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What tools for measuring specific gravity are available to the homebrewer? EG: refractometer, hydrometer.

What scale do they measure? EG: Brix, plato

Since there hasn't been much activity on the question, this is what I'm looking for. Any more comprehensive answers?

  • Hydrometer measures Specific Gravity
  • Refractometers are usually scaled in % Brix
  • Bottles measure Specific Gravity
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I haven't seen SG bottles sold by any homebrew store or online homebrew store, so doubt they're in wide usage. Maybe this question would be better rephrased as "What advantages of refractometers over hydrometers would justify the cost?" (Delete this comment at will.) –  Rich Armstrong Mar 8 '10 at 16:18
You have a refractometer, I think I read somewhere. Tell us why you like it! :) –  Rich Armstrong Mar 8 '10 at 16:18
I like it because it takes a small sample size. I don't like that it reads in % Brix because everything is formulated for SG or ºP. I'm not looking for a replacement for my hydrometer. –  Dean Brundage Mar 9 '10 at 1:20
All I want to know is exactly what I asked in the question. Don't need a comparison or to know how they work. Simply interested if there is something out there beyond the two standard SG tools. –  Dean Brundage Mar 13 '10 at 13:29

1 Answer 1

Typically a Hydrometer measures (or at least mine measures) Specific gravity, potential alcohol, and/or Balling. Refractometers measure Brix.

Most beer recipes use SG as their measurement. For example, according to NorthernBrewer, their California Common kit has an OG of 1.047. Hypothetically if you were to measure an amount of pure water (just H-O-H) at the calibration temperature (typically somewhere around 60F-70F), you would get 1.000. Warmer liquids are not as dense, therefore the same volume of pure water at 150F would be much lower. Similarly, that same sample of pure water at 35F would be much more dense.

Refractometers? I'm sorry I never owned one, so I can't speak about them other than they are significantly expensive and that since your sample is 3-4 drops of liquid, and not 3-4 liquid ounces... temperature is not much of an issue, and the degrees of Brix measures the amount of sugar, and there IS a conversion from Brix to SG, but I don't know it.

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Looking for a more comprehensive answer. –  Dean Brundage Feb 24 '10 at 13:23
H<sub>\<sub>O</sub>/</sub>H :D –  JackSmith Feb 24 '10 at 13:45
More comprehensive and more simple. –  Dean Brundage Feb 25 '10 at 4:34

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