I was kinda shocked when I read my original gravity reading -> 1.064.
That was 4 points higher than my target and I had tracked the gravity throughout the boil with a refractometer. The gravity was right on track, so why the discrepancy when I gave the finished batch one final check with the hydrometer?
A simple test gave me my answer.
I put the hydrometer in its jar and added distilled 60°F water. The reading was 1.004. The hydrometer's calibration was off. “Dammit.”
So, on my next trip to the homebrew store I exchange it for a new one. I'm skeptical at this point. The first thing I do when I get home is test it in water -> 1.002. “Screw this.”
After two lousy hydrometers in a row I decided to make a change.
Enter the Lab Grade Precision Hydrometer
It wasn't just the calibration. I've always had a hard time reading the lines on a standard hydrometer. They are so close together it can give you a headache.
“Is that 1.012 or 1.014?”
I had heard of precision hydrometers and decided to give them a shot. I bought two from Midwest Supplies:
- One for measuring specific gravities between 1.000-1.070
- One for measuring specific gravities between 1.060-1.130
It's sort of annoying to have to buy two hydrometers, but that's exactly why these are better: They don't cram the entire gravity scale onto a single hydrometer.
Here, let me show you…
Here's a picture of standard hydrometer:
Notice how close together the numbers are. Now here's the same reading on a precision hydrometer:
Notice how much space is between 1.020 and 1.030. See how much easier to read it is?
It's not only the ease of measurement that I enjoy. They are much more accurate too. You can bet I checked the calibration – spot on.
A side benefit is that I haven't broken one yet. I've lost track, but I'm somewhere close to double digits in how many cheapo hydrometers I've broken in my brewing career. When you spend more on something you take better care of it.
Not everyone will find it worthwhile to spend $20 on a hydrometer. I know plenty of brewers who don't measure their gravity at all. No problem with that.
But if you're like me and you like being precise + accurate with readings, you might enjoy this. Or maybe you just want to give your eyes a break.
Either way, it's been totally worth it.