Hydrometer numbers not dropping below water line. Ideas?

I just brewed up my very first 5 gallon batch of Caribou Slobber today and I thought I’d go ahead and try take an original gravity reading as well. When I dropped my hydrometer into the test vial, the numbers didn’t even drop below the water line, which of course makes it impossible to take a reading. What would cause this? Did I screw up my brew somewhere along the way? Did I use the wrong type of hydrometer? I was pretty careful and precise with everything I did, but being that this is my very first time, I certainly could have screwed something up.


I assume this is an extract kit? Did you take the reading after you added the top off water up to 5 gallons? It’s possible you had some wort stratification so it wasn’t mixed thoroughly so you got a higher sugar concentration in your sample but that seems like an awful lot of sugar to prevent it from dropping down to the numbers.

How are you taking the reading? In a test vial or just dropping the hydrometer right into the bucket?

Is the hydrometer floating in the wort, or resting on the bottom of the sample tube?

It’s likely that you bumped your h’drometer on something and the paper inside moved a bit, altering the reading. This has happened to me before.

Mattnaik, yes it is an extract kit. And yes, I believe I took the reading right after I added the top off water up to 5 gallons. I took the reading in a test vial. Maybe your suspicion is correct.

Flars, Yes the hydrometer was floating in the wort. It didn’t drop down low enough to take any kind of reading. Still not sure why.

Thanks for the response, guys! Anything else you can add is greatly appreciated.


Can you post a link to the hydrometer you are using. Some hydrometers are designed to measure salinity in an aquarium.

Are you using an actual hydrometer flask or the tube it came in? The packaging tube is not large enough to use for an accurate reading. To test it try using 60° (preferably distilled) water. It should read 1.00. If it is close then you can adjust the reading by how far off it is each time you use it. If it is way off toss it or return it to where you purchased it.

If it is as far off as you are saying then I would just use tap water to test it just to get a ball park reading. If it is close then maybe get some distilled water. If it reads correctly then it is possible the wort was not mixed well enough. Either way why not finish brewing it and see how it turns out anyway.


here is the hydrometer I’m using.

http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/brew ... -000-1-070


I am using an actual testing vial/flask, not the tube it came in. I like you’re idea about testing it with water, though. I will try that to see what it shows. And I’m definitely still going to drink it. :slight_smile: It’s in primary fermentation as we speak. Another week and half there, then off to secondary fermentation for another few weeks.