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Brews & Views Bulletin Board Service * Brews and Views Archive 2003 * April 1, 2003 * Good Hydrometer < Previous Next >

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Jim Keaveney (152.163.188.67)
Posted on Monday, March 10, 2003 - 05:52 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I have been having problems for approx 2 years with hydrometers. I have purchased them from several different local stores and just cant seem to find a lasting, consistent hydro. Does anybody know of a good source? Maybe it is time to invest in a more expemnsive type?
 

Bill Pierce (208.57.122.28)
Posted on Monday, March 10, 2003 - 06:22 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I use the professional grade hydrometers (set of two) from Northern Brewer: http://www.northernbrewer.com/cgi-bin/cgi-xslt?raw.keyword=hydrometer

At $30 they aren't cheap and I live in fear of their inevitable breakage due to my carelessness, but they seem to be quite accurate.
 

J. Steinhauer (164.111.20.70)
Posted on Monday, March 10, 2003 - 07:24 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I got two (1.000-1.050 and 1.050-1.100 with 0.001 scales) from Fisher Scientific for around $24 or $25 a piece. They are calibrated and traceable, and they work with a smaller volume than my old one from the LHBS. Fisher has a large variety of different hydrometers to choose from.
 

Ken Anderson (24.55.254.125)
Posted on Monday, March 10, 2003 - 07:45 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I've heard the word "traceable" used in reference to thermometers and now hydrometers. Sounds like ISO crap to me. How can this traceability possibly be put to use by the home brewer?
 

B1 Power Wagon (143.183.121.3)
Posted on Monday, March 10, 2003 - 08:14 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

"Traceable" just means that the instrument (in this case a hydrometer) was calibrated with/against a NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) standard. Traceable instruments are shipped with a certificate stating this and usually with a chart/form that shows how closely the instrument you bought matches the NIST standard.

NIST standards cost a bunch to purchase and they have to be sent out to be re-calibrated every so often which also costs money. This is why you pay more for a "traceable" instrument over the same instrument without certificate. Technically, if you own a "traceable" hydrometer, it should also be sent to a cal lab to be recalibrated on some regular schedule to ensure its accuracy. I think that if you are ISO certified, and you have test equipment, you must state how your equipment is calibrated and how your equipment maintains its traceability to NIST, but traceable and ISO are not necessarily the same thing.

This is important for big brewers that have several breweries and want to make sure that the hydrometer in brewery #1 is the same as the hydrometer at brewery #2 or for home brewers that MUST know for sure that their measurements are accurate. If you have the money and it makes you feel better, go for it! I for one will save some money and use the el-cheapo that came with my kit…until it breaks ;-)

Tim Way
Albuquerque, NM
 

Bill Pierce (208.57.122.28)
Posted on Monday, March 10, 2003 - 08:20 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Large breweries seldom use hydrometers. They have expensive (more than $20,000) beer analyzers that are calibrated periodically and output a digital record of many factors, including specific gravity.
 

Tacoma Brewers (131.191.30.87)
Posted on Monday, March 10, 2003 - 08:39 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Redhook still uses a hydrometer. I was able to witness them doing a reading while I was there for my inside tour.
 

Jim Keaveney (205.188.209.80)
Posted on Monday, March 10, 2003 - 08:42 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

"home brewers that MUST know for sure that their measurements are accurate"

That's fine, but what about the homebrewer who knows the measurement is inaccurate? I had the elcheapo version that came with my kit for over 6 years with no problems that i noticed until it broke. ever since then, i have been on a quest to find a reliable replacement. 4 hydrometers and 2 years later i am stil looking. the current version is off by 4-6 points in 60F h20. i am not confident that holds true for wort at 1.080 or so. it may be off by even more. i think it is time to plunk down a little extra cash and get one that works.
 

Ken Anderson (24.55.254.125)
Posted on Monday, March 10, 2003 - 08:47 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Find the temperature it IS accurate at. Then you're smiling. It's what I did, and I haven't been beat up yet for offering that advice!
 

Jim Keaveney (205.188.209.80)
Posted on Monday, March 10, 2003 - 09:01 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

that is mighty industrious ken. problem is, my thermometer is only accurate at 60F!
 

Terry Neudorf (192.197.71.189)
Posted on Tuesday, March 11, 2003 - 08:51 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Been reading these posts on hydrometers and begain wondering about the elcheapo one I've got. Tested it in distilled water at 68 F, read 1.000 but it sounds like they can still be off at higher gravities.
Is there any way of doing a rough test of a hydrometer?
 

J. Steinhauer (164.111.20.70)
Posted on Tuesday, March 11, 2003 - 11:31 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

The problem with my old hydrometer was that it was accurate at 60F in water, but the paper in it must have had some distortion in the scale that made it off by a couple of points in either direction at different points on the scale. It could not be systematically corrected for.

The other problem was that I had a long series of poorly attenuated beers for no good reason, and so I thought something else must have gone screwy with it. I truly believe, now, it was a characteristic of the base malt, since I have been brewing with other malts, and the problem has gone away.
 

Bill Pierce (208.57.122.28)
Posted on Tuesday, March 11, 2003 - 11:53 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Terry, Ken Anderson posted this link about hydrometer calibration in another message thread here on the board: http://www.knology.net/~sprevost/beerwine/cal.htm
 

Ken Anderson (24.55.254.125)
Posted on Wednesday, March 12, 2003 - 12:32 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I swear when I read that site earlier, it was more detailed on making up the sugar solution. That is, combine 22 grams of sugar with 78 grams of water. So you have 100 grams of solution, 22 grams of which is sugar, i.e., 22% sugar solution. Myself, I tared out my container, put in 33 grams of sugar, then topped up to 150 grams of water. Same percent solution, but enough liquid to fill your hydrometer testing cylinder. I never did mess with the salt idea.
 

Mike Mayer (64.12.97.9)
Posted on Wednesday, March 12, 2003 - 01:56 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Bill,

I just calibrated my Hydrometer using the link from ken Anderson, and it worked very well. My hydrometer sucks, but at least I know by how much now.

Mike
Cleveland, OH
 

Ken Anderson (24.55.254.125)
Posted on Wednesday, March 12, 2003 - 04:43 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Mike, did you try to find out at what temperature your hydrometer IS accurate? My guess is that if the paper tube is a little bit "misglued", a work-around can be found by simply determining the temperature at which it WILL read correctly.

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