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Old 03-07-2012, 05:19 PM   #1
Roflsaurus's Avatar
Mar 2012
Muncie, IN
Posts: 19

i am needing to purchase a hydrometer (or refractometer?) and i was wondering what people recommend? does it need to have built in thermometer?

also, along this same idea, i am needing a thermometer to monitor my brew kettle temps? should i just go ahead and do a weldless therm install into my kettle? should i buy one of the digital quick reads? get the cheapo kind that clips to the top of my kettle?

trying to make sure i purchase the right stuff the first time

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Old 03-07-2012, 05:24 PM   #2
Feb 2012
Baton Rouge, LA
Posts: 346
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Nothing to add as I'm a newb myself but I've often wondered how well the infrared thermos would work for home brewing??? Maybe one of our more experienced folks have some input on this subject as well

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Old 03-07-2012, 06:10 PM   #3
WooHokie's Avatar
Feb 2012
Richmond, VA
Posts: 87
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I bought a $7 laboratory thermometer at my LHBS. As a fellow noob, I wouldn't mess with anything too complicated right now, that's why the $7 thermo hit the spot for me.

For the hydrometer, I could be wrong but I would think you'd want something separate from the thermometer since you will have your hydrometer floating in some wort at some point during brewday. You don't want to have to clean it off and put it back into your pot.

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Old 03-07-2012, 06:43 PM   #4
Dec 2011
Bristow, VA
Posts: 154
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I bought an infrared thermometer gun to try on my second brew recently. Make sure to try it out against a known temperature. My gun seems to be 4 degrees higher than an actual liquid thermometer. Also be carefull of where you are targeting. I can point it at different places and angles and the readings will change. It only measures surface temperature as well so be aware of that when using it to measure an actual vessel's temp versus the liquid within. That being said I loved it for this last brew. Won't be going back to a regular thermometer anytime soon.
Good beer is a thing worth striving for. Mistakes will be made, but rest assured that the end result is well worth the effort.

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Old 03-07-2012, 07:00 PM   #5
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Feb 2011
Sheffield, Ohio
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I use a floating thermometer my wife bought me at the LHBS. It's been great so far. I just tie it to the pot handle & suspend it where I want it. I use a couple of twist ties like a hangman's noose to suspend it. I also use a Cooper's glass hydrometer that has proven accurate. I take samples in the tube it came in.
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Old 03-07-2012, 07:37 PM   #6
AmandaK's Avatar
Feb 2010
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Infrared thermometers are incredibly inaccurate. I would not use them for anything related to brewing.

That being said, any hydrometer will do, so long as it reads in a scale you want (usually specific gravity, like 1.040) and you know the temperature it is calibrated at. (Mine is 60* F.)

For temperature, I use a long probe candy thermometer. For everything. Mash, water temps, hydro readings, what have you. Be careful with the floating ones, I broke two (once in the kettle and once in the mash) before I bought the digital candy thermometers.
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Old 03-07-2012, 07:50 PM   #7
Dec 2011
Glen Cove, NY
Posts: 351
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any hydrometer is fine, dont get a glass floating thermometer unless you like having broken glass in your wort (did it.) I also have an infrared that I use to check the temperature of fermentation during the 1st 7 days, I find it more accurate than the sticky thermometers.

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Old 03-07-2012, 07:56 PM   #8
Jun 2010
Austin, Texas
Posts: 12

Originally Posted by AmandaK
Infrared thermometers are incredibly inaccurate. I would not use them for anything related to brewing.
"Incredibly" might be an overstatement, I certainly agree with the opinion that you shouldn't be using one for brewing. IR temp guns are at least +/- 1* and the measurement area varies with distance from the target.

I bought a floating thermometer for my first brew, but I wasn't too thrilled with it. Only the very tip floats, so you end up holding it or having to tie it off somehow. I'd recommend a decent digital thermometer like people have mentioned.

I'm also a complete newb, so take my advice with a grain of salt. I don't have any input on hydrometers because I don't even own one.

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Old 03-07-2012, 08:01 PM   #9
KevinW's Avatar
Dec 2009
Gladstone Oregon, Oregon
Posts: 1,132
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I have a "floating" thermometer but do not use it for the previouly mentioned reasons, not that it WILL break in the wort but it COULD break.

I have been using a cheap digital thermometer from Harbor Freight. I calibrated it to boiling water and found it to read about 3 low so I adjust my temp calculations!

Although a hydrometer is not really necessary to brew it is very handy to help to you "dial in" your process and figure ABV. I do not plan on getting a refractometer but there are some definite advantages if you don't mind paying a little extra!
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Old 03-07-2012, 08:04 PM   #10
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Jun 2010
Houston, TX
Posts: 71
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You'll never buy another thermometer. Every other thermometer I've used in the past has either crapped out on me or read temperature inaccurately. A few degrees makes all the difference in mashing.
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