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Author Topic: PH reading  (Read 2756 times)

Offline erockrph

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Re: PH reading
« Reply #30 on: January 15, 2024, 08:58:22 am »
Add me to the "prefer to add roasted grains to the mash" camp. I've tried adding them at the end of the mash, but I don't find I get enough roast character in my finished beers when I do this. For stouts and porters, I target a higher mash pH of 5.5-5.6 using baking soda to adjust my mash water, and let it ride from there. This gets me the roast character I'm looking for, but avoids the unpleasant sharp bite and muddy roast character that you get from lower pH in those styles. There are many ways to get there, depending on your goals, system, process, and palate, but that's what i've settled on that gives me the results I enjoy.
Eric B.

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Offline mabrungard

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Re: PH reading
« Reply #31 on: January 15, 2024, 09:07:54 am »
An important fact to consider when reviewing recipes. If the recipe was refined for reserving the roast, you can't use that recipe as-is using all-in mashing. The roast character will be WAY too strong. That recipe was refined based on the poor extraction of roast character with reserved roast mashing. Extra roast grains were added to that recipe to compensate.

The same thing can be said if you're a reserved roast brewer and the recipe was developed for all-in mashing. That result will have weak roast character when brewed as reserved roast.

Do pay attention to how the recipe writer conducts their mash.

Martin B
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Offline Finn Berger

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Re: PH reading
« Reply #32 on: February 21, 2024, 11:26:10 pm »
From what people on the forum of the Norwegian Homebrewers Organization (Norbrygg) - which I am moderating - say, you really don't need a pH meter if you've got a reliable water report and use Bru'n Water. They report hitting the mash pH with great regularity.

Me, I'm a pH meter addict, though :). And I've brewed enough so that I don't need to calculate the salts and acids any more, so I don't use calculators for that. But I always take measurements of samples during the brewing process, because I've found that getting the mash pH right doesn't always mean you'll end up with the pH you want in the boil, or in the fermenter. And those are important.

So I love my pH meter. I've found, though, that I really don't need to calibrate it very often. If I treat it well, rinsing it with de-ionized water before and after use, keeping it in a storage solution all the time and clean the electrode by immersion in a weak solution of sulphuric hydrocloric acid from time to time, it remains stable for a long time.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2024, 02:26:22 am by Finn Berger »

Offline mabrungard

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Re: PH reading
« Reply #33 on: February 22, 2024, 09:37:50 am »
You don't really need a brewing water calculator if you're typically brewing the same recipe repeatedly and using the same ingredients. A calculator is for brewers that brew a variety of brews and want their result to be reasonably close to their pH goal.

Proper care and use of a pH meter does extend its life and accuracy. I strongly recommend that all brewers avoid exposing their pH probe to hot wort. Cool wort samples to a relatively consistent temperature in the 20C to 25C range (aka: room temperature) and the probe will last longer.  Finn mentions occasional cleaning measures and I agree with that. Another consideration is that cleaning is often best practiced by cleaning with a caustic solution first and follow that with an acid solution. Caustic removes biologic deposits and the acid removes inorganic deposits.

With regard to meter calibration, it depends on the meter and probe and their age. You might find that you don't have to calibrate often, but eventually the probe will age and start to go downhill from there and require more frequent calibration.  One problem with infrequent calibration is that you won't know when the probe is going downhill, since you're not checking it.

Food for thought!
Martin B
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Offline Richard

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Re: PH reading
« Reply #34 on: February 22, 2024, 02:40:29 pm »
I do a quick and dirty check to see if my meter needs calibration. I measure the pH of white vinegar, and if it reads significantly different than 2.50 I do a calibration.

Finn also mentioned that you don't need a pH meter if you have a reliable water report. He should have added "and a stable and consistent water source". Many people, including me, have water that changes seasonally, as the mix from different sources is changed. Although in the summer I hit my pH targets reliably my last batch was 5.6 while my target was 5.4. Assuming I have the same water blend for my next brew, I know to increase my acid additions a bit.
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Offline Finn Berger

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Re: PH reading
« Reply #35 on: February 23, 2024, 02:25:07 am »
You don't really need a brewing water calculator if you're typically brewing the same recipe repeatedly and using the same ingredients. A calculator is for brewers that brew a variety of brews and want their result to be reasonably close to their pH goal.

Proper care and use of a pH meter does extend its life and accuracy. I strongly recommend that all brewers avoid exposing their pH probe to hot wort. Cool wort samples to a relatively consistent temperature in the 20C to 25C range (aka: room temperature) and the probe will last longer.  Finn mentions occasional cleaning measures and I agree with that. Another consideration is that cleaning is often best practiced by cleaning with a caustic solution first and follow that with an acid solution. Caustic removes biologic deposits and the acid removes inorganic deposits.

With regard to meter calibration, it depends on the meter and probe and their age. You might find that you don't have to calibrate often, but eventually the probe will age and start to go downhill from there and require more frequent calibration.  One problem with infrequent calibration is that you won't know when the probe is going downhill, since you're not checking it.

Food for thought!

I of course managed to do all sorts of stupid mistakes, incuding measuring hot wort, when I first got my pH meter, so I shortened the life of that electrode quite a bit, I think. Electrodes are expensive, so I'll do what I can now. So what do you use for that caustic solution?

(I wrote that I use sulphuric acid for the acid solution, but that was wrong. I use a solution of 1 ml 30% hydrocloric acid in 1 litre of deionized water. Letting the electrode soak in that for 20 minutes. Advice from a water pro on the Norwegian forum.)

What I brew most - and that means often:) - is German pilsner, often with 92% pilsner malt, 4% Victory and 4% acidulated malt. I can vary that a bit, but those 4% is standard. My water is very stable - there's a predictable 1 dH degree difference between summer and winter -  so if my meter goes downhill, I think I'll notice that. But of course I ought to calibrate it more often. I'm just lazy:).

Offline mabrungard

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Re: PH reading
« Reply #36 on: February 23, 2024, 08:02:53 am »
A caustic cleaning solution is readily available in the form of lye drain cleaner that you may have around a home. In its solid form, sodium hydroxide is stable and relatively safe. It has to be combined with water to create a solution with a pH of 12 or higher to lyse organics off the probe. Be aware that mixing lye with water is a very exothermic reaction and the solution gets HOT. That solution is very dangerous and demands extreme care to avoid getting it on anything you don't want destroyed. If it touches your skin, it instantly creates soap from the oils in your skin. That means that if anything feels slippery, you've got the solution on your skin and you need to get it off immediately. Eye protection and gloves are required for safety!

Soak the probe in the solution for several minutes and pour the spent solution down the drain (it is drain cleaner, after all). Its a rare occurrence that biologic matter will buildup on a pH probe, so this cleaning would not likely be necessary unless the probe is constantly in a biologically-active solution like sanitary wastewater. I expect that the typical pH probe in a brewery will wear out before it would require this sort of cleaning. 
Martin B
Carmel, IN

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Offline Slowbrew

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Re: PH reading
« Reply #37 on: February 23, 2024, 08:41:07 am »
A caustic cleaning solution is readily available in the form of lye drain cleaner that you may have around a home. In its solid form, sodium hydroxide is stable and relatively safe. It has to be combined with water to create a solution with a pH of 12 or higher to lyse organics off the probe. Be aware that mixing lye with water is a very exothermic reaction and the solution gets HOT. That solution is very dangerous and demands extreme care to avoid getting it on anything you don't want destroyed. If it touches your skin, it instantly creates soap from the oils in your skin. That means that if anything feels slippery, you've got the solution on your skin and you need to get it off immediately. Eye protection and gloves are required for safety!

Soak the probe in the solution for several minutes and pour the spent solution down the drain (it is drain cleaner, after all). Its a rare occurrence that biologic matter will buildup on a pH probe, so this cleaning would not likely be necessary unless the probe is constantly in a biologically-active solution like sanitary wastewater. I expect that the typical pH probe in a brewery will wear out before it would require this sort of cleaning.

I'll just add that you need to remember all the warnings you've learned about any chemicals.
A big one to remember is; do not mix the solution in an poorly ventilated area. You don't want to breathe this stuff.
When he says it gets hot, he means it.
I use the cheap food storage containers when I mix it since they are non-reactive plastics and I don't feel bad if I have to throw them away now and then.

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Offline Finn Berger

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Re: PH reading
« Reply #38 on: February 23, 2024, 11:30:59 am »
A caustic cleaning solution is readily available in the form of lye drain cleaner that you may have around a home. In its solid form, sodium hydroxide is stable and relatively safe. It has to be combined with water to create a solution with a pH of 12 or higher to lyse organics off the probe. Be aware that mixing lye with water is a very exothermic reaction and the solution gets HOT. That solution is very dangerous and demands extreme care to avoid getting it on anything you don't want destroyed. If it touches your skin, it instantly creates soap from the oils in your skin. That means that if anything feels slippery, you've got the solution on your skin and you need to get it off immediately. Eye protection and gloves are required for safety!

Soak the probe in the solution for several minutes and pour the spent solution down the drain (it is drain cleaner, after all). Its a rare occurrence that biologic matter will buildup on a pH probe, so this cleaning would not likely be necessary unless the probe is constantly in a biologically-active solution like sanitary wastewater. I expect that the typical pH probe in a brewery will wear out before it would require this sort of cleaning.

Then I'll stick to just the hydrocloric solution:). Thanks for clearing this up. I don't use the meter for anything but brewing.

I'm using lye to clean my kettles when they've gained a yellowish taint. Not very often. I'll dress up in a solid jacket, and wear long sleeved rubber gloves and protective glasses - and I'll work very slow and carefully. I know what that stuff can do to you.

Offline chumley

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Re: PH reading
« Reply #39 on: February 23, 2024, 04:45:24 pm »
As an environmental engineer for over 30 years, I have developed a lifelong hatred of pH meters. Denny's advice of using Bru'water and bagging the pH measurements is the best advice. pH meters need constant calibration and attention, the probes dry out and need replacement, even after calibrations the meter drifts over the day, yada yada. I always suspect pH data the most of all the data I receive from monitoring reports. At work, we are currently trying to figure out some contradictory soils pH data. Why does EPA Method 9045D yield much higher pH values than ASA Method 10-3? Soil mixture of 1:1 soil/water versus saturated paste? Highly paid chemists are hashing this out. We, meanwhile, just want to brew great tasting beer.

I would also add that once I figured out that 6 oz. of acid malt added to 20 lbs. of pilsner malt was what gave me my desired pH, my pH meter has sat in the drawer since then.

Offline Finn Berger

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Re: PH reading
« Reply #40 on: February 24, 2024, 01:27:00 am »
As an environmental engineer for over 30 years, I have developed a lifelong hatred of pH meters. Denny's advice of using Bru'water and bagging the pH measurements is the best advice. pH meters need constant calibration and attention, the probes dry out and need replacement, even after calibrations the meter drifts over the day, yada yada. I always suspect pH data the most of all the data I receive from monitoring reports. At work, we are currently trying to figure out some contradictory soils pH data. Why does EPA Method 9045D yield much higher pH values than ASA Method 10-3? Soil mixture of 1:1 soil/water versus saturated paste? Highly paid chemists are hashing this out. We, meanwhile, just want to brew great tasting beer.

I would also add that once I figured out that 6 oz. of acid malt added to 20 lbs. of pilsner malt was what gave me my desired pH, my pH meter has sat in the drawer since then.

Each to his own :). But maybe you just haven't met the right pH meter ;)? Mine behaves very nicely. It's just a little incontinent - I've had to use clingfilm to keep the storage solution from evaporating - but apart from that it causes me no sorrows. So I have developed a strong personal bond to it.

I agree, though, if all you would use a meter for, is measuring mash pH. But I am a bit obsessive, and like to follow up pH development all the way. Being a humanist by trade I'm slightly leery of those laws of nature. I accept that gravitation is a fact, but the postulate that once the mash pH is set up, the rest is predictable, is something I'm not able to trust.

Offline goose

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Re: PH reading
« Reply #41 on: February 24, 2024, 10:14:04 am »
Another thing to remember if you are using caustic solution (or drain cleaner) and acid solution to clean you pH meter is to mix the solutions alphabetically, i.e. caustic to water and acid to water since as Martin said both will create a hydrothermic reaction when mixed and could splatter if mixing the other way.
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Offline neuse

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Re: PH reading
« Reply #42 on: February 24, 2024, 01:03:35 pm »
AJ Delange proposed a simplified approach to water chemistry - it is in a Homebrew Talk thread: https://www.homebrewtalk.com/threads/a-brewing-water-chemistry-primer.198460/ . It only applies if using soft water, and he defines "soft" at the beginning. Does anyone have experience using this method? I haven't used it myself.

Offline Richard

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Re: PH reading
« Reply #43 on: February 24, 2024, 01:27:39 pm »
AJ Delange proposed a simplified approach to water chemistry - it is in a Homebrew Talk thread: https://www.homebrewtalk.com/threads/a-brewing-water-chemistry-primer.198460/ . It only applies if using soft water, and he defines "soft" at the beginning. Does anyone have experience using this method? I haven't used it myself.
This is very similar to Gordon Strong approach, which I believe BrewBama uses.
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Offline BrewBama

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Re: PH reading
« Reply #44 on: February 24, 2024, 04:31:06 pm »
I think the key to pH using the Gordon Strong method is starting with RO or Distilled, only mashing grain that requires it, using ~ 50 ppm Ca thru use of CaCl and/or gypsum, and adding grains that screw with pH after the main mash conversion is complete.  I’ve been doing it a few years now because it works every time.