I use to take samples of wort and use a hydrometer to get the gravity readings. Then I decided to get a portable Refractometer. It was money well spent.
Refractometers take drops to give you a gravity read. I use a glass eye dropper and drop a few drops on the blue screen of the refractometer
I think I read somewhere when taking samples from boiling wort wait 30 seconds for the wort to cool. I leave the glass arm up while the wort sample is cooling. After the sample is cool I put down the glass arm.
Look in the view finder to see the wort, I originally learned to read wort in gravity. Not all refractometers read in gravity, most read in Brix.
I like using a refractometer because during the brewing process I can check the gravity as much as I want. I usually do get multiple gravity readings during the brewing process.
After fermentation using a refractometer is a little more tricky. Alcohol makes the readings slightly off. After my beer has fermented I get a few drops and get a reading. I use the following site to get the alcohol by volume here
If you spent the time to make sure your fermenting equipment is sterilized, used the best ingredients you can buy and brewed the best beer to your ability. You need to make sure your beer is severed the best you can. Cleaning your beer taps is a must. There really is a 2 step process to cleaning beer taps.
First you need to have a tap line cleaner like the picture above. I clean the beer lines before hooking up a new keg. Cleaning the lines is important because you sanitize the lines from the previous beer on tap and the force of the water will remove any crystals that form. Anyone who has been cleaning beer lines will tell you over time beer will leave deposits in the lines that look like little crystals.
The second part and the part I didn’t learn until after a few kegs is that beer sludge or deposits build up in the taps too! I was serving beer to my family and friends with beer sludge in it. See the picture below, were the yellow circle is, with how the sludge builds up.
Cleaning the sludge is easy. All I do is take apart the taps, they are just a simple machine.
Then I use a wire brush with hot soapy water to clean the inside.
then just put the taps back together and install them in the tower. I also notice that taps work more smoothly after being cleaned.
With this hobby the saying “Cleanliness is next to godliness” is very true. The cleaner the lines the better beer you will have.