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Old 04-04-2013, 09:36 PM   #1
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Default Reading a refractometer; clear line with distilled water; fuzzy line with beer

See the pictures (sorry for crappy iPhone pics). Left one is with distilled water and the right one is with a FBS clone that has been in primary for 12 days. I'm trying to ensure it's done before transferring to secondary (to add more coffee). I know the alcohol will screw up the number, so it's not accurate, but I thought I could tell if it was done using a refractometer. True or not true? Is the alcohol screwing up the reading? How would you read that?

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Old 04-04-2013, 09:50 PM   #2
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I'd say 10.0 Brix. With mine, the longer I look at it the fuzzier it gets.

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Old 04-04-2013, 10:05 PM   #3
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LOL. Should it be a clearer line though? Is it because of all the "stuff" in there? I'm pretty sure my APA wasn't that fuzzy.

I was reading a smidge lower than 10 brix, but 10 is about what I got 2 days ago. I'm hoping it's done because it's already finishing a little lower than I was expecting based on what other people were reporting after making this beer (closer to 1.030). I did do a hydrometer reading 2 days ago, but not today and it was 1.020. Beersmith estimates 1.022, so I guess I'm not that far off. I was expecting higher though since I think I mashed at a higher temp than I should have. I was having thermometer issues and it was my first BIAB.

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Old 04-12-2013, 11:29 PM   #4
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Nice pictures.

Us over on WortMonger's pressure fermenting thread have to de-gas the sample, of CO2 before a reading. Try putting a little in a canning jar with a lid and shake it. Maybe that's it.

Sometimes a get a fuzzy line, very frustrating

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Old 04-13-2013, 12:37 AM   #5
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Thanks. I'll try that. I did read it one more time and I let it sit for a couple minutes and the line was clearer.

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Old 04-13-2013, 01:19 PM   #6
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There is probably no appreciable co2 in your fermenter to skew a reading. I got a fuzzy reading my last time, last week, no matter how long I let that bugger sample sit out.

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Old 04-13-2013, 01:30 PM   #7
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It's the alcohol. Alcohol changes the way light refracts and since that is what a refractometer reads, they are hard to read and inaccurate once fermentation occurs.

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Old 04-13-2013, 01:49 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yooper View Post
It's the alcohol. Alcohol changes the way light refracts and since that is what a refractometer reads, they are hard to read and inaccurate once fermentation occurs.
This.
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Old 04-13-2013, 02:19 PM   #9
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Thanks. I was still hoping I could use it to tell when fermentation was complete.

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Old 04-13-2013, 10:13 PM   #10
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--deleted. wrong thread. --

OK, here's what I meant to write. This damn cold is not helping the thought processes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mtnagel View Post
Should it be a clearer line though? Is it because of all the "stuff" in there? I'm pretty sure my APA wasn't that fuzzy.

...I was having thermometer issues and it was my first BIAB.
Ditto, nice images. They could be used for teaching.

I also notice fuzziness while reading the wort and the final fermented wort. It is probably because there are many compounds in there with different refractive indexes. It was not as fuzzy when I made a low alcohol beer, again probably because there was less stuff in there.

Temperature fluctuations with BIAB - I have also had problems chasing the proper mash temperature and have not entirely resolved it. Perhaps this info will help.

I think it is because of the method of reading temperature and not that the mash temp changes so quickly. I find the glass thermometer reads more consistently when the cold grain is stirred in thoroughly, the thermometer is inserted into the center, and I leave the pot covered for a few minutes. Then I uncover the pot and read the temperature very quickly. I was surprised how much temperature variation there is from top to bottom of the grain and how quickly the top grain cooled off when the lid was removed. Also, how fast the thermometer cooled off when it was removed for a reading.

For my next BIAB batch I will add the grain at the calculated strike temperature, stir it well, insert the thermometer, cover it, and leave it the heck alone for 5 minutes. Then pull and read the thermometer quickly.

BIAB is usually done in an uninsulated pot instead of a nice, cozy mash tun. If you use the full 7 gallons for a 5 gallon batch, the large heat mass will better maintain temperatures.
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