Brewing beer is an art form that requires precision and attention to detail. One crucial aspect of the brewing process is measuring the specific gravity of the wort, which is the density of the liquid compared to water.
A refractometer is a tool that allows brewers to measure specific gravity accurately and quickly without the need for a hydrometer and the whole liquid column setup required. A simple drop from a sample taken in the field is enough to get a precise reading.
The refractometer works by measuring the amount of light that is refracted or bent as it passes through the liquid. The more sugar present in the liquid, the more the light will bend. By measuring the angle of refraction, the refractometer can calculate the specific gravity of the wort.
What to look for in a refractometer?
When looking for the best refractometer for brewing, there are a few critical things to consider. Firstly, the accuracy of the refractometer is essential.
A refractometer that provides inaccurate readings can lead to mistakes in the brewing process, resulting in subpar beer. Secondly, the build quality of the refractometer is crucial.
A sturdy and durable refractometer is essential, as it will be used frequently and needs to withstand the rigors of the entire brewing process, wether you bring it to the field to sample apple or grape juice or testing your fermentations daily.
Finally, the ease of use is another important factor. A refractometer that is straightforward to use will save time and reduce the risk of errors.
When choosing a refractometer for brewing, there are several features that should be considered to ensure that you get the best product for your needs. Here are some factors to keep in mind:
Accuracy is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a refractometer. Look for a product that has a high level of accuracy, as this will ensure that your readings are as precise as possible. A good refractometer should have an accuracy of at least +/-0.2% Brix.
The range of the refractometer is also an important factor to consider. Look for a product that has a wide range, as this will allow you to measure a variety of different liquids. A good refractometer should have a range of at least 0-32% Brix.
The construction of the refractometer is also important. Look for a product that is made from high-quality materials, as this will ensure that it is durable and long-lasting. A good refractometer should be made from metal or high-quality plastic.
Most analog refractometers assume a certain temperature e.g. 20C as a starting point, but many come with a calibration screw to offset that set point.
Automatic temperature compensation is another important feature to look for in a refractometer. This feature will ensure that your readings are accurate, even if the temperature of the liquid changes. Look for a product that has automatic temperature compensation.
Easy to Use
Finally, look for a refractometer that is easy to use. The product should be easy to read and should come with clear instructions. Look for a product that is easy to calibrate and that requires minimal maintenance.
|Automatic Temperature Compensation||Medium|
|Easy to Use||Medium|
After researching and testing various refractometers, we have identified the top options that will provide brewers with accurate and reliable readings, withstand frequent use, and are easy to use.
5 Solid Refractometers for Brewing
As avid homebrewers, we understand the importance of precision when it comes to measuring the specific gravity of your wort. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the best refractometers for brewing on the market.
These refractometers are easy to use, accurate, and durable, making them the perfect addition to any homebrewer’s toolkit.
Whether you’re a seasoned brewer or just starting out, these refractometers will help you achieve consistent and delicious results every time. So without further ado, here are our top picks for the best refractometers for brewing.
DiFluid Digital Brix Refractometer
The most advanced option
Auto calibrated with phone synch and data backups
- A digital reading (no light required)
- Highest dynamic range
- Stores readings to phone
- Can read a broader selection of liquids e.g. coffee!
If you’re looking for a reliable and easy-to-use refractometer for brewing, the DiFluid Digital Brix Refractometer is a great choice.
- The DiFluid Refractometer is multifunctional and comes with an app that allows you to read detailed content from your phone, choose the type of liquid you need to test.
- It saves the data history so you can easily keep track of your measurements.
- This refractometer has a wide range of uses, including measuring coffee TDS/EXT/EBFbrix when brewing beer, wine, drink, salinity levels in fish tanks, and more. It has a range of 0-55% for liquid only (except for honey/maple syrup).
- The pocket-sized design of this refractometer makes it extremely easy to carry around, and it only requires one drop of sample without wasting brew (pipettes included). The one-touch operation design saves time and is easy to use.
- The DiFluid Refractometer is not as durable as some other models on the market, and it may not withstand drops or rough handling.
- Some users have reported that the app can be difficult to use or navigate, and it may take some time to get used to all of its features.
- The DiFluid Refractometer is somewhat expensive for what it does.
The DiFluid Digital Brix Refractometer is a great choice for anyone looking for a reliable and multifunctional refractometer for brewing. With its wide range of uses, easy-to-use design, and accurate readings, it’s a great investment for any home brewer or coffee enthusiast.
Whether you’re measuring juice sugar content, mash, coffee TDS or checking the salinity levels in your fish tank, the DiFluid Refractometer has you covered. And with its pocket-sized design and one-touch operation, it’s easy to use and carry around wherever you go.
While it may not be as durable or accurate as some other models on the market, the DiFluid Refractometer is still a great choice for anyone looking for a reliable and easy-to-use refractometer for brewing.
So if you’re in the market for a new refractometer, be sure to check out the DiFluid Digital Brix Refractometer!
Brix Refractometer with ATC, Dual Scale
ATC Dual Scale Refractometer
Super affordable, sturdy refractometer that also shows SG-equivalent.
- Classic monocular design
- Dual scale (Brix and Specific Gravity)
- Comes with a practical storage case
- Very reasonable priced
If you’re looking for an accurate and easy-to-use refractometer for your home brewing or wine making, the aichose Brix Refractometer is a great choice.
- Super affordable price.
- Provides consistently accurate readings of 0-32% Brix and 1.000-1.120 Specific Gravity, making it easy to monitor the sugar content and specific gravity of your liquid.
- Automatic Temperature Compensation ensures fast and accurate results, even in varying temperatures.
- Durable and lightweight, the main part is made of chromium, making it easy to carry and use on the go.
- May require calibration adjustment after extended use.
- May not be as accurate as more expensive models.
- May require additional tools or calculations for final gravity readings.
We’ve used the aichose Brix Refractometer in our own home brewing and have found it to be reliable and easy to use. The dual scale display allows for quick and easy readings, and the automatic temperature compensation ensures consistent accuracy.
The durable and lightweight design makes it easy to take with you on the go, and the included case provides added protection during storage and transport.
While the aichose Brix Refractometer may require occasional calibration adjustments, we’ve found that it provides consistently accurate readings for our brewing needs. However, it’s worth noting that it may not be as accurate as more expensive models, and may require additional tools or calculations for final gravity readings.
Overall, we highly recommend the aichose Brix Refractometer for home brewers and wine makers looking for an accurate and easy-to-use tool for monitoring sugar content and specific gravity.
Milwaukee MA871 Digital Sugar Refractometer
Milwaukee MA871 Refractometer
Fastest and Most accurate
Best digital handheld
- Less than 2 second readout
- Feels sturdy and robust
- Easy to clean and calibrate
- 0-85% measurement range
We highly recommend the Milwaukee MA871 Digital Sugar Refractometer for its accuracy and ease of use.
- Fast, accurate results with digital dual level LCD readout. Easy measurement with just 2-3 drops of sample needed and results less than 2 seconds.
- Simple one-point calibration using distilled or deionized water.
- Easy to clean, stainless steel sample well with unit rated to IP65 as “dust tight” and protected against water jets.
- May be larger than expected for some users.
- May require additional calibration for some applications.
- May not be suitable for high volume testing.
We found the Milwaukee MA871 to be incredibly easy to use and very accurate. The digital readout is clear and easy to read, and the unit is very easy to clean. The one-point calibration process is simple and straightforward.
However, the unit may be larger than expected for some users, and may require additional calibration for some applications. Additionally, it may not be suitable for high volume testing.
Overall, we highly recommend the Milwaukee MA871 Digital Sugar Refractometer for its accuracy and ease of use.
Atago 3810 PAL-1 Digital Hand Held Pocket Refractometer
Atago 3810 PAL-1 Digital Refractometer
Best Pocket Size Digital Refractometer
A time tested small and simple, yet accurate, refractometer
- Small and light design
- Automatic temperature compensation
- Fast readout
- Amazing benefit 4
If you’re looking for a reliable and compact refractometer, the Atago 3810 PAL-1 is a great choice.
- The compact and lightweight design makes it easy to carry around in your pocket or bag.
- The digital LCD display provides quick and accurate readings in just three seconds.
- The automatic temperature compensation ensures accurate readings regardless of ambient temperature.
- The sample stage and well shape can be a bit small, making it difficult to measure larger samples.
- The plastic protective carrying case doesn’t offer much protection, so you may want to purchase a sturdier case separately.
- The price point is higher than some other handheld refractometers on the market.
The Atago 3810 PAL-1 refractometer is a great choice for a variety of industries, including culinary, food and beverage, pharmaceutical, educational, geological, chemical, and ecological.
With its compact size, quick and accurate readings, and automatic temperature compensation, it’s a reliable tool for measuring Brix in the 0.0 to 53.0% range and temperature 9.0 to 99.9 degrees C.
The external light interference warning and Ingress Protection (IP)-65 rating provide added peace of mind, and the device can be easily calibrated with water.
Overall, we highly recommend the Atago 3810 PAL-1 for anyone in need of a portable and accurate refractometer.
Hanna Instruments HI 96801 Digital Refractometer
Hanna Instruments HI 96801
Best High-End Refractometer
Great for high throughput applications and quality control.
- Easy to use and calibrate.
- Measures Brix, SG, PSU and ppt.
- Large screen and good readability.
- Not the most expensive out there.
If you’re looking for a reliable and accurate digital refractometer, the Hanna Instruments HI 96801 is a great option for measuring sugar content in substances.
- The meter is calibrated using only a few drops of distilled or deionized water, eliminating the need for additional calibration solutions.
- Sugar content can be measured utilizing only two metric drops of sample substance, making it easy to use and quick to get results.
- The large LCD screen displays results within several seconds, allowing for quick and easy readings.
- The meter automatically powers off after three minutes of non-use, which can be inconvenient if you need to take multiple readings in a short amount of time.
- The price point is higher than some other refractometers on the market, which may not be ideal for those on a budget.
- The device is slightly larger and heavier than some other portable refractometers, which may make it less convenient to carry around.
The Hanna Instruments HI 96801 is a reliable and accurate device that is easy to use and provides quick results. Its automatic temperature compensation eliminates the need for extra calculations, and the large LCD screen makes it easy to read. While it may be slightly larger and more expensive than some other options, its accuracy and ease of use make it a great choice for those in need of a high-quality digital refractometer.
Refractometers are a key tool in the beverage-making process, allowing for accurate measurements of sugar content in liquids. Hanna Instruments is a reputable manufacturer of analytical instrumentation, and the company’s commitment to quality is evident in the design and construction of its products.
Overall, we highly recommend the Hanna Instruments HI 96801 Digital Refractometer for those in need of a reliable and accurate device for measuring sugar content in substances.
Alcohol + Brix Refractometer
Alcohol + Brix Refractometer
Great budget option
- Dual scale (Brix and potential alcohol %)
- 0-25% potential alcohol measurement
- No batteries required
- Very affordable
If you’re looking for a reliable and accurate way to measure the sugar content of your homebrew, then this Refractometer is definitely worth considering.
- Accurate readings: Measures Brix between 0-32%±0.2% and alcohol potential, with a Brix accuracy of +/-0.2%.
- Advanced Automatic Temperature Compensation (ATC) technology: Adjusts automatically to compensate for temperature, making it even easier to get fast results.
- Easy to use: Simply use the dropper to take a sample of wort and put it on the prism. Then hold the refractometer up to the light and look at the scale through the eyepiece, which is more accurate to measure sugars in a variety of melon, fruits or juice.
- Requires conversion chart: Once there is ethanol in the mix, it needs a conversion chart for everything but original gravity/original brix.
- Not suitable for measuring alcohol content directly: It did not work because it only measures the sugar content.
- May require calibration: Some users have reported needing to calibrate the refractometer as per instructions before use.
This Brix Refractometer is ideal for home brewers who need to measure the sugar content and quickly estimate the potential alcohol percentage of their liquids.
It is portable, easy to use, and provides accurate readings. While it may require a conversion chart for measuring alcohol content and occasional calibration, it is still a great investment for those who want to ensure the quality of their brews.
Overall, we highly recommend the Tiaoyeer Brix Refractometer for anyone who wants to take their homebrewing to the next level.
Aichose 0-80% Refractometer
Aichose 0-80% Brix Refractometer
High-Range Analog Refractometer
For high-sugar applications like fortified wines.
- High range of 0-80% Brix
- Seems sturdier than most others
- Can be used for honey, syrup etc.
- Reasonably priced
We highly recommend the Aichose Refractometer for anyone looking to measure sugar content in fruit, honey, maple syrup, and other sugary drinks. It’s portable, easy to learn and use, and comes with a firm plastic case, a cleaning cloth, a screwdriver, an operating manual, and some pipettes.
- It has a 0-80% large scale range, making it suitable for use in a wider field.
- The automatic temperature compensation function minimizes the effect of temperature on testing results.
- It is designed for measuring sugar content in fruit, honey, maple syrup, and other sugary drinks.
- The line where the blue and white meet is not always distinct and could cover 3 degrees, making it difficult to read sometimes.
- The accuracy may vary and needs to be calibrated frequently.
- The instructions could be clearer and more detailed.
We found the Aichose Refractometer to be a reliable and accurate tool for measuring sugar content. It’s easy to use and doesn’t require a battery, making it portable and convenient.
We especially appreciate the automatic temperature compensation function, which helps to ensure accurate readings.
The included case and accessories make it easy to store and transport. However, we did notice that the line where the blue and white meet can be blurry at times, making it difficult to read. Additionally, the accuracy may vary and needs to be calibrated frequently.
Overall, we believe the Aichose Refractometer is a great choice for anyone looking to measure sugar content in various liquids.
If you’re interested in purchasing the Aichose Refractometer, you can find it on Amazon here.