# Refractometer Use

Beermates,
I recently purchased a new refractometer from NB, as my old hydrometer broke (and I wanted an easier way to measure SG). I’ve found that often times when I’m measuring OG, there is lots of “stuff” suspended in the wort. I assume that these are sugars and occur because of the cold water I add to top off the 5 gallons. My concern is that I always seem to get low OG readings with the refractometer. Could it have something to do with the suspended solids? Am I doing something wrong?
Chet

I think the stuff suspended in the wort is small tidbits of grain and has no effect on the SG. I merely give mine a stir and try to let the sample cool for a few seconds before taking the reading.

Have you calibrated it yet ?

It sounds like you’re doing partial boils and topping off. It will be hard to get your wort mixed enough to get a reliable sample if that’s the case. You can take a reading predilution and calculate the final gravity. BeerSmith has a calculator for this and this article in BYO describes the math

http://byo.com/stories/item/237-blendin ... techniques

The only online calculator I’ve uses liters

http://www.jimsbeerkit.co.uk/calc.html

I have not calibrated the refractometer. I purchased the ATF version, so the only calibration I did was put regular water on it and make sure it said 1.000 (which it did).

Here’s the link to my model:

http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/brix ... w-atc.html

Update. So, I purchased a new hydrometer to compare with the refract. Brewing the winter warmer and its been in primary for 3 weeks. During the transfer to secondary, I took a reading with both the hydrometer and the refract. Results - hydrometer 1.016 (what I would expect at this point), refract 1.037 (way too high). So, is my refract defective? What else could cause the discrepancy? I about ready to return it to NB.
Chet

[quote=“chetgregg”]I have not calibrated the refractometer. I purchased the ATF version, so the only calibration I did was put regular water on it and make sure it said 1.000 (which it did).

Here’s the link to my model:

http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/brix ... w-atc.html

Update. So, I purchased a new hydrometer to compare with the refract. Brewing the winter warmer and its been in primary for 3 weeks. During the transfer to secondary, I took a reading with both the hydrometer and the refract. Results - hydrometer 1.016 (what I would expect at this point), refract 1.037 (way too high). So, is my refract defective? What else could cause the discrepancy? I about ready to return it to NB.
Chet[/quote]

No, you need to go here http://www.northernbrewer.com/refractometer-calculator/ and plug in your numbers. Once you have alcohol in solution it will read wrong so you have to use the calculator to figure your correct gravity.