HOMEBREW Digest #4654 Thu 18 November 2004

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  pH Meter Accuracy ("A.J deLange")
  Re: Alaska Needs Your Support! (Jeff Renner)
  Re: pH meter accuracy question ("Martin Brungard")
  Go Black and Blue, ("Dave Burley")
  Roasting Barley ("Rowan Williams")
  pH meters ("Dave Burley")

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---------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: Wed, 17 Nov 2004 14:20:09 +0000 From: "A.J deLange" <ajdel at cox.net> Subject: pH Meter Accuracy A pH meter with accuracy of 0.1 is of limited value to the serious brewer. Many of the pH changes of concern (for example the pH drop resulting from in a decoction or the mash pH reduction resulting from addition of a modest amount of gypsum to a mash) are of magnitude close to or less than that. Furthermore, meters that advertize that level of readability are often pretty poorly made and will drift rapidly not to mention that their probes are not likely to last very long. pH is a very important parameter in brewing. I think I posted a while back about a three day conference I attended in Belgium in September which was devoted entirely to this subject. But understanding its significance and the art of its measurement require some investment in time and money on the brewer's part. Cheap pH meters are bound to be a dissapointment at best and can mislead you seriously at worst. Even a good one, which is an investment of hundreds of $, requires maintenance, care and experience in its use and interpretation of its readings. Meters MUST be calibrated with fresh, uncontaminated buffers which span the reading range, at least daily and preferrably more often than that. The reference junctions, unless of the free flowing type, are forever clogging throwing readings well off. The bulbs are subject to error from protein buildup and very fragile so careful cleaning with proteolyzing enzymes is required fairly frequently. Even with good maintenance a $200 probe can't be expected to last for more than a year or 2 years at best. There is some good news recently though in the ISFET probes in which the pH sensor is actually a transistor (though the reference junction is still similar to what it was in the glass electrode days). These are much more rugged, can be cleaned with a toothbrush and stored dry. I don't have much experience with them though what I have has been, thus far, positive. So I guess my bottom line advice is don't waste your money on a cheapie meter. If you can find someone who is familiar with pH meters or in particular someone who uses them regularly in brewing get that person to show you the ropes with them and help you find one that is suitable. Note that brewing is one of the most problematic industries for pH measurement because of the proteins, heat, viscosity and solids. The solutions to these problems all add $ to the cost of the electrodes. A.J. Return to table of contents
Date: Wed, 17 Nov 2004 11:35:08 -0500 From: Jeff Renner <jeffrenner at comcast.net> Subject: Re: Alaska Needs Your Support! Pete Devaris <pdevaris at gci.net> wrote: >Would you attend an AHA Convention in Anchorage, Alaska? As a member of the AHA Board of Advisors, I want to respond to Pete. I love the enthusiasm of the Anchorage group and that they are fighting to have a NHC in their town. This is the kind of fire that invigorates the hobby of homebrewing. This is a great problem for any organization to have - clubs fighting for the right to host a national conference. I take my hat off to the Anchorage club for their energy and committment. The entire board welcomes a public discussion of this. While I am skeptical that you all can bring the costs down to those of other cities in the lower 48, I would love to be proven wrong. The board definitely did consider the proposal, although we did not each see the 300+ page document itself. We relied on Paul Gatza's distillation of this document, and then had a fairly extended discussion. We have reopened the discussion thanks to Pete's prompting. Our concern is the cost of the conference. There are two main areas of this concern. First, we want to be sure that the conference doesn't lose money. But more important is that we want the total cost of attending to be within the reach of the average homebrewer. The NHC is a membership benefit only if it is affordable. I think it is important that NHC not be elitist. Charlie Papazian pointed out at the last NHC that it was a graying crowd that attended. He was concerned that the hobby is becoming one of middle aged (mostly) men. I don't think this is reflective of homebrewing demographics but rather of those who attend NHC. Based at least on local clubs I am familiar with, there are lots of younger people in the hobby. But they are often on tighter budgets than empty-nesters. Many brewers are engineers and high-tech types with a fair amount of disposable income, but many others are students, sales clerks, mechanics, tradesmen, etc. I don't want to price NHC further out of reach of them. Some people come to the NHC every year, and as someone who has attended now four out of the last five years, I know how great it is to see the same people every year. But many attendees come only once in a great while, and cost is a determining factor. Pete has sent me a private email showing that rooms/suites at the University of Alaska would be very inexpensive. That sounds great. That could offset high airfare costs. But the airfare costs are my big concern. Board Member Mike Hall researched these (great work, Mike): >I went to expedia.com and checked on the >cheapest prices to fly to Anchorage and to Baltimore from various >locations. The flight dates were 6/15-19/2005. I picked cities that >were close to all of our advisors and the AHA HQ, for a scattered >representation. For more balance, I threw in Seattle, Portland, >and Honolulu. > >City to Anchorage to Baltimore Difference* > >Albuquerque, NM 495 308 187 >Anchorage, AK 0 514 -514 >Baltimore, MD 514 0 514 >Chicago, IL (ORD) 497 163 334 >Dallas, TX 401 267 134 >Dayton, OH 585 125 460 >Denver, CO 460 337 123 >Des Moines, IA 604 270 334 >Detroit, MI 566 173 393 >Fargo, ND 645 402 243 >Gainesville, FL 620 280 340 >Honolulu, HI 748 621 127 >Kansas City, MO 509 168 341 >Knoxville, TN 697 264 433 >Los Angeles, CA 508 234 274 >Pittsburg, PA 548 288 260 >Portland, OR 456 379 77 >San Francisco, CA 437 399 38 >Seattle, WA 234 291 -57 > >* - Positive means Alaska is more expensive. > >Note that the only city (except Anchorage) which is cheaper for >Alaska is Seattle. Even Portland is more expensive for Alaska! And these cheapest flights may not be what you want to take. For me, for example, that $566 flight from Detroit is on Air West via Phoenix, and leaves Detroit at 5PM, arriving the next day at 12:35AM, for an 11-1/2 hour flight arriving after midnight local time, or 4:48AM Detroit time! I don't relish finding a ride to UoA at that hour! Even a nonstop is seven-plus hours, and costs $665, arriving at 6:20 PM local. That price would just about shut me out. Pete has written in private email that "Eight different airlines will be willing to offer group rates that range from 5%-40% discounts off full published fares." I'd need to see specifics on this. Five percent off of full fares, which no one pays anyway, is nothing. Forty percent may be worth considering, but it could still be pretty high. The location of a conference is not necessarily all that important. There is so much happening inside that many of us hardly leave the hotel. Alaska is no doubt a wonderful place to visit, but there's not much opportunity to explore unless you stay over. I think that if the board could be convinced that the total cost of attending would be comparable to other cities, we would love to have the Anchorage brewers host NHC 2006. See you in Baltimore in June, 2005. Jeff - -- Jeff Renner in Ann Arbor, Michigan USA, JeffRenner at comcast.net "One never knows, do one?" Fats Waller, American Musician, 1904-1943 Return to table of contents
Date: Wed, 17 Nov 2004 13:40:11 -0900 From: "Martin Brungard" <mabrungard at hotmail.com> Subject: Re: pH meter accuracy question I have used a pH meter with 0.01 resolution for several years now. I can say that the greater degree of resolution is unnecessary for several reasons. The first reason is the ability to calibrate the meter accurately. You would have to always have fresh calibration solutions at hand. I still have half of the pint-sized bottle left for each of my calibration solutions (4 & 7) after these several years. I'm not sure if they have changed much, but the bottles say to replace the solution after a year (I'm guessing on the replacement interval since the bottles are at home). Its a long assumption to say that I can measure down to a hundreth accurately when I'm not sure what standard I was calibrating to. I am more comfortable saying that I'm probably measuring to within a tenth, though. The second reason is the variation in what you're measuring. With temperature effects and variation in wort throughout the mash tun, you might easily see variations of several hundreths. Sure, there are temperature compensating meters, but they are only as good as their compensation algorithm. All these factors lead me to quote the mantra, "Garbage in, Garbage out". In this fog, hundreths are nearly useless. The third reason is related to the "need to know". How much do you really need to know about pH? In brewing, pH guidance is given in ranges that extend several tenths. As long as you are within the proper range, there is little need for additional resolution. I might have the resolution on my meter, but I don't need it. Let the price, functionality, or durability serve as your reason to select a particular pH meter, not resolution. Martin Brungard Tallahassee, FL Return to table of contents
Date: Thu, 18 Nov 2004 06:35:32 -0500 From: "Dave Burley" <Dave_Burley at charter.net> Subject: Go Black and Blue, Brewsters: John Palmer says: " I am more willing to foot the bill than say, Ohio, for example (unless they're playing Michigan the same weekend)." John, contemplate this. I did my B.S. at Ohio State and SWMBO did hers at U.Michigan. She will come down with Turret's syndrome at every Michigan mistake this coming Saturday. Keep on Brewin' Dave Burley Return to table of contents
Date: Thu, 18 Nov 2004 05:26:31 -0800 From: "Rowan Williams" <rowan at canberrabrewers.org> Subject: Roasting Barley Hi all, I have a bag of Bairds Stout Malt and guess what, I want to make a stout! Now, the Bairds website has a profile for the stout malt here: http://www.bairds-malt.co.uk/maltTypes.htm#stout In particular... ASBC IOB EBC Moisture % 4 max 4 max 4 max Extract fine grind dry basis % 80 min 305 min 80 min Fine-coarse difference % 1.5-2.5 1-3 Colour (degrees) 2-4 3-6 4-6 Protein % 11 max 1.75 max 1.75 max Soluble/Total Protein % 42-46 38-44 42-46 Diastatic Power (degrees)L 60-70 min 65 min 200 min (apologies if the spacing is all over the shop in your browser!) As you can see, the Bairds Stout malt is a rather pale malt and I need some roasted barley for my stout recipe. Can I bake some of this stout malt and obtain roasted barley from the stout malt or am I barking up the wrong tree? I have read several articles on the net concerning roasting your malts, but my fear is that this is not the sort of malt that will take kindly to some heating in the oven. Your thoughts? Cheers, Rowan Williams Canberra Brewers Club Australia Return to table of contents
Date: Thu, 18 Nov 2004 10:16:19 -0500 From: "Dave Burley" <Dave_Burley at charter.net> Subject: pH meters Brewsters: AJ says it is a good idea to have an accurate pH meter and I agree. But he also says the electrodes don't last more than a year, which is the industry "standard", if you talk to the purveyors. So, don't buy an expensive one. Temperature compensation is a must in my opinion, as we rarely have a constant temperature bath hanging around. This also typically improves the accuracy to which the manufacturuer claims. Since the electronics is basically identical, it is my experience that when the manufacturer claims 0.01 it is with a temperature compensated electrode and with 0.1 it is not temperature compensated. The price differential is near zero in most cases. Don't depend too much on this feature and cool or warm your samples to near RT for the best results. I have a pH electrode/meter which has lasted me a few years from Omega.com. I don't have the name here, but it is a rugged one used in the field work for environmentalists and I think probably cost about $50 and comes in a pocket sized portable case. No replacable electrode. I recall it wasn't under the normal list of pH meters at omega.com. As far as buffers go, these citro-phosphate buffers have a primary fault in that the bacteria love them, which changes the pH if they are active. Even though they have antibacterial agents added to these buffer solutions, I wouldn't trust them more than a year. And don't ever put your electrode directly into the bottle to calibrate it! Can you say contamination? Some people store their buffers in the fridge, but if you do be sure the calibration sample is at room temperature. To minimize the volume used, I use a small plastic medicine bottle About (3/4 in X 3 inches) to hold the buffer sample which is thrown away after use. I also cut a hole the same size as the electrode diameter in the plastic top of a similar medicine bottle to hold the storage solution and I store the electrode submerged in a proper storage solution ( never distilled water). Keep on Brewin' Dave Burley Return to table of contents
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