What do you use/prefer?

Discussion in 'General Home Brew Equipment Discussion' started by Derekmr, Mar 14, 2019.

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  1. Mar 14, 2019 #1

    Derekmr

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    Refractometer or hydrometer?
    Also what do you think is most accurate, I know neither will be really accurate unless you spend an awful lot on them.
     
  2. Mar 14, 2019 #2

    strange-steve

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    Both have their advantages and disadvantages, the refractometer is good for taking readings during brewday to check conversion etc because it only needs a couple of drops which cool quickly.

    The hydrometer is good for checking fermentation progress because you get to taste the sample afterwards, plus the refractometer reading needs run through a calculator to compensate for alcohol after fermentation has begun.
     
  3. Mar 14, 2019 #3

    prog99

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    I use a hydrometer because they are cheap! However I spent a day with a commercial brewery a few weeks ago and was very impressed with the refractometer used during mashing (theres was fully electronic and expensive)
     
  4. Mar 14, 2019 #4

    Clint

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    A hywhatamer...?? I got a hydrometer that came with my basic kit. I do use it but I'm not hysterical about numbers...much.
    Mrs Clint has watched in amazement at my use of such scientific equipment and was impressed when I explained that it ensures all my beers turn out at 3.2%.
     
  5. Mar 14, 2019 #5

    kelper

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    To use a refractometer you will need a hydrometer anyway. Hydrometers do not need to be expensive. A hydrometer actually does measure density. A refractometer can only INFER density or alcohol content. If using a refractometer to determine alcohol content you need a density (SG) reading; and to determine density you need the alcohol content. I know there are calculators that will do this but you need to do a wort calibration each time you brew a different type of beer.
     
  6. Mar 14, 2019 #6

    Drunkula

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    If I could only have one it would be a hydrometer but using the refractometer during mashing/pre+post boil is great fun if you're still finding the brewing process a novelty.
     
  7. Mar 14, 2019 #7

    stevey

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    Refractometer on brew day, hydrometer thereafter.
     
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  8. Mar 14, 2019 #8

    simon12

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    In my limited experience refractometers seem to need recalibrating all the time and if you want to be sure the reading is correct you need a hydrometer.
     
  9. Mar 14, 2019 #9

    stevey

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    You are correct, I recalibrate mine every brew day. It's quite simple to catch vapour from the kettle, you only need one drop.
     
  10. Mar 15, 2019 #10

    David Heath

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    Ive got both and use both. I use the refractometer for during the boil and the hydrometer after that.
     
  11. Mar 15, 2019 #11

    An Ankoù

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    ... but, I thought you were going to add, you can't know both at the same time. A classic example of quantum indeterminacy in beer-making. No wonder Steve was first off the blocks! aheadbutt
     
  12. Mar 15, 2019 #12

    kelper

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    Isn't this the Carlsberg uncertainty principle?
     
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  13. Mar 15, 2019 #13

    Nicks90

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    Why would you use a refractometer during a boil?
    You mash, do all the bits you might insist on doing to ensure you have every last bit of sugar and iodine test etc, but then you boil with a hop schedule. After a few brews you know your boil off and can gauge everything from that.
    What benefit does doing it during the boil make? Surely altering your boil time would then influence bitterness from the hops and that can't be measured with a refractometer!
     
  14. Mar 15, 2019 #14

    Derekmr

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    What about for cider, which is better in your opinion?
     
  15. Mar 15, 2019 #15

    Davvy

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    Maybe its just me,..... but when I got a couple of readings from my chinese refractometer that were too far away from the hydrometer at end of fermentation , it was suddenly not the useful tool that I thought it would be.

    I must say that the thought of second guessing versus alcohol content and calibrating do not sit well with me....
    So - now it is exclusively hydrometer start to finish..
     
  16. Mar 16, 2019 #16

    RichK

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    I think hydrometers will give more accurate results, especially compared to cheapie refractometers. however, I have problems reading a hydrometer (dodgy eyesight) plus I'm not overly fussy about knowing the precise ABV only that fermentation has finished. Therefore I now use a refractometer only.
     

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