Refractometer

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joecheberline

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Have heard the word refractometer a lot. What is this? Should i buy one?
 

forstmeister

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It tells you how much sugar is in solution. You put a few drops of wort on it and look through the eyepiece. It's very effective at measuring wort that has not fermented and wastes almost no wort in the process.
 

Setesh

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joecheberline

joecheberline

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forstmeister

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joecheberline said:
So it would take the place of my hydrometer?
Hydrometers are great for measuring fermented wort. Most refractometers are not accurate for that. Plus the hydrometer is so cheap and easy to use it makes no sense to get rid of it.
 

jwalker1140

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A refractometer can be used after the onset of fermentation provided that you (1) know your OG, and (2) use a spreadsheet like the one MoreBeer offers.

I brew and make wine, and my refractometer completely replaced my hydrometer a few years ago. I know some people argue that a refractometer should not be used after fermentation starts, but I used both in parallel long enough to be convinced there is no meaningful difference between the two. Certainly not enough of a difference to counter the benefit of only needing to pull out a few drops of beer from my fermenter to get a reading.

Btw, I got my refractometer on ebay for about $25. One of my better purchases.

Watch this:
 
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Setesh

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So it would take the place of my hydrometer?
During the hot side of brewing, yes. I use my refractometer to take readings of my 1st and 2nd runnings and during the boil. I use my hydrometer to get my final reading on my cool wort. I also use a hydrometer for everything after fermentation has started because it's just easier (don't have to account for alcohol) and generally more accurate (same reason).
 

RM-MN

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Have heard the word refractometer a lot. What is this? Should i buy one?
Are you brewing from extract or from extract kits? If so, you don't need one.

If you are brewing all grain with a conventional mash tun and want to know how good of an extraction you have before you begin your sparge you sort of need one. You can brew for many years without one.
 

jflongo

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You don't need one, but once you get one, you'll wish you would have gotten it sooner :)
 

Setesh

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Are you brewing from extract or from extract kits? If so, you don't need one.

If you are brewing all grain with a conventional mash tun and want to know how good of an extraction you have before you begin your sparge you sort of need one. You can brew for many years without one.
Good point!
 

william_shakes_beer

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If you do get one, be sure its calibrated for beer. There are units out there calibrated for wine and meade. The scales ar different. Also, look for one that's dual scale... Brix and SG.
 

Yooper

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If you do get one, be sure its calibrated for beer. There are units out there calibrated for wine and meade. The scales ar different. Also, look for one that's dual scale... Brix and SG.
I'd argue the opposite- that one with the SG scale on the side is inaccurate for reading SG anyway and it'll just be confusing. I don't know of a single hydrometer where the brix scale and SG scale are correct at higher OGs.

I use a refractometer for all "hot" readings and a hydrometer for all post boil readings. I use my hydrometer just as much for finished wine as well.
 

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