Tip: Use Two Scales if You’re an All Grain Brewer

UltraShip 55 lb. Digital Postal Shipping & Kitchen ScalePictured: Ultraship Ultra-55 – via Amazon – Hands On Review

Part of Our Homebrew Tips and Tricks Series.  Check out the complete list – Homebrewing Tips, Tricks & Shortcuts!

  • As all grain brewers we are generally weighing things in two categories.  Moderately large amounts of things – like grain – and smaller amounts of things – like hops and water salts.
  • Although weighing both types of things involve a scale, they are really wildly different activities.

But Why?

  • I’ll take the Ultraship Ultra-55 [Hands On Review] as an example.  That has been my go-to grain scale for years and years.  It has a large 55 lb capacity, the tare feature and the face removes so that you can weigh large items (like buckets of grain) and still easily read the display.
  • The Ultraship Ultra-55 has a resolution of 2 grams when weighing up to 1 kg (about 2.2 lbs).  From 2 lbs to 50 lbs it has a resolution of .5 oz.  If we’re weighing 20 lbs of 2 row, this works great.  If you’re 2 grams or a half an ounce off either way, it really doesn’t matter.  How about hops?  A 2 gram resolution would work in a pinch, but I don’t think most brewers would be happy with that.  Weighing water salts are completely of the question with this sort of precision/resolution.  But.. it’s a great grain scale.
  • Second example… American Weigh 100g x 0.01g Digital Scale [Hands on Review].  That scale has an outstanding 1/100th gram resolution.  That’s great for weighing hops accurately AND weighing water salts.  How about for your all grain grist bill?  It should be awesome right?  No.  100 grams equates to about .22 lbs.

The right tool for the job: As scale capacity goes up, resolution, precision and accuracy generally go down.  Very accurate scales with higher capacities do exist, but they’re very expensive.  If you’re looking for something like this or just want to see prices, try this search on Amazon.  It searches “high capacity lab scale” in the Industrial & Scientific category sorting from high to low price.

  • Recommendation: Use one larger capacity scale for measuring grain.  Important features to consider: Tare (allows you to subtract the weight of the container that’s being used), Pounds/Kilograms Display, Digital Readout, Either Auto Hold or a Removable Face (this allows you to weigh large objects like a bucket of grain.  An AC Adapter is also nice to have.  This Ultraship scale is what I use.  I’ve used it for years and have been very happy with it.  It features a removable face to easily weigh larger objects.
  • Recommendation: Use one smaller, more accurate scale for weighing hops, spices and water salts.  Tare, Pounds/Kilograms and Digital Readout are important for this one.  You’ll want something that measures to an accuracy of 1/10th of a gram.  You’ll be using grams for water salts and you should consider using grams for hops.  Consider the AWS-100

What about Extract Brewers?

If you’re an extract brewer or you can only keep one scale because of budget or space, look for something in the middle, something with an 11 to 15 lb capacity and a 1 gram resolution – something like this.  You can use that to weigh out grain bills – you may need to split your grain bill up into a couple batches to get under the capacity and 1 gram will work for hops.

Make sure the components you use are compatible and rated for your intended application.  Contact manufacturer with questions about suitability or a specific application.  Always read and follow manufacturer directions.

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