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Alcohol Measuring Equipment
As Distillers, we are all about the production of Alcohol (more accurately Ethanol).
It is therefore extremely important to us to know HOW MUCH we made - in order to gauge profitability and yield, and WHAT we made, as the Ethanol ABV% may impact or determine what the actual product is classified as.
How do I measure Alcohol?
There are different ways in which the Alcohol Percentage may be measured - some better than others, depending on the circumstances.
1. Standard Alcohol Hydrometer - With the same look and design as an SG Hydrometer, the Standard or 0 - 100% ABV Alcoholmeter is used during distillation to ensure constant output, as it is small enough to fit most Distilling Parrots. It is the golden standard for Home Distillers, as they normally do not need greater accuracy. As with SG Hydrometers, the Alcoholmeter relies on Liquid or Fluid Density in order to get a reading.
2. Accurate Alcohol Hydrometer - As with the Standard Alcohol Hydrometer, Accurate Hydrometers rely on Liquid Density in order to get a reading. The difference is however, that they are (normally) larger than the Standard Alcoholmeter - making it easier to get accurate readings on them, and (for the same reason) they normally have a more limited scale, either measuring only 30% increments (30 to 60% or 60 to 90% as examples) or in the case of Commercial Grade Alcoholmeters, 10% increments (40 to 50%, 50 to 60%, 60 to 70%, etc.). This does however mean that you will need multiple Alcoholmeters in your Distillery - especially if you are making a range of products. Furthermore, if your intention is to use Alcoholmeters of this accuracy on your still, you may need to specify an oversize Distilling Parrot to accommodate it.
3. Alcohol Refractometer - Based on the same principles as a standard Brix Refractometer which measures the percentage of dissolved solids in a liquid, the Alcohol Refractometer uses Optical Density to measure the ABV percentage of a liquid, and only requires a milliliter of liquid to do so, opposed to an entire Distilling Parrot or Measuring Cylinder. The Alcohol Refractometer is not as accurate as a Standard Alcoholmeter or Accurate Alcoholmeter, however it is quick, easy and convenient.
4. Digital Alcoholmeter - The fastest and most accurate way to measure Alcohol, but extremely expensive.
What are the Limitations of an Alcoholmeter?
- Alcoholmeters (of any type) cannot measure liquid containing Ethanol, Water and a Dissolved Solid like Sugar. Even the addition of Oils, Mouth Feel Enhancers and Viscosity Enhancers will impact Alcoholmeter accuracy. You therefore cannot use an Alcoholmeter on Fermentations, Liqueurs, Spirit Aperitifs, Cream Liqueurs, Spirit Coolers, Wine or Beer.
- With the exception of Digital Alcoholmeters, all types of Alcoholmeters are affected by Temperature, and are calibrated for a fixed Liquid Temperature - normally 20 degrees Celsius, sometimes 15 degrees Celsius. To be fair - Digital Alcoholmeters are also affected by Temperature, but they self calibrate to compensate for the Temperature Fluctuation. With Hydrometer Alcoholmeters we need to use Calibration Tables to ensure that we can Calibrate our measurement for temperature. Alcohol Refractometers contains a built in ATC (Automatic Temperature Compensation) which negates this issue for the most part.
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