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The Hydrometer
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jema
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Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 26088
Location: Still in Swindon
PostPosted: Sat Nov 06, 04 10:13 am    Post subject: The Hydrometer Reply with quote    

The hydrometer is an indispensible aid to those who wish to be scientific about wine and beer making.

Even if you are not interested in the finer details, it is a great tool for diagnosing problems with stuck ferments and judging whether your wine and beer has consumed all the available suger.



introduction

The principle behind a hydrometer is quite simple. A suger solution is denser than plain water, thus when you put a weighted hollow object in a suger solution, it will sink less than it would in plain water. Thus you can measure the <strong>density</strong> of the water.

Alchohol on the other hand is lighter than water and so a fermented out solution, will have a density less than plain water.

A hydrometer may come with a few different scales, but the relevent one to home brewing will run from below a 1000 to maybe 1200.

Simple use of a hydrometer

At its simplest you can use the hydrometer at the start of wine making to check that the reading which is called the <strong>specific gravity</strong> or <strong>SG</strong> is in the range 1070-1090. It is in this range that there is enough suger to make a dry&nbsp;wine 9.2% to 12% alchohol by volume. Add more suger than this, and you may find the ferment struggles to start, less and the keeping qualities of the wine may be less.

At the end of fermantation you need to check that the suger really has fermented out, and the ferment is not simply <strong>stuck</strong>. The hydrometer reading should be taken and checked that it has fallen below the 1000 mark.

The above usage is really very easy, and will avoid you making the basic mistakes, that lead to problem ferments or burst bottles.

Advanced use of a hydrometer

Apologies for the use of imperial scales, but we brew wine in gallons, so it makes life easier.

The primary advanced use of a hydrometer is if you want to <strong>feed</strong> your wine suger, as it ferments, if you are trying to brew a high alcohol wine, it is bettter to <strong>feed</strong> the wine suger in stages.

In this case what matters it the total drop in SG throughout the process, each time you add suger you take before and after readings, enabling you to add up each drop in SG from the previous stage. This total is then divided by 7.36 to give alcohol by volume.

Specific gravity (SG)Potential %vol alcohol

sugar /Gallon

10100.92 oz
10151.64 oz
10202.37 oz
10253.09 oz
10303.712 oz
10354.415 oz
10405.11 lb 1 oz
10455.81 lb 3 oz
10506.51 lb 5 oz
10557.21 lb 7 oz
10607.81 lb 9 oz
10658.61 lb 14 oz
10709.22 lb 1 oz
10759.92 lb&nbsp; 4 oz
108010.62 lb 6 oz
108511.32 lb 9oz
109012.02 lb 12 oz
109512.72 lb 15 oz
110013.43 lb&nbsp; 2 oz
110514.13 lb 5 oz
111014.93 lb 8 oz
111515.63 lb 11 oz
112016.33 lb 14 oz
112517.04 lb 1 oz
113017.74 lb 4 oz
113518.4

4 lb 7oz

Temperature Correction

When wine making, boiling ingredients to extract flavour is a common process and you may want to get a reading before the <strong>must </strong>has returned to room temperature.

Degrees FahrenheitCorrection
40Subtract .002
50Subtract .001
60Correct
70Add .001
80Add .002
90Add .004
100Add .005
110Add .007
120Add .008
130Add .010
140Add .013
150Add .015


alison
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Joined: 29 Oct 2004
Posts: 12364
Location: North Devon
PostPosted: Thu Nov 11, 04 8:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Do they all work pretty much the same or is there any make that is better than others. I have seen them at the car boot fairs, but didn't really know enough about them.

jema
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 26088
Location: Still in Swindon
PostPosted: Thu Nov 11, 04 8:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

There is one significantly useful thing you can look for.

To measure SG you need to be able to see the reading, easy for beer buckets, not so easy deep in a narrow necked fermenter, hence you can buy tall thin sample tubes, to pour a bit of the wine in to test.

This is a bit of a pain though

My hydrometer comes with its own inbuild tube, dip the whole contraption in, put your thumb over the top to seal, and lift out, vacuum will hold the wine in place allowing you to see the reading. Much quicker and easier, and you do not want to leave your wine open to the elements longer than you have to.

jema

alison
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 29 Oct 2004
Posts: 12364
Location: North Devon
PostPosted: Thu Nov 11, 04 1:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Thanks Jema. I know what to look out for now. I am going to a car boot on Sunday, so I will look out then.

jema
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 26088
Location: Still in Swindon
PostPosted: Thu Nov 11, 04 1:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

alison wrote:
Thanks Jema. I know what to look out for now. I am going to a car boot on Sunday, so I will look out then.


That would be a miricle, I go to loads and have never seen a good hydrometer

jema

cab



Joined: 01 Nov 2004
Posts: 32429

PostPosted: Thu Nov 11, 04 1:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I picked a hydrometer and a hydrometer jar up at a charity shop a while back. Think I might have paid a quid for them.

scarecrow



Joined: 15 Dec 2004
Posts: 115
Location: Manchester, Up North
PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 04 3:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Jema

It seems you are the home made booze guru, so I was wondering if you had any plans to do a beer brewing article?

Thanks

Scarecrow

tahir



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 41940
Location: Essex
PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 04 3:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I hope there'll be an article on brewing soon, in the meantime this is Lowlander's (Sarah D) Simple Beer recipe which has had good reviews:

http://www.learningindustries.com/nrk/recipes/index.asp?rid=10

jema
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 26088
Location: Still in Swindon
PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 04 3:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I have done beer, but whilst I am not the guru on wine on this forum, Cab takes that spot I guess, i'd consider myself a rank amatuer on beer Hopefully we will get the experts like Sara D to publish soon

jema

cab



Joined: 01 Nov 2004
Posts: 32429

PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 04 3:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

jema wrote:
I have done beer, but whilst I am not the guru on wine on this forum, Cab takes that spot I guess, i'd consider myself a rank amatuer on beer Hopefully we will get the experts like Sara D to publish soon

jema


Gosh, no. I'm no brewing guru, I'm more of a crazed experimentalist than a guru.

I've done beer in the dim and distant past, not recently (or well!) enough to write an article, though.

scarecrow



Joined: 15 Dec 2004
Posts: 115
Location: Manchester, Up North
PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 04 3:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

The link that Tahir put up was great! I'm a complete novice so any help is much appeciated.

tahir



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 41940
Location: Essex
PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 04 3:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

There's a lot of recipes on there, you can add your own too.

sean
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 39246
Location: North Devon
PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 04 3:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Spoke to Sarah D this p.m. about the mincer. Her PC/internet access are still buggered, so it may be a while before the article materialises. Worth waiting for though I'm sure.

Treacodactyl
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 24488
Location: Jumping on the bandwagon of opportunism
PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 04 8:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Cab wrote:
I'm more of a crazed experimentalist


Don't say that of the FBI will be after you.

I've made several batches but I'm still very much a beginner.

Mrs Fiddlesticks



Joined: 02 Nov 2004
Posts: 10460

PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 06 9:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I'm trying to get my head round this hydrometer thing. I've read the article twice but still feel I'm missing something.

TD's sage flower wine starts off with 4lb sugar as recipe. I've sprinkled the yeast on and have taken a reading so I can try and get this straight, but can't say I understand. The hydrometer is high in the liquid and I think the reading is 1110 - basically is that good or bad? Ditto I've a plum wine kit that according to instructions needed some sugar adding after the initial ferment to sweeten it. I've added 4oz (it suggested up to 6oz but I wanted to get a sense of how sweet that would be 1st as we don't like very sweet wines) but its been sending up the odd bubble since - the reading is 1020 ( I think) again is that good or bad. I've only just got this hydrometer thing so its a new toy, but I want to understand it as I can see it could help.

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