Sean Terrill’s Refractometer Calculator!

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Updated: 5/29/2024

In days of yore, refractometers were considered a pre-fermentation only tool.  That’s because the alcohol present after fermentation begins throws off refractometer readings.  That was until people starting figuring out that it was possible to reasonably estimate specific gravity after fermentation has begun.  The first such calculations that I became aware of were from MoreBeer.  Check the documents tab on this product page to see their spreadsheet.

Since that time, additional work has been done to refine these calculations.  One such body of work belongs to Sean Terrill.  Sean is a smart guy.  Like nuclear engineer kind of smart.  Sean did a good bit of work on the subject and came up with an even more accurate formula for estimating specific gravity after fermentation is begun.

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To do this you need: A pre-fermentation refractometer reading, a current refractometer reading and a spreadsheet or online calculator.

Sean has kindly made his findings available to the homebrewing community.  You can use his easy to use refractometer calculator or his spreadsheet (available on the calculator page).  He also makes it available for others to use with proper citation.  For example, my Brewing Spreadsheets [Brewing Spreadsheet | Small Batch BIAB Spreadsheet | BIAB Brew Day Spreadsheet] all contain Sean’s formula.  Thank you to Sean Terrill for your work on this subject and for making this available to homebrewers!


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5 thoughts on “Sean Terrill’s Refractometer Calculator!

  1. Tom

    i’ve been using this v3 excel sheet for a few years…works good. I dont brew very low gravity…usually my brews end between 4.5 – 10 %

    Reply
  2. jeff

    They have a refractometer calculator on brewer’s friend too. I have used it on countless batches and spot checked with a few hydro meters on a few different occasions. If your refractometer gives a nice sharp reading it’s within 0.001 the corresponding hydrometer reading in my experience. An absolute essential tool for small batch brewing in my opinion.

    Reply
  3. Cody

    Has anyone been able to find documentation on when to change the WCF (Wort correction factor)? I don’t immediately see where it gives more information on that value.

    Reply
  4. Cody

    I’m excited to use this calculator in the future. I’ll try in on my next couple of beers and compare it with a hydrometer reading (which is always a PITA to get enough from a carboy). If I find that it’s really close then I’ll start just using the refractometer with this calc!

    Reply

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