Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com

Advice on pH meters

People of Earth: I have futzed with pH strips for long enough and I’m looking for a decent, dependable and preferably simple-to-use and simple-to-own meter. I have heard a number of people suggest Hanna meters for their value and ease of use. I don’t mind paying a little extra for one that won’t make me swear every time I use it. I just browsed around Amazon and found some meters starting around $15 (can’t be good, right?) and others going up to about $150. Many of the comments and reviews revolve around plants and gardening. I’m open to suggestions. Any new models out there or tried-and-true meters that have given years of dependable & care-free service? Thanks.

I like my Milwaukee pH56 - it has kept its calibration for many brewdays, reads fast, and only cost about $75.

What timing, I was getting ready to ask the same question. I finally got around to reading the 7 page thread on bicarbonates. I’ve been putting off tackling my water, just been adjusting RO water according to AJ DeLange’s brewing water primer at HBT

with decent results, but it’s a hassle filling up pots from my RO unit the night before. After reading that thread I figured now is the time, I downloaded Bru’n Water now I just need to get my water tested and order a ph meter.

There is the camp of people who say the strips are plenty fine for brewing and there is the other camp that says not to trust your time & effort to a cardboard strip. I will say right now that the ColorpHast strips do appear to work okay. If I measure and the pH is high and I add a little acid and test again, the strip appears to nicely represent the adjustment. But I have been in the mode lately of reducing or eliminating as many variables as possible. One way I tried to do that was to get some locally purchased bulk RO water tested by Ward Labs. That water was NOT GOOD RO WATER and I didn’t know that for YEARS. I was walking around in the dark but now that I know what the water composition was, I am using distilled in conjunction with my tap water (which I also know the composition of). I also had a myriad of thermometers when I was a new AG brewer and they were all over the place. Boom, a Thermapen gave me some confidence and I trust it completely for my mash temps. So I am now looking at pH measurement. When I get whatever meter I get, I will compare its reading to a Colorphast strip. I wonder if I’ll have an A-HA! moment again. :expressionless:

Shadetree… thanks for the suggestion. I found one online for $64. I would like to get other suggestions but yours is on top of the list. :wink:

[quote=“Ken Lenard”]Shadetree… thanks for the suggestion. I found one online for $64.[/quote]This place has the Milwaukee 56 meter and 230ml bottles of storage solution and 4 and 7 buffer solutions for $92, shipping included.

It’s at the bottom of the page.

I have been very pleased with my Hanna 98127. I have also used a Thermoworks 8689 many times and also think it is a good meter.

If you are trying to simplify your process, it is hard to recommend a pH meter. My very limited experience has been that no meter is reliable unless you calibrate it immediately before use. Better meters I’ve looked at recommend you store the electrode wet in buffer. Cheaper ones don’t, but probably should.

I’ve actually stopped measuring pH in the last couple of years. Since I got my water tested and started using some of the free-download spreadsheets for water adjustment (all of the ones I’ve tried agree reasonably closely), I find the pH is pretty close and usually within the margin of error for the test method (hated cheapo meter or strips), so secondary tweaks aren’t really justified.

Of course, if the local water supply changes one day, I won’t catch that till I taste the beer, but I risk it.

^ +1000. That said, you WILL learn from using one. You just need to realize the meter/electrode doesn’t last forever.

I totally hear that idea (not worrying) which is why I have waited so long. My only concern, valid or not, is that what I see in my recipe and what I envision in my head and what the pH says it will be on paper is not really what it comes to in the MT. There have been a few occasions where I have put everything together and on paper the pH looks like it will be close but it ends up quite high or low according to ColorpHast strips. I know this really shouldn’t be but because I am trying to take as many ‘guesses’ out of my process, I think I still want to go down this road. When I have taken steps to ensure I know what’s going on with mash temp and water composition, things seemed more predictable to me and that’s what I’m looking for… less variables. I appreciate the thought and completely get where you’re coming from. Might I pick up a meter and then stop using it because I don’t need it? Possibly. Thanks gang.

Okay, after some homework, I went with THIS
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=170895656766&ssPageName=ADME:L:OC:US:3160
model. I have had a number of people tell me that this model (and others that are similar) are decent, easy to use and reliable… and also not terribly hard on the pocket. I figure that if it’s no good or I get tired of calibrating it, it’s less painful. Free shipping too so $49 total. I’ll update this thread when I have used it a couple of times to report on how it’s going. Thanks for the help Beerheads.

I like the price but I see the accuracy is only ±.1 I though most people wanted that in the hundredths. At any rate it has to be more accurate than the Colorphast strips. Looking forward to your review.

FWIW I check my Hanna before each use, but it usually checks spot on in both buffer solutuions and doesn’t need recalibrating each time. I always keep the electrode stored in storage solution. With proper care they are very inexpensive to maintain and are a must have item for me since I regularly do wine/mead/cider as well.

So if it measures and displays 5.2, it could be 5.1 or 5.3? I wouldn’t lose sleep over that.

I think you’ll find that the Colorphast strips consistently read 0.3 too low.

http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php/An ... me_brewing

As long as you make the adjustment, they actually work very well (to the point where I often don’t bother to use my pH meter).

I think you’ll find that the Colorphast strips consistently read 0.3 too low.

http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php/An ... me_brewing

As long as you make the adjustment, they actually work very well (to the point where I often don’t bother to use my pH meter).[/quote]
I always take that into consideration. I try to get my strip sample to show right around 5.0, putting me in the 5.3 range. If it turns out that I just spent $49 just to prove that the strips work ‘well enough’, I’m okay with that too. These strips are about $20 for 100. I use 2 to 4 strips per batch so one box is good for 25-50 batches of beer which is cost-effective, IMO. I realize that the meter will require buffering solutions which will cost x amount of money as well. My goal is to accurately know my mash, sparge and preboil pH. I suppose the next goal is to determine which one (strips or meter) is easier, more cost effective, accurate and reliable.

I think I’ll get that same meter Ken linked to. I kicked around getting the colorphast strips and was aware of the 3 point deviation, it seems though that there could be a margin of error in matching the color, at least there is when I use my water hardness test kit. I’m having issues with haziness and under attenuation in some of my beers and I suspect it’s a ph issue, if dropping $49 solves that it will be money well spent.

Matching the color of the strip to the color on the key was always something I thought about. It seems easy enough but it also seems like there is room for error which is exactly what I’m trying to tighten up. Also, my wife is always telling me I’m color blind (I disagree) but what if I’m just not seeing it well enough to match it up. Glug, when we get the units and use them on a couple of batches, let’s compare notes in this thread and give our thoughts. I’m making an ESB tomorrow (clearly I won’t have the meter) but I plan to brew again later in the week or next weekend and it would be cool to take the new meter for a test drive.

I ended up buying the one Kaiser recommended here: http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?ti … ying_Guide

It works well, but I find calibrating it to be annoying.

The SM-101 meter has been replaced by the MW-101 meter. That is the one I use and can recommend. I have had several of the Hanna Checker pH meters and they were OK, but the MW-101 has been more confidence inspiring. Perhaps part of that confidence is because I now always store the pH probe in storage solution, but the MW-101 has been good.

Always have fresh calibration buffer on hand and calibrate before each mash. Buffers reportedly last about a year before you are ‘supposed to’ replace them. I now buy capsules of solid buffer that is mixed with distilled water that I can use and replace on a more economical basis.

Remember, it’s folly to concern ourselves with mash pH to the hundreth of a unit. But having a meter that measures down to the hundreth allows the user to more quickly assess when the reading has stabilized. Since pH drift is typically less than a tenth, you may not see it if your meter reads only tenths and you wouldn’t know if the reading was stable. Get a meter that reads hundreths.

And remember that automatic temperature compensation is useless in measuring mash pH. The pH shift due to chemical changes in the mash with temperature change are not accounted for in the ATC. You really should cool the sample to room temp and improve your accuracy and the life of your probe.

I do plan to do this. Take a spoon and get some of the mash liquid into a small bowl, let it cool and take the pH of that. Thanks Martin for the help.

Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com