Starting out I bought a hydrometer and a cheap Chinese refractometer. It was cheap and I tested it with distilled water and a sugar solution against the hydrometer and the readings were consistent. Since I was familiar with the refractometer use and convience, I have used it exclusively. I started a 5 gallon batch of plain mead (OG 1.110) and a 1 gallon batch of bochet (OG 1.130). Both stalled, both at 1.060, I attempted to restart both with Permier Cuvee (what I had), the mead restarted and fermented for a few days the stopped at 1.030, the bochet would not go. On the advise of a local brew store I pitched VK1-V116 into both. Both refused to move.
The mead does not taste sweet and is more potent than I was aiming for, the bochet taste like sweet non-salty soy sauce, not very strong or pleasant.
Last night I was having a glass of red wine (dry) and decided to check the SG with my refractometer, it read 1.030. , I poured some into the test flask and took a hydrometer reading, 1.000. I did the same with the mead, 1.002, the bochet, 1.028. I repeated my initial test with a sugar solution in distilled water and the refractometer/hydrometer gave the same readings.
What gives? Why different readings ? From taste alone, as well as scenario, I believe the hydrometer readings. Is it just a cheap refractometer, does the color or particulate matter in the must change the reading? It gives consistent readings (albeit incorrect).