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Issue with Hydrometer

The answer to this issue seems pretty obvious before I ask but I figure with the amount of knowledge that floats around in this community it won’t hurt to ask. I use Beersmith software for my recipe design. For the past several batches I’ve noticed the numbers I’ve measured have been off on the low end. Specifically this batch of pumpkin ale was expected to hit an OG of 1.055; I measured 1.050. Initially I figured I wasn’t as efficient as Beersmith expected, but the FG was also lower than expected. The estimated FG was 1.010, but I measured 1.006. I have a strong history of hitting my numbers pretty close, except the past few batches. Do I just need a new hydrometer? Does anyone use a refractometer instead?

Have you calibrated the hydrometer? Are you correcting for temperature?

If you’re willing to do some work a refractometer can pretty much replace a hydrometer, but they aren’t fool-proof.

http://seanterrill.com/2010/06/11/refra ... l-gravity/
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