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Old 01-02-2013, 06:44 PM   #11
Aug 2010
Posts: 26
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I prefer hydrometers for accuracy too, but this seems like a good time to pass on a handy calculator for approximating FG with a refractometer.

Sean's formula seems to be a lot more accurate than the morebeer or Promash ones.

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Old 01-02-2013, 06:47 PM   #12
Nov 2012
Posts: 3,627
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WOW! I'm surprised by the number of folks who don't find them useful. They work for ALL readings and VERY fast.

I, on the other hand, love my refract. I simply use a conversion calculator for brix in the presence of alcohol based on OG. It works flawlessly. I'm able to get readings using a couple drops of liquid which makes pulling a sample for testing a trivial task (dip a racking cane, finger over other end, remove cane, replace airlock).

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Old 01-02-2013, 06:47 PM   #13
Jul 2012
Minneapolis, MN
Posts: 529
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Originally Posted by jtejedor View Post
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.
So what do you do if your batch was under gravity? I collect slightly less volume or boil longer and I'm right on.

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Old 01-02-2013, 06:54 PM   #14
Spartan1979's Avatar
Feb 2011
O'Fallon, MO
Posts: 1,703
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I like the refractometer to tell me if my beers done fermenting. I can check it several days in a row to see if it's changing. It doesn't matter what the reading is, only whether it's the same as the day(s) before. The refractometer allows you to just take a small sample rather than a test jar full each time. I still measure final gravity with a hydrometer.

Using a formula, you can get an idea where your beer is at. This could be useful to give you an idea when to start a diacetyl rest.

The main advantage to the refractometer is the small sample size required. If it wasn't for that I probably wouldn't bother with it.

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Old 01-02-2013, 07:01 PM   #15
BadNewsBrewery's Avatar
Oct 2012
Severn, MD
Posts: 1,244
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I'm surprised anyone would brew AG without a refractometer. Taking quick readings during the sparge is a must in my book. And as many have said, you can pull the slightest of samples to check if fermentation is done. I worked hard to brew the beer, I'm not going to pour a few graduated cylinders worth down the drain (or down my gullet) before it's ready!
Building a Bad News Brewery - eHERMS

2014 - 70gal
2015 - 72gal

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Old 01-02-2013, 07:12 PM   #16
Aug 2011
Thousand Oaks, CA
Posts: 778
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I love mine. I take several readings - first runnings, during the sparge, pre-boil gravity, mid-boil gravity, OG. For the cost of 4 drops and 30 seconds, I figure more data is a good thing.

But I also use it post-fermentation with software to correct it. I (and a huge number of others) have found that with good correction software and good records, it's just as accurate as a hydrometer, and a heck of a lot easier.
Primary: Beer / Secondary: Beer / Lagering: Old beer.

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Old 01-02-2013, 07:13 PM   #17
Registered User
Aug 2010
West Coast, MI
Posts: 2,670
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Originally Posted by I_Brew_Drunk View Post
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?
Here is a easy way to decide for yourself. When you are checking gravity on fermenting wort with your hydrometer put a couple drops from your tube on a refractometer, use the calculators available online or in Beersmith and compare it to your hydrometer reading. This way you waste nothing and it only takes a minute.

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Old 01-02-2013, 07:19 PM   #18
Jul 2012
Minneapolis, MN
Posts: 529
Liked 55 Times on 49 Posts

Another point - the cost. They're not $50-70 - they cost less than $30. For under the cost of a batch of beer you get more data about every brew you do - sounds like a good deal to me.

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Old 01-02-2013, 07:28 PM   #19
Oct 2011
Fleetwood, Pa
Posts: 1,124
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Nice to have, but FAR from the most useful tool. Assuming a hydrometer is in your tool box already.

My list would be....

Top of the line thermometer
Auto Siphon
Carboy/keg cleaning brush(the kind that mounts to a drill)
Better bottle rather than glass carboy
Press style bottle capper rather than the wing type(If you bottle)
Vinator to sanitize bottles
Screw it, Lets brew it

Primary 1- BM's Cream of three crops.
Primary 2- Paleface Scalper
Primary 3- Monks Reward (Kreuzberg)
Kegged - Honey Badger, Heady topper clone 1, Indian Paleface Scalper
Bottled- Skeptical Dog winter Lager, Hell's Belgian, Old Dutch Hiefer Hefe,Aphlewein, Chocolate Thunder porter, Jacked up lantern

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Old 01-02-2013, 09:05 PM   #20
Jul 2011
Glenview, IL
Posts: 6,368
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Originally Posted by brycelarson

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.
I suppose because I have doing AG long enough on my same set up that everything is dialed in.

Honestly, if my mash/latter is off by a bit I really don't worry about it much, my system set up operates at 82% and if something is off its easy to make up
Nothing Left to do but smile and drink beer.....

The Commune Brewing Company-Perfecting the "art" of beer since 2010

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