Mash pH meter

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Forgive the stupid question, but what's the cost/benefit of spending a lot on a pH meter?

When I first started AG brewing I used to test the pH with papers and lower my water pH to achieve the magic 5.3 From what I could tell, all I got was a slightly better mash efficiency i.e. I saved a few pence in grain cost. Eventually I stopped doing it when I ran out of pH papers. Am I missing something?
I wouldn’t argue at all - but speaking for myself, the main times I’ve found it valuable are when:
  1. Something’s changed in my process - e.g. I’ve started using different acids, or a different blend of waters
  2. I want to favour the action of a specific mash enzyme
  3. My efficiency has inexplicably dropped off and I need to figure out what’s changed
In particular it’s just helped me get to the bottom of an issue of type 3!
 

Sadfield

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Forgive the stupid question, but what's the cost/benefit of spending a lot on a pH meter?

When I first started AG brewing I used to test the pH with papers and lower my water pH to achieve the magic 5.3 From what I could tell, all I got was a slightly better mash efficiency i.e. I saved a few pence in grain cost. Eventually I stopped doing it when I ran out of pH papers. Am I missing something?
I'm curious, did you stop measuring or stop doing the treatment as well?

When I started water treatment I did measure alkalinity and test mash pH, but find my supply to be pretty stable, coming from the same reservoir. I don't bother measuring or checking my mash pH any more but do continue to treat my water to various style profiles, knowing that even with a bit of variance I'm still in a better place than using untreated tap water.
 
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I'm curious, did you stop measuring or stop doing the treatment as well?

I never really understood water treatment despite reading numerous guides (I was rubbish at Chemistry at school too). I do add a little Gypsum into the mash and sometimes into the boil, nothing scientific. And all water is filtered to remove chlorine.

I was just wondering if people actually notice the difference of getting the optimum pH in the resultant beer? I get the theory, I'm actually a Chartered Engineer working in science and technology, but I often see a lot of theory that, frankly, makes negligible difference to the actual result.
 

the baron

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I have noticed that the mash near optimum Ph do give a better Efficiency as a rule but I have not done anything scientific to support this
 
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I often see a lot of theory that, frankly, makes negligible difference to the actual result.
With the greatest respect, I suspect the reason you might get away with it is that your water near Malvern is incredibly soft (I know it well, my parents live there). If you had to put up with the solid rock-juice that comes out our taps here (350ppm as bicarbonate) than you might have a different experience :hat:
 
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With the greatest respect, I suspect the reason you might get away with it is that your water near Malvern is incredibly soft (I know it well, my parents live there). If you had to put up with the solid rock-juice that comes out our taps here (350ppm as bicarbonate) than you might have a different experience :hat:

Thanks, I didn't know that :hat:. In fact, I didn't know that water varied that much around the country. Sounds like I'm just lucky to have good water.
 
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Thanks, I didn't know that :hat:. In fact, I didn't know that water varied that much around the country. Sounds like I'm just lucky to have good water.
Indeed you do… I did my first AG brew with water collected from the Malvinha wellhead in the middle of town, and it was virtually indistinguishable from distilled… at the time I didn’t realise that a certain level of calcium was necessary for the mash, and the beer came out really dry and a bit thin!
 
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The only thing i know about water is, if i go to the south east soap doesn't lather and i can't wait to get home for a cup of tea made with northwest water which is relatively soft, what is this wizardry you all speak of :laugh8::laugh8::laugh8:
 
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i can't wait to get home for a cup of tea made with northwest water which is relatively soft
One of these helps…

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Isn't the 3rd also a quality control giving extra accuracy when using a linear probe and applying it to a logarithmic scale?
Interestingly although pH is a logarithmic scale, the sensor electrodes give a linear response (to pH). So when it comes to calibration you’re trying to determine the offset and the slope of the line … therefore a two-point calibration should be good enough, but a three point provides you with a consistency check athumb..
 

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One thing that hasn't been mentioned about temperature is that measuring pH at elevated temps ( typically above 35C) shortens the electrode life. I work in the Chemical Industry (yes, another engineer that brews!) and Emerson are a major supplier- this is from their website

Our general rule of thumb is that for every 25 degree C you can expect to half the ideal lifetime of a pH sensor. For instance, if a sensor lasts 2 years at 25 degree C, it might last 1 year at 50 degree C.

Could account for some of the failures folk have seen?

Note also their comment that even industrial grade sensors have a lifespan of perhaps 1-2 years. If I was investing in a new one, I would go for one with a replaceable head, such as the Dr Meter one which I'm currently looking at myself after my cheapo yellow one died after 3 years.
 
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Switching to these as a quicker, reliable and low maintenance alternative. Should last me 2-3 years. I'll save dicking about with ph meters for work.

Arguably a better solution for most brewers, who just need to know they are in the correct range and not needing a +/-0.01 ph measurement. Pipette a couple of spots of wort from various parts of the mash onto a cold plate, mix then measure. Job done.

Testallwater Beer pH Indicator Strips(pH 4.6-6.2)

Testallwater Beer pH Indicator Strips(pH 4.6-6.2) : Amazon.co.uk: Garden & Outdoors
 
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The pH values are important from mash through to fermentation to achieving a quality beer, i do check my pH regularly as it does change, especially here in Oz. One thing i did learn just this weekend, i checked the calibration of my pH meter and on both the 4 and 7 buffer solutions I was out by .3 on both scales couldnt work out what was wrong. I went on Hanna's web site and found that the life of the buffer solutions is 2 weeks once opened. I must say these had lasted about a year so cant complain.
 
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