The Brix scale is a measure of sugar content used in wine and beer making. One degree Brix is one gram of sugar per 100 millilitres of solution. Some recipes call for action (racking or additions) at specific sugar content. Other common sugar scales besides Brix are specific gravity, gravity and potential alcohol. For greater accuracy, temperature correction may be required.
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Things you need
- Hydrometer cylinder
Pour the test fluid to about 2/3 full in the cylinder. Carefully lower the hydrometer into the cylinder. Spin it. Read the sugar content on the scale when it stops bobbing.
To convert specific gravity (SG) to Brix; degrees Brix = 220 x (SG -1) + 1.6. To convert Brix to specific gravity; SG = 1 + (Brix - 1.6)/220. A hydrometer for wine making typically has a scale with readings between SG of 0.980 and 1.060. Gravity is 1000 x (specific gravity -1). An SG of 1.058 is gravity 58. An SG of 0.985 is gravity -15.
The Brix reading of a must or wort can be used to calculate the potential alcohol content (PA) of a wine or beer brewed from the must or wort. Potential alcohol (PA) = (0.6 x Brix) -1. If the PA is 17 per cent, but the yeast being used will die off at 11 per cent alcohol, the must will produce a very sweet wine. The excess 6 per cent sugar cannot be converted to alcohol and will remain as a sweetener. You may desire to dilute the must or use a more alcohol tolerant yeast to produce a drier wine.
The alcohol content of the wine can be determined from sugar content only if the sugar content of the unfermented must and the sugar content of the wine are both known. If your must had a Brix of 21.4 and your finished wine has a Brix of 1.6, the alcohol content is the difference between the PA of the must and the finished wine, or (0.6 x 21.4 -1) - (0.6 x 1.6 - 1), which equals 11.84 - (- 0.04) = 11.88 per cent alcohol.
Specific gravity changes slightly with temperature. For greatest accuracy, you will need to correct for temperature. Brix changes about 0.2 for every -13.9 degrees Celsius and specific gravity changes about 0.001 for every 0-13.889 degrees Celsius. Hydrometers read accurately only at their calibration temperature, which varies among models. If your model is calibrated at 68 degrees, and your must is at 75 degrees, and your reading is 19.2 Brix, add 0.2 to correct for temperature, to get a real Brix of 19.4 corrected to 20 degrees C. If your wine was at 12.2 degrees C and reads 2.5 Brix on a hydrometer calibrated at 20 degrees C, subtract 0.4 (0.2 Brix per 7 degrees, 14 degree difference) to get an accurate Brix reading of 2.1. Add to correct from a higher temperature to a lower temperature, and subtract to correct from a lower temperature to a higher temperature.
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