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Homebrew Guide with SmartRef Digital Refractometer

Homebrewing Guide with SmartRef

Using a refractometer during your beer brewing and fermentation process is now more straightforward than ever thanks to the digital refractometer SmartRef and the Brew Meister mobile app. This guide will show you how to correctly use the SmartRef to enhance the quality of your homemade beer.

Start your brew day

When you start your first brew day you will need four main ingredients: drinking water, a mix of ground malted grains, yeast and hops. Plan one day for the actual brewing process and three to five weeks for fermentation and maturation of the beer.

If you want your homebrew to result in the finest beer possible with its special aroma, you should use only high-quality raw materials and the most accurate measurement equipment.


Beer brewing process

Create a SmartRef batch in the Brew Meister mobile app before you start brewing. This way you can organize all future measurements of your homebrew in one batch. Go to the section Batches, and create a new SmartRef batch for your beer.

Once the raw materials are prepared, the milled malt is mixed with hot water in the mash tun. Fermentable sugars are extracted from grain starches and concentrated, which is then called wort.

When mashing is finished, the wort is filtered in the lauter tun in order to separate the solids from the liquids. To extract the residual sugars during sparging, the mashed grains have to be rinsed with brewing water.

As a key control parameter for future alcohol estimations, the wort concentration in Plato or specific gravity (SG) should be monitored during the brewing process. These measurements are performed in seconds by the SmartRef. Results are already temperature compensated.


Next, hops are added to the wort to give your beer its unique aroma, bitterness, and flavors. The wort is then boiled in a kettle. Malt enzymes are deactivated in this stage, and undesired volatile aromas such as proteins and tannins are removed. The wort is concentrated to the original wort as the water level decreases during evaporation. When the boiling process is finished the wort is transferred into a whirlpool and let to rotate. The trub (remaining proteins and hops) is held back, and the clear wort can be poured out.

After the boiling process, the wort is cooled down to about 15 °C to 20 °C.

Beer Brewing Process

In order to track the fermentation process, it is important to take another measurement with your SmartRef

Please make sure to filter the wort sample, i.e. through a coffee filter, before you take a reading. With only 0.4 mL wort you can get quick and accurate measurement results.

The Plato/SG value at the measurement screen is already wort corrected. This defines the original gravity (OG) of your beer. After the measurement was performed successfully, save and define the result as an OG reading to your batch. The original gravity also offers you a rough estimate of the alcohol content in your beer.

The wort correction factor (WCF) is applied to the initial Brix reading from the refractometer to get the wort concentration in Plato and SG. Brix measures the dissolved sugar content in aqueous solutions. Since wort consists of more ingredients than just sugar and water, a correction of the initial Brix reading is required to ensure accuracy. The WCF is preset to a default setting of 1.03 in the app. You can change the WCF universally via Settings or individually in every batch.

The wort is finally transformed into beer upon adding yeast, which turns the malt sugars into alcohol and CO2. To check if the fermentation works well and to verify how much alcohol is already produced, daily measurements with the SmartRef are recommended. To ensure the repeatability of the measurement results please degas your samples before each measurement.

When determining the wort concentration of your beer during fermentation with any refractometer, an additional alcohol correction is necessary. Choose one of the offered formulas (Sean Terrill or Standard) for your batch and the calculations are automatically handled for you by the Brew Meister mobile app. After you take a reading of the fermenting wort, save the result to the same batch, where the corresponding OG is already defined. The alcohol correction is then applied to your measurement results directly in the batch.

Once the selection for OG is done in the batch, all subsequently stored values are automatically alcohol-corrected. This is shown by a small orange dot beside the result in the list of the batch.



In the batch the measurement results of your brewed beer are graphically plotted per day. This allows you to quickly see if the fermentation works well. After the selection of final gravity (FG) you get an estimation of the alcohol content of your beer at every step during fermentation. The est. alcohol content is calculated based on your OG and FG selection. (Learn more) This way, you can easily determine, when it's best to stop your beer's fermentation and transfer it to a keg or bottles. Then, after a few weeks of aging, you can enjoy your home-brewed beer.

We wish you happy brewing with SmartRef!



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