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Old 01-06-2013, 01:24 PM   #31
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The main reason I mention Thermapen is for the fact that I have had 3 different thermometers 15-30 dollar range, and either they weren't accurate or they were cheaply made and broke. The cost seems worth it, and by now I should have just bought one or something comparable in the first place.

Everyone pretty much agrees that temperature is the most important measurement to get correct while brewing. Refractometer seems to be more preference and how much you care about nailing your numbers exactly. PH seems to be most important if you are making changes to your water source and mineral amounts. It's probably only helpful the first few times when brewing a new style. Owners seem to use it less the more they brew. I appreciate everyone's thoughts.

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Old 01-08-2013, 05:56 AM   #32
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A thermapen is going to do no better or worse than a $12 digital (properly calibrated) in this situation.
And what is "properly calibrated"? I tried with my "Walmart special" with both the ice bath and boiling water methods and it seemed fine. Yet I still had issues until I got my VWR, which is lab calibrated. As I read up on the issue I learned cheap thermometers' accuracy isn't linear; in other words the accuracy at freezing or boiling isn't necessarily the same at an intermediate temperature like 152. You may have gotten lucky with your $12 special, mine was horrible!
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Old 01-08-2013, 06:10 AM   #33
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I have a couple thermometers on my HLT and BK, and they are both properly calibrated. I installed them on the kettles that fit the range at which they were most accurate. These are identical thermometers but one was more accurate at boil temp and one was more accurate at mash/sparge temp.

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Old 01-08-2013, 08:24 AM   #34
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Ditto on the thermometer as the first choice. Cheap ones are just not accurate enough for all grain. The thermapen is, but since it's a hand held it's a pain to use (literally depending on how hot what you are measuring is!) I went with this (the +- .2 C) and love it. I just leave the probe right in the mash tun, kettle, or whatever else I need to monitor. The unit velcro's nicely on the side of my brew bench where I can see it. It's great for heating infusion or sparge water.

http://vwrlabshop.com/vwr-waterproof...ers/p/0013422/

I'd go with the refractometer next. It's nice for taking gravity samples on the fly as you run off your mash. Just a few drops and you're good to go. The only down side is alcohol throws off the calibration so they're a pain to use post ferment. There's a calculation that gets them close but I just use my hydrometer for FG. The convenience during the mash more than makes up for the draw back in my opinion.

PH monitoring isn't necessary with proper attention to grain bill and water salts. You can actually calculate what it's going to be without monitoring (see "How to Brew", Palmer). You'll know if you were way off by poor efficiency, but it's really not hard to get it right the first time...
That thermometer looks so nice I just might go ahead and buy it! I like that it's all water proof and the probe is submersible. Just shove it in the mash, put the lid on the tun, and keep an eye on it... nice!

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Old 01-08-2013, 12:10 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by iaefebs View Post
I have a couple thermometers on my HLT and BK, and they are both properly calibrated. I installed them on the kettles that fit the range at which they were most accurate. These are identical thermometers but one was more accurate at boil temp and one was more accurate at mash/sparge temp.
How do you know the one is more accurate at mash/sparge temp? I couldn't figure out to calibrate mine at anything other than boiling or freezing...
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Old 01-08-2013, 12:35 PM   #36
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I'd go thermometer too. I use my refractometer but I have to admit that it doesn't change what i do. Just lets me "peek" a little more frequently early in the process. I love that VWR thermometer. I actually just ordered one!

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Old 01-08-2013, 03:07 PM   #37
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How do you know the one is more accurate at mash/sparge temp? I couldn't figure out to calibrate mine at anything other than boiling or freezing...
I use a NIST certified thermometer and a hot plate. Do a two point calibration with your cold and hot. Then check in between at your mash temp. I like 150, so i boil on one hot plate then move to the other in the ball part of 150. then slowly bump it up until the NIST reads 150. If I have trouble calibrating it, i will just write down the difference and then i know if i want 150 i have to have it read 154 for example. You don't need a NIST but it's sure nice to have one available.

Similar to the pH meter I would only get one that will allow you to use a two point calibration. If you are going to use it for your mash and to check your source water, I would recommend calibrating with 4 and 10 buffer then checking against your 7 buffer.
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