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Refractometer Calculator

This is something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time, but kept finding excuses to put off. It uses the simplified cubic polynomial derived in Refractometer FG Results. Please visit that post for more information. You can also download a spreadsheet to track OG, FG, and more for multiple batches.

Original RI (°Bx):
Final RI (°Bx):
Wort correction factor:
(Default: 1.040)

Did you know this calculator is used, on average, once every four minutes? If you find it useful please consider a donation to support its development and maintenance.

124 comments to Refractometer Calculator

  • Patrick Coleman


    I’m confused by the results I’m getting from different calculators.

    If I take some values from the sheet on this page…

    and work out some results.

    I take
    1. OG=1.053 (13 Brix) and FG=1.012 (3 Brix)
    2. OG=1.088 (21 Brix) and FG=1.012 (3 Brix)

    If I calculate ABV using the gravity readings I get:

    1. 5.38% ABV
    2. 9.98% ABV

    If I use your calculator I get

    1. 6.8% ABV
    2. 12.8% ABV

    Is the correction factor the reason? If not what?

    If I use the calculator on Northern Brewer page…

    I get

    1. 8.525% ABV
    2. 15.474% ABV

    Am I missing something here? I just made a Belgian Strong ale with the #2 measurements.
    I was expecting about 10%ABV not 12.8% or 15.474%



    • It seems like you’re using hydrometer readings instead of refractometer readings as the inputs for the calculator. A refractometer reading of 3°Bx would correspond to an FG of about 0.987, which seems unlikely even if you used a large quantity of simple sugars.

      If those are in fact the hydrometer readings, then yes, the beer is about 10% ABV.


  • Patrick Coleman

    Thanks for your answer. What you say makes sense. So the chart I’m read on must not be correct?
    It says that Brix 3 = 1.012
    Can you point me to a Brix to SG chart that is correct?



  • Patrick Coleman

    Hi again,

    I just looked up about a half dozen charts of Brix to SG and they all say that

    3 Brix is about 1.012 SG?


  • Julian Eley

    In principal, I think this table is great. However, I have a problem with a discrepancy. Using the downloaded spreadsheet, I put in the OB as 28 (Brix) which, according to the conversion sheet that came with the refractometer (and cross checked with my hydrometer) is 1.120 as an OG. Final Brix = 13 but my calibrated hydrometer said 1.005 at 64F. Going by hydro readings I make it about 16%. Your table dropped the orig Brix 28 to an OG of 1.115 which resulted in an ABV of 14.4%. Can you explain the descrepancy for me please?

    • Julian, that sounds right for a wort correction factor of 1.04 (28/1.04 = 26.9°Bx, or about 1.115 SG). If the WCF for your wort is significantly different then you’ll need to adjust that accordingly.

      The discrepancy in ABV is probably simply due to your other software/spreadsheet using a different formula. Hope that helps.


  • Ron Ferraro

    Hi Sean,

    I am so glad I found this…I was racking my brain trying to figure out why my barleywine’s fermentation seems to have stuck so soon, but after using your calculator, I see that it’s stuck about where I expected it to (once I reached 13% alcohol using White Labs California Ale yeast, rather than stuck at only 8% alcohol, which is where the refractometer is saying it is).

    Question…would this same theory apply to wine? And if so, would the “wort correction factor” still be 1.040, or would it be something else?



    • Ron, the theory would apply to wine, but with the different mix of sugars I wouldn’t expect the same equation to do too well. And with a grape must being almost entirely simple sugars, you wouldn’t need a wort correction factor. I have heard anecdotally that the “old” refractometer correlation was developed by/for vintners, so it may give better results for wine than it does for beer.


  • […] precisione degli strumenti che li hanno misurati. Per le densità uso il rifrattometro utilizzando questa formula per calcolare la SG, tenendo il fattore di correzione a 1.04. Non so dire se i numeri spacchino […]

  • Jim Nichols

    I received a lab instrument to measure the SG as well as serum protein and RI for urine(
    Do you believe the RI for Wort or Wine RI would be similar enough for me to use ?
    How would I approach a correction factor for urine vs wort ?

    • You could use it in the sense that the nD range is correct (wort will range from about 1.33-1.37), but the tolerance is ±0.001. That won’t give you the precision you need to get meaningful results. If you did want to play around with it, though, the wort correction factor would remain unchanged. Just convert from nD to degrees Brix and proceed as usual.

  • Jim Nichols

    Thanks for the reply.Could you explain where my precision would be too far off? Is it in the original conversion to Brix that I would have to do ? Would that give me a less precise Brix than using a cheaper optical refractometer that gives a Brix reading ?

    • The issue is the precision of the refractometer itself. For example, if you measured a refractive index of 1.3525±0.001, that would correlate to a reading of 12.0-14.0°Bx. The instrument just isn’t as precise as a hand-held refractometer due to its larger range.

  • […] my hydrometer. Rather quickly, I stumbled on Sean Terril’s killer website where he has a refractometer calculator that appeared to do exactly what I was looking for. His calculator requires brix, which was fine […]

  • Sean, would this calculator be accurate for sour beers, considering the higher density of lactic acid? Some additional infos:

    I love your calculator BTW! Thanks!

    • At <1% lactic acid, I doubt it would make a measurable difference. That said, I have no data to back that up. The nD of lactic acid is ~1.462, which is quite high relative to either water or ethanol, so it could end up being what drives the refractive index of the beer. Sorry I can't give you a definitive answer, but if even a single data point conforms, I would assume the equation gives overall good results for sour beers.


  • Brian

    Thank you, but what is the wort correction factor?

    • Brian, this is copied from the original post on using a refractometer (linked above):

      “For a simple sucrose solution (the refractometers common to homebrewers are “borrowed” from the wine industry) the refractive index depends only on the sugar content and the temperature. Automatic temperature correcting (ATC) refractometers use a bimetal strip to cancel out the temperature variable (within a given range), meaning that the reticle can be marked directly in units of sugar content. Brewers’ wort, however, is not a sucrose solution, and so a “wort correction factor” must be applied. Generally this is done by dividing the refractometer reading by 1.04.”

      So the wort correction factor is simply the refractometer reading divided by a calibrated hydrometer reading. Obviously it will vary depending on the specific sugar makeup of the wort, but it’s generally 1.02—1.06.


  • J.

    Did your formula recently change? I’ve used this before with success, but tonight everything that I enter (Brix not SG) is giving me an estimated FG less than 1.000?!

    • No, there haven’t been any changes. I just checked the calculator on two machines and it seems to be working normally.

      • J.

        Hmm… I must be doing something wrong then. The Final Gravity just doesn’t seem right.

        My inputs-
        Original RI: 16.8
        Final RI: 3.1
        Wort Correction Factor: 1.040

        Original Gravity: 1.0661 (16.15°P)
        Final Gravity: 0.9941 (-1.53°P)
        Alcohol by Volume: 9.3% (7.6% ABW)

        Thanks for providing this useful tool!

      • That’s the correct result, so the calculator is working normally. It just doesn’t provide good results when the attenuation is very high or very low. Which doesn’t necessarily mean the result is wrong; I just wouldn’t have much confidence in it. Is this a beer?

      • J.

        Yeah, expected an OG of 1.066 and a FG close to 1.012, that’s why these results surprised me.

      • Mateusz Papiernik

        I am surprised as well with the results. I’ve been struggling with my Russian Imperial Stout which I was pretty much sure didn’t ferment enough and I started researching what could be wrong.

        Original Brix: 25
        Final Brix: 16
        WCF: 1.04

        Output FG with your formula: 14.9*P

        I was shocked how huge the result is and I was sure something is wrong with the beer, but then I took the reading with a hydrometer and it showed 9*P, which is in line with popular formula from there:

        The difference of 6*P is huge. What could be the reason of so big difference? I ultimately trusted the hydrometer and my taste – the beer turned out just fine. But the difference between results of your formula and popular software (Beersmith, Brewtarget and Northern Brewers calculator) got me really thinking and I have no clue what’s going on.

        Thanks for your opinion!

  • […] precisione degli strumenti che li hanno misurati. Per le densità uso il rifrattometro utilizzando questa formula per calcolare la SG, tenendo il fattore di correzione a 1.04. Non so dire se i numeri spacchino […]

  • Lee

    Hi Shaun, thank you very much for this calculator.

    A question…. Is the chart in the link below correct as differs from your results e.g. 13 brix has a SG of 1.055. But in your calc with a OG of 13 and a FG of 7, the OG calculates to 1.051.


  • […] precisione degli strumenti che li hanno misurati. Per le densità uso il rifrattometro utilizzando questa formula per calcolare la SG, tenendo il fattore di correzione a 1.04. Non so dire se i numeri spacchino […]

  • luis

    Hi Sean,

    I have a refractometer with Plato scale.
    May I input the value I got from the refractometer directly in your calculator as Brix?
    Plato and Brix Refractometer readings are quite the same aren’t they?


  • […] Refractometer showed just what Beersmith estimated…12.4 Brix…or 1.050 after converting.  That’s 87% mash efficiency…about what I usually get.  (Note: Refractometers measure refraction of light through a liquid, not specific gravity (SG).  Hydrometers measure SG.  The wort’s refraction index (Brix) does not have a linear relationship with its SG.  In other words, your refractometer SG reading is off.  That being said, with a little homework, you can keep using your refractometer with accuracy.  You can even semi-accurately measure final gravity with a conversion calculator.) […]

  • […] cleaning up my mess, Sean Terrill (the awesome refractometer calculator guy) and Franklin Hess invited some of us to join them for lunch. Our initial plan to get a quick bite […]

  • Jeremy

    Hi Sean Terrill,

    My results don’t make sense with your calculator.

    I have an IPA with OG: 1.055. The Brix reading after 12 days is 7.8.
    Using your calculator that is an estimated FG of 1.014. Took a hydrometer reading that came out to be 1.020.

    Now that’s a pretty large difference.. I’m confused.

    Refractometer is properly calibrated.

    • The NinjaBear

      From what I’ve seen is that you need to adjust the wort correction factor. The default assumes a 4% difference. (1.04)

      If you compare the Hydro OG to your refractometer original reading. (Change the value to 1 to use the calculator to find the unadjusted gravity rating of your refractometer.)

      Calculate the percentage difference and change the default 1.04 to your scale. (6% difference would be 1.06, 3% difference would be 1.03, etc)

  • Anonymous

    Does this refractometer method of measuring Brix and then calculating FG mathematically from a known OG work if sugar is added days/weeks later, after fermentation has already begun?

    For example:

    I use a refractometer to measure Brix of unfermented wort and calculate OG.


    two weeks later, after fermentation is done, I measure Brix and calculate FG using your calculator

    THEN, let’s assume I want more ABV:

    So, I start a second fermentation cycle by adding more sugar to the already fermented wort.

    Is it then possible, using a refractometer, to calculate my “second FG” in another few weeks after the second fermentation cycle has ended?

    If the answer to the above question is “no you can’t add sugar after fermentation starts, and use a refractometer to calculate FG,” my second question is:

    If I add the additional sugar, and then immediately measure Brix and also use a hydrometer to measure the gravity of my alcohol, water, sugar solution, can I, after the second fermentation stops, use a refractometer to calculate my “second FG”? (Remember, I cheated and measured the “Second OG” using a hydrometer)

  • Kat

    What if your refractometer does not have a brix scale, only a gravity scale? I am using a clinical refractometer because I thought it would be more accurate than hydrometer, but apparently it’s not! My FG on refractometer was around 1.032, but the hydrometer read 1.015.

    • You can certainly use the Gravity scale, and convert to Brix using an online calculator. I would definitely calibrate your refractometer, though if it’s a medical model I’d think the gravity scale is probably more accurate than the home brewers’ models.

  • Tex N Oz

    I’ve tested this several times now and it is SPOT ON.. Are there any beer types I should be concerned about? I might retire my hydrometer…

  • Mali

    Sorry for my english.
    When I look at this conversion table
    and taking 20 ° BRIX, this one gives me about 1087 for the OG.
    Your spreadsheet indicates 1080. Where does this difference ? Why ?
    I am a little lost.
    Thanks for the job

    • Hi Mali,

      It looks like the Beerbarons chart uses “Brix x 1.04 = Plato” while my calculator (and every other source I’ve seen) uses RI / WCF = °P.

      20°Bx (or 20°P as they’re nearly the same) is equivalent to 1.083 SG, which when divided by the WCF of 1.04 equals 1.080 SG.


  • Pablo

    I had a look into your Excelsheet. You seem to compute the ABV value as 0.01/0.8192*ABW. Since the density of ehtanol is 0.79g/ml, I would expect that you rather compute 0.01/0.79*ABW. Is the value of 0.8192 instead of 0.79 intentional? If yes could you explain?


    • Pablo,

      The ABV estimation formula is from George Fix (Principles of Brewing Science):

      ABV = (OE – RE)/(2.0665 – 0.010665*OE)

      0.8192 is the constant used to convert from apparent to real attenuation. Hope that helps.


  • […] – Corrigindo a Densidade Final Medida pelo Refratômetro […]

  • Teresa Fischer

    Hello –
    If I use the calculator with hard cider, do I remove the wort correction factor?

  • The NinjaBear

    I got a refractometer for Christmas, it’s readings show Gravity not Brix.

    Is there a calculator that will adjust it’s FG readings for the presence of alcohol?

    All conversions and calculators I can find assume the refractometer gives a brix scale. But this one doesn’t. It only gives gravity down to 1.000. Or even the formula to create a new field in your spreadsheet download to convert?

    I found the conversion =261.3*(1-1/x) where X is the SG reading. But it doesn’t adjust for your wort correction factor.

  • […] a gerar um pequeno desvio na leitura, sendo fundamental nesse caso, o uso de alguma calculadora, como esta, para se estimar e corrigir esse […]

  • Allan

    I have an Opti Brew digital refractometer from Bellingham & Stanley, which reads in SG and Zeiss. Do you have a version of your FG estimation spreadsheet that inputs in Zeiss?

    • I’ve never encountered Zeiss as a unit and a quick search didn’t turn up any information, but if you can find a conversion to either °Brix or raw RI it should be trivial to insert it into the spreadsheet. You might be better off just using the SG scale, which you can probably convert to °Brix in your head if you’re into that sort of thing.

  • monk28

    something i dont got is why as example 11.1 brix will be after corection 1.040 (10.67)
    but 4.9 brix as FG wont be 4.7P

  • Pablo

    Hi, great work!

    Question: If my Refractometer is in Specific Gravity scale, do i need the Wort Correction Factor? If I bought an ATC SG Refractometer the measurement should take into account the temperature and also the fact that the solution is not 100% sucrose? Im asking because if my Refractometer is already taking into account this with his own wort correction factor and then i applied SG to Bx with a table and then your Bx to SG convertion with your WCF again with your formula i will end up with a miss-calculation. I calibrate my refractometer with distilled water before each measurement and I haven´t had “wort correction factor’s” issues in my OG measurements comparing to the hydrometer readings.

    Thanks for clearing this up!

    Regards, Pablo.

  • ted burrell

    i just used your calculator and the results from my refractometer vs my hydrometer are spot on for f.g. and alcohol % !!

  • Jesse

    Thanks for a great calculator!
    Why the result is not the same when I’m using 12.8 to 6.5 or 12,8 to 6,5? The results are ABV 4.4% and 4.7% Should I use . or ,?

  • Daniel Greene

    I am new to brewing and got a refractometer after breaking my hydrometer pretty early on. I have been racking my brain trying to figure out why my beers wouldn’t finish. I was using yeast nutrient, pure oxygen to aerate, over-pitching my yeast, reducing mash temps, raising fermentation temps, etc. just to be let down every time. I’m talking, like 6 batches of beer. The other weird thing is that I “felt” like my beer was coming out pretty strong. Anyway, I plugged all my readings into your calculator and the numbers match what the expected FG was for my beer all along. This totally made my whole week! I had no idea until I stumbled onto your site. You Rock!!!

    Also, thank you for the awesome explanation.

  • Lee F

    Hi. I recently got a refractometer for making wine. After reseachiing how to get the ABV from refractometer readings, I was repeatedly pointed to your calculator, or others, but the general opinion is that your’s is the most accurate (great job!!) So, my question is, will this correction factor work for wine making also?

  • Gordon Bird

    Beginner’s question. I know if I use the calculator I can go from Brix to S.G. I’ve always used a hydrometer but decided to buy a refractometer. I made a trial brew and got 1.020 on the hydrometer; yeah very weak. However, when I used the refractometer, I got 10 Brix which gave 1.038, ish. My question is, how can there be such a big discrepancy? I’d calibrated the refractometer and the sample temperature was 20 deg C. so I’d expect both readings to be virtually the same. Have I missed something here, or is the refractometer faulty?

    • Have you also calibrated the hydrometer?

      I’d make a 10°Bx reference solution (10 g table sugar, 90 g water, mix thoroughly) and check both. With only one reading from each there’s no way to know which is correct, if either.

  • Steve

    Hello. I’m confused by the discrepancy between your calculated ABV and FG values and those from Brewers Friend site:

    The OG value seems to match, but the FG and ABV doesn’t.

    For example: If I use original Brix as 16 and final Brix as 6 and wort correction factor as 1.04, I get:

    Your site – OG 1.0628 (15.38°P); estimated FG 1.0073 (1.88°P); ABV 7.1%
    Brewers Friend – OG 1.063 (15.38°P); estimated FG 1.000 (0.01°P); ABV 8.22%

    Which one is correct?

    Thanks for your work!

    • Steve,

      Of course the “correct” answer is, whichever is closest to your hydrometer readings. From what I understand, the Novotny formula was derived to provide accurate estimates for actively fermenting wort, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it isn’t as accurate at estimating FG.


  • Peter Sargent

    Thank you for this correction and for your past contributions to this subject.

    I have data from a few brews suggesting that this correction yields an ABV estimate that is very close to the one calculated from a hydrometer-derived [(OG-FG)*131] formula.

    Wort-corrected (1.040) refractometer readings in my hands are identical to wort hydrometer readings (avg. difference over four brews: 0.000). However, refractometer readings of beer at the time of kegging are much higher than hydrometer readings (by 0.019). Your correction puts the estimated ABV within 0.007 on either side of the hydrometer reading (average difference over four brews: 0%).

    My question is why are the refractometer readings off for beer, but not for wort? It cannot be simply on account of the presence of EtOH; 10% EtOH has a refractive index only 0.5% (1 part in 200) different than water (1.34020 vs. 1.33345 at 15 degrees Celsius). What’s the explanation?

    Thank you.

    • Peter, the difference is in fact due to the ethanol in solution: the refractive index from your example would correspond to a ~6°Bx reading on a refractometer. The entire working range in brewing only covers about 1.33-1.38.


  • Peter Sargent

    The presence of EtOH in beer does not bias the refractometer reading enough to explain the difference between the refractometer and hydrometer readings. However, when I take into account both its effects on the refractometer reading AND the hydrometer reading, I can come close to explaining the difference between the two readings.

    See if this makes sense.

    Refractive Index: The refractive index of a 5% solution of EtOH should be about 1.34020 at 15 degrees C, which converts to 1.005 when normalized to water. This suggests that refractometer readings of a 5% beer will be elevated by SG 0.005 (~1°Bx) solely because of the EtOH content.

    Specific Gravity: 100% EtOH has a SG of 0.79 g/cc, so a 5% solution should have a SG of 0.990. This means that the hydrometer reading of a 5% beer will be 0.010 lower than expected solely because of the EtOH.

    Taken together, the presence of EtOH in a 5% beer will produce a difference of SG 0.015 in refractometer vs. hydrometer. The four beers in my data set had an ABV of more than 5%, which means that I think that I can explain the difference that I saw (0.018).

  • Scott

    I bought Hanna Instruments electronic refractometer for brewing which only gives measurements in degrees Plato. I find plato to brix conversion charts all over the Internet but find different values for conversion. Some brix values convert higher than plato values and some were lower. Do you have recommendations for accurate plato to brix conversion charts or calculators?

    Thanks for the great information!

    • Hey Scott, for brewing purposes you can use degrees Brix and Plato interchangeably. They’ll be the same at least into the second decimal place. Hope that helps!


      • Scott

        Thank you. That makes things easier to figure out.

      • Scott

        Just curious why when I input my Plato value into the Original RI box it calculates the Original Gravity down to a lower Plato value? For example my refractometer measured my pre-fermentation wort to be 16.3°P. After it’s calculated the resulting Original Gravity shows 1.064 or 15.67°P. Shouldn’t the OG measurement remain constant if the difference between brix and plato is interchangeable? Sorry for my confusion, but this is over my head and I want have a better understanding and be as close to accurate as possible. Thanks for taking the time to help!

      • Hey Scott, sorry I missed this. I think you’re talking about the Wort Correction Factor, which is independent of whether you’re using Brix or Plato. By default this is set to 1.04 and it looks like that’s what you’re using as well. If you click back to the article about using a refractometer you’ll find more info on determining your actual WCF.


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