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Old 01-02-2013, 05:43 PM   #1
I_Brew_Drunk
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Default Refractometer is the most useful brewing tool?

I recently read in a thread on here that a refractometer was the most useful tool a brewer can have. SWMBO recently got me one as a present but I've only found it useful to take OG. After fermentation starts its useless as the alcohol throws off the readings. Is there something I'm missing in the value of it?


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Old 01-02-2013, 05:46 PM   #2
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I know very few people who use one for that very reason.


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Old 01-02-2013, 05:48 PM   #3
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It's good for taking readings during the mash process, to make sure you don't drop below 1.010 and risk extract tannins. You can also take your pre-boil gravity. I don't think it's the MOST useful tool in the kit, but I'm damn glad I have mine.
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Old 01-02-2013, 05:59 PM   #4
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It's fantastic to dial in your all grain brewing process. If you have to pull samples and cool them to see how you're doing on your extraction - you're too late to fix things.

Not super useful for extract brewing - math works just fine there, but I wouldn't want to do all grain batches without mine.
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Old 01-02-2013, 06:02 PM   #5
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The alcohol does affect the reading of your FG, what you are measuring is Apparent Attenuation, which gives you a rough but not exact measure of how much alcohol is in your beer, when compared with your OG. It doesn't tell you exactly how much alcohol is in the beer, but its pretty darn close, and I think more precise ABV measurements would require a lab with some fancy equipment.

Its also useful to know when your fermentation has stopped. Once the gravity levels out for a few days you know fermentation is complete and your ready to bottle or keg your beer.

EDIT!!!: Im an Idiot, I thought I read Hydrometer. My refractometer is a frustrating piece of equipment and i rarely use it. Forget everything I just said
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Old 01-02-2013, 06:07 PM   #6
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Bought one a long time ago; probably haven't used it for over a year.
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Old 01-02-2013, 06:22 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by I_Brew_Drunk View Post
I've only found it useful to take OG. After fermentation starts its useless as the alcohol throws off the readings.
I never thought it to be worthwhile to spend $50-70 on a tool that only works half of the time. Hydrometer, thermometer and temp. correction chart work every time.
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Old 01-02-2013, 06:34 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AmandaK

I never thought it to be worthwhile to spend $50-70 on a tool that only works half of the time. Hydrometer, thermometer and temp. correction chart work every time.
+1
I don't use one and don't ever miss not having one either
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Old 01-02-2013, 06:39 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by duboman View Post
+1
I don't use one and don't ever miss not having one either
how do you know you don't miss it?

I dunno, it's really great to be able to instantly track gravities. It means as I collect wort I can immediately adjust collection volumes and hit my pre and post boil gravity every batch.
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Old 01-02-2013, 06:41 PM   #10
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Yeah it ain't that great. Even for OG I keep going back to my hydrometer. There is always plenty of wort left behind to use for that purpose after draining the kettle.


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