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Old 01-02-2013, 08:45 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by brycelarson View Post
So what do you do if your batch was under gravity? I collect slightly less volume or boil longer and I'm right on.
Over time I have gotten my numbers down for my brew setup and it rarely deviates all that much. If I am a couple of gravity points up or down I don't lose sleep. As others have stated I use it during fermentation so I only have to take a very small amount and in general once the reading stops changing then yes thats a good sign fermentation has stopped. Maybe mine is a lemon but even using all the correction spreadsheets it is not very good at all for getting a final gravity. For that I always have to pull out the hydrometer.
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Old 01-02-2013, 09:40 PM   #22
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I love mine. I take several readings - first runnings, during the sparge, pre-boil gravity, mid-boil gravity, OG. For the cost of 4 drops and 30 seconds, I figure more data is a good thing.

But I also use it post-fermentation with software to correct it. I (and a huge number of others) have found that with good correction software and good records, it's just as accurate as a hydrometer, and a heck of a lot easier.
Well said, I 2nd. I love mine. And I get to use the term Brix, even though it gives both readings. My last brew was 17brix OG and I take readings with the drops that roll off a knife.
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Old 01-03-2013, 01:25 AM   #23
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Brewing tools are relative to the needs of the brewer. I love my refractometer, and use it many times throughout the brew day and fermentation. I use an iPhone app called BrixCalc that adjusts for alcohol while fermenting. It's much easier to use and I just pull a few drops from my Ferminator valve.

As far as the best tool in my brewery, I'd say it's my convoluted chiller. Chilling an entire 12 gallons of beer to under 65 degrees in a matter of minutes can't be beat. But again, it's relative to the brewer.

IMO, every brewer should try a refractometer. They are just really handy, but I wouldn't say it's a requirement.

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Old 01-03-2013, 01:35 AM   #24
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I've been using refractometers for well over a year and can't see ever using a hydrometer ever again. I still have my original one, but don't know for how much longer.

As already mentioned, with decent software, you can easily adjust for the presence of alcohol in the fermentation. The fact that you need less than 1ml of solution to get a reading is one of the bigger reasons to have/use one. Plus there's no worry about bubbles throwing the reading off, like it will with a hydrometer. Also, hydrometers have a track record of having the paper inside slip, throwing the readings off. There's enough threads/posts about that happening to make you want to triple check the things often. You also don't need to worry about foam on the top of the sample obscuring the readings, like you do with a hydrometer. Then there's how the damned hydrometers tend to tilt so easily and touch the side of the sample tube. IMO/IME, hydrometers are MORE of a PITA than refractometers will ever be...

For me, I reserve a sample from the brew day in a 4 dram vial (I put it into the fridge). I take a reading from that at some point before the batch is done. Sometimes that day, sometimes weeks later. I also put a sample into a second vial when I've finished moving the beer to serving kegs. With both Brix numbers, I can get the SG numbers of the batch.

BTW, there's a huge thread about people having had their hydrometers break. Rolling off counters, tables, etc. I've never heard of a refractometer rolling anywhere. Maybe it's because they're designed so that they won't.

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Old 01-03-2013, 01:45 AM   #25
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Refractometers are not always accurate. I don't have the energy to go through this again, so please refer to this post I made a few days ago:

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f14/who-...8/#post4722121

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Old 01-03-2013, 02:01 AM   #26
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I guess I'll have to mention then... CHEAP tools (of any kind) are always suspect. Good tools are far better (and very often cost just a little more). Great tools should be used where accuracy and reliability matters most. IMO/IME, refractometers are one case where you should avoid cheap, and go with at least 'good' quality if not better. My initial refractometer was ok, but (IMO) a bit too cheap. The one I have isn't being sold by the vendor anymore (I believe they've gotten a better one since mine). I did go ahead and purchase great refractometers that are reliable and accurate.

If you're going to go for a refractometer, research the one you're looking at to make sure you're not getting one of the cheap models.

I really don't feel like keeping an eye on a hydrometer, or worrying about it rolling/falling/breaking/etc. I also don't want to have to have at least a couple in reserve for when that happens (not if). Then there's the glass cleanup that you need to do. I'll pass on all of that and keep using my refractometers.

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Old 01-03-2013, 02:34 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by passedpawn View Post
Refractometers are not always accurate. I don't have the energy to go through this again, so please refer to this post I made a few days ago:

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f14/who-...8/#post4722121
I don't have the energy to argue this because every thread is the same. That is why I simply recommend that each person checks for themselves and decide if any error is acceptable to them. If you own a refractometer and you only use it to check OG and use a hydrometer for FG. Take a couple drops from the hydrometer tube and test with your refractometer, and compare the results with your own equipment.
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Old 01-03-2013, 02:55 AM   #28
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I suppose you don't worry about sanitizing when you take a sample for a refractometer. If you id you would have to wait till it dried or the sanitizer can throw off your reading.

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Old 01-03-2013, 03:01 AM   #29
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I love my cheap refractometer. I use it for everything.
I don't have the energy to argue about it, but personally, I couldn't imagine AG brewing without one.
It does what I need it to do, and it's actually pretty accurate.

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Old 01-03-2013, 03:04 AM   #30
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On brew day the refractometer is gold. Have fun cleaning that sticky crap out of your hydro tubes and throwing it down the drain.

I use a small spoon and scoop a little after mash and again after transfer. I just sit it on the counter to cool for a few minutes. makes a hell of a mess into an easy process and next to no waste.

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