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Hmm... Who do I believe?


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#1 ER Pemberton

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Posted 18 June 2019 - 06:17 PM

In the "dry out a beer" thread, neddles mentioned taking readings which I admit I don't always do.  Awhile ago I bought a refractometer (maybe $35) off of Amazon and I brewed today so I had it at the ready.  I grabbed a couple drops of wort and the meter showed 1.035.  This is a beer that shows it should be 1.050 at 75% efficiency.  Aghast, I grabbed my hydrometer and it showed about 1.045 which is still lower than I would think but at least in the ballpark.  Which one is more likely to be right?  Looks like I need to possibly refine my crush and maybe use more grain in my batches.



#2 matt6150

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Posted 18 June 2019 - 06:25 PM

I would believe the hydrometer. Did you zero the refractometer before hand?
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#3 ER Pemberton

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Posted 18 June 2019 - 06:37 PM

No. This was the first time I used it. I read some directions but did not see anything about that. Thanks for the reply... I was hoping the hydrometer would be more accurate.

#4 HVB

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Posted 18 June 2019 - 06:38 PM

I agree with Matt but I would check both with water (distilled if you have it) and make sure you adjust the hydro for temp.
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#5 neddles

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Posted 18 June 2019 - 06:46 PM

I gonna third the hydrometer and the rec to calibrate both with distilled and at the temp the instrument is rated for.


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#6 ER Pemberton

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Posted 18 June 2019 - 08:17 PM

Well, my hydro sample was at 60° but I think the meter sample was colder.  But the meter says it has ATC... do I trust that?  Also, I remember checking the gravity of distilled water when I first got the meter (1.000) and I also remember someone saying that the meter is terrible at determining gravity when fermentation has already started... which is why I got it in the first place... to tell if I was in the spunding zone.  I'll look further at the docs that came with the meter to see if something was off with my measurement.  Otherwise I'll have to up my grain bill a little bit and set my efficiency a little lower.



#7 neddles

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Posted 18 June 2019 - 09:29 PM

If you have a batch of basemalt with an unusually high gelatinization temperature then that might explain both your lack of conversion and hazy beers. Assuming basemalt was a consistent player throughout all those batches.
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#8 Poptop

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Posted 19 June 2019 - 05:12 AM

Being the anti fancy gadget guy and nay for the lack of owning a refrac... I'd stick to the hydrometer :)


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#9 HVB

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Posted 19 June 2019 - 05:36 AM

Being the anti fancy gadget guy and nay for the lack of owning a refrac... I'd stick to the hydrometer :)

They are nice for some things but I do not use mine as much anymore.  Truthfully, I do not take a lot of gravity readings other than OG and FG.


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#10 ER Pemberton

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Posted 19 June 2019 - 06:26 AM

Looking at the instructions for the meter, it shows that you should check it with distilled water to make sure it reads ZERO and I remember doing that when I first got the meter but I didn't do it again yesterday.  It also says that the meter and the sample should be the same temp.  The meter was in the basement and my sample was chilling in the sink and was probably colder than the meter.  Not sure if that would skew the results or not.  I have been in the habit of double-crushing my grains so I can't imagine my crush is hurting me.  Also, this beer yesterday was 50/50 Munich 2 and Vienna... might that result in a slightly lower yield/efficiency because there was no pilsner or standard 2-row in there?  I'll keep taking samples as I brew and see if my efficiency is more like 65-70% instead of 75%.  The wort created by this grist was beautiful though... beautiful deep amber color and I got very clear wort going into the fermenter.  Thanks gang.  



#11 denny

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Posted 19 June 2019 - 09:19 AM

In the "dry out a beer" thread, neddles mentioned taking readings which I admit I don't always do.  Awhile ago I bought a refractometer (maybe $35) off of Amazon and I brewed today so I had it at the ready.  I grabbed a couple drops of wort and the meter showed 1.035.  This is a beer that shows it should be 1.050 at 75% efficiency.  Aghast, I grabbed my hydrometer and it showed about 1.045 which is still lower than I would think but at least in the ballpark.  Which one is more likely to be right?  Looks like I need to possibly refine my crush and maybe use more grain in my batches.

 

T

 

Looking at the instructions for the meter, it shows that you should check it with distilled water to make sure it reads ZERO and I remember doing that when I first got the meter but I didn't do it again yesterday.  It also says that the meter and the sample should be the same temp.  The meter was in the basement and my sample was chilling in the sink and was probably colder than the meter.  Not sure if that would skew the results or not.  I have been in the habit of double-crushing my grains so I can't imagine my crush is hurting me.  Also, this beer yesterday was 50/50 Munich 2 and Vienna... might that result in a slightly lower yield/efficiency because there was no pilsner or standard 2-row in there?  I'll keep taking samples as I brew and see if my efficiency is more like 65-70% instead of 75%.  The wort created by this grist was beautiful though... beautiful deep amber color and I got very clear wort going into the fermenter.  Thanks gang.  

 

This is why I have 3 refractometers sitting unused in a drawer in my brewery.


Well, my hydro sample was at 60° but I think the meter sample was colder.  But the meter says it has ATC... do I trust that?  Also, I remember checking the gravity of distilled water when I first got the meter (1.000) and I also remember someone saying that the meter is terrible at determining gravity when fermentation has already started... which is why I got it in the first place... to tell if I was in the spunding zone.  I'll look further at the docs that came with the meter to see if something was off with my measurement.  Otherwise I'll have to up my grain bill a little bit and set my efficiency a little lower.

 

ATC corrects for the temp of the refractometer, not the sample.


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#12 ER Pemberton

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Posted 19 June 2019 - 09:44 AM

This is why I have 3 refractometers sitting unused in a drawer in my brewery.

The funny part is that when you look at the measurement with the meter, your result is so clear and unwavering and when you look at your hydrometer floating in the wort you're kind of unsure about the exact number and yet the hydro is probably a better tool.



#13 denny

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Posted 19 June 2019 - 02:44 PM

The funny part is that when you look at the measurement with the meter, your result is so clear and unwavering and when you look at your hydrometer floating in the wort you're kind of unsure about the exact number and yet the hydro is probably a better tool.

 

Undoubtedly a better tool.  Even with the difficulty of reading it, it's at least as accurate a refractometer.  And since I can have wort from boiling to 65F in 60 seconds, it really doesn't take much longer.


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#14 miccullen

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Posted 22 June 2019 - 09:50 AM

Undoubtedly a better tool.  Even with the difficulty of reading it, it's at least as accurate a refractometer.  And since I can have wort from boiling to 65F in 60 seconds, it really doesn't take much longer.

How do you achieve this temperature reduction?


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#15 ER Pemberton

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Posted 22 June 2019 - 10:11 AM

How do you achieve this temperature reduction?

Not answering for Denny but I think he mentioned it before and I think I stole it: I place a small metal bowl in a larger bowl of water, put something heavy in the smaller bowl and freeze it. When it comes time to take a sample, drop your wort sample into the small bowl and swirl it. I do this to cool my mash sample and sparge sample and it would work nicely for the post-boil sample too.

#16 denny

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Posted 22 June 2019 - 12:14 PM

Not answering for Denny but I think he mentioned it before and I think I stole it: I place a small metal bowl in a larger bowl of water, put something heavy in the smaller bowl and freeze it. When it comes time to take a sample, drop your wort sample into the small bowl and swirl it. I do this to cool my mash sample and sparge sample and it would work nicely for the post-boil sample too.

 

Pretty much the same, but I use a metal cocktail shaker instead of a bowl.  The top makes it easier to swirl.  It also prevents evaporation losses that some say can alter your readings.  I find that kinda far fetched, but it's easy enough to avoid.  I can go from boiling to 65 in 60 sec. or less.  I developed this method becasue I boil to OG, not time, so I need to take readings of boiling wort quickly.  Rather than a freezer, which I don't have handy when I brew, I use a bowl of ice water.


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#17 Genesee Ted

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Posted 24 June 2019 - 02:07 PM

The ATC on refracts only takes a few seconds to balance out such a small amount of liquid. I use a refract all the time alongside a hydrometer. I never notice any difference. Obviously YMMV but it works just as well for me

#18 ER Pemberton

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Posted 24 June 2019 - 02:57 PM

My hydrometer is 20 years old and came with my first equipment kit.  This refractometer is newish and I got it on Amazon for about $35.  Since the two don't agree I'm going to assume that this is a cheap-ass refractometer.  



#19 miccullen

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Posted 24 June 2019 - 07:06 PM

My hydrometer is 20 years old and came with my first equipment kit.  This refractometer is newish and I got it on Amazon for about $35.  Since the two don't agree I'm going to assume that this is a cheap-ass refractometer.  

the paper in your hydro could have moved as well

 

Did you check both with the same water sample, be sure to calibrate the Refracto too, it's dead easy to do. You just put a drop of distilled water on the prism, close the window, and look through it like normal. You then use a little screwdriver (usually in the case) turn it until the line is at zero.  

 

I've found that it's best to let the wort sample sit with the window closed for a little bit, like a minute, then measure.


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#20 ER Pemberton

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Posted 24 June 2019 - 08:07 PM

the paper in your hydro could have moved as well

 

Did you check both with the same water sample, be sure to calibrate the Refracto too, it's dead easy to do. You just put a drop of distilled water on the prism, close the window, and look through it like normal. You then use a little screwdriver (usually in the case) turn it until the line is at zero.  

 

I've found that it's best to let the wort sample sit with the window closed for a little bit, like a minute, then measure.

Thanks Mic.

 

I just checked the gravity of water with my hydrometer and it came to 1.000.  Then I grabbed some distilled water and checked the meter... 1.000.  I remember someone saying that a meter is good for checking the OG of wort but that it was not good for checking to see if the beer was done fermenting.  What's that all about?  A hydrometer is telling you what your OG and your FG is but a refractometer is only good for OG?  And in my case it's not even good for that?  :P  I don't know what's up here but I'm going to take readings on all of my upcoming batches to see if I can find a pattern.  




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