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Old 07-30-2014, 01:39 AM   #11
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I would suggest a hydrometer, although I guess I'm going against the grain.

It's not strictly necessary, if everything seems ok. But, in a case where fermentation appeared to be finished but wasn't, one or two or twelve bottle bombs might make someone say, "Geez, I wish I would have taken 30 seconds and taken a hydrometer reading before bottling".

I still use one after every batch, before packaging, even if the beer is clear and seemingly done. I keg mostly, so little risk of bottle bombs in beer, but for my wines I mostly bottle.

It's one of those things that are cheap, easy to use, with no disadvantages, so why not?

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Old 07-30-2014, 01:53 AM   #12
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Got some news for you: Been doing part-grain for a year, been relying on glucose ppgs from Palmer, from Briess on their LME, and my own HYDROMETER readings on my own wort only(partial grain only, remember). The math added up to an OG of 60. Decided to mix the last batch very well by rocking several times on my lap. The real OG: 43! Haven't found the problem yet, but I'll never not use the h'meter again.

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Old 07-30-2014, 02:04 AM   #13
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What Yooper said.

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Old 07-30-2014, 02:06 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrewerBrad82 View Post
I wont argue that refractometers are great tools, but they have certain drawbacks. For one, refractometers are designed to only tell you the percentage of sugars present in an unfermented solution with minimal particulate and sediment (key word is unfermented). Refractometers are most commonly used in the winemaking industry and are primarily used to test the sugar content of grapes fresh off the vine to determine the ripeness of the grapes and their winemaking potential. I have used refractometers many times, but they are easily skewed. If you have too many solids in your sample (grain particles, hot break, cold break etc), the readings are easily invalidated. Secondly, refractometers are NOT accurate when there is alcohol present in solution. Because refractometers rely on the refraction of light through your sample and are projected through a prism to get your reading, they are only accurate when there is no alcohol present in your sample. Because alcohol is lighter than water, a fermented beverage will skew the refraction index on a refractometer and you cannot get an accurate reading at that point. A hydrometer on the other hand, measures the specific gravity (density) of the liquid and will not be skewed by the presence of alcohol. For me, refractometers work well prior to fermentation, but become entirely unreliable once fermented, at which point I rely soley on the good ol' fashioned hydrometer.
A hydrometer is similarly thrown off by the presence of alcohol since it has a lighter SG than water. Obviously there is an easy way to calculate the abv if you have your og as well but I just wanted to point it out.

As for the original post, I agree with yooper. I do a final SG reading for all my beers because it can mean the difference between bombs or deliciousness. If the number seems high then I do a second reading three days later to see what is going on. A hydrometer/refractometer is the only scientific way to know what is going on with your beers. Too much data is far superior to too little when it comes time to trouble shoot your problem brews.
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Old 07-30-2014, 02:08 AM   #15
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Not using a hydrometer is alright, IF you don't have a stalled fermentation for some reason. A hydrometer reading will show this.

It is not too much of a concern if kegging but if you bottle you risk bottle bombs. A little expense in a few dollars, a little time and small beer loss is a small price to pay.

Though I usually only take one FG reading at 2 weeks or longer. If it is near predicted I proceed.

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Old 07-30-2014, 01:49 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kaconga View Post
A hydrometer is similarly thrown off by the presence of alcohol since it has a lighter SG than water. Obviously there is an easy way to calculate the abv if you have your og as well but I just wanted to point it out.
Without getting into an off-topic discussion between apparent and actual attenuation unless you are brewing huge beers with lots of residual sugar I'm not sure if the difference alcohol makes in a hydrometer reading is noteworthy. Especially not when compared to the effects temperature has on the hydrometer. One thing the OP needs to be aware of is that hydrometers are also calibrated for specific temps. Mine is calibrated for 60f, so it makes taking hot samples (or even cold if i'm lagering) more time consuming as i'm waiting for the wort or beer to reach the correct temp within 10 degrees or so. There are online calculators to correct for the temp difference as well, and I've found them to be fairly accurate, within a point or two usually.
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