Home brewing in Connecticut Discussions - CT Beer Trail

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Tips and Info on using the Hydrometer

If you recall, I posted a question about hydrometers over at beertools.com.

Good morning,

I'm fairly new to brewing (I've had one good batch and one terrible batch) and I could use some help with my hydrometer... I don't know if it's just me, or if other newbie brewers have the same problem, but I can't get a clear reading on my hydrometer. Either the brew is too foamy in the sample tube and I can't get a good read, or I have trouble reading it along the meniscus. Or maybe I'm just a byproduct of the digital age and refuse to use a simple tool like a hydrometer the right way. But, I feel like I really wasting my time if I keep brewing but goof up on the gravity readings.

Do they make digital hydrometers for brewing purposes? Can anyone direct me to a site where I can find one? Or does anyone have any suggestions for getting past my inability to use the standard tool effectively?

Thanks for the help...

- Bryon

Well I got a couple replies from some seasoned beer makers...

Hi Bryon!

I have never heard of a digital hydrometer but that doesn't mean much in today's world. I know that using one of these tools can be some what frustrating and takes time to get the hang of it. You may want to consider using a Refractometer instead. Granted, the refractometer is not taking the easy way out, but after you learn how to use it you will rely on it anytime you need to take a quick accurate reading. I used to use a hydrometer and used it for many years until I tried a refractometer. I have not used my hydrometer since and have had outstanding results using only my refractometer. It allows you to take on the spot SG readings of your post and pre boil worts using only 2 or 3 drops of wort. It sure beats trying to fill a hydrometer tube full of boiling hot wort...or cooling the wort just to get a decent reading.

I would advise that you do some research about using the refractometer before rushing out and purchasing one as they do have their pros and cons and you'll have to decide if going this route is good for you.

I still have my hydrometer and will not do away with it as it is still one of the most viable tools to check the gravity of your brews in any stage that it is in. The decision is yours. I find that by using both tools, I tend to get very accurate results. I use the refractometer on brew days to quickly check the SG of the wort..then rely on the hydrometer to periodically check the fermentation during various stages such as during secondary fermentation.

I hope this reply has helped you and good luck!


There's one veteran beer maker that has never heard of a digital Hydrometer for beer making... But he did give me some food for thought regarding Refractometers

Here's another reply with some tips on using the Hydrometer...

To get rid of the foam fill up your test tube almost to the top. Then when you place your hydrometer in the tube the wort will overflow along with the foam. I will spin the hydrometer to get rid off any bubbles that are on the hydrometer...

Try and look at the level of the wort. Sometimes you take an average reading. I have a precision hydrometer that reads from 1.000 to 1.070. This is easy to read than the ones that have a large range. - Camper

Thanks Camper, I think ultimately practice and using tips and tricks like the ones you mentioned will help me master the hydrometer. Having said that, I would still love to find a digital solution...

The forum over at BeerTools.com is a great place to learn, get help and discuss beer making!


  1. I should make a note of some of the great tips and comments Travis left for me in the comments a post or two down from here... Oh and here too...

    Be sure to check out Travis' Home Brew blog after your'e done here...

  2. to the answermen, are you retarded? He didnt say digital hydrometer he said hes the byproduct of the digital age and therefore a simple tool like a hydrometer seems like an antiquated tool these days at least in his opinion. Learn to Read, just a pet peeve of mine when people hastily respond to things.

  3. Huh? Damonator, who are you talking to?

  4. I think he must be talking about himself as he clearly didn't read the part that says 'Do they make digital hydrometers?'

  5. Hi I am also a first time homebrewer. In the middle of making a batch of lager beer. Can anyone explain why my hydrometer readings (which started at around .95 are now off the scale completely after about 8 days since initial test? Does this mean fermentation has failed?

  6. Do they make digital hydrometers for brewing purposes? Can anyone direct me to a site where I can find one?

    That looks like he DID say digital hydrometer


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