Author Topic: PH Meter  (Read 1631 times)

Offline klickitat jim

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PH Meter
« on: May 03, 2015, 11:32:06 PM »
I've been getting by with colorpHast strips. But with sour season coming up, and other stuff I'm trying to fine tune, I'm in the market for a pH meter. I want one that is accurate but fairly easy to use and maintain. Budget under $200. Suggestions?

A little run down on how to use them would be cool.

And help with my limited understanding on adjusting pH needs a little help too. I'd like to be able to read my wort pH post boil and then adjust it to 4.5 with lactic. Is there a charted amount to add per gallon per pH degree? Or is it more complex than that due to various grain bills?

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: PH Meter
« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2015, 12:17:56 AM »
I got a Milwaukee MW-101 not so long ago to replace a meter that died. I consider it an up grade from the previous one, and am satisfied. Next time I would get the 102, though.

Plan to spend more on the 4.01 solution, 7.01 solution, cleaning and storage. That can run some $ right there. The meter and solutions will keep you under you $200 budget plan.

The best thing for calibration is to read the manual - RTFM as we used to say.

I will let others talk to the wort adjustment technique. The yeast will drop the wort pH to that range or less when they turn the wort into beer, so what is your thinking one this step?


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Home-brewing, not just a hobby, it is a lifestyle!

Offline mchrispen

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Re: PH Meter
« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2015, 12:36:18 AM »
I have the Milwaukee MW-102. Pros - replaceable probes, good sensitivity and stability. Has a separate probe for the temperature probe - use both at room temp to get a correct and accurate pH reading. Two point calibration slope. Cons - it is a bit slow, especially on a cold boot. Managing two probes in a sample can be a bit of a dance. Invest in good buffers and proper storage fluids, keep the probe hydrated and it will serve you well. Been very happy with it. I went through 2 pen style probes before this. It's slightly more than the MW-101, but worth the few bucks in my mind.

FYI - I now pour my buffers into a little shot glass (discard after calibration) as my last bottles got contamination from the wort and went all nasty. Keep some DI or RO water around to give the probe a rinse between cals and measurements.

I think the best time to adjust the wort post boil is after primary and at packaging. Especially with saison, it seems that different yeast finish in different levels of acidity. I believe (but could be wrong) that some of the yeast character is thrown when they are creating acid during lag. I often dose a finished saison with Lactic (too taste) to get to the expected tartness. No charts I am aware of - but they would certainly vary based on each beer recipe, water treatments and yeast strain. I have also sometimes prepared an extra gallon to sour ferment separate from the primary batch with some crushed grain for 3-4 days until really tart. This will then get boiled to kill the lactic and then back blended with the primary - it is a lot of extra work and hard to get the acidity correct as the lacto doesn't completely attenuate (usually) so needs fermentation with the primary. It does seem to yield more subtle complexity than straight lactic acid adjustments.
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Offline klickitat jim

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Re: PH Meter
« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2015, 02:46:50 AM »
I got a Milwaukee MW-101 not so long ago to replace a meter that died. I consider it an up grade from the previous one, and am satisfied. Next time I would get the 102, though.

Plan to spend more on the 4.01 solution, 7.01 solution, cleaning and storage. That can run some $ right there. The meter and solutions will keep you under you $200 budget plan.

The best thing for calibration is to read the manual - RTFM as we used to say.

I will let others talk to the wort adjustment technique. The yeast will drop the wort pH to that range or less when they turn the wort into beer, so what is your thinking one this step?
Awesome! The 4.5 post boil is for my sour beers. I pitch lacto first and I am told that starting at 4.5 will inhibit anything else from taking hold while lacto does its job. Later it gets bret.

Offline klickitat jim

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Re: PH Meter
« Reply #4 on: May 04, 2015, 03:04:42 AM »
I have the Milwaukee MW-102. Pros - replaceable probes, good sensitivity and stability. Has a separate probe for the temperature probe - use both at room temp to get a correct and accurate pH reading. Two point calibration slope. Cons - it is a bit slow, especially on a cold boot. Managing two probes in a sample can be a bit of a dance. Invest in good buffers and proper storage fluids, keep the probe hydrated and it will serve you well. Been very happy with it. I went through 2 pen style probes before this. It's slightly more than the MW-101, but worth the few bucks in my mind.

FYI - I now pour my buffers into a little shot glass (discard after calibration) as my last bottles got contamination from the wort and went all nasty. Keep some DI or RO water around to give the probe a rinse between cals and measurements.

I think the best time to adjust the wort post boil is after primary and at packaging. Especially with saison, it seems that different yeast finish in different levels of acidity. I believe (but could be wrong) that some of the yeast character is thrown when they are creating acid during lag. I often dose a finished saison with Lactic (too taste) to get to the expected tartness. No charts I am aware of - but they would certainly vary based on each beer recipe, water treatments and yeast strain. I have also sometimes prepared an extra gallon to sour ferment separate from the primary batch with some crushed grain for 3-4 days until really tart. This will then get boiled to kill the lactic and then back blended with the primary - it is a lot of extra work and hard to get the acidity correct as the lacto doesn't completely attenuate (usually) so needs fermentation with the primary. It does seem to yield more subtle complexity than straight lactic acid adjustments.
So if you both like the 102 I trust that. Thanks for responding.

Adjusting post boil... on last year's sours I didn't know about this and they seemed to pull through ok. But, you know how it goes. You study and learn things, some times right, some times wrong, sometimes no difference. The method of souring that I use is pitching lacto post boil at 90º for x time. Then I pitch brett. Last year I just let the lacto work 7 days. Kind of arbitrary,  and I had no ph meter to go by. I get a smidge of acetic, by my lacto throws a little. A littles is ok. I dont detect any butyric, or isovaleric, but probably I just got luck. Chad Yackobson suggests dropping the wort to 4.5 with this method to protect against problems. So I thought id try it. Fortunately I chill with a pumped whirlpool, so mixing isnt a problem. I'll just have to dose n measure little at a time till I get a feel for it.

I'd also like the ability of dialing in acidity with my lacto pitch, as well as measuring mash ph and final product ph in my sac beers, so its time to get the equipment.

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Re: PH Meter
« Reply #5 on: May 04, 2015, 04:15:43 AM »
I replaced my last pen-type pH meter with a Milwaukee MW101.  While not quite as portable, I definitely consider the MW101 to be a step up from the pen-type meters.   The MW101 and MW102 sit between the pen-type meters and true benchtop meters.  If I upgrade from the MW101, I will go for a benchtop meter.  The Milwaukee MI150 is a nice benchtop meter for the money.

Offline euge

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Re: PH Meter
« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2015, 01:08:19 PM »
Replaceable probes are important because they (the probes) supposedly only last a couple years even if maintained correctly.

Yesterday I pulled my Hannah Champ out. Probe was bone dry and gunked up- I hadn't used it in three years. Cleaned it up and soaked in pure water for a couple hours. It then read all over the place in pure water or vinegar. I ordered a $13 cheapo meter off Amazon and a pH drop kit for backup.

But, after reading on the web and Hannah's faqs I decided to try and pull some of the electrode out with tweezers. Figured what the hell it's broke already. As I pulled a couple mm of the electrode out of the "replenishable junction" a tiny rubber stopper holding it was dislodged. No problem it was gently replaced and 1-2mm of new electrode was exposed.

Dropped the meter into the two solutions and they were both spot-on with their readings.

woohoo....!?
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: PH Meter
« Reply #7 on: May 04, 2015, 01:16:13 PM »
I got a Milwaukee MW-101 not so long ago to replace a meter that died. I consider it an up grade from the previous one, and am satisfied. Next time I would get the 102, though.

Plan to spend more on the 4.01 solution, 7.01 solution, cleaning and storage. That can run some $ right there. The meter and solutions will keep you under you $200 budget plan.

The best thing for calibration is to read the manual - RTFM as we used to say.

I will let others talk to the wort adjustment technique. The yeast will drop the wort pH to that range or less when they turn the wort into beer, so what is your thinking one this step?
Awesome! The 4.5 post boil is for my sour beers. I pitch lacto first and I am told that starting at 4.5 will inhibit anything else from taking hold while lacto does its job. Later it gets bret.
That explains it.
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: PH Meter
« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2015, 01:27:44 PM »
I like the Milwaukee 101 and 102 units for their combination of reasonable price and durability. They both use the SE220 probe that is a gel-filled, double-junction pH probe that has proven to be durable and reliable. The gel-filled unit is well-suited to storing in a 1M to 3M KCl solution and that is what I do. My current probe is over 4 years old and shows no sign of aging, but it will someday. With that eventuality, the BNC-type connector means that I can easily select any manufacturers BNC style probe and it will work with my meter. The probe is about half the cost of a new meter and probe, so its worth it.

A probe is useless unless its calibrated and you are sure its reading correctly. Get pH 4 and pH 7 solutions, so that you can make sure the unit is reading correctly. Pour small amounts of each solution into separate containers (bottle cap, shot glass, etc) and check the meter response. Rinse the probe with DI water and blow and/or blot all excess water off before inserting into the next solution. Throw the used solutions away. You can't reuse the solution or return them to their bottles. On top of that, the solutions have limited lifespans and should be replaced about every year.

While I encourage brewers to obtain pH meters for brewery use since they help fine tune and resolve brewing, I also recognize that this is a pricey piece of equipment. Using a program like Bru'n Water helps improve brewing when that equipment is not available, but using both does help you better fine tune your brewing.

You can read more about pH meters and brewing chemistry related topics on the Bru'n Water Facebook page. 
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Offline klickitat jim

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Re: PH Meter
« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2015, 01:55:48 PM »
Thanks for all the great info Martin!

Offline Pinski

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Re: PH Meter
« Reply #10 on: May 04, 2015, 03:31:44 PM »
After much consideration I recently upgraded to the Milwaukee-101 from a Hannah Instruments pH EP+.
I still have a hard time trusting automatic calibration & temperature compensation.  Others have mentioned the pros and cons. Confidence in calibration is a big one for me.
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Offline klickitat jim

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Re: PH Meter
« Reply #11 on: May 04, 2015, 06:28:59 PM »
I've settled on the MW 102. Found one on eBay for $105 with shipping new, with probes and fluids. But im giving my LHBS a shot at finding me one for <$120. I'd much rather buy local.

Offline euge

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Re: PH Meter
« Reply #12 on: May 06, 2015, 12:28:44 AM »
+1 to that brother! I've paid a premium for controllers etc but if it keeps the LHBS alive it's a small fee for convenience.

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Laws are spider-webs, which catch the little flies, but cannot hold the big ones. -Anacharsis

Offline akwarmike

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Re: PH Meter
« Reply #13 on: May 06, 2015, 08:31:05 AM »
I've settled on the MW 102. Found one on eBay for $105 with shipping new, with probes and fluids. But im giving my LHBS a shot at finding me one for <$120. I'd much rather buy local.

Kudos for that, let's keep the local folks in business the best we can.
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Offline klickitat jim

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Re: PH Meter
« Reply #14 on: May 14, 2015, 02:09:32 AM »
Well, I didnt buy the ebay meter. And my LHBS guy couldn't beat the price but thanked me for the chance. Instead I ended up going with a Milwaukie MW100 that I got an incredible deal on. It showed up today including 3 different wild sour beers as an added bonus. All of this, including shipping all the way from Texas, for absolutely free!

A huge THANK YOU to an awesome example of an AHA homebrewer - Matt AKA Mchrispen

You're the best and I can't wait to play with my new meter.