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pH meter - Useful or not?

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pmastello

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To those more scientific brewers out there - Is a pH meter a worthwhile purchase?

While I recognise the importance of pH in brewing, I was wondering if measuring pH and trying to correct it would just be chasing my tail with the complex buffering reactions going on in the process.

Perhaps, rather than a measurement used to correct an unexpected result, it is more a learning tool for the next brew? Or do people actually try to rectify unexpected results with acid or salt additions?

What about drift and calibration? How often do you calibrate it against a reference? How often do you replace the probe?
 

Yob

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Acid and Salts (ed: or at least acidulated malt)... I used those strips for a while until I could dial in on what was needed but find that I rarely use them now unless Im making something a bit different (Lighter or darker than normal)

From researching the many threads already on the site about them.... it became apparent that many people payed top dollars for a good instrument that largely gathers dust in the back of the brewing cupboard which is why I stayed on the strips.. cheap and effective.

Once you work out whats needed for a particular grist, they become a bit redundant... IMO..
 

Truman42

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I agree with Yob. Melbournes water supply stays fairly constant for the most part. Once you dial in these parameters into EZ water calc, and add your grains I found the Ph strips were very close to what EZ water calc said my Ph would be for the grains used.
So I didnt bother with a PH meter. I put my grain and base water settings into EZ water calc and adjust my salt additions to my desired PH and check with a strip but I know its always going to be close anyway.

Its good to always strive to make the best beer you can but at the end of the day were just making it to drink. If we were making money from our beer then I could justify having a PH meter and a lot of other expensive equipment.
 

mahonya1

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ashley_leask

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It's useful in the context of evaluating your water treatment processes from batch to batch, ie adding a certain salt mix with a given recipe will produce a certain mash pH. Don't know if I'd use it with the idea of adjusting mid-mash, things take some time to level out when additions are made, would be easy for things to go wrong that way. I use mine to confirm the results I get from calculations on the EZ Water (www.ezwatercalculator.com) spreadsheet and have found that to be pretty accurate for me, within about .05 when I've tested.

Also, if you buy one, it needs to have a tighter accuracy range than the one shown above (IMO), +/- 1 isn't telling you much more than if you're in the right ballpark and you'll know that anyway if you're getting acceptable conversion in your mash.
 

benno1973

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pH meters aren't that expensive, but really only applicable if you're planning on adjusting water with salts etc. to ensure that calculations are correct. This one is $50, 3 point calibration, ATC, 0.01 resolution, +/- 0.02 accuracy, waterproof, etc. Pretty decent.
 

mahonya1

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Another Ash said:
It's useful in the context of evaluating your water treatment processes from batch to batch, ie adding a certain salt mix with a given recipe will produce a certain mash pH. Don't know if I'd use it with the idea of adjusting mid-mash, things take some time to level out when additions are made, would be easy for things to go wrong that way. I use mine to confirm the results I get from calculations on the EZ Water (www.ezwatercalculator.com) spreadsheet and have found that to be pretty accurate for me, within about .05 when I've tested.

Also, if you buy one, it needs to have a tighter accuracy range than the one shown above (IMO), +/- 1 isn't telling you much more than if you're in the right ballpark and you'll know that anyway if you're getting acceptable conversion in your mash.
The accuracy is +/- 0.1 which I think is adequate.
 

Online Brewing Supplies

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I can not function without a pH meter, especially when developing new recipes and fault finding (haze, poor attenuation etc ).
Dont buy a cheap one as they are problematic.
Most well know brands like Hanna, Milwaukee are a good buy, I would avoid cheap Chinese meters.
$100 should get you a reasonable one with ATC.
Nev
 

Thirsty Boy

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pH meter while you are learning - absolutely. For on the fly brewing.... nah, not really. By the time you've measured it its nearly to late anyway. Learning tool for next brew.

In a stable water environment like for instance Melbournes water supply... you'll probably eventually get lazy and be tempted to stop using it. But you shouldn't - buy one, measure your pH every brew, know its right, see when its wrong, understand whats happening in your brew each and every time. Or not.... depends what sort of brewer you want to be.

For me that boils down to: Potentially Good (measures) vs Probably Bad (does not measure) ... but other people see these things differently

I find my moderatley inexpensive pH meter ($60 ish from site sponsors) holds its own well enough against the pro-quality versions I use at work. I wouldn't use a $10 ebay special unless I had the ability to test it vs something I trusted and confirm it was reasonably reliable.
 

Kai

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Can you replace the electrode on these sub-100$ models?

From the cheapest to the fancy ones, all pH meters will grow unreliable if they are not maintained properly. Buy a cheap one if you are getting good results, but be prepared to replace it (or parts of it) every few years. Or buy an expensive one, and be prepared to replace cheaper parts of that that equal the price of a cheap pH meter every few years.

I think most of the time in homebrewing a pH meter just confirms they you are doing things right already. I don't think they are a necessary purchase, in fact I have my doubts that they are even a reliable one.

I do however think it's invaluable to know the pH of your wort and your beer. I wouldn't sweat differences in the water unless there is major work in the water supply infrastructure in your area. So I think perhaps what I think is that if you're worried about pH then buy a cheap meter and some buffers for calibration, but be prepared to throw the cheap meter out in a year or two.
 

Bizier

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I have had two of those yellow ebay ones and they need to be calibrated at each use. They are as flimsy as their price suggests.

I tried to find a cheap one from Eutech, but their pocket models are still about $150.
 
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I have been using a yellow ebay one for about 6 mths. I do not find it flimsy but then I treat it as an electronic instrument not a tradies hammer in the toolbox. I check the calibration on it each use but I have never had to recalibrate it. It has been useful to see how grist changes effect the pH in my brewing its more obvious than I would have expected.
 

jc64

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At what stages do people measure the PH? Just at Mash in? Or are there multiple occasions when measurements can be useful? Cheers
 

jaypes

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I use a pH meter - in my fish tank
 

sponge

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Doesn't everyone?
 

jc64

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I find my fish eat the grain, lowering my brewhouse efficiency.
 

jc64

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So say I mash in, leave for 15 minutes, get a sample, let it cool then take a reading. Does that seem like the best time when measuring the PH of the mash?
 

GalBrew

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Bizier said:
I have had two of those yellow ebay ones and they need to be calibrated at each use. They are as flimsy as their price suggests.

I tried to find a cheap one from Eutech, but their pocket models are still about $150.
To be fair even the most pricey pH meters in ressearch labs need to be calibrated at least daily.
 

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