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Thanks to the help of everyone on here, I think I am finally learning how to do this. As far as visual checking to see if fermentation is complete, the center part of the 3 piece blow off would be resting on tube of the main part once fermentation is complete, correct? This is how mine looks right now during the 5th day.

Lack of bubbles doesn’t mean the process is done. It just means gas isn’t coming through that tube.

That being said, it can be a clue. Once you stop seeing bubbles, look at the beer. Is that foam cap still on top, or has it settled? Do you see swirling activity? Is the layer on the bottom distinct, compact?

Or, to avoid guessing games, you could take hydrometer/refractometer samples. Or just leave it be for three weeks and assume it’s done.


The cap bottoming out only means there is less CO2 pressure. Near the end of the fermentation the yeast are not as boisterous. They are just very quietly finishing the job. A SG reading about day 10 and 14 will determine whether the fermentation is complete (or possibly stuck). Look at the SG samples under good light to see how much sediment is still suspended. Bottling too quickly will put the sediment that is still suspended into your bottles.

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Thanks for your response to all my questions. You are my beer hero and have put me at ease. I think number next purchase will be a hydrometer. If not nowe, especially before I start doing 5 gallon batches. Would you recommend the essentials kit, advanced kit or just spend a little extra and get a refractometer? Thanks!

When I’m brewing an extract recipe I only use the lab grade hydrometer which reads specific gravity from 0.980 to 1.020. I only check for final gravity rather than checking the original gravity. Original gravity will be according to the recipe if all of the extract is used and the volume in the fermentor is the volume of the recipe.

Refractometers are great for all grain brewing to check the SG of runnings. Refractometers are not so great once alcohol is present after fermentation begins. Once alcohol is present a correction factor must be used to estimate SG.

In my opinion for extract brewing I would get neither of them. I just use the 0.980 - 1.020 hydrometer and the shipping tube it comes in for the sample. The special sample tubes may stand upright to hold the hydrometer, but just require too much volume of beer to float the hydrometer.

Thanks for advice. I don’t want to waste money on overkill when I could be using it for more buckets! Since you have answered almost all my post and are my unofficial beer mentor, I have another question instead of creating another post. In a previous post, you had recommended that I create a swamp cooler to keep Temps down. How far would I want the water up on a one gallon or 5 gallon jug? I’m thinking just water and some 20oz bottles with ice rotating out should handle the Temps I need. Also, do I need to keep it in the cooler the whole time it is fermenting or just the first few days? The one gallon kits usually ferment a couple of weeks but a 5 gallon burbon barrel takes 6 weeks. I plan on getting some of the stick on thermometers from amazon

I don’t want to interfere with Flars mentoring here, but I just stumbled into this post. Most stick on thermometers can’t get wet so check that if you are using a swamp cooler. How long you need the cooler depends on your room temp. As the yeast ferments the wort, it produces alcohol, CO2 and heat. As the fermentation slows, the heat produced slows. Early on, when the fermentation is active, the wort temp can be several degrees above room temp. That’s where the swamp cooler comes in. The cooler water temp, and evaporation, help remove the generated heat. After the fermentation slows, if your room temp is close to the desired beer temp, you don’t need the cooler any more. If its 80 degrees where you live, then you might need to cool the brew for the whole 6 weeks but slow way down on swapping out ice. You don’t want your beer temp to be too hot or too cold. You want it “just right”.

Hey, there are many brewers participating in this forum that have more knowledge than me, but I’ll keep trying.

You can also click on the search Icon at the top right of the screen for more information. Search “swamp cooler” and also “gadgets” for other interesting stuff.

Here is a picture of my swamp cooler set up.

The carboy is 6.5 gallons. The restaurant bussing tray about 7.5 inches deep with 6 inches of water. The towel wicks up the water and cools the fermentor as it evaporates. I have the fan sitting there in case I need extra cooling. With the fan running the wort can be cooled 8° to 10° at 68°F ambient air temperature.

I have the towel off the thermometer strip so it does not get cooled by the evaporation and throw off the actual beer temp. Five gallon batches of a large beer may need cooling for four to five days during the very active part of the fermentation. Beers less than 1.065 perhaps about three days. As the yeast is finishing less heat is produced. Then you may want to drain the water, that is acting as a heat sink, to keep the temperature of the beer from dropping. Amount of time to regulate the temperature depends upon how cool or warm you want the fermentation and the difference with the ambient temperature.

Without the towel for evaporation I can put an aquarium heater in the tray to warm the fermentor. I also add a tablespoon of bleach to the water to prevent water slime. Slippery glass carboys are hazardous.

Hope this helps and other Users will fill in the gaps.

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I need to try that.

An alternative to the swamp cooler that I use is this soft sided cooler by Cool Brewing. It works really well and I can bring temps down and hold them in check fairly easy. I use frozen soda bottles or OJ bottles to put inside the cooler with fermenter. Since the bottles don’t sit in water they last about 24 hours. The nice thing is the fermenter stays dry, no water to mess with and nothing gets slippery. I have even run a digital thermometer probe into the cooler and attached to a carboy with the readout outside the cooler. And if you do have a blow off it will be contained inside the cooler. They run about 65 bucks on the Morebeer website or you can also go to the Cool Brewing website . Not sure who else sells it but I don’t think NB does. For me it was well worth the money. I have even used it to bring my pitching temps down once the beer is cooled enough to transfer to carboy.

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Wow! Thank you for recommending that. I really like it! Would it be large enough for a 6.5 gallon bucket from NB with a blow up piece on top? I plan on doing primary in the buckets and then secondary in a 5 gallon glass carboy. Do you leave it in the cooler the whole time or just the first couple of days when the fermentation is most active?

Yes a 6.5 gallon bucket or carboy will fit with no issues with plenty of room around it to place frozen soda bottles. I don’t use buckets and a 6.5 gallon glass carboy fits fine and I assume is probably taller than a bucket. When I have had to use a blow off hose I ran it outside the cooler through the top to a bucket filled with starsan. The top zips closed around the hose. I secondary in 5 gallon glass carboys covered with a dark tshirt outside the cooler. I generally leave the primary in the cooler until the temperature has stabilized on it own and doesn’t need to be cooled anymore, but my basement stays at approximately 68 degrees year round so I’m lucky that way. If I don’t have to use it for another brew I just leave it in there because every time you move it it disturbs the trub somewhat. Hope that helps

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It helps a lot! That’s one area where I haven’t researched a lot. I was looking up swamp coolers but I like the cleanness about it. I know this is silly but you have an issue of it getting TOO cold. Off topic, besides NB and morebeer, what other places are great to buy home brew supplies?

My usual rounds are Amazon (most of the big players sell through there), Homebrewfinds, Adventures in Homebrewing, Beverage Elements, Bargain Fittings… a few other. Everybody’s good for something…

I have been able to cool into the mid 50s and then had to let it warm up a bit. Thats the nice thing about this system is its easy to control the ferm temps. I rotate 3 frozen bottles and a few ice packs if needed usually using a couple to start with then gradually decrease. Another site I use is Williams Brewing but theres a ton of them. I have a local brew store that I use most often for equipment

That looks like a cool stove

Ya its an old Hotpoint that was in the house when I bought it about 20 yrs ago. Probably original to the house that was built in the 50’s. Still works and its in my laundry room in the basement. Never really used it except for a few times then used it to brew partial boils before I started doing full boils on propane outside. Now use it to heat water for steeping grains, yeast starters, etc. Its still handy and its right next to an old porcelain double sink laundry tub.

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I have 1952 doughboy at my camp that we still use. They don’t make them look that anymore.


Hopefully you don’t have to move it too much! Blow a disc… Sneezles61

Thats pretty cool. Like a 57 Chevy.

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