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Old 01-04-2011, 02:57 PM   #1
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Default Refractometer and recipe questions

So my darling wife bought me a refractometer for Xmas. On Sunday Dec.26 I brewed a Belgian strong ale with my mom who was visiting for the holidays(she was excited to see the process of my new hobby). I didn't know how to use the refractometer so I just took a gravity reading with my hydrometer, O.g. was 1.090. Last week I learned how to use the refractometer, I calibrated it with distilled water and tested it with some wine. Works great!! A straight clear blue line indicated the brix%. I also downloaded the Morebeer excell spreadsheet to convert the fermenting wort brix% into a gravity reading (awesome tool!!). Now my questions. I took a reading yesterday with the refractometer( day #8 in primary). My problem is the reading is blurry and indistinct. It could be a brix of 11 or 12?? The distilled water and wine had a very straight clear line,very accurate to read. Is my blurry problem because my beer is still fermenting? I still see yeast floating to the top and swirling around,its still very cloudy and kinda looks like chocolate milk. I have a blow off tube and am getting 1 bubble every 7 or 8 seconds? If I go with a brix reading of 12 it converts to a gravity of 1.021 so it seems my beer is almost done I think? but why so much activity going on? When this is done fermenting I'm gonna rack it onto some blackberries my kids and I picked this past summer, and secondary for another week or two. Is two weeks too long for secondary? The blackberries are frozen in zip lock bags in my freezer, so I was just gonna simmer them in a pan for about 15-20 minutes to steralize them, then add to secondary. I DO NOT want any seeds getting into my bottles or keg so how should I avoid this? I hope this beer turns out good so I can send some to my mom in Florida.

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Old 01-04-2011, 03:01 PM   #2
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the refractometer is used to calculate the gravity of unfermented wort.
i found this out the hard way. your FG readings will never be accurate, the alcohol in the beer with throw off your readings.
you can use it to test your preboil gravity and OG.

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Old 01-04-2011, 04:11 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eppo View Post
the refractometer is used to calculate the gravity of unfermented wort.
i found this out the hard way. your FG readings will never be accurate, the alcohol in the beer with throw off your readings.
you can use it to test your preboil gravity and OG.
From what I have read the Morebeer spreadsheet has a very long and complicated mathematical equation to adjust the brix reading into a gravity reading when the wort contains alcohol. And from my understanding its quite accurate. Anyone else on here that uses this method of calculating gravity and ABV%??
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Old 01-04-2011, 04:23 PM   #4
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There's a few threads on here regarding people whom have used a refractometer for fermented wort. Some with success, some without.

Myself, I use the refractometer during the brewday, but once fermenting I use my hydrometer for complete accuracy.

Just my preference.

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Old 01-04-2011, 04:37 PM   #5
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I guess one could use the refractometer to monitor fermentation completion. Who cares what the actual reading is when all they are looking for is no change in the reading?

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Old 01-04-2011, 05:04 PM   #6
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I googled " how do I use a refractometer for brewing beer" and the Morebeer video and Bobby_M's video popped up. Both videos were very informative. I do want to know my gravities throughout the brewing process and I do want to know the ABV% of my beers, but I'm not looking for pinpoint accuracy. If I share a home brew with someone I don't need to tell them its 6.43% alcohol. I'd just round up anyway and say its 6.5% or 6.75% or whatever the case may be. I was hoping there was more people on the forum that could enlighten me as to if this method is fairly accurate. And maybe an answer as to the blurry readings from the refractometer reading. If this method is fairly accurate then the thought of only wasting a few drops of wort instead of a whole test tube makes me all giddy inside. I could check my gravity everyday if I wanted to and still not waste the ammount of wort that's in 1 gravity reading with a hydrometer.

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Old 01-04-2011, 05:17 PM   #7
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I know that I used mine to check a fermenting beer and it was more than 10 points off.

Spot on for a pre-boil reading though.

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Old 01-04-2011, 05:37 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BendBrewer View Post
I know that I used mine to check a fermenting beer and it was more than 10 points off.

Spot on for a pre-boil reading though.
This makes me sad.....maybe my wife bought me a useless piece of equipment. I can check preboil with a hydrometer. Did you use the Morebeer spreadsheet when you took your readings?
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Old 01-04-2011, 05:46 PM   #9
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From what I understand, the reason for the more advanced calculation post fermentation is due to the alcohol present in the solution. I only use a refractometer for both pre and post fermentation, but I also use the onebeer online conversion or beersmith's conversion for post fermentation calculation.

Here is a link to onebeer --> http://onebeer.net/refractometer.shtml

Note, that you need both the OB and FB (original Brix and Final Brix) for the calculator to work properly. I've found this to be close enough for my needs.

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Old 01-04-2011, 05:46 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BendBrewer View Post
I know that I used mine to check a fermenting beer and it was more than 10 points off.

Spot on for a pre-boil reading though.
is that a straight reading?

you need to modify the reading of fermenting wort. Beersmith will do it for you.
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