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Old 01-25-2012, 07:23 AM   #1
El_Exorcisto's Avatar
Aug 2010
Herkimer, NY
Posts: 417
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I'm just curious what a refractometer accomplishes that a hydrometer does not. It seems that you need to use a set of tables to correct a refractometer for alcohol content, which is another step in what is already a very simple process. I'm just curious what is better about them.
On Deck: Saison "Jardin d'été" (3rd Gen 3711, Wild bugs, Pale ale malt, wheat, Willamette dry hop)
Primary: Saison "Vomissure de Grenouille" (2nd Gen 3711 from dregs, Pale Ale malt, Crystals and Willamettes)
Secondary: BM45/Spontaneous Bugs Experiment (down to 1.004, and tastes awesome), contemplating what fruit to add.

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Old 01-25-2012, 09:17 AM   #2
Beer Missionary
Quaker's Avatar
Sep 2011
Burlington, WI
Posts: 996
Liked 112 Times on 85 Posts

Just a drop is needed, which helps with small batches. It also is quick to cool off a spoonful for rapid measurements when making volume adjustments to hit the targets. Conversion is minimal issue if you use software. For example Beer Alchemy's recipe instruction sheet lists both the Brix and Plato targets. I will disclose that I've never used the hydrometer that came with my original starter kit. So I'm obviously biased.
My father says, "hobbies are supposed to cost money".

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Old 01-25-2012, 09:31 AM   #3
Jun 2011
San Antonio, tx
Posts: 40
Liked 3 Times on 3 Posts

Refractometers shine in on the fly measurement of wort on brew day, especially if you are doing all grain. They are invaluable when fly sparging. You don't have to cool the wort and it only takes a tiny sample. They only need correction when alcohol is present. During or after fermentation the only advantage is the smaller sample size, the draw back having to correct for alcohol content. Even after correction they aren't particularly accurate in the presence of alcohol.

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