How to measure alcohol content in home brew?

So we mentioned the website we used for our calculations. We should explain there are a few ways to measure alcohol content in home brew wine. The first and most used apparatus would be a simple hydrometer, this is basically like a barometer in a test tube. You put some of your grape concentrate in the test tube, put in the hydrometer, twirl it to get rid of any bubbles clinging onto the hydrometer and take a reading… this is your starting gravity.

Once your fermenter stops bubbling away… You do the same again and this is your final gravity. You can then use a tool like the one we use, linked here, to calculate your alcoholic content. Use the difference between the two.

We’ve used a hydrometer before, and they are pretty cheap (shouldn’t cost more than £5) but sometimes they can be difficult to read. We ended up investing in a Brix Refractometer. This tells you the Brix of the solution and is a lot simpler to read off. Hold it up so the prism has light coming into it and you can read of the Brix.

Brix, in basic terms, is a measure of sugar in the liquid being tested. Again you do need to use the calculator on the difference between your initial and end readings, but we find it much easier to read, with what seems like more graduations in the measurement. They are about £20.

We’re currently sitting on about 6% ABV, down just over 10 Brix from a starting point of over 23 Brix in the Cabernet Sauvignon. We haven’t measured the Pinot Noir yet as its a bigger batch and we think it will take longer anyway. Both are still bubbling away.

Will update again soon,

Bramley