About ten days ago I transferred my homebrew (I'm new at this so for now I'm buying the kits) from the primary to the secondary. when I transferred it the gravity was reading 1.025 and it was bubbling vigorously and all was well with the world. I've been checking the SG every few days and it hasn't changed much (it is around 1.036 now), even though all other signs of fermentation are present- there are still some bubbles forming (much more slowly now than at first),it is lightly carbonated, I had a small taste and it is starting to taste right. This is the second batch where something similar has occurred. The first one I figured I didn't sterilize properly and killed my yeast somehow so I just chucked the batch out. This time I was very careful. What are the chances that its just my hydrometer that's out of whack, and if it is, is there any other way to check shy of just buying a new one? Thanks, E
There are some misunderstandings here:
- racking regular strength beers isn't usually necessary. If you do choose to rack, wait until the vigorous fermentation has subsided. Otherwise, you're not really achieving anything. One of the main points of racking is to separate the beer from the yeast, which you can't do effectively if it's still actively fermenting.
- regarding your first batch, you have to work pretty hard to kill yeast at room temperature. Usually it's too high a temperature (50C/120F) that kills yeast, not contamination with other microbes. Other causes of yeast problems are kits that are more than a year old.
- The gravity of a brew will decrease, usually to around 75% of the original gravity. Not sure how you are getting your hydrometer to increase. To test, use some tap water. It will read about 1.000. (Tap water isn't pure, so may be off by a little.)
I recommend you read a book on brewing before starting your next batch or doing anything with your current batch. John Palmer's "How To Brew" is pretty much the standard text for new brewers.
My experience with basic kit beers is that you really don't need a hydrometer. Of course it is a valuable tool, but kits can be predictable most of the time. For a regular strength ale, just follow a basic fermentation schedule: 7 days primary, 2 weeks secondary, 2 weeks in the bottles (priming).