View Full Version : JAO status report

09-13-2009, 01:55 PM
While this is not my first post, it is my first batch. I have another question. (the hell you say? lol) I'm a few days away from the first month mark and the batch is clearing nicely. Being as how I have never brewed before, I am concerned with the film, gunk, muck, crappola, or whatever the more technical term is for the stuff that is on the walls of my glass jug. It is the same color as the lees. I have told my wife that it is probably normal. I figured I would ask the masters.;D On my next one gallon batches I was going to try a hydrometer but how do I use it on a gallon jug? I have read of people taking a test sample in another container. Will I be able to pour the tested liquid back into the fermenter or am I out the test liquid? I only ask this because a gallon isn't much to work with. Thanks in advance!

09-14-2009, 10:43 AM
The "gunk" is probably spent yeast, and is the same as the lees on the bottom of the jug. No worries!

Regular hydrometer readings from small batches are always problematic, since you don't really want to pour the test sample back into the carboy. The solutions are to either: 1) Make larger batches, so the loss from testing is a smaller fraction of the total, 2) Invest in a refractometer, which can measure dissolved sugars with even more accuracy than a hydrometer, but uses only a drop or two of the must per test, or 3) leave the hydrometer in your main must all the time. That's not necessarily the best option since it can get "gummed up" with solids that stick to it and thus give false readings (and you also have to be able to see through the carboy well enough to read it, but if you have to use a hydrometer it might be the best approach in your case.

Personally, I recommend making bigger batches. Three gallon batches aren't too expensive, and there's lots more to share (and to drink) as a result! ;D

Medsen Fey
09-14-2009, 10:50 AM
Yes, it is easy to sample a 1-gallon batch out of existence. ;D

You cant take out a sample, measure it and replace it, but it does raise the risk of contamination. My advice is to make a bigger batch.

As for the gunk, you can ignore it. If you follow the recipe and add water to fill it up after the vigorous fermentation has subsided there shouldn't be any space for gunk.

09-14-2009, 02:14 PM
My larger carboys are on their way. The one gallon batches are my starter-see if I can do it and like it-batches;D. The nearest homebrew shop is in austin so I mail order everything (sucks). I have been reading everyone's opinion of one step. I used it to "sanitize" everything. Now I read that I might not be sanitizing properly. Im gonna order star-san today. Thanks again.

09-14-2009, 03:42 PM
Don't forget the "weigh the carboy" option. I have been getting pretty good results so far with the gallon-ish batches for my Heat/No-Heat test. A 5kg/1g scale is just right for gallon batches and a 30kg/50g scale would be more than sufficient for a 5-gal batch. Weigh the empty carboy/fermenter (with airlock, etc), weigh it after it is filled, and use the known OG to calculate the volume of must. From there, the weight you measure plus the volume (you assume it doesn't change, though it will) will give you the current SG. The more solids you add (fruit, yeast, bee parts) and the longer the mead sits (evaporation), the less accurate it gets. But it's perfectly adequate for picking out things like the 1/3 break with acceptable accuracy, IMO.

Here's (http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=350244678001) a 30kg scale with 2 g resolution for only $100. ;)

Medsen Fey
09-14-2009, 04:22 PM
If you don't mind spending some coin, a refractometer will also allow you to measure gravity with only a couple of drops taken out. You can get one for about $100.

09-14-2009, 04:29 PM
I see a refractometer on ebay for somewhat less than that...

http://cgi.ebay.com/LINK-0-32-BRIX-PORTABLE-REFRACTOMETER-NR-sugar-wine_W0QQitemZ370260375758QQcategoryZ31483QQcmdZVi ewItem

Since I cannot vouch for the seller, nor the accuracy of his information, YMMV.

Others here:
http://cgi.ebay.com/New-Wine-Alcohol-Grape-Refractometer-25-VOL-40-Brix-A4_W0QQitemZ230376559068QQcategoryZ26230QQcmdZView Item

May have to pick me up one.

09-14-2009, 05:31 PM
Im gonna order a refractometer off of ebay. I'll let yall know how it works out. Hopefully it won't be a $30.00 hunk-o-junk. They say you get what you pay for but I'll give it a whirl. Did I screw up by putting my faith in OneStep?

09-14-2009, 06:25 PM
Im gonna order a refractometer off of ebay. I'll let yall know how it works out. Hopefully it won't be a $30.00 hunk-o-junk. They say you get what you pay for but I'll give it a whirl. Did I screw up by putting my faith in OneStep?

I've been using One-Step for a couple years now.....and haven't had any problems.

Medsen Fey
09-14-2009, 10:48 PM
If you do use a refractometer please note that the alcohol in a fermenting must throws the reading off. Even when a mead goes bone dry, it will never read zero - it will usually still be 8-12 Brix depending on where you started. Refractometers are calibrated to read sugar/water solutions. Sugar/water/alcohol solutions read high.

This is not a problem if you use the refractometer calculators (http://onebeer.net/refractometer.shtml) to correct for it.

When posting in brewlogs it is very helpful and will save loads of confusion if you report your readings including that it is from a refractometer. Something like this:

Hydrometer 1.001
Refractometer Brix 9.0
Corrected refractometer gravity 1.001