Hydrometer’s Buying Guide (2020) - Best 5 Compared

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You’ve made the exciting decision that you’d like to start brewing on your own. So, now what?

You’ve got to start building your kit, and one of the first things you should consider buying is an alcohol hydrometer.

An alcohol hydrometer is a very useful tool that is used during the brewing process to measure the density of the liquid. This tool will inform you of both the sugar content and the alcohol content in the liquid that you are choosing to produce.

Hydrometers will help you make your batches more consistent as you continue to utilize the tool during your process. 

Below is a guide to finding the best alcohol hydrometer while surfing through the countless options on the web.

Before diving more deeply into the topic, I’m gonna share a table with our final findings. 

Top 5 Hydrometers for Brewing Compared

The following table shows our top picks with the estimated price range and our final rating. There is also a link placed on each option so it will be easier for you to find the product (Amazon links).

The table is ranked from the most affordable product first to the most premium choice at the bottom.

NamePrice Range

Homebrew Rating

1. North Mountain Supply Glass Triple Scale Hydrometer$4/5
2. Brewer's Elite Hydrometer for Home Brew - Deluxe Triple Scale Set $4/5
3. The Brew Supply Alcohol Hydrometer and Cylinder Combo Kit$4,5/5
4. Chefast Combo Kit of Triple-Scale Hydrometer
$$4/5
5. Hydrometer Test Kit: American-Made 0-200 Proof Pro Series$$$4/5

Our #1 Pick

The Brew Supply Alcohol Hydrometer and Cylinder Combo Kit

Accurate hydrometer kit with measuring cylinder. Great value for the price.

Check it on Amazon

Now, we are going to go share some tips and tricks to finding the best hydrometer for your new brewing adventure.

You can also skip it and jump to the products review at the end of the post.

Good luck!

How Does a Hydrometer Work

A hydrometer is an instrument for determining the specific gravity of a liquid, alcohol in this case. Hydrometers commonly consist of a graduated tube weighted to float upright in the liquid whose specific gravity is being measured.

Hydrometers measure the density and specific gravity of liquids when at a certain temperature; this is because liquids actually change density when changing temperature.

What Is a Hydrometer Used for?

Alcohol hydrometers are most commonly used in wine-making and beer-brewing, but some alcohol hydrometers can be used to measure liquids with a higher ABV such as spirits and liquor.

Hydrometers measure both the sugar content and alcohol content in liquids.

Measuring sugar content

    Sugars increase the density of liquids. Hydrometers will inform the brewer of the sugar content in the beer or wine by measuring the density of the liquid.

    It’s important to measure the original sugar content of a wort or grape juice prior to fermentation because it is an important indicator of how much alcohol the finished product will likely contain.

    Measuring alcohol content

      Using a hydrometer to measure the original density and final density of the liquid allows the brewer to know the alcohol content in the beer or wine that they are producing.

      The specific gravity of the liquid decreases as sugar in the wort or juice converts to alcohol during the fermentation process. The alcohol content can then be calculated when evaluating the change in the density of the liquid.

      5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Choosing an Alcohol Hydrometer

      Before we buy anything, the most important step is to find out what do we really want/need.

      If we buy something with no research, we can end up buying an article too expensive that might not even be what we actually need.

      The following questions will help you narrow your needs and hopefully save you some time, and money.

      1. What type of alcohol will I be making?
      2. Do I have a measuring cylinder?
      3. What features of each hydrometer best suit your wants/ needs?
      4. What is my budget?
      5. Does the model offer plenty of value for the price?

      Now that we now what we need, let's see what we need to consider before buying a hydrometer.

      What to Consider Before Purchasing a Hydrometer

      Hydrometers are generally fragile.

      Please consider that hydrometers are generally made out of glass.

      It happens more times than any of us would like to admit, but glass and wet hands do not always mix well. It’s always best to buy a backup hydrometer just in case an accident occurs — and it will at some point!

      Plastic alcohol hydrometers do exist; this is an option for the consumer that is worried about durability.

      Get a testing jar

      Make sure you purchase a hydrometer that includes a testing jar because the testing jar can also act as a case for your hydrometer (this will hopefully result in less breakage).

      While some hydrometers don't include a testing jar, it’s important to find one that does! Testing jars are often included with no extra charge.

      Read the product specs to see exactly what is included in your purchase

      If you decide to buy a kit that contains an alcohol hydrometer, make sure you understand everything that's included in the kit.

      If in doubt, feel free to contact the supplier. Better to be safe than disappointed!

      Check if it has a plastic insert on the inside

      Many hydrometers come with a paper scale inside of the glass which often times slips around and subsequently provides inaccurate readings.

      Therefore, it might be a good idea to purchase a hydrometer that has a plastic insert on the inside.

      Test it before first use.

      Before using your hydrometer out on your brews, you should test the hydrometer out to be sure that it’s accurate and effective.

      The best way to do this is to insert your hydrometer into mineral water; please do not use tap water as the minerals found in tap water may skew your results.

      Testing your tool in mineral water will allow you to see if the hydrometer functions properly.

      Different Types of Alcohol Hydrometers

      Triple Scale Hydrometer:

      This is the most commonly used hydrometer, probably because it’s the most inexpensive option.

      This type of hydrometer is multifunctional as it measures specific gravity, Brix/Balling scale, and potential alcohol.This type of hydrometer is capable of reading a large range of specific gravity (0.00–1.170). The larger range of numbers makes it so one size should usually fit most batches.

      The downside to this hydrometer is that the readings may be a little off due to the larger range of numbers.

      The triple scale hydrometer is intended for wines, beers, and meads.

      Thermohydrometer:

      The thermohydrometer will run you about $10-$15 dollars.

      This hydrometer measures specific gravity and temperature; this is very useful because this tool basically contains two instruments in one.

      The nice thing about the thermometer is that using a built-in thermometer every time you test will ensure that you are getting an accurate and consistent reading.

      The thermometer is suitable for wines, beers, and meads.

      Precision Hydrometer:

      The precision hydrometer will give you the most accurate reading due to the numbers being placed on a smaller scale.

      The precision thermometer only measures specific gravity, but it is by far the most precise hydrometer.

      The downside to the precision hydrometer is that you may have to buy two precision thermometers if you choose to go this route. This is because some precision hydrometers measure 1.000–1.070 while others measure 1.060–1.130. Other options of hydrometers typically measure 0.00–1.170, but the precision hydrometer unsurprisingly focuses on precision.

      The precision hydrometer is intended for wines, beers, and meads.

      Digital Hydrometer:

      The digital hydrometer is the newest version of the hydrometer.

      This hydrometer measures specific gravity, density and temperature. This option of hydrometer is by far the most expensive option as the digital hydrometer basically eliminates the possibility of human error.

      Digital hydrometers are great because they adjust for temperature differences automatically when measuring specific gravity.

      Proof & Tralle Hydrometer:

      This hydrometer differs from all of the other options because this is the only hydrometer included in this article that is intended for much higher ABV solutions.

      This hydrometer is meant to measure spirits and liquor.

      List of 5 Best Hydrometers for Brewing 

      We did the research, so you can save some time in the process. The following list shows the best options according our criteria.

      NOTE: the majority of the options in this list are not suitable for measuring Alcohol by Volume of brew or wort containing more than 20% alcohol. A proof and tralle hydrometer will better suit your needs if you are distilling spirits.

      #1 Hydrometer on a Budget

      Price Range: $


      Homebrew Rating:
      4/5

      Main features:

      • Color: clear
      • Height: 1.0 inches
      • Included Components: Hydrometer
      • Inside Diameter: 1.0 inches
      • Item Weight: 2.00 ounces
      • Lower Temperature Rating: 0 degrees fahrenheit
      • Triple Scale hydrometer
      • The specific gravity (SC) scale measures the sugar content of the beer or wine 
      • Scale between 0. 760 - 1. 150
      • Potential ABV 0-16%
      • Sugar Per Liter 0-341
      • The hydrometer is calibrated to give an accurate reading when the liquid is at 68F (20C)

      NOTE: not recommended for maple syrup, moonshine, or other high-alcohol content home distilling beverages.

      You get what you pay. That's the best way we can review this item. 

      And it's a good thing, though!

      This model is a good option if you need a plain, yet functional hydrometer that works accurately. 

      It also includes color coding to be able to determine when you should move to the next step for your alcohol of choice. It is very legible and smooth - no bubbles stick to the outside, potentially affecting the reading when spinning it.

        Overall, this is a solid item, considering the price.

        PROSCONS
        PriceFragile
        SimplicityNo measuring cylinder
        Color coding

        North Mountain Supply Glass Triple Scale Hydrometer

        Simple, but effective

        Check it on Amazon

        #2 Popular Choice

        Price Range: $


        Homebrew Rating:
        4/5

        Main features:

        • Storage Case  
        • Microfiber cleaning cloth
        • No test jar included
        • Graduated color bands 
        • Color: clear
        • Triplescale 
        • Specific Gravity (0.99 - 1.16)
        • Potential Alcohol (0%-20%)
        • Brix/Balling (0-35)
        • Money back guarantee 

        NOTE: not recommended for maple syrup, moonshine, or other high-alcohol content home distilling beverages.

        Most popular hydrometer in the low end of the budget.

        This hydrometer is simple, but the quality that delivers is actually surprisingly good for the price. It comes in a nice protective case to keep it very secure. We are not sure how often the cloth will be used, but it is a nice touch. 

        It is slightly longer than the average hydrometer which makes it easier to read. The glass looks a bit thicker and better quality than the previous one. 

        The only downside of this option is that it doesn't come with a test jar. Other than that, it's a great option.

        We would recommend this one for beginners and first timers on a budget.

        PROSCONS
        Quality for the priceTest jar not included 
        Money back guarantee
        Easy to use

        Brewer's Elite Hydrometer for Home Brew - Deluxe Triple Scale Set

        Easy to use hydrometer, perfect for beginners

        Check it on Amazon

        #3 Best Value for Money - Our Winner

        Price Range: $


        Homebrew Rating:
        4,5/5

        Main features:

        • All-In-One kit: comes with everything you need to ensure your measurements of Specific Gravity, Brix and ABV.
        • Accurate 
        • Easy to read
        • Precision triple scale hydrometer with protective case
        • Break-proof transparent plastic 250ml cylinder 
        • Cleaning brush
        • Microfibre cleaning cloth
        • Instruction manual 
        • Carrying bag
        • Specific gravity from 0.990-1.160
        • Potential alcohol by volume from 0-20% 
        • Brix (sugar content) from 0-35.
        • 30-day money back guarantee and 1-year replacement warranty.

        NOTE: not recommended for maple syrup, moonshine, or other high-alcohol content home distilling beverages.

        The best we found in terms of quality, functionality and price.

        This kit comes with everything you need to measure your brews. We didn't find anything negative to say about it. It is functional, accurate, comes with measuring cylinder, and it's super easy to use. On top of that, as fragile as all hydrometers seem, this one appears to be sturdier. The testing vial is plastic but seems sturdy as well.

        Also, the storage bag is a nice addition so everything stays together. We don't give it a 5 stars because we like to be critical with ratings, but this one came very close to it. 

        We would recommend this hydrometer to any brewer enthusiast.

        PROSCONS
        SturdyNothing relevant
        Accurate
        All-you-need kit

        The Brew Supply Alcohol Hydrometer and Cylinder Combo Kit

        Accurate hydrometer kit with measuring cylinder. Great value for the price.

        Check it on Amazon

        #4 Well Rounded Option

        Price Range: $$


        Homebrew Rating:
        4/5

        Main features:

          • Hydrometer and test jar set
          • Specific gravity from 0.99-1.17
          • Brix/balling from 0-35 
          • Potential alcohol by volume from 0%-20% 
          • Easy to read 
          • Free of mercury, lead and other hazardous compounds.
          • Cleaning brush 
          • Cloth 
          • Canvas carry bag
          • Stylish packaging
          • 90 Fully refund money guarantee

          NOTE: not recommended for maple syrup, moonshine, or other high-alcohol content home distilling beverages.

          Another great kit that comes with everything you need.


          We were a bit skeptical about this one, because we had read that the measurements weren't very consistent. After using it a couple of months, we haven't noticed anything. Maybe we were lucky. 

          It's remarkable their customer service, as we were missing a piece and they were very fast and efficient to solve the issue.

          Overall, a complete kit that delivers what is suppose to deliver.

          As a downside, we would say the plastic cylinder's color makes it a bit hard to read, but nothing that will compromise the outcome.

          PROSCONS
          Environmental friendlyPlastic cylinder not easy to read
          Efficient customer serviceLack of consistency has been reported
          Complete kit

          Chefast Combo Kit of Triple-Scale Hydrometer

          Complete kit with everything you need to measure your brews

          Check it on Amazon

          #5 Solid Proof & Tralle Kit

          Price Range: $$$


          Homebrew Rating:
          4/5

          Main features:

          • 0-200 PROOF
          • Borosilicate glass test tube jar cylinder
          • Custom designed bottle brush made of stainless steel
          • Plastic storage tube
          • Foam filled outer box
          • Microfiber cloth
          • Direction sheet with conversion chart

          Versatile and accurate high alcohol content testing kit. 

          This proofing kit includes a custom designed, narrow, borosilicate glass test jar and perfect-fit, stainless steel cleaning brush. All this comes in a reusable storage box with a microfiber cleaning cloth and 2-page instruction sheet.

          The borosilicate glass test tube helps wasting brew liquid. It's pretty easy to see through, as no graduated markings block the view. 

          We like the fact that it's also easy  to clean up with the cylinder brush and quite easy to use, especially if reading the 2-page instruction sheet with conversion chart. 

          On top of that, they are made in USA, and we like to support local businesses.

          As a downside, the price is significantly higher than the rest of this list. It makes sense, though, as this type of hydrometers are generally more expensive.

          If you are into brewing higher alcohol, this one's a safe choice.

          PROSCONS
          Made in USAPrice
          Easy to clean
          Quality of materials

          Hydrometer Test Kit: American-Made 0-200 Proof Pro Series

          Solid proof & tralle kit. Perfect for higher percentage alcohol brewers

          Check it on Amazon

          Bottom Line

          There are several reasons why you should purchase a hydrometer to brew at home: a hydrometer will calculate ABV more accurately, measure the sugar content, ensure that fermentation is complete, and recreate your favorite brews with better consistency.

          Basically — a hydrometer will allow you to have better control during the process of brewing which allows for you to have more control in how the final product turns out. 

          In this case we decided to give the best rating to the Brew Supply Alcohol Hydrometer and Cylinder Combo Kit (Amazon link), as we are mainly brewing beer and wine, and we were after a kit with all the equipment. If we were making moonshine, we would have gone for the last item on the list. 

          REMEMBER: The final choice will come down to your needs and your budget.

          It’s important to know about each type of hydrometer so you can make an informed decision as the consumer when choosing the right one that fits your brewing needs at home. 

          Happy brewing!

          About HomeBrewAdvice

          Hello, my name is Simon. Together with a group of writers I write about brewing beer and making wine. We all share a passion for the great things in life, such as making stuff from scratch.

          The business of HomeBrewAdvice is to bring you great information, stories and product reviews from brewing at home, and making wine