Author Topic: Refractometer - Which one is best?  (Read 2181 times)

Offline Hydro

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 62
    • View Profile
Refractometer - Which one is best?
« on: December 12, 2010, 03:53:29 PM »
There has been two threads talking about how to use a refractometer although I have not seen any reference as to which refractometer works best and consistency.  I used one when I was assisting another brewer and it seemed to be a bit difficult to work with since I wear glasses.  The price range is broad 14 - 95 dollars.  What are you thoughts?

For the Love of Beer,
Hydro

On Tap Now:
1. Irish Red Ale
2. American Amber Ale
3. Kolsch
4. Scotch Ale
5. Strong Scotch Ale
6. Key Lime Pie (11%) Chilled to 29 deg. F. you can not even taste the alcohol.

It is time to start brewing again.

Offline Mikey

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 397
    • View Profile
Re: Refractometer - Which one is best?
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2010, 04:22:49 PM »
Get one with ATC ( automatic temperature control). Good ones can be found on Ebay for the $30 - $40 range,
« Last Edit: December 12, 2010, 07:54:38 PM by Mikey »

Offline tygo

  • I spend way too much time on the AHA forum
  • ********
  • Posts: 2622
  • Sterling, VA
    • View Profile
Re: Refractometer - Which one is best?
« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2010, 05:31:25 PM »
Agreed on the ATC feature.  Mine also has an SG scale in addition to Brix which is convenient.  I wear glasses and it's no problem.  I just set my glasses on top of my head when using the hydrometer and it's clear as a bell.
Clint
Wort Hogs

Fermenting: Wit
On Tap: Lucifer's Hammer Golden Strong Ale, Dopplebock, Old Fuzzynut's Ale

Offline a10t2

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 3487
  • Ask me why I don't like Chico!
    • View Profile
    • SeanTerrill.com
Re: Refractometer - Which one is best?
« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2010, 05:45:39 PM »
Mine also has an SG scale in addition to Brix which is convenient.

Unfortunately, they're also wrong. The manufacturer didn't convert from Brix to SG correctly.
Beer is like porn. You can buy it, but it's more fun to make your own.
seanterrill.com/category/brewing
twomilebrewing.com

Offline tschmidlin

  • I must live here
  • **********
  • Posts: 8195
  • Redmond, WA
    • View Profile
Re: Refractometer - Which one is best?
« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2010, 05:48:03 PM »
Agreed on the ATC feature.  Mine also has an SG scale in addition to Brix which is convenient.  I wear glasses and it's no problem.  I just set my glasses on top of my head when using the hydrometer and it's clear as a bell.
Yeah, I push my glasses up and look through it.  No problem.  It's the same with looking through any eyepiece, like for telescope, binoculars, microsopes, etc - the glass are just in the way.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline tygo

  • I spend way too much time on the AHA forum
  • ********
  • Posts: 2622
  • Sterling, VA
    • View Profile
Re: Refractometer - Which one is best?
« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2010, 06:14:29 PM »
Mine also has an SG scale in addition to Brix which is convenient.

Unfortunately, they're also wrong. The manufacturer didn't convert from Brix to SG correctly.

That would explain why mine usually reads about 2-4 points above my hydrometer.  I kind of just correct for that in my calculations.  But maybe I'll start just reading the brix and doing the conversion myself.
Clint
Wort Hogs

Fermenting: Wit
On Tap: Lucifer's Hammer Golden Strong Ale, Dopplebock, Old Fuzzynut's Ale

Offline Kaiser

  • Global Moderator
  • Senior Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 1797
  • Imperial Brewing Geek
    • View Profile
    • braukaiser.com
Re: Refractometer - Which one is best?
« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2010, 07:08:58 PM »
I have one of those cheap ones with ATC and the ATC is not working correctly. I have to calibrate mine before most uses.

Kai

Offline Mikey

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 397
    • View Profile
Re: Refractometer - Which one is best?
« Reply #7 on: December 12, 2010, 07:57:31 PM »
Mine works perfectly every time and it has since I bought it some 5 years ago off of Ebay. I do let mine stabilize about 20 seconds before I consider it a final reading. One of the best brewing investments I ever made.

Offline donosborn

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 6
    • View Profile
    • Don's Hompage - Brewing, Travel, etc
Re: Refractometer - Which one is best?
« Reply #8 on: December 14, 2010, 09:51:44 AM »
I got one on Ebay that was more like $20-25.  They are still out there.  Look for something like:

New Brix Refractometer 0-32% ATC Fruit Juice Wine

or

Wine Grape Alcohol Refractometer 0-40% Brix 0-25% VOL

Great tool, especially for all grain brewing. 
cheers
don
www.donosborn.com  - homebrew log with pictures, brewing guides and more.
www.youtube.com/donosborn  - how-to-brew videos and more.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/donosborn/ -whole lotta pictures.

Offline Slowbrew

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1930
  • The Slowly Losing IT Brewery in Urbandale, IA
    • View Profile
Re: Refractometer - Which one is best?
« Reply #9 on: December 14, 2010, 01:47:19 PM »
Agreed on the ATC feature.  Mine also has an SG scale in addition to Brix which is convenient.  I wear glasses and it's no problem.  I just set my glasses on top of my head when using the hydrometer and it's clear as a bell.
Yeah, I push my glasses up and look through it.  No problem.  It's the same with looking through any eyepiece, like for telescope, binoculars, microsopes, etc - the glass are just in the way.

Same here. 

It's fun to have the kids, who actually can see, try to read it when the lens is adjusted for Dad.  "Dad!!! It's all blurry!"    ;D

Paul
Where the heck are we going?  And what's with this hand basket?

Offline cheba420

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 346
  • Can I get a beer up in here?
    • View Profile
    • The Beer Research Institute
Re: Refractometer - Which one is best?
« Reply #10 on: December 23, 2010, 10:15:38 AM »
Good stuff. I've been in the market for one of these for a while now and didnt really know where to start. I've broken my share of hydrometers over the years and just hate to keep buying more. Also, I like the idea of taking a reading at any temp and only needing a few drops for the sample as opposed to a few ounces! Might have to dial one of these up over the weekend!
Matt
Mesa, AZ.
#197645

On Tap: Vanilla Porter, Belgian Blonde, Saison, Black IPA, Punkin Porter
Primary: Pale 31 Clone, Raspberry Cider
Secondary: Vanilla Porter
Conditioning: Brett IPA
Bottles:Mosaic Wheat
On Deck: Flanders Red, Berliner weisse, Punkin Saison, Saison Brett

Offline alikocho

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 567
  • Bristol, UK
    • View Profile
    • A Storm Brewing
Re: Refractometer - Which one is best?
« Reply #11 on: December 23, 2010, 10:22:22 AM »
Mine also has an SG scale in addition to Brix which is convenient.

Unfortunately, they're also wrong. The manufacturer didn't convert from Brix to SG correctly.

That would explain why mine usually reads about 2-4 points above my hydrometer.  I kind of just correct for that in my calculations.  But maybe I'll start just reading the brix and doing the conversion myself.

Mine has this too, and the SG gets more out of step as the gravity increases. I tend to use the SG scale as a ballpark measurement and then convert the Brix to be more precise.

Bristol Brewing Circle (BBC)
Bristol Craft Brewers

UK National Homebrew Competition - http://www.bristolhomebrewcompetition.org.uk/

Offline kgs

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 764
  • San Francisco, CA
    • View Profile
Re: Refractometer - Which one is best?
« Reply #12 on: December 25, 2010, 12:15:32 PM »
Anyone have experience with this one? One friend gave me a $25 Amazon gift card which would make this cheap to buy:

http://www.amazon.com/Refractometer-Measuring-Sugar-Content-Beer/dp/B000FBL2G0/
K.G. Schneider
AHA Member

Offline richardt

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1227
    • View Profile
Re: Refractometer - Which one is best?
« Reply #13 on: December 25, 2010, 12:36:55 PM »
http://cgi.ebay.com/Brix-Refractometer-0-32-Fruit-Juice-Wine-Sugar-Beer-/260710348388?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3cb38c3664
I got mine on eBay -- yours looks similar.  I don't worry about extreme accuracy, though. 
I mainly use it during the mash, lautering, and sparging process.
It is great--take a quick sample, put a drop or two on the refractometer, cover quickly, give it about 20 seconds to cool down to ambient temps, and take the reading.  I use it to make sure "I'm in the ballpark" with my SG readings (confirmed with a hydrometer, later).  I also use it to make sure my runnings don't get under 1.012.

Offline mabrungard

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1313
    • View Profile
    • Bru'n Water
Re: Refractometer - Which one is best?
« Reply #14 on: December 25, 2010, 06:17:19 PM »
I also have one of the inexpensive Ebay sourced units.  I have to disagree with letting the unit and sample cool off for only 20 seconds.  I find that it actually takes about 1 to 2 minutes for the reading to stabilize even though the unit says it has ATC. 

I don't have a problem waiting, but I just want to caution folks about registering the reading too early.  Give it a little more time.  I also find that the interface line between the white and blue zone sharpens with more time.  It starts out very fuzzy and sharpens in a few minutes.
Martin B
Carmel, IN

BJCP National
Foam Blowers of Indiana (FBI)

Brewing Water Information at:
https://sites.google.com/site/brunwater/

Like Bru'n Water on Facebook for occasional discussions on brewing water and Bru'n Water