Author Topic: pH meters  (Read 1334 times)

Offline yso191

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pH meters
« on: November 15, 2015, 09:28:08 PM »
I am being bombarded by family members for Christmas gift ideas.  One of the things I have been interested in is a good pH meter.  But every time I get close to getting one I am stopped by one thing: What difference will it make?

As I understand it, it takes about 30 minutes for the mash pH to stabilize.  If an adjustment is made at that point (particularly given the sample cool-down requirement)  it will just swing into the correct pH about the time to lauter.  So I think, 'What's the point?'

I have got to be wrong on that though since the pros (I assume) check pH.  So:

1. Tell me how I am wrong.
2. Tell me what pH meter to buy. 

FYI, I like to buy the right thing first, rather than go cheap and then get disgusted and go out and buy the right thing later.
Steve
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Offline PORTERHAUS

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Re: pH meters
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2015, 10:31:21 PM »
I wont say you are wrong. But I believe the mash ph will level out fairly quickly...probably by the time you are mixed in well after doughing in. I usually pull a sample after about 5-10 mins once im hapoy with the temp and hqve mixed the mash well. On the otherhand a ph reading in a sample can also tke a few mins to fully stabalize. But once i know im in the ballpark i call it good enough. There might be a small change in the reading but not anything I even consider.

Wether a ph meter is worth it for you or not depends on if it will help produce better beer? Are you checking mash ph now? Do you know the ph of your sparge water? Are you in the ideal ranges for the steps in your process? You might be making excellent beers without a ph meter but its a tool that can help find a problem you didnt onow about. I check mash ph, I acidify my sparge water, I check pre-boil and post boil ph as well as final beer ph at times. Helps me know everythi g is going as it should.

Offline jjflash

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Re: pH meters
« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2015, 10:52:34 PM »
Your water may be close enough to give you good results.
It is just another tool to aid us who are always in search of perfection.
"My next beer is going to be even better than this one."

My water is very hard with pH 7.2 - 7.8 depending upon season.
It requires significant phosphoric acid to get anywhere near ideal pH for conversion.
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Offline yso191

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Re: pH meters
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2015, 11:09:45 PM »
I use 100% RO water, and use Bru'n water to estimate mash pH now.  Perhaps I've just answered my question.
Steve
All Hands Brewing
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Offline klickitat jim

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Re: pH meters
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2015, 11:14:54 PM »
I convinced my self that I didn't need a pH meter until Mat Chrispen gave me one. I use it a lot. For checking mash ph, sparge ph, preboil, post boil, and final beer pH.  If I had to upgrade I would get something name brand with accuracy and display to hundreths. Mine is just to the tenths and is just fine. And I dont think auto temp is all that vital.

Offline PORTERHAUS

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Re: pH meters
« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2015, 02:26:32 PM »
I use 100% RO water, and use Bru'n water to estimate mash pH now.  Perhaps I've just answered my question.

Bru'n Water is very accurate with mash ph estimation. A meter is just a tool to verify, just like checking mash temp. My water is pretty stable, but is highly alkaline so I need to acidify with acid so using a program and checking my mash ph with a meter is pretty valuable. I rarely have to adjust once I check it, but I like to know that I'm good. Honestly I find the ph meter more useful throughout the whole process like mentioned above rather than just limited to mash ph.

Offline factory

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Re: pH meters
« Reply #6 on: November 16, 2015, 02:53:06 PM »
I use 100% RO water, and use Bru'n water to estimate mash pH now.  Perhaps I've just answered my question.

Bru'n Water is very accurate with mash ph estimation. A meter is just a tool to verify, just like checking mash temp. My water is pretty stable, but is highly alkaline so I need to acidify with acid so using a program and checking my mash ph with a meter is pretty valuable. I rarely have to adjust once I check it, but I like to know that I'm good. Honestly I find the ph meter more useful throughout the whole process like mentioned above rather than just limited to mash ph.

I use Bru'n Water as well.  I have been very pleased with my Milwaukee 102 meter.  It is very accurate for me and holds its calibration pretty well.  I use it to verify the Bru'n Water estimate and am usually within a few .01s.  I have found that dialing in my mash pH is one of those "next step" things to improving my beers.

 The only issue I've had so far is taking a measurement with too many little grain particles in the sample and getting some grains stuck in the probe.  Running it under some water cleared that up.  I haven't yet had to replace the probe and I've had it for about a year now.  I store it in some electrode solution.

Offline denny

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Re: pH meters
« Reply #7 on: November 16, 2015, 04:00:04 PM »
I use 100% RO water, and use Bru'n water to estimate mash pH now.  Perhaps I've just answered my question.

Without a pH meter, how do you know you're really getting what you calculate?
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Offline yso191

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Re: pH meters
« Reply #8 on: November 18, 2015, 03:06:15 AM »
I use 100% RO water, and use Bru'n water to estimate mash pH now.  Perhaps I've just answered my question.

Without a pH meter, how do you know you're really getting what you calculate?

I don't.  The beer turns out pretty good though.  I guess it is a trust thing.  Nonetheless, I am still considering putting it on my list for Christmas.  What do you recommend?
Steve
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Offline klickitat jim

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Re: pH meters
« Reply #9 on: November 18, 2015, 03:20:07 AM »
I've had great success with my Milwaukee MW100, but one day I want to upgrade to the 102. Better accuracy and finer detail readout. The 100 is head and shoulders over colorphast and colorphast is better than nothing at all.

Offline neddles

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Re: pH meters
« Reply #10 on: November 18, 2015, 03:38:12 AM »
I use 100% RO water, and use Bru'n water to estimate mash pH now.  Perhaps I've just answered my question.

Without a pH meter, how do you know you're really getting what you calculate?

I don't.  The beer turns out pretty good though.  I guess it is a trust thing.  Nonetheless, I am still considering putting it on my list for Christmas.  What do you recommend?
If it were me I would get a Milwaukee 101/102. That said, if you choose to continue without a pH meter I would go as far as to say you'd be better off with just Brunwater estimates than by using the colorpHast strips. Brunwater is closer vs pH meter than the colorpHast is vs. pH meter IME. Too many times the readings were a bit vague and they are also sensitive to the type of light source. Then there is the +.03 offset or whatever it is. Oh and then they expire too, but when? Im not sure... and how long were they on the shelf before you bought them? Who knows? The strips just add unnecessary confusion in my mind.

One other example, I had been using the colorpHast strips for a while (with Brunwater) and feeling like they were working fine. Then on a porter I got a pH on the colorpHast strips of 5.2. So I added some bicarb (with Brunwater as my guide) to bring it closer to 5.4-5.5. No change in color. So I added some more and then some more and then I waited a while and tested again. Still no change in color. Knew there was a limit to how much bicarb I was willing to add and just proceeded with the beer. I bought a pH meter at that point and haven't looked back.

A solid pH meter really is the way to go though.

Offline yso191

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Re: pH meters
« Reply #11 on: November 18, 2015, 04:07:36 AM »
OK, the Milwaukee 102 just went on my list.  Thanks!
Steve
All Hands Brewing
BJCP #D1667

Offline neddles

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Re: pH meters
« Reply #12 on: November 18, 2015, 04:19:29 AM »
OK, the Milwaukee 102 just went on my list.  Thanks!
Happy to help!

Offline klickitat jim

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Re: pH meters
« Reply #13 on: November 18, 2015, 04:38:52 AM »
OK, the Milwaukee 102 just went on my list.  Thanks!
You'll wonder how you ever made beer without one. I use mine from mash in to the glass. Huge thanks to mchrispen every time I use it.

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Re: pH meters
« Reply #14 on: November 18, 2015, 11:17:16 AM »
What is the middle ground between the pH strips and the more expensive (in a relative way, as $80-$100 is not that expensive) meters?

I see many of the pen/stick style black and yellow meters on Amazon going for $15-$30. What is my mid range option? I currently just use Bru'n Water and economy pH strips and have been pretty happy with the results.