Part of Our Homebrew Tips and Tricks Series. Check out the complete list – Homebrewing Tips, Tricks & Shortcuts!
- If you haven’t realized it yet… hydrometers are made out of breakable glass that can… break. They also require a healthy sample size.
- With a refractometer you need a sample size of just a couple drops. That’s a lot of saved beer compared to a hydrometer. So much so that a refractometer may very well pay for itself over time.
- For me, getting a refractometer was one of those small, inexpensive upgrades that made a huge difference.
- An quick estimation of unfermented wort gravity is easy to calculate. OG is around 4 times the Brix reading obtained from your refractometer. That becomes more and more inaccurate as gravities increase.
- Refractometers can also be used to measure gravity throughout the fermentation process. Just plug your numbers into a calculator for correction after fermentation begins. See: Sean Terrill’s Refractometer Calculator
- If you have a refractometer AND a hydrometer you can estimate ABV without a starting gravity. See Tip 10 for more information on that.
- Some shopping tips… Look for a dual scale (Brix and Gravity) model. ATC/Automatic Temperature Correction is another important feature. That automatically accounts for changes due to temperature within a certain range.
- There are many offerings and they can change quickly. Shop Around, Search Amazon for “dual scale refractometer” to compare prices and see what models are currently available.
- If you have a higher budget, consider a digital model. Generally speaking, those are not available with dual scale capabilities, but you get a digital readout of gravity readings. That’s a nice feature. Shop Around, Search Amazon for “digital brix refractometer” to compare prices and see what models are currently available.
- Related Categories: Fermentation, Refractometers
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.