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Brewed my very first batch today. It is a stout and is sitting in my basement as I type. I would call the day a success--a whole lot more work than I thought. Hopefully only two things went wrong:

  1. I had a little bit of a boil over when we were still trying to get a handle on how to control the turkey fryer heat.
  2. I broke my hydrometer.

In your opinions, how serious are these issues? Anything I need to throw the brew out for?

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4  
This site was almost called Boilover, akin to the programming equivalent: StackOverflow. Fun fact :P –  Taylor Jan 6 '10 at 15:19
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Ugh. I've brewed with two other people and each of them has broken a hydrometer of mine. Keep your hydrometer in its original tube, not the testing tube, to guard against this, and buy an extra one. It's an essential piece of equipment. –  Rich Armstrong Mar 24 '10 at 17:41
    
... and they're pretty cheap! –  Rich Armstrong Apr 19 '10 at 17:10

6 Answers 6

Depending on the extent of the boil over you'll lose gravity point or two of OG in the final wort, but it's not a significant concern.

Hydrometers break for a lot of people. I know a few brewing buddies who keep two around just so that when one breaks they have a backup. I wouldn't suggest running out and getting two. But next time you are just "browsing" in the homebrew shop and you just want to buy something to make the trip wortwhile... pick up a second hydrometer.

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Well I just bottled my first batch and lucky for me I had an experienced cousin come over to help me so I did not have a boil over.... and we still nearly had one! My big mistake was putting the lid on my fermenter then pushing my airlock into the black rubber gasket when it was on top of the beer!!!! After pushing the gasket into the fermenter, having to siphon the beer out to find it and then siphon it back into the bucket I have officially learned the hard way! Also, using a kit make sure you read the directions a few times through and have a good understanding of what steps to take. Instead of adding one can of the LME to 2 gallons and boiling for 40 minutes, then topping off to 5 gallons and boiling the 2nd can for 15.....I poured them both in and found out as I stood there stirring that I shouldn't have. Lucky for me the manufacturer said that it will only result in a little darker wheat beer!

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Boil overs. They happen. I've been brewing near to 5 years... I STILL boil over, unless I'm standing next to my kettle for the full hour. I tend to be in the kitchen, doing other tasks (making up breakfasts/lunches for the week ahead, helping with dinner's prep-work, etc.). I was actually quite proud with the batch I just brewed (and is in day 9 fermenting) because I was able to do other tasks and NOT boil over.

As for the Hydrometer, I agree with those above, it's not essential to brewing, but is darn close. Like a speedometer on your car. Not necessary to get from home to work, but is a key tool to help you avoid a large number of issues. I have broken many hydrometers, and my recommendation is that you only handle it at the point where the fat and skinny parts come together. That is the weakest part of the hydrometer (and where every one of mine has broken).

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In my first few batches I quickly learned that something doesn't go exactly right in almost every batch. Should be fine unless you have reason to believe you may have poisoned the beer. In my few short years homebrewing, I have yet to toss a batch or make one that is totally undrinkable.

You've learned two important lessons. 1. Be careful with your hydrometer unless you want to waste your beer money on more hydrometers. 2. Know your burner, control your heat!

There are many more lessons to learn... in the meantime relax and have a homebrew!

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Agreed. RDWHAHB –  Dustin Rasener May 18 '11 at 22:30

Since the hydrometer only broke in the sanitizing bucket, you're almost certainly fine. Boiling over, from my understanding, is going to happen to everyone from time to time. As far as the hydrometer, if you didn't get an OG calculation, you can always go to beercalculus.com and enter the recipe you used. It will give you an approximate OG based on your recipe. I just did the same thing when I didn't take a big enough sample for my hydrometer before putting the fermentation lock on.

Oh, and congratulations on finishing your first batch. My first one is bubbling away merrily, and it is quite exciting! Happy homebrewing!

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When you broke your hydrometer, where was it? Any chance there could be glass in your wort? That would be my only concern right now.

(I've been there, kinda. One of my homebrew buddies broke a thermometer with some sort of metal weights it in during our boil, ugh).

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nope...luckily it was in the sanitizing bucket only –  Tony Rufkahr Jan 3 '10 at 3:35
    
The only problem boil-overs cause is the mess you then have to clean up. –  Dean Brundage Jan 3 '10 at 14:18

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