Happy HolidaySs Giveaway - Winners Re-Re-Re-Re-Drawn - 24 hours to Claim!

Get your HBT Growlers, Shirts and Membership before the Rush!


Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > General Techniques > Refractometer reading during boil :(
Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools
Old 04-04-2010, 12:57 AM   #1
MarsColonist
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Live Music Capital of the World, Texas
Posts: 391
Liked 3 Times on 3 Posts

Default Refractometer reading during boil :(

So, a couple of weeks ago, someone stole my keggles from my backyard for scrap metal..... thats a whole 'nother story... I was essentially dialed in well and could consistently hit ~80% brewhouse efficiency over the last 15 batches or so..

Borrowed a friend's keggles (not very different from my old setup at all) while he is moving, and brewed a couple of batches. The two batches both had brewhouse efficiency in the low 60s, if not high 50's. I screwed up a batch sparge on a large grist bill in the first one (final sparge was still at 1.031 after I was done collecting in the kettle), but for the second batch, here's the rub....

I started using a refractometer to monitor the boil rather than my standard single preboil cooled hydrometer reading. I was supposed to hit a preboil of 1.051 to finish at 1.059. I check at the beginning of the boil: 13 Brix (1.053)... I under sparged by about a gallon, so I added some filtered water to get about 13 gals for an 11 gal batch. I check again: 12.5 Brix (1.051). Right on. I check halfway through the boil: 13.7 Brix (1.056). Right on. I check in the last 15 min: Brix 15.1 (1.062) Okay, overshoot. I cool the wort to 70°F. I check the Brix between filling the carboys: Brix 10. (1.040)

WTF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Im thinking it stratified while I let the break cone formed after whirlpool. I check again. Brix 10. I check hydrometer. 1.040. My "ESB" is now likely a really harsh, hoppy Best Bitter (hopped to 44 Rager IBU [30IBU from FWH and 60min addition] for a supposed brewhouse eff of 82%) . Fine. It should be drinkable, but man, thats not what I was shooting for....

Question: Can you not reliably use the refractometer to judge the progress during boil? Im cleaning the refractometer lense, get some wort out of the kettle and put 5-6 drops on the refractometer and read. Am I missing something?

__________________

Cheers!
-------------------------------

"Luck is when opportunity meets preparation" - Seneca


Austin Zealots

MarsColonist is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 04-04-2010, 01:28 AM   #2
samc
Feedback Score: 1 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Portland OR
Posts: 5,420
Liked 55 Times on 52 Posts
Likes Given: 29

Default

I'll be in the minority I'm sure but I had unreliable results as well. Only used it once so far but not sure that I will bother with it again. To me it seems like I've invested in all this expensive equipment, brewing software and my time and experience and then I let that all hinge on a quick reading from a $30 made in China meter. In my case even though it gave me numbers that were off I did not adjust from my normal methods and the beer turned out fine and I hit my numbers the old fashioned way.

__________________
samc is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 04-04-2010, 02:40 AM   #3
willynilly
Registered User
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Avon
Posts: 728
Liked 5 Times on 5 Posts

Default

Is it a temp. compensating refract?

Did you calibrate it?

What was the temp when you calibrated it?

What was the temp. when you were taking your measurements?

Refracts, I have found, are very accurate, even with samples from my BK.

Refracts dont measure sugar alone either, there is always a possibility that you had tainted readings

__________________

Reason: spelling
willynilly is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 04-04-2010, 03:09 AM   #4
MarsColonist
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Live Music Capital of the World, Texas
Posts: 391
Liked 3 Times on 3 Posts

Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by willynilly View Post
Is it a temp. compensating refract?

Did you calibrate it?

What was the temp when you calibrated it?

What was the temp. when you were taking your measurements?

Refracts, I have found, are very accurate, even with samples from my BK.

Refracts dont measure sugar alone either, there is always a possibility that you had tainted readings
Model number is RHW-25ATC.. the ATC being "Automatic Temp Compensation", so no I dont calibrate. It reads 0 with distilled. Specs are the ATC window is 10°C (50°F) to 30°C (86°F).. those 6 drops into a thin film arent going to retain any kind of ridiculous heat for very long... It has a calibration screw.. but I wouldnt know how to calibrate it for the higher temps when my hydrometers arent accurate at the high temps either... I guess i have something to look up

The tainted reading might be an issue, but I didnt see any noticeable debris on the lense. The caveat is that the flap is broken, so I have to hold it on, but I make sure there is a thin film evenly distributed across the lense under the flap with little or no air bubbles.
__________________

Cheers!
-------------------------------

"Luck is when opportunity meets preparation" - Seneca


Austin Zealots


MarsColonist is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 04-04-2010, 03:20 AM   #5
MarsColonist
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Live Music Capital of the World, Texas
Posts: 391
Liked 3 Times on 3 Posts

Default

Apparently, I fail at reading directions (Ive had this thing for awhile, but just started using for the BK). I dont think I was waiting the 30sec the instruction explicitly said in bold are necessary for temp compensation.

__________________

Cheers!
-------------------------------

"Luck is when opportunity meets preparation" - Seneca


Austin Zealots

MarsColonist is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 04-04-2010, 03:22 AM   #6
willynilly
Registered User
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Avon
Posts: 728
Liked 5 Times on 5 Posts

Default

Directions are good.

__________________
willynilly is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 04-04-2010, 01:16 PM   #7
rustynuts
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: st louis
Posts: 130
Default

I have made this very mistake due to not reading the directions completely. I woulda given away my first refractometer after its first batch. lol Luckily, a brew friend of mine educated me...while making fun of me...about the importance of letting the sample cool.

__________________
rustynuts is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Reply



Tags
boil, gravity, instrument, reading, refractometer

Quick Reply
Message:
Options
Thread Tools


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
AG pre boil reading?! fretsforlife All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing 12 03-30-2010 02:23 PM
Refractometer reading 4 Brix on 3 week old wort TheCookieMonster All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing 9 03-01-2010 01:37 PM
Refractometer reading after carbonation? nutty_gnome Equipment/Sanitation 4 10-14-2009 04:39 PM
Will carbonation through off a refractometer reading? jamesrm Equipment/Sanitation 3 05-22-2009 09:03 PM
Reading a Refractometer Gammon N Beer Equipment/Sanitation 2 12-30-2008 11:29 PM



Newest Threads

LATEST SPONSOR DEALS