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What refractometer to get?

So I am working on gathering my gear to go all grain and I would like to get decent stuff to start. So I am currently looking at refractometers. What is a decent one to start with that is not cheap but won’t break the bank

I don’t know if one is better than another.

Many on ebay (where I purchased mine) that are in the $25-$30 range.

A couple I wouldn’t buy based on the Q&A’s.

Read the sellers rating and be sure to get one that is ATC and for sugars, not salt.

+1 to EBay refractos in the $25 range.

Also make sure it has a gravity scale, many have brix only. Unless of course you use brix…

PS- to save you some trouble that I had, it’s hard to use a refractometer to measure FINAL gravity. They are great for all grain and original gravity, but once alcohol is present they require a complex mathmatical equation to be used with any accuracy. Even then, it’s only theoretical and not a direct measurement of your final gravity. Remeber, they really don’t even measure gravity at all; they measure the way light bends or “refracts” through a solution. They are calibrated for a solution of sugar and water, so alcohol throws them way off. I learned this the hard way when I used mine to measure the FG of a brew and thought it finished way high.

I love my refractometer, but only use a hydrometer for FG readings. I hate math!!!

[quote=“Demus”]I love my refractometer, but only use a hydrometer for FG readings. I hate math!!![/quote]I have the equation set up in a spreadsheet and the ability to measure gravity at any point in the process with just a single drop of beer makes it worth the small hassle of using the computer for a minute.

If your comfortable and plan to stick with the hobby for a while and want a tool that will last a long time + is easier to use. I recommend a digital refractometer, sure it costs a few more bucks but it makes my day operate much more smoothly because I dont have to squint through an eye piece and try to discern what its trying to tell me. With digi you have an instant readout no fuss.
This post tells all you need to know regarding the best price around.


Also in the past there were simple refractometer FSG calculators to help approximate a close enough number similar to that you would find with a hydrometer. Lately though I have tried Sean Terrils(AKA:a10t2) calculator and found it agreed three times in the past with my hydrometer so I only use my digi and Seans calculator for final SG now.

If you haven’t already you can buy a PH meter if you wish, but I have had accurate results using Brunwater for water and PH calcs and I strongly recommend anyone venturing into that aspect of the craft to “blindly” use Martin’s advice and calculator first and then use PH meters/ strips later if you wish super close accuracy. IE: With the program I am usually within 0.1-0.2 PH units which is typically all you really need without the expense and maintenance of meters. Its goes hand in hand with my digi refractometer in my brewing now it makes guess work a thing of the past.

Now if shopping for a good accurate meter also the above link describes the best price I found as well.

Care to share the love and post your spreadsheet?

Am I crazy or do all of the refractometers that have brix and SG line up wrong? I could see how one or two manufacturers could get it wrong but even all of the ones on ebay (and the one here) don’t line up correctly. Or am I wrong (which I often am)?

[quote=“Demus”]Care to share the love and post your spreadsheet?[/quote]This is far easier (from Sean’s site):

I think he also has a spreadsheet version on his site. My spreadsheet is a monster that does hop calcs and all sorts of stuff using separate data tables, so not something that I’d inflict on someone! :wink:

Beersmith has a conversion which will convert original, fermenting, and finished from the brix scale which i have found to be right on the hydrometer reading once calibrated. I got my refractometer from brewmaster warehouse for around $50. Love it.

Ahhg, brix! Now I remember why I went back to my hydrometer for FG. I generally give my brews plenty of time in the fermenter so I only take one FG reading anyway. I love my refractometer for convenience during the mash and boil when many readings are necessary. Before bottling/kegging it’s simple enough to set aside a sample for FG, and spread sheets and conversions can’t be tasted when you’re done! If you’re into all the technical details of brewing there’s certainly no shortage of equations, computations, conversions and such; some are necessary, some not so much. I’m not knocking anyone, but or me, FG is not so much…

One of the online HBS just started selling one with a corrected Brix/SG conversion. I can’t remember who it was but hopefully someone else will chime in. AFAIK every other source still has only the older models.

Just be aware that it uses the some conversion as every other source (MoreBeer, NB, ProMash, various online calculators) and that the results it gives are terrible. Shadetree linked to a significantly more accurate calculator. ... l-gravity/

[quote=“a10t2”] Shadetree linked to a significantly more accurate calculator.

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