Best and most affordable refractometer?

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by bonobrews, Jun 24, 2013.

  1. bonobrews

    bonobrews New Member

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    Especially since I've started doing 2-gal batches, taking a full sample is a little wasteful and I have to wait for it to cool down. I've missed my numbers a few times since I couldn't take accurate samples straight from the boil kettle. SO... I want a fancy refractometer. OooOOoooOoo. :geek:

    Any rec's on your favorite, most affordable instrument? Online/in my LHBS? Your experience is valuable. To me at least.
     
  2. LarryBrewer

    LarryBrewer Active Member

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    You get what you pay for with refractometers. I'd spend at least $100 to get any degree of accuracy. The $40 unit I got as a gift a few years ago is terribly inaccurate.

    At the top of the line, the Atago PAL-1 is $250+ which we blogged about here:
    http://www.brewersfriend.com/2013/06/14 ... ago-pal-1/
     
  3. EvanAltman36

    EvanAltman36 New Member

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    It's not a refractometer, but have you considered a wine thief? As long as you sanitize it, and the hydrometer of course, properly, you can take a sample and then gently put the wort back into the fermenter without oxidizing it much, if at all. I just got one recently and found that it was much easier and less wasteful than my previous method, which used a turkey baster to remove the sample for a hydrometer.
     
  4. Scrumpy

    Scrumpy New Member

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    A wine thief is awesome and a must have, but nothing can really replace the convenience of a refractometer on brew day, for mash, run off and boil measurements. (must and cider too!)
    I like anything that Hanna Instruments manufactures.
     
  5. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    I use my refractometer for estimates while brewing. It's accurate enough for that. For the critical measurements or for measurements after fermentation starts, it's the good old fashioned float.
     
  6. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    @Evan: When I take a gravity reading I never put the sample back into the carboy, I taste it. That's how I know the beer is done.
     
  7. EvanAltman36

    EvanAltman36 New Member

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    @nosy: what I like about the thief is that I can do both. I'll return some of the sample and retain some to taste. I only just got the thief, as I had been using a pretty primative method prior to that. My turkey baster testing went out the window when the actual tube portion popped off the bulb mid-squeeze and dropped into the carboy. Awesomeness right there.
     
  8. bonobrews

    bonobrews New Member

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    @Larrybrewer fast forward to the day when I have enough moneys for $250 home lab equipment. I'll be brewing on my boat by then. :cool:

    @EvanAltman36 I'm habitually nervous about returning samples to the carboy, just a byproduct of my industry experience in pharmaceuticals. But... alcohol is a sterilant, right? I'm torn on this.
     
  9. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Might just as well drink it.... Homebrew is good, even flat (and green)...
     
  10. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Fact is, I'm sipping a sample right now - an English Porter that, if it continues to age well, will be just wonderful!
     
  11. EvanAltman36

    EvanAltman36 New Member

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    RDWHAHB. If you've properly sanitized everything, there really shouldn't be a problem. I mean, you're always running a risk when you introduce any testing/sampling equipment to the beer, but if you have taken necessary precautions you eliminate much of the risk. However, all the equipment in the world can't replace a good old-fashioned taste test.
     
  12. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    True. My enjoyment of the samples is personal preference. It's about two ounces of beer - I can spare that....
     

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