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Monsteroyd

smaller / shorter hydrometer

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Hi,

I need the Borg again. Do they make a shorter hydrometer? One that is not as long as the normal one? For example, I would like a hydrometer I can just stick into the LBK (sanitized of course) and get a reading rather than having to pull a sample. Any hope for that or would that make it too small to read?

Thanks
Monty

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I don't think they make one. That is the way I take my readings ever since my sample tube cracked. But I do 5 gallon batches so there is plenty of room. It is pretty much impossible to get eye level so I add 2 points for what is at the surface rather than where the liquid "rolls" up to the hydrometer.

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They make another type of specific gravity measuring device called a refractometer, which uses a very small sample to get it's readings. They're a bit trickier to use, and more expensive than a hydrometer, but are available.

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I have thought about one, but they aren't really designed for beer, and require computation adjustments etc, right? A refractory is usually used to measure sucrose content, not maltose? Are they accurate enough at least to determine end of fermentation? or ABV?

Thanks
Monty

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The one time I've seen one used, it was spot on with a hydrometer.

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I'm able to track my brews' progress much more since I got my refractometer. I can measure the gravity with a very small sample and taste a sip, and in fact I need to pour out more than I need for the refractometer so I have enough for that small sip. For about the first 3 days, I can check the progress every day, then at longer intervals, and still haven't used much.

When brewing one of my first batches with it, I did a comparison to my hydrometer by adding increments of sugar into water and measuring with both, and they were very close until I got to fairly high gravities, over 1.100 and higher, and even then it wasn't a major difference. Once the beer is fermenting, the straight reading is affected by the alcohol, but BrewCalc on my iPhone, and Beersmith, have compensating calculations that stay pretty accurate. When I'm bottling I read both the refractometer and hydrometer, and again, the compensated calculation is very close.

Sometimes in small test batches, I don't even bother with the hydrometer reading.

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There are refractometers marketed specifically to home brewers, and the least expensive are quite affordable. Check ebay to see a variety of them. Prices range from under $20 on up to a lot. I like to deal with companies that sell to brewers, but at some point cost has to be considered.
Something I have tried is getting a SG sample right after pitching the yeast and leaving it in the tube, hydrometer and all, right next to the fermenter. You can really see the process and you don't waste several tubes worth of beer. If it produces a lot of krausen you'll need to clean off the hydrometer a couple of times. If the sample gets infected it really doesn't matter.

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There are ways of not "wasting" your hydrometer sample, if that's your concern.

First, don't take so many samples. Take one a couple of days before you intend to bottle, and one a day or two later, just to confirm that the gravity has held steady. I let all my batches ferment for three weeks, and only take a reading right at the end, to confirm that I've reached FG.

Second, if you sanitize the sample tube and the hydrometer, you can pour it back after taking the reading, so you're not losing that beer. Although, I prefer to taste the sample, to help give me an idea of what the beer is going to taste like. I don't consider that "wasted", because it's giving me valuable information.

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I have to admit, this is one of the most unusual questions I've ever come across. I honestly can't recall ever hearing a request for a smaller, shorter one.

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"Joechianti" post=377878 said:

I honestly can't recall ever hearing a request for a smaller, shorter one.

Already forgotten what your wife ask you for all those years ago Joe? :laugh:

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"LouieMacGoo" post=377886 said:

Just get one of these and you won't have to worry about taking samples anymore!

http://www.thebeerbug.com/

Oh man you shouldn't post a link like that to a geek like me. I wants one!. Too cool.


Except it looks like about $200 for each one. :(

I think I will just use my hydrometer, and I did get an inexpensive refractometer from Amazon. It just does brixe, but the dual scale ones look suspicious to me. And I have beersmith, so it will do the conversion and calibration for me.

Monty

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I used to use a schedule like FedoraDave's, but I find the added data on fermentation progress interesting. I wouldn't have known that most of the fermentation is done in about 2 days, and the rest of the 3 weeks is for the yeast to clean up byproducts rather than eating the main fermentables. Also, although I can disagree with them, I have seen too many warn against pouring the hydrometer sample back into the keg, or even opening the lid except to add ingredients. When I use the hydrometer for my official final reading, I pour that sample into the first bottle, then it can't affect the whole batch.

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If you pour the initial sample back in and then pitch the yeast, and take the final sample and put it into your batch priming container, no issues - you're not opening anything to do anything. I pour most back and then taste it.

Only sometimes do I do a sample prior to bottling, for example before cold crashing, and I don't pour it back. I then don't take a final sample, since the refrig stops the process.

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"RickBeer" post=377910 said:

If you pour the initial sample back in and then pitch the yeast, and take the final sample and put it into your batch priming container, no issues - you're not opening anything to do anything. I pour most back and then taste it.

Only sometimes do I do a sample prior to bottling, for example before cold crashing, and I don't pour it back. I then don't take a final sample, since the refrig stops the process.

+1 just 2 samples and both go back

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Yes I normally (well until I broke my sample tube) do an OG into a sanitized sample tube w/sanitized hydrometer, and then put it back and pitch, then do it again at bottling time (after 3 weeks) to get a FG. I just wanted an easy way to take some readings in between pitching and bottling and I think I will use the refractometer for those.

And of course, the day after I order mine, Homebrew finds has one for less: http://www.homebrewfinds.com/2013/06/great-deal-dual-scale-refractometer-21.html

Monty

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"Monsteroyd" post=377916 said:

Yes I normally (well until I broke my sample tube) do an OG into a sanitized sample tube w/sanitized hydrometer, and then put it back and pitch, then do it again at bottling time (after 3 weeks) to get a FG. I just wanted an easy way to take some readings in between pitching and bottling and I think I will use the refractometer for those.

And of course, the day after I order mine, Homebrew finds has one for less: http://www.homebrewfinds.com/2013/06/great-deal-dual-scale-refractometer-21.html

Monty

everytime :laugh:

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I have two hydrometers and two sample tubes (both tubes are plastic). I'd love to find a plastic hydrometer...

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"RickBeer" post=377932 said:

I have two hydrometers and two sample tubes (both tubes are plastic). I'd love to find a plastic hydrometer...

Ta-Da....http://www.thermcoproductsinc.com/plastic-hydrometers.html

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yep, just bought a backup hydrometer and 2 sample tubes, because I am clumsy. :)

Monty

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I think the benefits of the refractometer don't become apparent until you get accustomed to using it. The refractometer hasn't replaced my hydrometer readings in LBK batches, but rather added to my knowledge of how my beers are progressing.

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As we've started doing more partial mashes and taking pre-boil gravity reading to add to our brew notes we are thinking of adding a refractometer to the brew gear.

Having to pull and cool enough hot wort for the sample tube is a bit of a pain.

I understand the refractometers require a much smaller sample.

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Good point about the use when doing partial mash. I got my refractometer as I refined my all-grain technique, since I needed to make decisions based on the specific gravity, like whether it was in the right range for the hop boil and when to stop sparging. By the time a sample of the wort could cool enough for a hydrometer reading, the time for the decisions had passed. Then I found other additional uses.

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Yes a refractometer would only need a couple of drops of wort, and then you let it cool for a minute to reach the temp of the refracto-thingy. But I really think, at least for me, it needs to be used in conjuction with the hydo, fir calibration and because after alcohol (fermentation), it need tweaking, so that's where the hydro comes in to save the day. I just want it for telling me when fermentation is done, which requires no conversion of brix to SG or anything. Just trying to shave a few days off the pipeline wait. :)

Monty

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