Help with using a pH Meter

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by 56 Firedome, May 14, 2019.

  1. 56 Firedome

    56 Firedome New Member

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    I've been brewing for a long time but I never paid much attention to the water I was using. I used a Charcoal Filter to remove the Chlorine but that's about it. I started using Bru'n Water & it changed every thing. The obvious thing is pH is important & I didn't know anything about it.

    The Bru'n Water / Water Knowledge Monolog was very informative & the pH ranges for Pale & Dark beers fall in the range of 5.2 through 5.8 pH. So, when & how do I measure the pH? I have a Milwaukee PH 600.

    It seems I'm interested in the pH of the Mash Run Out to keep the pH from going past 5.8 to prevent leaching Tannin by over Sparging..

    It also seems that I'd be interested in the pH of the post boil & finally the pH of the post Fermented beer (after racking to Secondary?)

    One final question, The package says to store the meter with water to keep the electrode wet. Not "Storage Fluid"? I have the Calibration Solution but I haven't performed that yet.

    Thanks for any help you can offer or a link to a tutorial.
     
  2. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    First, calibrate your meter. Every time you brew, calibrate your meter. pH meters have a tendency to drift off calibration. Follow your meter's instructions to calibrate - you'll need distilled water and reference solutions at pH 7 and pH 4. The storage solution or distilled water work fine for storing the electrode between uses. During use, I keep my electrode in distilled water - what they mean by "keep the electrode wet" is not to let it dry out, ever, even when using it.

    To use, take a small sample of your mash or wort. I use about 30 ml in a 50 ml beaker. Cool it to room temperature. Then you'll need to refer to your meter's instructions on taking a reading. Use a Kimwipe or another soft lint-free tissue and gently dab the excess water from the electrode's glass bulb. Then take your reading according to the meter's instructions. I shoot for 5.4 for most beers. 5.2 - 5.6 is the standard pH range for mash. If you're batch sparging, don't worry too much about sparge pH, it's hard to extract tannin that way. The important measurements are:

    Mash pH
    Sparge water pH (shoot for 5.4)
    Pre-boil pH
    Post-boil pH
    Finished, pre-carbonation pH (shoot for the low 4's).

    Hope this helps....
     
  3. Mark Farrall

    Mark Farrall Well-Known Member

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    I've been caught out a few times not calibrating the meter. It really does change quickly if you're not using it.

    I sometimes record these, but not often as I haven't thought through what I'd do to adjust the pH at these steps and why I would do it. Do you do any adjusting at these points, or is this more to track to see if your process is changing?
     
  4. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    I normally haven't had to. If I use the water calculator, the mash and wort generally fall into their proper ranges. I'm considering adding a bit more calcium to the boil to drop the boil pH a bit but haven't started testing that.
     
  5. HighVoltageMan!

    HighVoltageMan! Well-Known Member

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    I would highly recommend storage solution to maintain the probe. Second is that the cheaper pH meters drift a lot more than meters like the Milwaukee MW102 (dual junction), so calibration is very important before using. Third, the probes will sometimes act like they are bad and won't calibrate. The probe is getting dirty and needs to be cleaned. They make cleaning solutions, but some aren't worth the trouble. Lab grade cleaners are very good and have a pH of 1 and are very acidic. They have surfactants that remove proteins and the acid removes calcium and other bases.

    They are expensive and there are some good homemade solutions that work very well to clean probes. The best one is to soak the probe in white vinegar (calcium) for 10 minutes and then a bleach/water mix of 50/50 (proteins) for 10 minutes. This can bring a crappy probe back to life. After cleaning, the probe should set in storage solution for a couple of hours and then calibrated. If you calibrate right after cleaning, probe may drift a bit over the next couple of hours. This is true no matter which cleaner you use.

    pH meters are a huge PITA, but without them your guessing your pH. Water calculators are nice for getting ballpark figures in the mash, but it's important to nail your pH throughout the process (mash to glass) and it has a big impact on overall quality.
     
  6. HighVoltageMan!

    HighVoltageMan! Well-Known Member

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    I watch pre-boil and boil pH and I often make slight adjustments with phosphoric acid. The goal is to get 5.0-5.2 at pitch temperatures. The lower pH at pitch is beneficial to yeast health. If the pH is too high, the yeast is unable to secrete enough acids to get to their ideal pH for fermentation. Each strain has a different optimum fermentation pH. This is especially true if there is an under pitch. Too high of a finish pH can make the beer taste rough.
     
  7. Vallka

    Vallka Well-Known Member

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    So when you say storing your meter....I brew about every 10-15 days...so I should store the meter in distilled water?
     
  8. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    That's when you need the storage solution.
     
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  9. 56 Firedome

    56 Firedome New Member

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    Nosybear, Thanks for the reply.
    A few questions about taking pH readings?
    1. Mash pH -- At the beginning of the Mash, at the end of the Mash, from the drain valve or off the top of the grain?
    2. Pre Boil -- Wouldn't that be the same as the from the Mash drain valve at Mash Out?
    3. Post Boil -- That would be the hot Wort (after cooling the sample) or after cooling the Kettle to Pitch Temperature?
    4. Finished Pre Carb -- After Secondary is complete before moving to the Keg?

    Thanks for your help.
     
  10. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Answers:
    1. Five minutes in. How you get the sample doesn't matter, I take mine from the top of the grain.
    2. No, unless you're doing parti-gyle or no-sparge. You'll need the blended wort for an accurate reading.
    3. I take the hot wort and cool the sample. The other way works fine.
    4. As long as fermentation's finished, either way works just as well.
     
  11. 56 Firedome

    56 Firedome New Member

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    Thanks Nosybear. That's what I was looking for. I have a Golden Strong in the fermenter right now so I'll check it when I move to Secondary.
     

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