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Old 01-04-2013, 04:30 PM   #11
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I'm not sure how you get rid of your hydrometer completely as refractometers have issues when taking FG readings. The alcohol gives and unreliable reading once it's present (as far as i know, and i don't know it all). Feel free to correct me on that.
True, but there are calculations you can do post fermentation that will adjust your number for the alcohol. They aren't dead on, but are close enough for most people not to really worry. I haven't used my hydrometer to take an FG in years.
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Old 01-04-2013, 04:34 PM   #12
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True, but there are calculations you can do post fermentation that will adjust your number for the alcohol. They aren't dead on, but are close enough for most people not to really worry. I haven't used my hydrometer to take an FG in years.
Actually commenting on your signature. Good stuff!! Welcome to "Obama-nation"!!!
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Old 01-04-2013, 04:36 PM   #13
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I'm not sure how you get rid of your hydrometer completely as refractometers have issues when taking FG readings. The alcohol gives and unreliable reading once it's present (as far as i know, and i don't know it all). Feel free to correct me on that.
This is absolutely true. There are compensation formulas you can use, but from what I understand, they are not perfect. Getting an accurate FG with a refractometer is not a straightforward task.

I use my hydrometer a grand total of two times for each brew: once for OG after the boil and once for FG prior to kegging. I personally have no use for a refractometer. But that's me, YMMV.
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Old 01-04-2013, 04:48 PM   #14
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A good thermometer is a must. So Thermapen if that's the brand you want.

I'd go with a refractometer second. I use mine at least once every brew, and sometimes for checking FG. I have not found my Brewzor Phone App to be wrong when checking FG so far. But I admit it's almost as easy to check FG with a hydrometer too.

A pH meter is a nice bling item if you are to the point where you are messing with your water. They are usually accurate enough to double check your calculations. After a while I can see how one might be confident in their calculations to stop using it. It's really only handy if you are a true brewing geek and desire to know as much as you can about your brewing conditions. Save it for when you've determined you might have pH issues and have fermentation temps under control.

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Old 01-04-2013, 04:48 PM   #15
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Ditto on the thermometer as the first choice. Cheap ones are just not accurate enough for all grain.
I disagree with this; I thermometer that is good to +/-2 degrees will make no better/worse beer than a thermometer accurate to +/-0.2 degrees. The issue is that even if you can measure to the 1/10 of a degree F, most homebrewing systems aren't designed to adjust temps with this sort of resolution. I would be surprised if you could tell the difference between a mash that was kept at 150F +/- 2 degrees and one that was kept at 150 +/-0.2 degrees.

That being said, a thermapen is a well made device and can deliver stable temp readings in 2-3 seconds...that is why it is preferred by homebrewers. If I had money to burn I'd probably go with this purchase first, then refractometer, then pH meter.
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Old 01-04-2013, 04:54 PM   #16
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I have not found my Brewzor Phone App to be wrong when checking FG so far. But I admit it's almost as easy to check FG with a hydrometer too.
From the few times I actually took a reading with both, I didn't find it really was off much at all, less than a point usually. Now, that might be a bigger swing with a higher alcohol beer, but, again, was never off by enough to ever worry about.

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That being said, a thermapen is a well made device and can deliver stable temp readings in 2-3 seconds...that is why it is preferred by homebrewers.
The speed is part of the charm. I don't even have mine set for tenth of a degree increments. I flipped the DIP switch inside to just make it read to the nearest degree.

I also used the thing to check my Thanksgiving turkey and the roast I made for Christmas. So many uses!!!
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Old 01-04-2013, 06:21 PM   #17
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From the few times I actually took a reading with both, I didn't find it really was off much at all, less than a point usually. Now, that might be a bigger swing with a higher alcohol beer, but, again, was never off by enough to ever worry about.
That may well be the case. I haven't used it for measuring a really big beer. I think a brew day is in order!!

What do I really want, Barleywine, RIS, or...???
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Old 01-04-2013, 06:26 PM   #18
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That may well be the case. I haven't used it for measuring a really big beer. I think a brew day is in order!!

What do I really want, Barleywine, RIS, or...???
Go RIS, I love a good RIS!!!
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Old 01-04-2013, 06:27 PM   #19
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Personally I would get the refractometer. I never have to wait for samples to cool to make sure my pre-boil gravity is correct. Plus it only takes a few drops. I have not regreted buying mine. Makes checking progress in fermentation a snap too. Don't have to waste a bunch of beer to check.
I would replace the thermapen with a good partial immersion lab thermometer They are between cheap and absolutely accurate. I just leave mine in my mash.
I wouldn't worry too much about the pH meter until later. If a person was just getting into all grain then I would be more concerned about temperatures and extractions. For a majority my your recipes I don't need to worry about pH.

So really you can pick up a decend refractometer and a lab thermometer for teh same cost of a thermapen.

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Old 01-04-2013, 06:28 PM   #20
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I ferment in buckets and to check a gravity reading I pull off the airlock, insert a straw through the hole and remove enough beer to check with the refractometer. If you feel the need to check a sample 3 days in a row before bottling, repeat the process. It saves me having to pull the lid off the bucket to get a sample.

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