I hate hydrometers!!

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guypettigrew
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I hate hydrometers!!

Post by guypettigrew » Sat May 29, 2021 3:38 pm

Don't you find hydrometers a pain? Having just finished a brew I thought I'd drop my hydrometer into the FV to check the reading against my refractometer.

So annoying! It swirls round and always ends up with the scale away from me. Plus it somehow always collects bubbles round the scale, even if I try to blow them away. Impossible to see where the meniscus is.

Refractometers all the way for me.

Guy

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Re: I hate hydrometers!!

Post by drjim » Sat May 29, 2021 4:27 pm

Agree, they also like leaning at funny angles to confuse me (I know it's that my various benches/trolleys aren't level but I blame the cursed hydrometer).

I have two hydrometers, one reads 6 points different to the other at around 1042 region, both the same in water. I also have a refractometer which reads differently again, usually higher than both.

So I got a digital refractometer, I managed to use it once and it gave another different reading to all other devices the spread was 1050 1056 1058 and 1053 from the digital. The batteries I found in the cupboard then died and thus I couldn't use it on the batch I made today to see what random numbers I was going to get!

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Re: I hate hydrometers!!

Post by Jocky » Sat May 29, 2021 7:51 pm

I’d get a sample jar. About 100ml graduated cylinder is what I use. It saves contaminating your wort/beer with a mucky hydrometer, and you can blow the foam/bubbles away from the top too.

Stevenson Reeve hydrometers seem to be more consistent than the Alla brand ones in my limited experience.
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Re: I hate hydrometers!!

Post by McMullan » Sat May 29, 2021 7:57 pm

I like my hydrometer. Had the latest one for more than 7 years. Hasn't rolled off the countertop once, obviously. Very accurate and precise, relatively speaking. Digital refractometers are fine for measuring sugar solutions. Pants for monitoring ethanol fermentation. Unless you believe in mysterious online home-brew calculators offering 'confidence' of the wrong kind :wink:

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Re: I hate hydrometers!!

Post by aamcle » Sat May 29, 2021 8:12 pm

:) :) there is a thread on the U.S. Forum with a running count of the broken n dead .

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Re: I hate hydrometers!!

Post by guypettigrew » Sun May 30, 2021 9:30 am

Jocky wrote:
Sat May 29, 2021 7:51 pm
I’d get a sample jar. About 100ml graduated cylinder is what I use. It saves contaminating your wort/beer with a mucky hydrometer, and you can blow the foam/bubbles away from the top too.

Stevenson Reeve hydrometers seem to be more consistent than the Alla brand ones in my limited experience.
Mine's a Stevenson. To be precise, it says c 1983 Peter Stevenson Ltd. Made in Scotland. Presumably from before Stevenson-Reeves was created?

It's always soaked in Starsan before use. Not a perfect steriliser, I know.

The reading (when I can see one!) agrees with the refractometer. Which is why I rarely use it before fermentation.

I occasionally use it for double checking the gravity towards the end of fermentation. Although the online calculators for refractometers don't give a result too far different from the hydrometer.

Mostly I just go by the rate of bubbles through the blow off tube, using the hydrometer and refractometer just to confirm the gravity has dropped low enough to start cooling.

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Re: I hate hydrometers!!

Post by FUBAR » Sun May 30, 2021 10:05 am

guypettigrew wrote:
Sun May 30, 2021 9:30 am
Jocky wrote:
Sat May 29, 2021 7:51 pm
I’d get a sample jar. About 100ml graduated cylinder is what I use. It saves contaminating your wort/beer with a mucky hydrometer, and you can blow the foam/bubbles away from the top too.

Stevenson Reeve hydrometers seem to be more consistent than the Alla brand ones in my limited experience.
Mine's a Stevenson. To be precise, it says c 1983 Peter Stevenson Ltd. Made in Scotland. Presumably from before Stevenson-Reeves was created?

It's always soaked in Starsan before use. Not a perfect steriliser, I know.

The reading (when I can see one!) agrees with the refractometer. Which is why I rarely use it before fermentation.

I occasionally use it for double checking the gravity towards the end of fermentation. Although the online calculators for refractometers don't give a result too far different from the hydrometer.

Mostly I just go by the rate of bubbles through the blow off tube, using the hydrometer and refractometer just to confirm the gravity has dropped low enough to start cooling.

Guy
Exactly I have found when using an online calculator the refractometer & hydrometer agree at all stages my hydrometer hasn't seen light of day for a long time . And as of yet I have not managed to break a refractometer , lost count of the amount of my hydrometers that have committed suicide over the years .
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Re: I hate hydrometers!!

Post by Carnot » Mon May 31, 2021 7:42 pm

I am afraid i like hydrometers; as long as they are the real deal, They do not lie. Use refractomer if you wish but whne you get to the FG then do not be surprised if you have an issue. Why does HMRCE insist on hydrometers?

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Re: I hate hydrometers!!

Post by guypettigrew » Mon May 31, 2021 8:08 pm

Carnot wrote:
Mon May 31, 2021 7:42 pm
Why does HMRCE insist on hydrometers?
Not sure HMRC do insist on hydrometers.

According to this excerpt from the regulations the method is distillation then a pycnometer is used.

No mention of hydrometers.

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Re: I hate hydrometers!!

Post by Northern Brewer » Tue Jun 01, 2021 12:46 pm

It's no big deal to just twiddle away the bubbles.

One top tip - get a finishing hydrometer, it's so much easier to read an FG off something that only goes up to 1.020 or so.

They can be hard to find in the UK though - I don't know what it's like now, I got mine from the old incarnation of Hop & Grape as they were about the only mainstream place that did them short of buying direct from the likes of SR.

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Re: I hate hydrometers!!

Post by borischarlton » Wed Jun 02, 2021 3:16 pm

Northern Brewer wrote:
Tue Jun 01, 2021 12:46 pm
It's no big deal to just twiddle away the bubbles.

One top tip - get a finishing hydrometer, it's so much easier to read an FG off something that only goes up to 1.020 or so.

Whilst it isn't a finishing hydrometer the large scale makes it much easier to use.
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Re: I hate hydrometers!!

Post by LeeH » Wed Jun 02, 2021 8:42 pm

Northern Brewer wrote:It's no big deal to just twiddle away the bubbles.

One top tip - get a finishing hydrometer, it's so much easier to read an FG off something that only goes up to 1.020 or so.

They can be hard to find in the UK though - I don't know what it's like now, I got mine from the old incarnation of Hop & Grape as they were about the only mainstream place that did them short of buying direct from the likes of SR.
Got mine from Murphy and Sons for their online shop.
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Re: I hate hydrometers!!

Post by PeeBee » Fri Jun 11, 2021 12:49 pm

How did I miss this! My favourite subject, I'm sure some folk are puzzled why I haven't replied already...

Hydrometers are cr&p. Refractometers are dodgy 'cos they were never intended to be deployed in this way. Stop using devices that use tricks to get the measurement you need and use something that's actually using basics to directly read the measurement you want. A Pyk... Oh, it's already been mentioned! (But spelt with a "c", flippin' heathens).

It does need some decent weighing scales (weigh consistently to within 1/4 of 0.1g; mine cost about £35, not those cheap and nasty Chinese postage stamp ones) but they come in useful for other things. And the "pyknometer" itself is only a kooky little bottle, 30ml ones cost less than £5 (you can get 10ml ones but then you need really good weighing scales).

And you are not restricted to beer SGs, I've used mine to get the SG of 99%ish Isopropanol (about 0.786) and 35%ish CaCl2 solution (about 1.321). "Meniscus" doesn't get a look-in (you don't even need good eyesight).

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Re: I hate hydrometers!!

Post by guypettigrew » Fri Jun 11, 2021 2:06 pm

PeeBee wrote:
Fri Jun 11, 2021 12:49 pm
Hydrometers are cr&p. Refractometers are dodgy 'cos they were never intended to be deployed in this way. Stop using devices that use tricks to get the measurement you need and use something that's actually using basics to directly read the measurement you want. A Pyk... Oh, it's already been mentioned! (But spelt with a "c", flippin' heathens).
Who are you calling a heathen, you backwoods Welsh person!! No offence intended PeeBee! Yes, I did wonder why you hadn't joined in, especially when I'd mentioned pycnometers.

'C' or 'K'? Sources found via Google seem equally happy with either. But, just for you, it'll be pyknometer from now on!

Guy

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Re: I hate hydrometers!!

Post by Nitro Jim » Fri Jun 11, 2021 2:14 pm

Pycnometer is the preferred spelling in modern American English usage. Pyknometer is to be found in older texts, and is used interchangeably with pycnometer in British English. The term has its origins in the Greek word πυκνός, meaning "dense".
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