Testing equipment can help you see how your fermentation is doing from start to finish. A basic hydrometer and thermometer, at the minimum, are essential pieces of equipment for any home brewer or wine maker. A thermometer is important to measure the temperature during the fermentation process to ensure the yeast can stay healthy. If brewing beer, it is absolutely necessary for finding the correct mash temperature. It is also useful when finding a place to store your wine or beer.
By taking readings with a hydrometer at the beginning of the brewing process you can project how much alcohol your must, wort, or wash will create. You can use your hydrometer throughout the process to monitor your fermentation and catch when it should be transferred, when it is done, or if it has become sluggish. Finally taking a final gravity reading once fermentation is complete you can calculate how much ABV your wine, beer, or alcohol contains.
Note that regular hydrometers are capable of measuring sugar and alcohol contents for fermented alcohol such as wine, beer, and alcohol wash. A proof and traille hydrometer is needed to measure high alcohol.
If you want to find out more about measuring sugar and alcohol content and how best to use a hydrometer check out our blog.