Brewing is as much an art as it is a science. Even if you’ve already spent years and decades brewing all-grain beer, you still need to know certain factors to ensure that a batch will turn out as expected. That’s why the pH meter has become an essential tool for brewers over the years. A good pH meter will help you better understand if the brewing process is going well. It will also tell you if adjustments need to be made.
In this article, we will take a closer look at the pH meter for brewing. We will learn more about how they differ from one another. We will also highlight some of the top pH meters for brewing that are currently available.
A Detailed Guide for Finding the Best pH Meter for Brewing – Buyer’s Guide and Reviews
|Product name||Accuracy||Measurment Range||Auto Calibration|
|Apera Instruments AI223 SX620 pH Pen Tester KitEditor's Choice||0,01 PH||-1 - 15 PH||Yes|
|Apera Instruments AI311 PH60 Premium Waterproof pH Pocket TesterEditor's Choice||0,01 PH||-2 - 16 PH||Yes|
|Milwaukee Instruments MW102 PH and Temperature Meter||0,01 PH||-2 - 16 PH||Yes|
|Hanna Instruments HI98128 pHep 5pH/Temperature Tester||0,01 PH||-2 - 16 PH||No|
|VANTAKOOL PH Meter||0,01 PH||0 - 14 PH||Yes|
Using pH meters for brewing can be dull and repetitive. Having to constantly make adjustments and check the probe regularly can take a good amount of time.
The AI223 SX620 pH Pen Tester Kit from Apera Instruments makes things so much easier by offering an array of intelligent features. Among the intelligent features offered by this pH meter is an ability to switch from Fahrenheit to Celsius and vice versa. That will come in handy if multiple people are going to use this meter. The automatic power-off feature also allows you to conserve the batteries better.
In terms of ranges, this pH meter is mostly where you want it to be. The pH range of -1 to 15 is ever so slightly behind some other options on the market. The difference is not that significant though.
The temperature range is a bit better. Remember that you can switch from Celsius to Fahrenheit as well. That makes the larger temperature range more valuable.
Portability is another feature of this pH meter that makes it more useful to have around. Though this item does feature automatic calibration, you will likely still find yourself making adjustments quite a bit. The lack of sufficient lighting also affects how well you can use this pH meter.
It’s one of the best pH meters in terms of ease and use and you can always keep it in good working condition because of the additional features.
The pH meter is an essential tool for brewers. It’s an instrument that will tell you how the brew will potentially taste and what kind of look it will possess once it’s finished. Simply put, you need a reliable pH meter.
Apera Instruments AI311 Premium pH Pocket Tester is the definition of a reliable piece of equipment.
Compared to the other Apera item, the AI311 has its ups and downs in terms of range. The temperature range is smaller but the pH range is slightly larger. The automatic calibration is capable of recognizing five types of solutions. That makes this pH meter even more convenient to own.
Also working to make this meter more convenient to use is the stability indicator. Instead of asking you to guess if the time is right to take the pH reading, this meter will do that for you. Not all brewers are fond of the automatic temperature compensation feature. If you happen to be in the camp that approves it, know that this meter provides a reliable version of it.
You’ll notice that this pH meter makes use of a glass bulb sensor. It’s an effective sensor, but it’s also quite prone to breaking. Expect to need replacement bulbs often because of that. This is arguably the best pH meter in terms of dependability and an instrument you’ll love having.
Your time is precious. Ideally, you don’t want to spend any significant amount of time just taking mash pH readings. With that in mind, the MW102 pH Meter from Milwaukee Instruments deserves its spot in this article.
There’s no need to constantly repeat your readings if you’re using this pH meter. The manufacturers have also included an indicator that will tell you when this instrument is done taking its measurements. Make sure to keep a close watch on it though because of this meter’s speed.
Compared to other pH meters you may see on the market, this is also one of the simplest to use. The user interface is simple and intuitive. You will be able to figure out how it’s supposed to work pretty quickly. The pH range on this meter is also good and while it is on the larger side, I do like how it fits in my hands.
When I look at the price tag attached to this item, it’s difficult to choose it over the other options available. The added speed is welcome, but it’s not that big of a difference-maker.
If you’re brewing full-time, you can expect your equipment to get worn down a bit faster than expected. It’s just a simple byproduct of the process. To get the most out of your money, you’ll need more durable instruments such as the HI9128 pH Tester from Hanna Instruments.
This pH meter is not lacking in terms of durability-focused features.
It’s not necessarily a feature that improves this pH meter’s durability, but I do love the fact that it makes use of four AA batteries. There’s no need to go out and look for other batteries because the ones available in your local store will do.
Working range is satisfactory as well for this pH meter. Its pH range is in line with what you will see from its contemporaries. It even features a larger temperature range. A dual LCD screen will show you the temperature and pH readings at the same time if you’re using this meter.
What you’ll notice over the course of using this pH meter is that it does produce the readings slowly. That’s probably due in part to it having it to produce two different sets of data simultaneously. The slower read times are nothing you can’t handle, but they can still be annoying to deal with.
Slightly lower read time aside, the durability and performance of this pH meter make it something worth holding on to.
Perhaps you’re only brewing because it’s your hobby. Or maybe you’re doing so because you want to create a flavorful beverage appropriate for the season. Putting big money down for the other pH meters included in this article may seem excessive in that scenario.
The number one feature of this pH meter is its affordability. It’s way cheaper than the other options and you can get more than one for your brewing needs. Unlike the other pH meters, this is an item that will become unable to do its job after a certain amount of time has passed. Thankfully, you don’t need to stock up on them. Their price is not just going to skyrocket all of a sudden.
The performance level of this instrument is more than acceptable. It even comes with the auto calibration that will help it produce readings faster. The temperature range of this item is surprisingly wide.
If the less than desirable accuracy is something you can live with, this instrument will give you a great return on your money.
Given the price tag attached to this pH meter, there’s no reason to pass on it if you need a quick replacement for a broken instrument. It may very well be the pH meter that offers the best value proposition.
Experienced brewers know all about the value of a pH meter. Those who are new to the craft may not be quite as familiar with them. This buyer’s guide will let people know more about the importance of the pH meter.
What Is a pH Meter?
Let’s start by asking the most basic question possible about the pH meter and that’s the one seeking to define it.
What exactly is a pH meter?
You can consider the pH meter to be a sophisticated version of the litmus paper you may have used in an experiment back when you were a kid.
Fundamentally speaking, the pH meter measures the pH level of a specific solution. It will provide you with a reading that tells you if the solution is an acid, an alkali, or if it’s neutral. The typical pH meter features a moving-coil meter and different types of electrodes, per Explain That Stuff. The moving-coil meter and the electrodes all work in concert to identify the pH level of the solution they are immersed in.
Litmus paper can only tell you if a particular substance is an acid, an alkali, or neutral. The pH meter will do that and also offer a more precise reading of the pH level so that you know exactly how acidic, or how alkaline the substance in question is.
Why Do You Need to Measure the pH Level while Brewing?
One of the key steps of the brewing process is known as mashing. This is the part of the process wherein the crushed grains are mixed into the water. The resulting mixture is what’s known as the mash.
The mash is integral to the creation of the beer. However, it’s not enough to just create the mash, let the mixture sit, and then wait until the beer is ready to be extracted.
As a brewer, you need to take an active role in the process to ensure the creation of the best beer. That is why you need to keep an eye on the mash’s pH level. According to BeerSmith, it is important for brewers to maintain a certain pH level for the mixture while it sits in the mash tun. To be more specific, keeping the pH level of the mash right around 5.2 would be ideal.
If the mash’s pH level stays within that range, it will develop a better appearance, a more complex flavor, and more of the starches in the grains can also transform into sugars. That’s precisely why the pH meter matters. Using that instrument, brewers will be able to quickly tell if the mixture is where it’s supposed to be.
The Factors That Determine the Quality of the pH Meter
The Precision Level of the pH Meter
While shopping for a new pH meter, you will eventually encounter figures that hint at the instrument’s accuracy level. For the most part, this is not something you will have to closely scrutinize.
If the meter’s packaging states that it is accurate to +/- 0.01 pH units, then you can be confident that it will be reliable and precise. However, if the instrument in question is only accurate to +/- 0.1 units, then it may not be able to tell you as much about the mixture as you need to know.
As much as possible, look for the pH meters that can measure up to +/- 0.01 pH units if you want to keep closer tabs on the quality of your brew.
How the pH Meter Is Calibrated
According to Braukaiser.com, pH meters can also differ in terms of how they are typically calibrated. Some of these instruments are manually calibrated. What that means is you will be the one responsible for adjusting the knobs of the pH meter. Manual calibration is not an overly difficult process, but it can be tedious.
There are times when you’ll just want to measure the pH level without having to worry about anything else beforehand.
You don’t have to worry as much about adjusting the knobs of the pH meter if you’re using one that features automatic calibration. The pH meters that offer this feature will let you know the appropriate buffer for the probes. They may also take care of the buffers themselves.
The meters that offer automatic calibration may seem to be the more convenient options at first. In practice though, you will likely still have to tinker with them quite a bit. Because of that, the manual meters that provide you with more control are arguably better to own. If you don’t mind fiddling with the knobs frequently, the manual meters can work better for you.
Inclusion of the Automatic Temperature Correction Feature
More and more pH meters are offering what is known as the ATC or automatic temperature correction feature. Essentially, this feature measures the temperature of the substance and then it applies a correction factor so that the pH level detected also takes into account the temperature at that time, according to BeerSmith. ATC is not necessarily a must-have feature in pH meters, but it can make your life so much easier.
Sizable pH and Temperature Ranges
It will be easier to stay on top of the current condition of the mash if the meter you’re using can detect a wide range of pH levels and temperatures. The pH range takes priority. Preferably, the meter will be able to measure from -2.00 all the way up to 14.00. As for the temperature range, an instrument that can detect 32 degrees Fahrenheit up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit can provide satisfactory results.
Remember that the pH meter will often be used next to liquids and other environments that are not exactly friendly to electronics. It needs durable housing to be able to withstand all the harmful elements.
If you can, get one that is both waterproof and dustproof. If a pH meter possesses those qualities, then you don’t need to worry about using it near your brews. You should also check on the probes used by the pH meter. Some of the glass probes featured in these instruments shatter way too quickly. Try to find glass probes that can hold up over frequent usage.
When it comes to the batteries, I look for one of two things. I either want a meter that uses batteries which can last for hundreds and even thousands of hours, or meters that utilize easily replaceable batteries. If you can’t get longevity out of the batteries, then at least settle for convenience.
There are no shortcuts in the process of creating great beer. To do so, you will need to acquire the right ingredients, employ the right brewing techniques, and also make use of the right pieces of equipment. Hopefully, this article has shown you how you can find the best pH meter for brewing. There are indeed more than a few options to choose from, so picking the right one will not be easy.
Using the information included in the reviews and buyer’s guide in this article though, you should be able to find the specific pH meter that will meet all your needs.