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Hammer 10-25-2008 02:01 AM

I tried a refractometer- not so hot
So, I thought I'd use a nicer tool for my gravity measurement. Got a refractometer. It isn't very accurate at all.
It reads 10 Brix (1.040) on beer that's 1.020 by my float. I know the float's pretty close.
Anyone else use or try a refractometer? My hope was that I could monitor grav more often and not sacrifice a lot of wort. If it's not accurate, that's not working for me.
At first I tried to blame other things
So I cal'd the refractometer.
Clarified the brew, thinking yeast solids might affect it.
No change.
For $60, I thought I'd get more.
If I can't get better results, I'm sending it back.

ChshreCat 10-25-2008 02:09 AM

From what I read, they're only for OG. They won't read properly if there is alcohol in the sample.

k1v1116 10-25-2008 02:17 AM

there are tools that will try to adjust your refractometer reading for alcohol I think beersmith has one. but normally they are only for OG and brix readings.

Hammer 10-25-2008 03:17 AM

Well, that explains it.
Thanks for the feedback. At least now I know why it's not accurate.

billtzk 10-25-2008 03:57 AM

It's why I haven't bought one yet. It has very little utility. There are plenty of other more useful gadgets worth getting before a refractometer.

ChshreCat 10-25-2008 03:59 AM

They're great for wine though. You can break a grape skin and find out how much sugar they have in there.

GilaMinumBeer 10-25-2008 04:55 AM


Originally Posted by billtzk (Post 916937)
It's why I haven't bought one yet. It has very little utility. There are plenty of other more useful gadgets worth getting before a refractometer.

Really? What? Mine is indispensible during brewday.

billtzk 10-25-2008 06:51 AM

Why? What do you use it for?

I test the gravity of my wort three times on brew day. I use a hydrometer and sample tube.

My first test is of the tail of my runnings after I've collected all my wort, just to make sure I'm not over extracting. My second test is to get the gravity of the wort in the boiler, my pre-boil mash gravity, after I've collected all my wort. So test 1 and 2 are back to back. Test 3 is my OG in the fermenter before I pitch.

I can't think of a good reason to buy a refractometer. My hydrometer works fine.

scinerd3000 10-25-2008 07:03 AM

you cant use it with alcohol in the sample- only pre fermentation. Also you need to calirbiate it with water before use.

flyangler18 10-25-2008 11:57 AM

I have both instruments- refractometer in the brewhouse, hydrometer in the fermentation room. I prefer using a refractometer for two reasons- the size of the sample is miniscule (just a drop) and the refractometer has automatic temperature adjustment. It gives me accurate results with no need to make adjustments to my calculations for temperature. Once it is calibrated to pure water, it's a valuable piece of equipment to my brewing process.

Once the yeast is pitched and fermentation has begun, it's time for the hydrometer. I ferment in a temperature controlled cabinet at 60 degrees so my hydrometer is already calibrated to those conditions, and a refractometer is useless once alcohol is introduced to the mix.

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