Are you tired of not hitting your desired target gravities? Have you tried to cool a large sample so you could use a hydrometer and see what your gravity is? A refractometer allows you take instant gravities readings at any point during the boil, or run off from the mash. On the fly readings allow you to add more water or boil longer so you can attain exactly the gravity you desire or stop sparging before you extract tannins form the grain. Unlike a hydrometer, a refractometer is a thrifty solution requiring only a couple drops for a sample.
Refractometers measure degrees brix, which are nearly equivalent to balling or plato. A specific gravity scale for unfermented wort is also included. For reading once fermentation has started software prograrms like ProMash and Beer Smith are recommended.
Here’s how: A refractometer instantly reads gravity, in Brix, and specific gravity for unfermented wort by measuring the degree that light passing through the sample is bent. Refraction is what makes a pencil look bent when dipped in a glass of water. If you were to stick a pencil in a series of glasses holding increasingly concentrated sugar water, you would see the pencil apparently bends to a greater degree as the sugar content rises. A refractometer works on the same principal.
Refractometer Specifications: The refractometer is hand held, engineered with a durable metal body, rubber grip, adjustable diopter and a flexible eye piece. It features a 0 to 32% Brix scale with .2% resolution and a specific gravity scale for unfermented wort and automatic temperature compensation between 10-30°C which eliminates the need to consult temperature correction charts. The unit also comes with a manual calibration knob that is secured with a lock nut.
Easy to use: Apply 2-3 drops to the prism face, close cover and make sure the glass has no dry spots or air bubbles. Wait 30 seconds to allow the sample to come to ambient temperature. Look through the eyepiece while aiming your refractometer at a light source. The meter will show a line between blue and clear. This line will correspond with the brix scale on the side of the viewing screen.
To calibrate: Place one drop of distilled water on the prism face and turn the manual calibration screw to it reads 0 Brix if necessary.
Every craft brewer should have one. Don't wait any longer.