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Old 03-24-2011, 04:16 PM   #1
sdbrew1024
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Default pH meter

It's finally time for me to get a pH meter. Any suggestions on a good unit that is easy to use and isn't too expensive?

I have some general questions about using a pH meter:

First, is it recommended to take the pH of the mash directly, or to draw a sample and cool it? Can you take the pH directly with certain models? If drawing a sample and cooling is the preferred method, how can I cool the sample quickly enough to measure pH and still made adjustments to my mash if required. Also, at what point in the mash is it too late to do meaningful adjustments, meaning if I am 30 minutes into the mash and finally get a cooled sample and the pH is 0.4 high, will adding acid at that point do any good? Also, just want to confirm that the recommended range of 5.2-5.4 is at room temp, not at mash temps.



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Old 03-24-2011, 04:21 PM   #2
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I just bought a pH 600. 20-30 bucks. Haven't used it on a brew yet though.



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Old 03-24-2011, 04:29 PM   #3
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Don't take pH measurements at mash temperature, its bad for the probe and it will fail quicker. You only need a tiny sample to check pH, on the order of 1 mL. I put my sample in a shot glass and the small volume of sample compared to the large mass of glass in a shot glass helps cool it in a minute or two. Chilling the shot glass in an ice bath is helpful too.

I typically check pH at about 5 minutes after doughing in and at 15 minutes. That leaves me with plenty of time to revise the pH and have the mash perform well.

If you're using a program like Bru'n Water to help predict where the mash pH is likely to end up at and what adjustments you'll need to hit your desired pH, then its likely that you're only going to be a tenth or two off. That is a lot easier to dial in if your already close.

Yes, the mash pH ranges are typically related as room-temperature measurements. I personnally recommend a range of 5.3 to 5.5. I feel that aiming for 5.2 is too close to the edge and overly sharp and tart beer can be produced.

Enjoy

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Old 03-24-2011, 05:15 PM   #4
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Thanks for the info

Any recommendations for a decent pH meter? I am willing to spend up to $100 or so if it's worth the money to do so. I don't know if a $20 model will perform adequately.

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Old 03-24-2011, 05:42 PM   #5
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I might be looking to get one as well and had same questions on models. I've heard they can be costly to operate. Not sure how though.

And I know a pro brewer suggested 5.2 for a Saison mash. I think it helped to get the Saison flavors that were in his beer.

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Old 03-24-2011, 05:48 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdbrew1024 View Post
Thanks for the info

Any recommendations for a decent pH meter? I am willing to spend up to $100 or so if it's worth the money to do so. I don't know if a $20 model will perform adequately.
It tests the pH. What else do you want it to do? I don't think that is the piece of equipment you need to splurge on.

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Any suggestions on a good unit that is easy to use and isn't too expensive?
Yes, a pH - 600. They are 20 to 30 bucks.
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Old 03-24-2011, 06:25 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BendBrewer

It tests the pH. What else do you want it to do? I don't think that is the piece of equipment you need to splurge on.
Unless you want automatic temperature correction, multipoint calibration, another digit of precision, etc. Don't get me wrong, I like the 600 too...but it's not a stupid question the OP asks.
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Old 03-24-2011, 06:32 PM   #8
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Unless you want automatic temperature correction, multipoint calibration, another digit of precision, etc. Don't get me wrong, I like the 600 too...but it's not a stupid question the OP asks.
Not saying it's stupid.

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Any suggestions on a good unit that is easy to use and isn't too expensive?
How would you answer that? I wouldn't suggest a $100 model if that was the question but maybe I have a different perspective of what expensive is in terms of how much one is willing to spend to determine the pH of a mash.
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Old 03-24-2011, 06:55 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Homercidal View Post
I might be looking to get one as well and had same questions on models. I've heard they can be costly to operate. Not sure how though.

And I know a pro brewer suggested 5.2 for a Saison mash. I think it helped to get the Saison flavors that were in his beer.
You appropriately quote the exception to the rule. If the style is known for sharpness and tartness, then aiming for the low end is fine. Berliner Weisse, Saison, Wit, Hefe, etc. can all benefit from a degree of tartness.

Conversely, if the style is known for roundness and softness, then aiming for the upper end at 5.5 can be a goal. At least you're using a tool that let's you know if you hit or missed the target. Having a pH meter is the first step. Using it is the second step, and understanding how to use it as a proper brewing tool is the third.

Enjoy.
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Old 03-24-2011, 07:03 PM   #10
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Maybe I should expand on my question a little bit. When I asked if more expensive models were worth the money I was wondering if anyone else has felt limited by the less expensive models in any way as they progressed with their pH control experiences. Does single point calibration affect accuracy or calibration stability over time?

I'm pretty sure I would like 2 digit precision in case it becomes more important to me in the future but don't see how ATC would be more than a "nice to have" type feature. I'm not out to waste money but want to make sure I get something that will satisfy my needs now and in the future when I may want something more.



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