If you’re going to make the perfect homebrew, you’ll need to test the acidity of your batch. And that means finding the perfect pH meter!
We’re going to help you in that quest. We’ve checked out seven of the best pH meters for brewing. And we’re going to take you through their pros and cons so you can find the one that’s right for you.
So step this way to find out everything you need to know!
Quick Pick: The Best pH meter for brewing
The Best pH meter for brewing 2021
1. PentaBeauty (Our Top Pick)
PentaBeauty’s pH meter shares joint honors for being the least expensive option on our list. But that doesn’t mean you need to compromise on performance.
It’s accurate to plus or minus 0.1 pH. And as long as the temperature is between 32 and 176 degrees Fahrenheit, it will work well. That means you won’t have to worry about adjusting the reading to take account of the temperature of your mash.
It comes with a detailed instruction manual to show you how to get the most accurate readings. But at its heart, it’s very simple to use.
Simply remove the cap, immerse the probe in the liquid you want to test, and push a button. Then wait for a few seconds before checking the screen to see the pH reading. The gauge goes from 0 to 14, so it will easily cover the range you’ll encounter in brewing.
Calibration is easy too. The meter comes with three packets of buffer powder for this purpose. To begin with, clean the meter with distilled water. Then dissolve one pack of powder in 250 milliliters of distilled water.
Immerse the probe in the powder solution then press the button marked “CAL”. Wait until the reading on the screen is steady and the same as the pH of the calibration powder. Then remove the meter from the solution, rinse the probe with distilled water and dry it. It’s now ready to go.
You’ll need to do some simple maintenance to keep it working well. Clean the probe with distilled water before and after every use. Then wipe it dry with a soft, clean cloth before replacing the cap for storage. It comes with its own plastic carrying case to help keep it safe.
The requirement to use distilled water is a bit of a hassle, but you won’t need much. Make your own by boiling some water on your stovetop. There are plenty of online videos to show you how to do it.
The meter runs on three 1.5-volt LR44 button batteries, which come pre-installed. Note that you’ll need to recalibrate the meter after changing the batteries.
- Remains accurate at temperatures between 32 and 176 degrees Fahrenheit
- Comes with its own plastic carrying case
- Excellent value for money
- For the best results, you’ll need to clean the probe with distilled water before and after every use
- You’ll need to re-calibrate the meter after changing the batteries.
2. Apera Instruments AI209
The AI209 is one of two pH meters from Apera Instruments to make our list. This is the less expensive of the two by some way. So what do you get for your money?
Well, it’s water-resistant, and you can measure liquids with a pH of anywhere between 0 and 14.
It features Automatic Temperature Compensation, or ATC. That means it will automatically adjust the reading so it’s correct within 0.1 pH, whatever the temperature of the liquid. It will stay accurate for liquids with temperatures anywhere between 32 and 122 degrees Fahrenheit.
It’s easy to use, with a large, clear digital display. This shows both the temperature and pH readings. You can switch between USA and NIST pH standard series as you wish. And there’s also the option for the temperature to be shown in Fahrenheit or Celsius.
The display also includes a battery life monitor, so you can see when the meter needs more juice. It’s powered by four AAA batteries, which are included in the pack.
A fresh set of batteries will give you an impressive 2,000 hours of continuous operation. And because it’s such a commonly used battery size, it’s easy to source new ones. In case of emergency, you can probably reuse the ones in your TV remote control!
There’s one to three-point automatic calibration. Two calibration powders, for calibration at 4 and 7 pH, are included in the pack. There’s also a clear instruction manual. And the meter has a clever self-diagnosis function to tell you what’s happened if something goes wrong during calibration.
It comes with a lanyard, so you can keep it close. The sensitive lithium glass probe is protected by a shield, so it’s less easily broken.
Everything comes neatly packed in a hard-shelled plastic carrying case. Use it to store the meter when you’ve finished using it to keep it safe for next time.
One thing to watch out for is that you can get bubbles in the sensor. If these appear, they’ll affect the accuracy of the reading. Just give the pH meter a good shake to get rid of them.
You’ll also need to clean the probe with distilled water before and after every use to keep it working properly.
- Choice of USA or NIST pH standard series
- Shows the temperature in either Fahrenheit or Celsius, as you prefer
- Runs on AAA batteries, which will provide 2,000 hours of continuous use
- Watch out for bubbles in the sensor – just give the meter a shake to get rid of them
- You’ll need to clean the probe with distilled water before and after every use.
3. Apera Instruments AI311
If you’re going to be using your pH meter for applications other than brewing, you may need a wider gauge. And if that’s the case, the AI311 from Apera Instruments should make your shortlist.
This one will measure from pH -2 all the way up to 16. In other respects, it’s very similar to the AI209.
It’s accurate to 0.1 pH over the same temperature range of 32 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit. And it has the same Automatic Temperature Compensation system to keep it accurate across that range.
It has an automatic calibration system, which can use one to three points, and a self-diagnosis system to detect errors. But because the pH gauge is wider here, it will recognize five different calibration solutions – 1.68, 4, 7, 10.01 and 12.46.
The glass probe is suitable for use in all kinds of liquids, including mash and wort. There’s a plastic shield to protect it. And if it breaks – always a risk with such a fragile piece of equipment – it’s replaceable.
There’s a large LCD screen to show the readings, with backlit colors to indicate the different modes. It shows both pH and temperature at once. And there’s a smiley face emoji to tell you when the reading is stable.
It runs on AAA batteries, which are included in the pack. And you’ll get the calibration solutions, a lanyard and the pH meter all stored in a handy carry case. Just be aware that the solution pots are a bit small, so handle them with care to avoid waste.
Don’t be put off if you see some moisture in the cap when you use the meter for the first time. Chemicals are added to the probe before it leaves the factory to maintain its sensitivity during transit.
One thing to be aware of is that the buttons here are pressure pads which sit beneath a plastic cover. Those who prefer the ease of a real button may want to choose a different option.
- Extra wide pH range from -2 to 16
- Accurate to 0.1 pH, with Automatic Temperature Compensation between 32 and 122 degrees Fahrenheit
- Smiley face on the display to tell you when the reading is stable
- The pots of calibration solution are rather small
- The meter is controlled with pressure pads rather than real buttons.
This pH meter from Fermentaholics is aimed squarely at the home brew market. It’s very competitively priced too, and one of the least expensive models on our list.
The pH range here is from 0 to 14, which will be more than enough for beer, wine or kombucha. It will need to be calibrated before the first use and now and again afterwards. Buffer powders are included to do this. You’ll get three packets, with pHs of 4, 6.86 and 9.18.
There are clear instructions on how to use them. Depending on your needs, you can use two or three different calibration points.
This is another meter that boasts Automatic Temperature Compensation. It ensures you’ll get an accurate reading with liquids at temperatures between 32 and 176 degrees Fahrenheit.
Using it is as easy as pie. There are only two buttons – one to switch the meter on and off, and one to calibrate it.
The display is large and clear, but it only shows the pH. If you’re looking for a meter that will show the temperature too, this one won’t be for you.
It comes with a plastic carry case, so you can avoid any bumps or knocks while it’s not in use. As with most other pH meters, you’ll need to wash the probe in distilled water before and after each use.
- Very simple operation
- Can be calibrated at either two or three points, and comes with buffer powders to do the job
- Automatic Temperature Compensation for accurate readings between 32 and 176 degrees Fahrenheit.
- No temperature reading
- You’ll need to wash the probe in distilled water before and after each use.
Luoleina’s pH meter is another that offers excellent value for money. You can buy this for less than the price of three coffees in an artisan coffee shop.
Its bright yellow plastic cover means there’s no danger of you putting it down and losing it! There’s also a handy belt clip on the back, so you can keep it on you if you choose.
It’s another meter with a range of 0 to 14 pH. That will be fine to test the pH of anything you’re planning to eat or drink, whether beer, wine or kombucha.
It has a very simple design. There’s a large, clear screen showing the pH value and nothing else. So if you also want to check the temperature, you’ll need a separate thermometer.
There’s a button to turn the power on and off, and a second one to calibrate it. A protective cap keeps the probe from being damaged when it’s not in use.
It’s accurate to 0.1 pH, and it’s calibrated before leaving the factory. That makes it a great choice if you want to use it straight from the box.
You will, though, still need to calibrate it from time to time. It’s worth being aware that you’ll need to buy more buffer powders to do this. it only comes with enough for one calibration.
It’s powered by two 1.5-volt LR44 button batteries. When you’ve finished using it, rinse the probe with distilled water to keep it in good condition for next time.
- Very easy to use – no need for calibration before the first use
- Handy belt clip so there’s no danger of you putting it down and losing it
- Good value for money
- Doesn’t show the temperature of your liquid
- It only comes with enough buffer powders for one recalibration.
APLUSTSE’s pH meter looks almost exactly the same as the one from Luoleina. It has the same simple display and two-button operation. It’s even a similar shade of yellow! And it’s at a very similar price point.
It stands 6 inches tall, so it’s easily portable. And there’s a clip at the back, so you can attach it to your pocket or belt. You need never again have the frustration of not being able to find your pH meter at the crucial moment!
It has Automatic Temperature Compensation, so you’ll get an accurate reading with liquids at a range of temperatures. That range is pretty generous too – between 32 and 176 degrees Fahrenheit.
It will show pH values between 0 and 14. But as with the Luoleina version, it won’t display the temperature of your liquid.
It comes with three packets of buffer powders to allow you to recalibrate it for continued accuracy. A clear instruction manual walks you through the process for doing this.
It runs on two LR44 batteries – the type that looks like little buttons. There’s no battery life monitor, but you’ll know when to change them as the display will fade or the unit won’t switch on. After you’ve opened the battery compartment, you’ll need to recalibrate the meter.
The probe is sensitive and needs to be handled with care. There’s no carry case with this one, but a plastic cap protects it when it’s not in use. And you’ll need to rinse the probe with distilled water before and after each use.
- Automatic Temperature Compensation for accurate readings of liquids between 32 and 176 degrees Fahrenheit
- Simple, clear display
- Handy clip to allow you to attach it to your belt or pocket
- There’s no battery life monitor, so make sure you keep some spare batteries to hand
- No temperature display.
7. Dr.meter PH838
If you’re looking for a pH meter with greater functionality, this mid-priced model from Dr.meter could be a good bet. It’s about twice the price of the cheapest models on our list, but it’s still very reasonable. And you get some worthwhile additional features.
Like the other models on our list, this one features Automatic Temperature Compensation. In this case, you’ll get an accurate reading from liquids at temperatures of between 32 and 158 degrees Fahrenheit.
It has three-point calibration, and the meter will automatically identify the buffer solutions to give the reading fast.
The large screen displays both pH and temperature simultaneously. It’s backlit too, so you’ll be able to read it easily even where light levels are low. And if the pH reading is below 3.5 or above 12.5, the screen will flash red to alert you.
The probe is designed to be very sensitive. Make sure you keep it clean by rinsing with distilled water before and after every use. You’ll need the water to be the right temperature too – check the instruction manual for details.
Note that It isn’t possible to buy a replacement probe separately – so handle it with care.
The display includes a handy battery life monitor, so you need never be caught out with flat batteries. The meter runs on two standard AAA batteries. That means you’re more than likely to have a few replacements lying around the house.
And if you want to save power, you can select an “auto off” option. This will turn off the meter after 15 minutes of it being idle. There’s also a portable carrying case to keep the unit safe when it’s not in use.
- Clear screen showing both pH and temperature
- Backlit display makes it easy to see readings, even in low light
- Uses AAA batteries, and there’s a handy battery life monitor
- You’ll need to clean the probe with distilled water at the correct temperature before and after every use
- Take care with the probe – it’s fragile and you can’t buy replacements separately.
If you’ve read through all the reviews but still aren’t sure which is the right pH meter for you, read on! Here are some factors to take into consideration before you make your final choice.
How accurate do you need your meter to be?
To start with, be clear about how you’ll be using your meter. If you’re using it to check the pH of food and drink, all the meters on our list will be suitable. They will all register a pH value of between 0 and 14, which will be quite sufficient.
But if you also have more specialist uses in mind, you may require a wider range. The AI311 from Apera Instruments offers a superior range of -2 to 16 pH.
That does, though, come at a cost. It’s almost twice the price of the next most expensive model on our list. So if you’re only going to be using your pH meter for home brewing, don’t bother. You’ll be spending money on functionality you just don’t need.
Check too that your pH meter offers Automatic Temperature Compensation. All the ones our list have this helpful feature. It means the meter will automatically adjust the pH reading to take account of the temperature of the liquid it’s testing. So no matter how hot or cold, it will give an accurate reading.
Check out the display
Next, check what the display of your pH meter shows. In some cases, it will simply show the pH reading. If that’s all you need, that will be perfect.
But for brewing, a display that shows temperature too can be very helpful. And it will mean you don’t require a separate thermometer.
Some pH meters have other useful elements to their display too. Look out for versions with smiley faces that tell you when a stable reading has been obtained. That will take the guesswork out of knowing when to remove the probe.
And we love versions with battery life monitors. They mean you’ll never be caught out with a flat battery.
Consider the power source
Finally, check what kind of batteries your pH meter requires, and whether they’re included in the pack.
Some use LR44 batteries, the kind that look like small buttons. They’re not particularly expensive or difficult to get hold of. But they’re less likely to be used for other household gadgets than the AAA versions used in other models. That just means you’ll need to remember to stock up every so often.
Some meters also have an “auto off” function. That will switch the meter off after it hasn’t been used for a set period – usually between 10 and 15 minutes. It’s a good way of saving your batteries.
Ready to choose your pH meter?
That brings us to the end of our round-up of seven of the best pH meters for brewing! We hope it’s helped you find the perfect choice for your needs.
Our top pick is the PentaBeauty digital pH meter. It’s easy to use, easy to calibrate, and offers excellent value for money. Just make sure you have some distilled water ready to clean the probe before and after every use.
Whichever option you choose, we hope it helps you craft the perfect homebrew!