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Testing Gravity in a Carboy

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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.

BeerPirate

English pale Priming
German Boch in secondary
IPA on deck
 

bikebryan

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DyerNeedOfBeer said:
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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bikebryan said:
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.
 

tnlandsailor

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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://***********/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.

Prosit,
 

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.
 

andre the giant

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Thor said:
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 your luck is anything like mine, you can insert the words "and it breaks" a couple times in the sentences listed above....

I use a turkey baster that stays with the brewery. I santitize then take a sample. No problems so far.
 

Truble

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Born Brewing Co. said:
Turkey baster , stays in the brewery.
ditto, except I use my cooking one. It is stainless and the bulb comes off for cleaning. I just throw the tube into some boiling water, run some of the boiling water into the bulb a couple times, and then use. No issues thus far.
 

snokyguy

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I have one batch in a 6gal carboy, sadly a turkey baster will not reach the beer. I have a batch in a 5gal carboy too. I'm thinking i'll turkey baste the 5gal, then drop the hydrometer in and leave into the 6. I reallly don't want to risk a break though.. i'm pretty sure that belgian batch in the 6gal is going to be uber delicious. wish me luck!
 
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