Okay, Mr. Wizard is certainly muddying the water when it comes to mash pH. In October, his sidebar seemed to imply that mash pH readings should be taken at mash temperature. He cites several sources but the only one I could find that made a definitive statement was Kai Troester at Braukaiser.com. Reference is here: http://braukaiser.com/blog/blog/2011/03/02/about-ph-targets-and-temperature/
So when I read the instructions for my pH meter, a Milwaukee Instruments MW-102, it tells me to cool samples to room temperature to avoid damage to the electrodes. It’s been a long time since high school and college temperature but I seem to remember we always cooled samples. So I’m wondering why the wizard at BYO would think otherwise? I’ve been measuring my mash pH and shooting for the optimum 5.4. The result has been “brighter” beer flavor, better clarity and higher attenuation. Hard to argue. And I’ve been cooling my samples.
The post from Kai pretty much suggested I’d been following the proper procedure. I take a sample, cool it in the water bath, then take the pH reading. If my reading is off by 0.1 to 0.2, I won’t worry too much about it. At that time I can take a gravity reading with the hydrometer, if desired.
It’s confusing. Most of the classic brewing references do not mention the temperature of the sample. My guess is that for these masters of brewing chemistry, how to take a pH reading was so trivial it wasn’t worth mentioning: You cool the sample to the meter’s calibration temperature, then take your reading. Period. So I’ll choose to keep to that schedule. I like the results I’m getting from the “lower” pH than Mr. Wizard would suggest, so I’ll keep taking my readings cool.
And as I like to say, if you like the beer you’re brewing, you’re doing it right.