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Hydrometers and lost beer

As mentioned in another post, I only ended up with 7.3 beers in my last brew. Per several suggestions, I bought a hydrometer so I can start to learn how to use it. When I saw the video provided by NB, I saw that there was quite a lot of liquid used for the test. I have also read that you do not want to add this sampling of beer back to the batch, so it is a loss. If you are supposed to do this a few times, how much beer are you sacrificing in the process, and is it perhaps not a best suited practice for a 1 gallon batch, vs. a 5 gallon batch?

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Depending on your fermentation vessel, for a 1 gallon batch you would be better off sanitizing your hydrometer and putting it right into the fermentor to take your reading rather than taking some out to sample in a tube. The only issue with this is if your top is too narrow, it may be difficult to retrieve the hydrometer once you’ve taken your reading.

:beers:
Rad

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You only really need two samples. One to verify your OG (original gravity) and one to see if you have reached your FG (final gravity). Your hydrometer flask won’t use much beer up but in small batches that will make a difference.

If you are doing a kit or following a known recipe, the OG should be the same as stated if the directions are followed so you can really skip that. Just drink the FG sample :grinning:

The only time you would take multiple readings is if you think the fermentation is stuck. The you would take readings for three days in a row to see if the gravity drops or remains the same.

The reason for not returning the sample is that you are risking and infection. If proper sanitation is followed you probably could pour it back but why risk it.

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I haven’t looked at the video but I’m guessing they show a sample container that will stand on a work top with the hydrometer floating inside? A sample container like this will take quit a bit of beer to fill to the float level. I use the plastic shipping tube the hydrometer came in. Takes less beer to float the hydrometer. You do need to hold it in your hand to make sure the hydrometer is floating freely but doing that doesn’t involve a lot of time.

I don’t take an original gravity sample for extract brews. The OG will be as stated in the recipe if you use all the extract and your volume is correct as @hd4mark has said . Quite often I will only take one FG sample. This is for beers that are not high gravity and have been in the primary for at least three weeks with nothing out of the ordinary happening during the fermentation. These one sample beers have also been brewed multiple times with the same yeast.

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Your hydrometer might stick to the side of the plastic container it comes in they say, If I had both my flask and the container with me I would fill them with water to see the difference.

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fwiw, I’ve returned samples to the fermentor without issue many times. You just have to be on point with your sanitizing to avoid infection, and pour it in as gently as possible to avoid any additional oxygen exposure.

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Does this work with the one gallon carboys in the 1 Gallon Small Batch Beer Brewing Kit (link) or the Little Big Mouth Bubbler® in the Go Pro™ Small Batch Beer Brewing Kit (link)?

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Some observations:

  • If you are looking moving to 5 gallon brewing after you get comfortable with the process, don’t be concerned about losing that extra bottle. Focus on developing good brewing habits while brewing one gallon batches by taking the SG readings.

  • If you are planning to stay with one gallon batches for a while, and you are fermenting in a 1 gallon carboy, get something bigger (a Little Big Mouth Bubbler®, a two gallon food grade pail, …).

  • With a fermenter that actually works for one gallon batches (see above), add your wort and top off to the one gallon level in the fermenter, then add an additional cup (8 oz) of water. This will dilute the wort slightly, so you will want to fine-tune this amount (or adjust the recipe) over time. A typicaly SG reading will take 4 oz. You can follow what @flars suggests above (link) to minimize the amount of wort used to take a reading.

In summary: a one gallon recipe yields 10 bottles of beer with three SG measurements.

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Wow. Just getting back on and there’s a whole page of responses. Thanks everyone!!!
I have the 1 gallon big mouth bubbler, so I am not sure that floating it would work. Yes, @chertel, I have 2 beers (1 gallon) on the way and I have my 7 precious bottles aging right now. I won’t know much about the results of batch 1 till I am mid way through batch 2. Once the 3 have finished and I have had time to em… digest my thoughts, (assuming all is well) I will be stepping up to 5 gallons. (Please someone chime in if this is too ambitious for a new brewer). But if I am going to take over the kitchen for 1 gallon, I might as well make 5. :sunglasses:

I have read on the results both ways on this. I have no issues with the sanitization side of things, but it’s the oxygen I am worried about.

There are numerous ways to “optimize” the brewing process. If length of the brew day is a factor, beer can be made with a 30 minute partial mashes and a 45 minute boil. Partial boils make it possible to make larger batches with existing equipment. And returning wort used for SG measurements can help improve brew house" efficiency on a per batch basis.

When learning how to brew, developing 1) good temperature control during fermentation, 2) proper cleaning and sanitizing of equipment, and 3) good wort handling practices make it practical to brew common styles well early in the home brewing hobby.

I’ll be honest - brew house efficiency isn’t a factor for me, right now, with my hobby. I doubt it will be a factor in the future (and, best of all, :slight_smile: I don’t need to have an opinion as to whether or not putting the SG measurement back into the wort is a risk worth taking).

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There are lots of good people here who will help you get there (5 gallons) and help me get here (three gallons). :sunglasses:

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Why wouldn’t it work. I check my Mead in a one gallon jug just tossing it in. Seems a bmb would be even better.

I would imagine it would work just fine to float it directly in your little BMB. Make sure you sanitize it and your hands before putting it in.

:beers:
Rad

I have one of these. It allows you to take a sample and transfer to a test jar or just put your hydrometer in the thief and test it that way. You can then just simply put the beer back into the fermenter if you sanitized everything correctly. You would have to sanitize not only the thief but also the hydrometer in order to do this. I have used it both ways because I like to taste the beer as it comes along. I generally only take an OG and two readings after that. I have found that if taking a reading with the hydrometer inside the thief that it is very narrow and it is difficult to hold it so the hydrometer doesn’t stick to the side giving a false reading but its not impossible if you want to save your beer.

I have one of those also. When taking a sample from a 6.5 gallon carboy it takes two tries to get enough for my hydrometer flask due to how far down the wort is from the opening. I toss the sample or drink it.

I found that to be the case also but its longer than the other thief I have. Try bouncing it inside the carboy and see if that causes it to fill higher. Guy at my local brew shop told me that but Ive never done it.

This works. I use this method when I take a sample at about 10 days to stay out of the beer lower in the fermentor. Less suspended sediment in the sample.

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