7. Tips for reading the hydrometer - It's sticking to the side of the thief - any way we can avoid that? Just swirl and go?
Don't use the Beer thief to hold the wort for measuring you want to buy a test jar to hold the wort for measuring. But if you plan on doing this for a while I would suggest getting a Refractometer. Easier to read and more accuate. but then again I just hated reading a hydrometer.
10. Anyone use 5 gallon buckets for 5 gallon brews? Or is that bad? I have a few 5-gallon buckets, but after talking to the knuckleheads (yes, we have not been impressed by their weakly bubbling "fountain" of knowledge... and we're newbies!) at the local brew shop, they insist that 6.5 gallon or larger vessels are the only way to do it. That being said - how much does/can the wort foam up during fermentation?
IF you are using a five gallon bucket for a five gallon batch you are going to get a nasty little mess to clean up from fermentation blowing off the lid/airlock. You want a larger vessel to avoid this problem. It really only is an issue during primary.
11. Strainer vs funnel screen for pouring wort into primary - We have a funnel w/ a mesh screen - it seems SO fine that it might only be good for... umm... not really sure. A strainer seems coarse enough that the sediment and junk will be caught in it without significantly hindering the flow, right? But, what about funnel screen?
I have found out that that strainer works just fine as long as it is fairly fine cause the particulate will clogs it up and esentially make it finer screen. And i don't know other peoples belief on this but i have found it helps aerate the wort for pitching too. And when my main primary bucket is in use and i need to use a 6.5 gallon carboy the funnel and screen works but it clogs alot fast so then i use a combition of both.
12. Bucket of sanitizer. From what I understand, StarSan is recyclable, so I'm wondering if it's got a "shelf life" - Can I leave a bucket full of starsan/water so that I can drop a Thief/Hydrometer/whatever the heck i want in for 20-30 minutes during the week, take a gravity reading, or whatever. Just seems easier if I don't have to whip up a batch of sanitizer just to take a gravity reading.
That ius the great thing about starsan is that it keeps for a while and it is recyclable since it is not used for cleaning but only sanitizing. and the way to check if it is still good is to get some ph strips. Since starsan is acid based you need to check the ph. If my memory severs right it needs to be at a ph of 3 or less. But I would check on that again.
And I am tapping out cause my beer is empty and sleep is calling my bed. Enjoy brewing.