Our friends at Extech not only sent us a refractometer, but also sent us a pH meter to test out and see how it works. We take it for a spin in this video:
pH Meter for Homebrewing Beer
I have read that measuring your wort’s pH is important in your homebrewing process. In my years of homebrewing beer, I never really worried about it much. Now that I have dabbled in wine and other fermentables, I am more interested in measuring pH since it seems to be crucial for these beverages.
When I asked Mike about it, he discussed the pH of your mash. When you are mashing grains, you want to keep the pH of your mash between 5.2 and 5.4….maybe even up to 5.6. That is the sweet spot for converting starches to sugars.
Having a pH is an incredible tool to do make sure that your mash is in the right range. Mike says that if you are adding brewing salts to your mash water to affect the pH, you really need a meter to make sure you making proper adjustments.
Beyond the mash, he talked about the benefits of adjusting pH in your finished beer to produce a better tasting beer. When you taste something that is more acidic, the brighter it tastes. Making your beer a little more acidic may make your summer ale a little more thirst quenching. On the other hand, if you wanted to make your stout taste fuller, you could add salts to make it more alkaline.
Also, a popular technique in homebrewing today is kettle souring. Knowing your pH for beers brewed using this method and the more traditional way (fermenting with bacteria) is important to put a number to what you are detection on your palate.
For you the homebrewer to play around with these additions with accuracy, you need a pH meter.
How Did it Work?
We did a little test with the meter without calibrating it. We had a cup of distilled water and one with distilled water with a few drops of lactic acid in it. The meter was able to pick up that the water with the acid in it was detected as having a lower pH than the plain distilled water, which was a good thing.
I think with some calibration, the pH meter would be a useful tool in brewing beers. If you want to mess around with beer’s pH or to learn even more about your process, purchase a pH meter and go for it.
Check out Extech for this device and others.