
 

DeathBrewer

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You should never pour any sample back into the fermenter. It increases the chance of contamination. Just drink whatever you take out...see how it's coming along.

Use your thief to grab what you need and pour it into an hydrometer sampler. I never use the hydrometer straight in the thief.



The little trigger thing at the bottom should press the bottom of the carboy and allow liquid to be sucked in. The weight from the liquid should then hold that trigger down and seal the bottom of the thief so that you can pull the liquid out. Sounds like yours might be defective, or you are improperly using it.
 

conpewter

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Edit: Since my point was quite late after all the other replys...

I have often used the tube the hydrometer came in to take readings. I broke my glass hydrometer jar the other day.... not sure when I'll buy another.
 
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FlyingSailor

FlyingSailor

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Wow, thanks for all the quick replies. It turns out that I have the kind that has the hole on the top that must be thumbed over. Opps, makes a lot more sense now. Thanks for all the tips about returning the wort to the fermenter. I had heard that returning it was a matter of preference but I would rather not risk infection.
 
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You should never pour any sample back into the fermenter. It increases the chance of contamination. Just drink whatever you take out...see how it's coming along.

Use your thief to grab what you need and pour it into an hydrometer sampler. I never use the hydrometer straight in the thief.



The little trigger thing at the bottom should press the bottom of the carboy and allow liquid to be sucked in. The weight from the liquid should then hold that trigger down and seal the bottom of the thief so that you can pull the liquid out. Sounds like yours might be defective, or you are improperly using it.
Is there an autosiphon type inner tube for that or is that the whole thing? and where can you pick them up? That's one tool I need desperately. My baster blows.
 

Brewin_the_goods

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You should never pour any sample back into the fermenter. It increases the chance of contamination. Just drink whatever you take out...see how it's coming along.

Use your thief to grab what you need and pour it into an hydrometer sampler. I never use the hydrometer straight in the thief.



The little trigger thing at the bottom should press the bottom of the carboy and allow liquid to be sucked in. The weight from the liquid should then hold that trigger down and seal the bottom of the thief so that you can pull the liquid out. Sounds like yours might be defective, or you are improperly using it.
So that's what that is for :eek:. My buddy and I were scratching our heads as it came with the auto siphon but I couldn't figure out how it attached......little did we know huh. Beer thief huh? So it's just to take readings for the hydrometer?
 

DeathBrewer

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Yep, usually called a "wine thief" and mainly used for the original gravity. You can't really use it for final gravity, because putting it all the way to the bottom and letting it suck up liquid will kick up a bunch of trub along with it.

That's why I prefer the 3-piece sampler.
 

HoppyDaze

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So that's what that is for :eek:. My buddy and I were scratching our heads as it came with the auto siphon but I couldn't figure out how it attached......little did we know huh. Beer thief huh? So it's just to take readings for the hydrometer?
The beer "wine" thief is actually completely different from the auto siphon even though the tube of the auto siphon looks suspiciously like a wine thief
 
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Yep, usually called a "wine thief" and mainly used for the original gravity. You can't really use it for final gravity, because putting it all the way to the bottom and letting it suck up liquid will kick up a bunch of trub along with it.

That's why I prefer the 3-piece sampler.
Ahh This is a good point. So if you just draw your OG sample from your cooled wort while draining to your fermenter, there is no real reason to have one of these.

I am looking for the 3 piece like I think you are referrinf to. Looks like a giant Pipet.
 

springer

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Why would you go all the way into the carboy with the thief? The instructions that came with mine states to go about 1/2 way in and pull up to almost the top of the liquid then quickly go down again to the half way point each time more wort is added to the thief. Repeat until you have the desired sample. I marked mine so I don't take to much. The Valve opens on the down stoke and close's on the up.

never stirred up trub
 

ericm

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Why would you go all the way into the carboy with the thief? The instructions that came with mine states to go about 1/2 way in and pull up to almost the top of the liquid then go down again to the half way point. Repeat until you have the desired sample. I marked mine so I don't take to much. The Valve opens on the down stoke and close's on the up.
this ^

you shouldn't have to touch the bottom of the carboy to get the valve to open
 
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DeathBrewer

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The tip won't press against the side, you can't angle it enough.

It does work to push down to get a sample, or swirl around a few times until you get the level you want.

I didn't like it, however...no matter what it drips, no matter what you get drips everwhere when you pour out into a container to drink, i don't like dropping the hydrometer into the vessel, etc.

I've used the wine thief many times when I didn't have anything else. I just prefer the 3-piece sampler, I guess.

*shrug*
 

Bopper

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The tip won't press against the side, you can't angle it enough.

It does work to push down to get a sample, or swirl around a few times until you get the level you want.

I didn't like it, however...no matter what it drips, no matter what you get drips everwhere when you pour out into a container to drink, i don't like dropping the hydrometer into the vessel, etc.

I've used the wine thief many times when I didn't have anything else. I just prefer the 3-piece sampler, I guess.

*shrug*
I'm with you, Death. I use the 3 piece sampler job and it works perfect. Then again, I don't my hydrometer often:eek:
 

CBBaron

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The tip won't press against the side, you can't angle it enough.

It does work to push down to get a sample, or swirl around a few times until you get the level you want.

I didn't like it, however...no matter what it drips, no matter what you get drips everwhere when you pour out into a container to drink, i don't like dropping the hydrometer into the vessel, etc.

I've used the wine thief many times when I didn't have anything else. I just prefer the 3-piece sampler, I guess.

*shrug*
When you lower it into the fermenter the pressure from the liquid opens the valve allowing it to fill to the level of the beer or wine. Then you can pull it out.

They do drip a little but you can hold it over a glass to take your reading then just empty it into the glass for sampling using the valve in the bottom. I don't make any kind of mess when using it. I only use the thief for FG readings. I take a sample from my brew kettle after chilling to measure the OG.

And if you do a good job sanitizing you should not have any problems with infection even if you return the beer to the fermenter. But I find that to be a waste of a great opportunity to learn about your through tasting.

Craig
 

ChshreCat

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Mine just has a hole at the top and a hole at the bottom. I dip it in, put my thumb on the top hole and transfer wort to my sample container. Easy as pie.
 

nostalgia

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I use and love my wine thief, but I love it more since I changed my technique a bit. I used to do as another poster said and dip it halfway, lift it out, put it into the sample tube, repeat until I had enough for my hydrometer to float.

That got old quickly, so:

On the outside I drew a line with a Sharpie where there's enough liquid to take a hydro sample. When I want to take a sample I put the thief about halfway down into my beer. I then suck gently on the end of the tube like taking a bong hit (not that I'd know :drunk:). I watch the liquid level come up to my Sharpie line and I'm done.

Quick, clean and easy. There's already liquid in the tube when I put my mouth on the end so there's no way for any germies to get into the beer. And of course I don't return the samples to the fermenter.

-Joe
 

CBBaron

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I use and love my wine thief, but I love it more since I changed my technique a bit. I used to do as another poster said and dip it halfway, lift it out, put it into the sample tube, repeat until I had enough for my hydrometer to float.

That got old quickly, so:

On the outside I drew a line with a Sharpie where there's enough liquid to take a hydro sample. When I want to take a sample I put the thief about halfway down into my beer. I then suck gently on the end of the tube like taking a bong hit (not that I'd know :drunk:). I watch the liquid level come up to my Sharpie line and I'm done.

Quick, clean and easy. There's already liquid in the tube when I put my mouth on the end so there's no way for any germies to get into the beer. And of course I don't return the samples to the fermenter.

-Joe
Slick idea but the only time I've not been able to get enough beer or wine in my thief to take a reading is when I have a 3gal or smaller batch in a 6.5gal bucket. For 5gal batches there is always plenty of depth.

Craig
 

JohnnyO

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I picked up a thief just a few weeks ago. For my first batch (I'm only on my second), I used a baster to take samples, and it leaked too much. I haven't yet tried the thief, but I hope it works better. When I would use the baster, it would leak, sometimes stream back into the wort, and I was afraid it was adding oxygen. Luckily, it was still beer at the end...
 
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