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Old 04-26-2011, 05:34 PM   #1
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Default Mash tun- how accurate of a thermometer is needed?

Hi, I'm in the process of switching over from extract to all grain. I already have pots, burners, and a cooler mash tun that I will be batch sparging with. I already have a digital thermometer that seems very accurate, but the mfg specs list it's accuracy at 1.8 degrees +- is that close enough? Will I be fine or is more accuracy needed? Thanks

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Old 04-26-2011, 05:56 PM   #2
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IMHO it's fine. Other may disagree but I can't think of any time in brewing where the temperature is actualy that critical that a +/- variation of 1.8 degrees is going to matter. I doubt that anyone can tell the difference between a beer mashed at 150 and one that 's mashed 1.8 degrees higher or lower.

What might matter is how persnikity you are when it comes to accurracy. If you're kind of guy that weighs out ingredients to 3 decimal places, you might find that knowing that your temp readings have the potential to be off by almost 2 degrees is really irritating. The beer won't know or care, but you will.

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Old 04-26-2011, 06:06 PM   #3
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If you're kind of guy that weighs out ingredients to 3 decimal places, you might find that knowing that your temp readings have the potential to be off by almost 2 degrees is really irritating.
Whats wrong with that?? does that make me weird?

I would check the thermometer in boiling distilled water, and compare your reading with your boiling point at your elevation, I would also cross check it in icewater to verify accuracy of your thermometer.
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Old 04-26-2011, 06:09 PM   #4
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Whats wrong with that?? does that make me weird?
Not at all. I'm one of those guys myself.

...and your suggestions re:checking the thermometer in boiling and ice water are right on.
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Old 04-26-2011, 06:44 PM   #5
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...and your suggestions re:checking the thermometer in boiling and ice water are right on.
You have to watch out with this also. I had a thermometer that was right on 212 and 32 but was off 6-8*F low in the 150*F range. I couldn't figure out why 3-4 batches ended up finishing at 1.020. I tracked it down to the thermometer and the fact that I was actually mashing at 160-161 when I thought I was at 154. Replaced the thermometer with a lab grade mercury one and it fixed the problem.
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Old 04-26-2011, 06:51 PM   #6
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2* can make a big difference. Really it's all about how much you care. It's not like the beer will be ruined if you are off by a couple degrees....it just won't be exactly what it would have been if you'd hit your temp....no biggie, but depends on how much that matters to you.

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Old 04-26-2011, 08:06 PM   #7
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Thanks for the tips. I have already tried it in boiling and freezing water and both are within a couple 1/10ths of a degree. That's why I thought it was fairly accurate, but I have not checked it at mash temps. I will have to find a known good thermometer to check it against. Thanks, I think I should be ok with my current thermometer

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Old 04-26-2011, 08:09 PM   #8
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Another thing to consider: Just because the accuracy specs are +/- 1.8 degrees doesn't necesarily mean that it will be off by that amount. It could be right on or off by less than that. That's just the manufacturer's accaptable range of tolerance for that product.

Go forth and worry not.

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Old 04-26-2011, 08:25 PM   #9
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So long it's consistent. If you do a single infusion at 152 and it finishes too high you'll drop the temp a degree or two next time. If the temp was really 153 or 151 is not that important so long you don't keep changing thermometers.

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Old 04-26-2011, 08:46 PM   #10
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I don't think that there's a good reason to stick to a 1.8 degree accuracy thermometer, when a new alcohol lab thermometer can be had for under $10...

M_C

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