With the world on lockdown for the better part of last year, more and more beer aficionados explored the wonders of at-home beer brewing. Brewing beer at home can be a wonderfully rewarding hobby as it flexes your creativity, widens your skillset, and can also yield some fantastic brews. After all, why pour money into a stranger’s bar when you can pour the best pint of beer at home?
The key to crafting the best at-home brew is a perfect pH balance. Whether you’re just starting or you’re a homebrew expert, you’ll need the best quality pH meter to determine the levels of acidity and alkaline in your brew.
Read on to learn more about our favorite pH meters for at-home brewing.
Milwaukee Instruments MW102 PH and Temperature Meter
- Ideal for anyone working on a low budget but still requiring fast and reliable measurements
- Includes ph 4.01 and ph 7.01 20 ml sachet of calibration solution
- Supplied complete with a ma911b/1 ph electrode
Prepare to be amazed by the Milwaukee MW102 Instrument. If you know anything about pH sticks, you know the key to an above-par meter is its functionality. And that’s precisely why we love the Milwaukee MW102 so much.
We like it because it’s straightforward, easy, and functional, which are precisely the sort of features a beer pH meter should have. The meter is also easy to read, so you won’t be struggling to decipher the numbers.
The MW102 is reliable because it’s built with a durable, high-end SE220 pH electrode, a stainless steel temperature probe, its own calibration buffer solution, and a powerful 9V battery.
Unlike other cheaper meters, the Milwaukee meter is built with wired connections, making pH/temp probes easy to manipulate. Not only that, but the MW102also comes at an affordable price, which makes it’s an excellent choice for novice brewers looking to get started.
Things We Like
- Low cost
- separate temperature probe
Things We Don’t Like
- Slow read times
- You must store the removable probe in its own Milwaukee storage solution
- Poor customer service
All in all, this is a no-frills sort of probe. It gets the job done and is inexpensive compared to other brands.
However, the fact that it’s inexpensive means that other aspects fall short. For example, sometimes, the meter has slow read times. Other times, customers have complained that the meter breaks after a few years.
But buyers beware: this brand does not allow for returns (even if there’s a problem immediately after purchasing the defective product). While that is a bit of a gamble, most people don’t have any issues.
Digital PH Meter With ATC: 4 in 1 PH TDS EC Temp
- 【4 in 1 Function】4 in 1 function, can be used to test pH, TDS, EC and TEMP of water.
- 【Mini Size】Lightweight and mini size, portable to carry.
- 【Easy to Operate】Easy to operate and read the digits, convenient to use.
This digital pH meter holds calibration like a pro. When stored, prepped, and used correctly, this meter is very accurate, effective, and a breeze to use.
The best feature of the Digital pH meter? Its 4 in 1 capability. This mighty little meter comes complete with a 4 in 1 tester that accurately measures PH, total dissolved solids, electrical conductivity, and temperature readings with its Automatic Temperature Compensation (ACT). Plus, it also includes batteries.
However, extra batteries are somewhat rare, so you may have a bit of difficulty trying to replace the batteries when they do die.
What we do like
- Easy to use and read
- Small and compact
What we don’t like
- Strange batteries
- ±0.1 pH is a relatively low accuracy
In short, this is a standard pH meter with no frills, and it’s just down to basics. Because it’s smaller and compact, you can use it on the go, and it travels great. Its ease of use and readability is what you need in a pH meter, so in this sense, this brand excels.
However, some people comment that the accuracy may not be enough for serious brewers, so this is an excellent beginner PH meter if you’re new to home brewing.
Dr. Meter PH-100
- ▶ 【Automatic Calibration】: Often troubled by calibration problem? Just one touch button can help you calibrate the digital pH tester. Featuring a three-point calibration method with simple calibration procedures, the Dr.meter pH testing device can automatically identify the calibration liquid to give you the pH reading almost in a flash.
- ▶ 【Convenient pH Value Reading】: Get the job done with ease. Ready to read the pH value? Just know the liquid quality with one-button lock reading function. It really is that easy.
- ▶ 【utomatic Temperature Compensation】: With automatic temperature compensation function (ATC), the Dr.meter pH meter can solve possible inaccuracy caused by the change of liquid temperature, making the pH more accurate.
Simple yet effective, the Dr. Meter PH-100 is a practical pH meter that will get the job done for the average homebrewer. Additionally, it boasts an accuracy of ±0.02 pH.
It’s relatively straightforward to use, with a 3-point calibration method. The Dr. Meter is a bit more expensive option than the Apera Instruments AI209, but it’s more reliable. The electrode is also non-replaceable, but that’s a common theme with these ultra-low budget models.
When using this meter, it settles into a stable reading quickly and rarely ever bounces between readings.
What We Like:
- ±0.02 pH accuracy
- ATC Non-replaceable electrode
- 3-point calibration
- Comes with calibration and storage solutions
What we don’t like:
- Some report that the meter often breaks after a few months of consistent use
In conclusion, the Dr. Meter has easy calibration, superb usability, and excellent durability.
KoolaMo Digital pH Meter for Brewing Beer
- ✔𝗘𝗔𝗦𝗬 𝗧𝗢 𝗨𝗦𝗘: Simply press "ON", It only takes a few seconds for your result to appear on LED screen, and accurate measurement and clear display. Backlights function ensures you can use the product in a dimly lit working environment.
- ✔𝗛𝗜𝗚𝗛 𝗔𝗖𝗖𝗨𝗥𝗔𝗖𝗬: High-accuracy electrode chip and lab quality glass probe ensure accurate and fast response. Measures 0 ~ 14 pH range with a high 0.01 pH resolution.
- ✔𝗘𝗔𝗦𝗬 𝗧𝗢 𝗖𝗔𝗟𝗜𝗕𝗥𝗔𝗧𝗘: Press "CAL" for 5 seconds to enter the calibration mode, press in turn to select the powders corresponding to 6.86, 4.00, and 9.18 to complete the calibration
The KoolMo is a fantastic digital meter for the home beer brewer as this pH tester offers high accuracy and ensures that your beer is at the correct temperature range. Verifying the temperature of your batch is incredibly important because if the beer is not at the proper temperature, then it’s unsafe to consume.
For the most part, the Koolmo Digital Meter works well and feels durable. It also does a great job at holding accurate calibration for multiple tests, and one calibration can last for up to a few weeks.
The Koola is also an excellent tool for beginners as it is straightforward and self-explanatory to navigate. Plus, quick readings are typically ready within just a few seconds.
What We Like
- Digital display
- Automatic temperature compensation
- Auto-calibration feature
What We Don’t Like
- The calibration process can be a bit annoying as it often restarts itself several times before it works.
- The instructions say that you’ll have to recalibrate it again if you use it frequently, but they only give you enough pH packets to do this once.
- Some customers complained that the meter is broken from the get-go, but most customers don’t seem to have a problem with it.
All in all, due to its auto-calibration feature and automatic temperature compensation, this is a powerful pH meter that will significantly aid any home brewer.
Oakton EcoTestr pH 2+ Pocket pH Meter
- Batteries: 4 A76 1.5V miniature alkaline batteries (included)
- Buffer recognition: nist and usa
- Calibration: up to 3 points
This impressive little pH meter tester comes with many great features that make this stand out amongst other competitors in the market. For example, they pay attention to many tiny details that may seem insignificant but add a lot in terms of capability and convenience when using the product.
For example, the Oakton has a leakproof cap that can be attached to the top of the meter when not in use. This means that not only will you be able to prevent drippage, spills, and leakage, but you also can hold onto your caps instead of losing them, which goes a long way in protecting the quality of your pH meter.
There is also a convenient fill line so you know exactly where you should fill your sample up instead of guessing. It is also wider, providing a base to keep the meter upright for hands-free, reliable measurements.
Additionally, the Oakton meter is waterproof and can also float, which means if you drop it in your brew, you don’t have to stick your hands in your beer to search for a dropped meter.
It’s also incredibly long-lasting. It takes four A76 1.5 V miniature alkaline batteries to achieve a battery life of 100 hours. Both fast and accurate, this is a top contender amongst pH brewing sticks.
What We Like:
- Great features
- Easy calibration process
- Long battery life
What We Don’t Like:
- The meter is not backlit, so some brewers may need to shine additional light to decipher the readings.
- Some customers complain that this meter breaks down after extended use.
The features of this pH meter make this a standout amongst other pH meters. We especially like the cap to prevent leaks and enjoy design features such as how it can float. However, we do wish that it had a bit more readability convenience, and a backlit screen would go a long way in easily using this portable meter under all sorts of lighting conditions.
To understand the best type of pH meter you need to buy for home brewing, you first need to understand what pH is and why it impacts the quality of your homebrew so much.
PH is an essential factor in brewing quality beer. During various brewing processes, the pH levels affect how well it extracts, the color of your beer, foam stability, the bitterness of the beer, and much more.
Your pH levels also play a noticeable factor in how well and for how long the beer will store. The lower your pH levels, the more it prevents bacteria growth.
What Is pH?
The pH value of a solution is a way of expressing the acidity or alkalinity of a particular solution. As a homebrewer, you probably already know all about the pH scale. However, if you are not, a number over 7 is high in alkaline, and values under 7 are acidic.
Most brewers tend to strive for pH levels somewhere in the 5.2-5.6 range because it generally produces a clearer beer with more robust flavors. Additionally, keeping your beer in the 5.2-5.6 pH range means the beer flavor will degrade less quickly.
Why is pH Important When it Comes to Homebrewing?
Surprisingly, pH is a factor that may influence the quality of your homebrew the most as it determines the type of flavor your brew will have. The pH levels indicate the levels of minerals in your beer, which add or detract flavors. A lower pH means a more sour beer.
But pH plays a role in other elements of the quality of beer, too. Ultimately, pH levels can affect every detail of the beer. From color, extract, foam stability, and storage, pH also plays a vital role in the quality of your homebrew.
Calibrating a pH Meter
It’s interesting because some pen-style meters boast the ability not to need to calibrate your pen very often. However, to care for your pH meter properly, you must calibrate your meter every day, especially if you use it on a daily basis.
If you don’t use your meter every day, you might be able to get away with calibrating it every week. However, here are some instances where you must calibrate your meter before use.
- If the electrode is either brand new or hasn’t been used in a few weeks, you must recalibrate.
- After measuring liquid with either a strong acid (pH<2) or a strong base (pH>12), you must recalibrate.
- After measuring a solution containing fluoride or a potent organic solution, you must recalibrate.
- You notice a significant difference between the temperature of the test sample and the temperature of the buffer solution from the previous calibration.
While calibrating daily may seem like a lot, pH meters are very fragile instruments. An electrode changes over time and is susceptible to changing easily from exposure to a range of temperatures to being left out of storage for too long. You need to reset and recalibrate your meter every time your electrode could have altered.
Properly caring for them is paramount to them working well and giving you accurate readings. You need always to make sure your readings are correct because, without them, an inaccurate reading will negatively affect your homebrew’s taste and safety.
What Are Some Precautions I Should Take to Care for My pH Meter?
As mentioned, pH meters are very sensitive to changing situations, and there are many precautions you should take to care for and protect your meter.
You should always avoid significant temperature fluctuations. Also, be careful to always keep your pH meter out of direct sunlight, as this will significantly damage your meter.
Lastly, you should promptly put the glass electrode back in its storage solution. Once the glass membrane becomes dehydrated, it offers slower response times and can ruin your meter entirely after a while.
How Do I Select the Best pH Meters for my Home Brewing Project?
Precision is the essential aspect of your pH meter. After all, without accurate readings, there is no point in using a pH meter at all.
For the most accurate readings, you should aim for a precision between +/- 0.01 to 0.02. Numbers like these help monitor the rise in the pH of your beer.
How do I Use a pH Meter to Test Beer?
Follow the steps below:
- Take a sample of your beer and allow it to cool at room temperature.
- You must verify the calibration of your pH meter to ensure accuracy before checking the sample of your beer. Follow the instructions on your pH meter carefully to make sure your calibration is precise.
- Once you are satisfied with your meter, insert your pH meter into your sample. Then, simply read the results.
A good pH meter will make or break your homebrewed beer. You must purchase pH meters with accurate readings that you can trust. As a result, you may want to invest in a more expensive meter to give you the most excellent and precise results.
Keeping the pH in mind and actively trying to control it will help to ensure that you are consistently making quality brews. Whether you are running a business or just trying to impress visitors, you can’t go wrong with looking at the little details of making a good batch of beer.
While you can’t go wrong with the MW102 pH meter with its low cost and temperature probe, it might not be up to speed for someone who might need to keep making more brew. If speed is on your mind and technology isn’t a problem, the Oakton EcoTestr will meet your needs with various features that help make the measurement process a more streamlined and user-friendly experience.