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General Category => Equipment and Software => Topic started by: gmac on March 21, 2011, 03:42:46 PM

Title: What's the best thermometer?
Post by: gmac on March 21, 2011, 03:42:46 PM
I have a glass "beer and wine" termometer that I picked up at the local wine shop and I think it's accurate but it's painfully slow to come to temp.  It floats so I leave it in my mash water as it's heating but when I adjust my mash temp, it takes forever.  I pulled it out of the 170 degree mash water, let it cool to about 150 and put it back in and it took about 20 seconds to get to back to temp.  It drops fast, rises slow.
So, when I added my mash water, I was a touch hot and so I added some cold and it dropped to 140, so I added a bit more hot to get it back up and it may have eventually got there.  I gave up and used the kitched thermometer which is celsius and got it to 67C which is about 153F.  This one is very small and hard to read though.  Also, I have no idea how accurate it is although it did correspond with the slow one in the mash water.

Just a bit of a pain to fine tune temps without loosing too much heat when it's so slow.

So, what's the best, quickest, best value thermometer out there for brewing?
Title: Re: What's the best thermometer?
Post by: bluesman on March 21, 2011, 03:55:51 PM
Here's a thread that discusses your question and provides some very good choices for thermometers.

http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=5871.0
Title: Re: What's the best thermometer?
Post by: Tim McManus on March 21, 2011, 03:58:44 PM
Wow, expect a flurry of responses to this question.

We have a kettle thermometer in our mash tun, but the guy I brew with is a professional chef, so we also have a small collection of digital kitchen quick-read thermometers.  The kettle thermometer is analog and works fairly well.  The digital quick read does an excellent job too, and only costs around $15.  Calibration for each one is simple.  The kettle thermometer uses a screw in the back to adjust the dial relative to the position of the needle.  The digital has a menu to do the same.

We cut up a wine cork and slid it down the shaft of the quick-read, so now it floats.  We almost never float it, but it can be done.

This is the thermometer we use.

http://www.amazon.com/Taylor-9842-Commercial-Waterproof-Thermometer/dp/B00009WE45/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1300723094&sr=1-1-catcorr
Title: Re: What's the best thermometer?
Post by: gmac on March 21, 2011, 05:48:19 PM
Here's a thread that discusses your question and provides some very good choices for thermometers.

http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=5871.0

Thanks. 
This brings up a different topic.  What's the best way to search the forum?  I usually try a search first but if I type in Thermometer, you get so many messages that have the word in it that I have given up on searching.
Title: Re: What's the best thermometer?
Post by: timberati on March 21, 2011, 06:10:59 PM
An infrared thermometer looks pretty cool (http://www.amazon.com/Raytek-MT6-Non-contact-MiniTemp-Thermometer/dp/tags-on-product/B000O80B5M (http://www.amazon.com/Raytek-MT6-Non-contact-MiniTemp-Thermometer/dp/tags-on-product/B000O80B5M)). Would it be a good choice?
Title: Re: What's the best thermometer?
Post by: bluesman on March 21, 2011, 06:32:24 PM
Here's a thread that discusses your question and provides some very good choices for thermometers.

http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=5871.0

Thanks. 
This brings up a different topic.  What's the best way to search the forum?  I usually try a search first but if I type in Thermometer, you get so many messages that have the word in it that I have given up on searching.


The best way is to narrow down the search as best you can. Try searching by subject first then refine from there.
Title: Re: What's the best thermometer?
Post by: pfooti on March 26, 2011, 11:58:12 PM
I use a thermapen. It's a hundred bucks, but it is worth the expense. Super-fast response time, pretty darn accurate, very precise. Plus it's splashproof, and can double as an excellent probe thermometer for most homebrewers' second hobbies: barbecue.
Title: Re: What's the best thermometer?
Post by: ajk on March 27, 2011, 01:27:12 AM
I use a thermapen. It's a hundred bucks, but it is worth the expense.

Seconded.  I use mine for both homebrew and BBQ (when I'm not using a remote).  The probe has a nice thin tip, so its own thermal mass doesn't affect the temperature of the sample itself as much.  I only worry I'm going to stick myself with it.  98.6ºF!

I'm leery of infrared thermometers -- don't they only measure surface temperature?  Been meaning to get one for tasting, although I suppose the palate is also a pretty accurate (though certainly not so precise) thermometer.
Title: Re: What's the best thermometer?
Post by: tygo on March 27, 2011, 02:08:48 AM
My thermapen was one of the best investments I've made in awhile.  I mostly spend my hobby bucks on either homebrewing or cooking stuff and this does double or triple duty on all fronts.

For the superbowl this year I was doing homemade wings for the first time and was going to deep fry them.  I was thinking I needed to get a deep fat thermometer so I could make sure the oil was at the right temp.  Then I thought, "Wait, what's the temp range on my thermapen?".  Up to 500F.  Good deal.
Title: Re: What's the best thermometer?
Post by: Will's Swill on March 27, 2011, 04:51:59 PM
Here's a thread that discusses your question and provides some very good choices for thermometers.

http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=5871.0

Yeah, the floating glass thermometers aren't terribly useful for the mash tun I've found.  I tried the whole hand-held digital thing.  Instant read just isn't instant read enough for me when I'm standing over a steaming kettle.  And I also found out that they are nearly as easy to break as the glass thermometers.  >:(  Dial thermometers work great in the mash tun until you do a thin mash and drop the (*#*&$* thing.  :-\ Now I use a Farberware knock-off of the Taylor that punatic recommends in the thread above.  Love it and it matches my dial at mash temp.  My cooler lid will close with the probe inside and the alarm is great when you're heating strike/sparge water.  I just walk off while heating water and get other stuff done until I hear the beep.
Title: Re: What's the best thermometer?
Post by: bluesman on March 27, 2011, 06:28:57 PM
Here's a thread that discusses your question and provides some very good choices for thermometers.

http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=5871.0

Yeah, the floating glass thermometers aren't terribly useful for the mash tun I've found.  I tried the whole hand-held digital thing.  Instant read just isn't instant read enough for me when I'm standing over a steaming kettle.  And I also found out that they are nearly as easy to break as the glass thermometers.  >:(  Dial thermometers work great in the mash tun until you do a thin mash and drop the (*#*&$* thing.  :-\ Now I use a Farberware knock-off of the Taylor that punatic recommends in the thread above.  Love it and it matches my dial at mash temp.  My cooler lid will close with the probe inside and the alarm is great when you're heating strike/sparge water.  I just walk off while heating water and get other stuff done until I hear the beep.

I've tried just about every type of thermometer recommended in that thread and settled on the Thermapen...for now.  ;) ;D
Title: Re: What's the best thermometer?
Post by: gordonstrong on March 27, 2011, 09:09:16 PM
The Thermapen pretty much wins every time in Cook's Illustrated when they look at instant-read thermometers.  When I overshot my target temperature on a standing rib roast by 10 degrees because of a crappy instant-read thermometer, I splurged on the Thermapen.  Avoid ruining two decent cuts of meat and it pays for itself.  Oh yeah, you can use it for brewing too.  Very fast response, accurate.
Title: Re: What's the best thermometer?
Post by: beersk on March 29, 2011, 03:27:30 PM
The Thermapen pretty much wins every time in Cook's Illustrated when they look at instant-read thermometers.  When I overshot my target temperature on a standing rib roast by 10 degrees because of a crappy instant-read thermometer, I splurged on the Thermapen.  Avoid ruining two decent cuts of meat and it pays for itself.  Oh yeah, you can use it for brewing too.  Very fast response, accurate.
Looked it up.  It's pricey at $93 but I can see how it could be a great thermometer.  Been looking into getting a digital thermometer myself, may have to splurge on this eventually.
Title: Re: What's the best thermometer?
Post by: euge on March 29, 2011, 07:30:56 PM
I got mine a couple years ago- it was cheaper then, but I've had absolutely ZERO problems with it and I use it constantly. Highly recommended.

Ill-advised to submerge the TP completely in the mash- I did so and opening it got a little sticky afterwards. Didn't affect performance at all though.
Title: Re: What's the best thermometer?
Post by: blatz on March 29, 2011, 07:32:11 PM
I have a thermapen, but I still prefer my Palmer Wahl thermocouple reader.
Title: Re: What's the best thermometer?
Post by: timberati on March 29, 2011, 10:54:13 PM
Wow, expect a flurry of responses to this question.

We have a kettle thermometer in our mash tun, but the guy I brew with is a professional chef, so we also have a small collection of digital kitchen quick-read thermometers.  The kettle thermometer is analog and works fairly well.  The digital quick read does an excellent job too, and only costs around $15.  Calibration for each one is simple.  The kettle thermometer uses a screw in the back to adjust the dial relative to the position of the needle.  The digital has a menu to do the same.

We cut up a wine cork and slid it down the shaft of the quick-read, so now it floats.  We almost never float it, but it can be done.

This is the thermometer we use.

http://www.amazon.com/Taylor-9842-Commercial-Waterproof-Thermometer/dp/B00009WE45/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1300723094&sr=1-1-catcorr

Great price. Does it work well for mashing, that is, it's accurate enough?
Title: Re: What's the best thermometer?
Post by: Tim McManus on March 30, 2011, 12:38:01 AM
Wow, expect a flurry of responses to this question.

We have a kettle thermometer in our mash tun, but the guy I brew with is a professional chef, so we also have a small collection of digital kitchen quick-read thermometers.  The kettle thermometer is analog and works fairly well.  The digital quick read does an excellent job too, and only costs around $15.  Calibration for each one is simple.  The kettle thermometer uses a screw in the back to adjust the dial relative to the position of the needle.  The digital has a menu to do the same.

We cut up a wine cork and slid it down the shaft of the quick-read, so now it floats.  We almost never float it, but it can be done.

This is the thermometer we use.

http://www.amazon.com/Taylor-9842-Commercial-Waterproof-Thermometer/dp/B00009WE45/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1300723094&sr=1-1-catcorr

Great price. Does it work well for mashing, that is, it's accurate enough?

Yes.  It's used by a lot of folks in food service and is required (a digital quick-read thermometer) by the NYC food cops.  It's not a lab thermometer.