Pocket pH Kit
Analog Kool-Aid Acid Test
If you remember your high school chemistry, you'll recall that pH is a scientific term for measuring the acidity (or lack thereof) for a particular substance. The pH - or potential of hydrogen - scale runs from 0-14. Water has a pH of 7.0, and anything below that is considered acidic. Most beers range between 4.0 and 5.0, with sour and wild-fermented beers commonly pushing below that 4.0 number into the low 3's. Ciders can go lower than that, as can wine!
Put a pH Kit in Your Pocket
Your friends will be happy to see you at your next tasting or fermentation party when you pull out your Pocket pH Kit. The convenient, American-made dispenser travels light and has over 5 yards (450 cm) of sensitive pH paper. Torn into 1" strips, it's enough for 180 samples. The paper is sensitive from a pH of 6.0 to 0.0 in 0.5 pH increments (6.0, 5.5, 5.0, 4.5 ... etc.).
Not Just a Cool Party Trick
Knowing how acidic a particular beverage is is a neat trick, and it's interesting to compare beverages on another, more scientific level when you taste. Acids interact with our perception of sweetness, so a high-acid wine/beer/cider/mead may taste similarly acidic to a lower-acid wine if the high-acid wine has a bit of residual sugar. It's easy to test, and adds another data point beyond ABV.
Fun with Fermentation
pH is also a useful data point for fermentation. If you make cider, beer, mead, wine or spirits at home, tracking your acidity can clue you in to what's happening with your beverage during fermentation. If your acidity drops during secondary fermentation, you may have a bacterial contamination in progress, and you can course-correct before it becomes a drain pour. On a more positive side, having a good balance of sweetness and acidity can result in a better balanced and more pleasing beverage. In some cases, you may wish to arrest fermentation to leave a little residual sugar to counteract a particularly acidic fermentation.