I primary ferment with the 6.5gal buckets, and after continually opening the cover to sample with the thief as well as siphon to the secondary and bottle bucket, I want to install spigots just like the bottling buckets and take the samples and transfer from the spigot. The pro is that I don’t have to keep exposing the beer, but the question I have is the spigot is low on the bucket, and would I get a inaccurate sample by not taking it from the center of the bucket with a thief and possibly pulling in some trub sediments instead through the spigot? Same holds true with transferring to a secondary or bottle bucket- the siphon does a good job because I can control the depth and wouldn’t be able to with a spigot. Thoughts?
I think it would work, but just be sure you sanitize the spigot well before using it in a fermentation bucket. those damn things have plenty of nooks and crannys for bacteria to form/grow before the alcohol level increased enough to kill them.
I think they’re about $25, but a Better Bottle racking spigot would give you the ability to sample above the sediment line and to drain the bucket dry and they’re made of teflon, so sanitation is easy. To your other question - once fermentation starts, the gravity in the fermenter is consistent throughout.
The thing I would be concerned about would be sanitation after you test. For instance, you have your beer in the fermenter and decide to test it after 10 days or 2 weeks, or whatever. You pour some through the spigot and take your reading. Now what? If you are not going to bottle/keg and think you are going to leave it sit for a week or two - you now have a dirty spigot. How are you going to clean it when it is on the bucket? If you let it sit like that for a week, and then run your beer through the spigot again, you are risking an infection.
Best solution is simply not to “test” your beer. Let it sit for 3-4 weeks until you are ready to do something with it and then do it - test at that time to make sure. But 95% of the time it will be where it should be, and if it is not, there is usually not a lot you can do about it.
I agree that sanitation of the spigot will be your biggest issue when your fermenter is full. I would have a hard time trusting it.