What are brix beer and refractometer brewing

Brix is the amount of sugar in a liquid solution. The brewing process simply converts sugar into ethanol and carbon dioxide. Measuring the sugar content of the wort allows the brewer to calculate the alcohol content of the beer after fermentation. Since brewers use brewing refractometers to measure the brix of the wort sample, they can estimate the alcohol content by multiplying it by 0.59. A refractometer is an optical instrument to measure the amount of dissolved solids in sugar solution. The alcohol content is an approximation because there are other factors that may determine the fermentation efficiency.

Brewers will take refractometer readings during the fermentation process. Refractometer brewing readings informs them the mash efficiency and when fermentation is complete. Some beer brewers may prefer to use specific gravity or Plato unit to measure. But brix value can be converted to specific gravity or Plato unit with a simple calculation. Most refractometer brewing software has real-time brix to specific gravity conversion algorithms. A hydrometer reads the specific gravity of your beer. And some refractometers may come with a dual scale for readings. And brix beer refractometers measure the amount of sugar in the wort sample. Since wort is more than sugar and water, it is necessary to make a small correction for the value. And most brewing software comes with a refractometer calculator to apply the correction factor.

brewing refractometer

What is a beer brewing refractometer

A beer brewing refractometer is an optical tool to measure the brix or specific gravity of your beer. The brix refractometer measures the sugar content of a solution by refractive index. But a hydrometer reads the specific gravity of liquids by buoyancy. A refractometer is a more advanced brewing tool. And it provides the specific gravity SG without too much waste of the sample. The brix beer refractometer is also more durable than other measuring tools.

It allows you to easily and quickly obtain the starting specific gravity of your beer. With refractometer brewing readings, you can calculate the mash efficiency. That is the percentage of potential sugars extracted from the grain during the mash process. These values can help you dial in your brewery software (e.g. BeerSmith). Then, you may have a more predictable brew day for your beer.

refractometer brewing

How to use a refractometer for beer brewing

A refractometer for beer brewing is a measuring tool for your home brewing. You cannot use a brix beer refractometer to directly measure the alcohol content of your finished beer. But we can solve this problem with the help of a refractometer calculator you can find online. Use a refractometer to take the original gravity readings of unfermented wort and final gravity readings after the brew day. To get the alcohol content, you need to calculate the original gravity and the final gravity.

Calibrating your refractometer for beer brewing

Before using a beer brewing refractometer, you need to calibrate it like many other tools. Calibrating a refractometer for beer brewing is quick and easy for home brewers.

At first, clean the refractometer with a clean cloth. Then place two or three drops of distilled water on the sample plate. After adding the distilled water, close the cover plate and disperse the water evenly. There should be no air bubbles in the sample. The refractometer beer brewing is temperature-sensitive. So it requires the sample to change to room temperature. But some models automatically adjust the temperature with the temperature compensation function. Once the sample reached the desired temperature, hold the refractometer towards a light source. Then take brix readings from the refractive index. Many traditional refractometers have a calibration knob to adjust the calibration settings. And the refractometer beer brewing should be calibrated to zero at last. After the calibration, the refractometer beer brewing is ready for use.

refractometer for beer brewing

Measuring the sample by a refractometer

After calibrating your refractometer, you need to measure the home brewing sample of your beer. First, clean the refractometer with a soft cloth. Take small samples of unfermented wort by a pipe. Then wait for the sample to cool to room temperature. Place a few drops of wort sample on the sample plate. And focus on the eyepiece of your refractometer. At the gravity reading, there will be a blue part at the top intersecting with a white part at the bottom. Finally, take the starting gravity of your unfermented wort. After measurements, you’d better wash the device if it is water resistant.

Waiting for the wort sample to be at room temperature can provide more accurate readings for you. If you do not see a change in the sample refractometer reading after fermentation is complete, repeat the process of measuring the specific gravity SG. With the starting gravity and final gravity, you can calculate the potential alcohol content of your beer. Besides, you can also get to know how much sugar is converted to ethanol in the finished beer.

beer brewing refractometer

Types of brewing refractometers

A brewing refractometer can be of great help for you to take your home brewing to the next level. With high accuracy, simple operation, and small samples, a refractometer is an essential tool for home brewers. There are two main types of brewing refractometers: analog and digital refractometers.

Analog refractometer

An analog refractometer is a traditional model for home brewing. This refractometer displays its reading on the instrument by a lens and prism. You need to focus on the eyepiece while holding it towards a light source to read the measurement. And it requires opening and closing the cover plate repeatedly. Besides, most analog refractometers do not have the automatic temperature compensation ATC function. So it may not provide as accurate readings as digital models.

Digital refractometer

Digital refractometers work similarly to an analog model. The main difference between these two models is the need for an extra light source. No need to hold it towards the daylight, digital refractometers use the light emitted by the LCD in the device. Besides, a digital brix refractometer is easier to use. Refractometers measure the amount of dissolved solids in sugar solution to provide more accurate results. And some models of the meters have a dual scale like brix and specific gravity. Brewers often use a brix 0-32 homebrew kit to measure sugar content. Thus, the digital refractometer is a better choice for professional home brewers.

best refractometer for brewing

Best refractometer for brewing

No matter you are a professional beer brewer or a beginner to brew your beer at home, there are many uses for a brix refractometer. As refractometer brewing becomes more and more popular, there are different models of refractometer for beer brewing on the market.

For those who want to get the best beer recipes, FJD best refractometer for brewing comes in handy. It reads brix values in 2 seconds with ±0.1% accuracy. The digital brix refractometer comes with automatic temperature compensation ATC. So this ATC refractometer can provide you with more accurate results even though there is a temperature difference. FJD hand held refractometer displays the results on the LCD screen and your mobile app. And it has one-button calibration, with only a few drops of sample needed for measurement. This meter is IP67 water resistant and drop-proof (1.5 meters). So it is durable and user-friendly.

Besides, brix meter refractometers measure sugar content of the must before and after fermentation. In this case, it will calculate the alcohol content of the final beverage. Thus, many brewers use this refractometer instead of the hydrometer in the brewing process. The basic model FJD Refractometer Air is a brix 0-32 homebrew kit. FJD Refractometer Ultimate can also work as multi-function tools like wine refractometer, coffee refractometer, honey refractometer, and maple syrup refractometer. So this tool can measure almost everything you want including fruit, coffee, wine, honey, maple syrup, etc. As a result, FJD is the best refractometer for brewing.