Thursday, June 5, 2014

Microcontrollers & Beer: World’s Smallest Beer Lagering Device

One of the news articles I saw today was about the BrewJacket, a beer-brewing device which uses a microcontroller (MCU).

Yesterday I did a little research on aquaponics and MCUs. Josiah, a participant in the Humboldt Microcontrollers Group, is not only interested in aquaponics, he also enjoys brewing his own beer. Which seemed to indicate tonight's blog post should take a brief look at microcontrollers and beer.

The BrewJacket is described as a lagering device. Never heard of one of those before, although I guess beer has to become a lager-type beer somehow. The article I saw puts it this way:
"BrewJacket, Inc has built the world’s smallest beer lagering device. Dubbed
Immersion, it allows space constrained home and professional beer brewers to create true lager style beers without a traditional refrigerator. Immersion is a solid state cooling device and is capable of taking a fermenting beer down 35º F below ambient in a matter of days, and measures just 8” wide. BrewJacket, Inc. launched their Kickstarter on April 10th 2014 and as of today has raised $93,831, more than 200% of the asking amount...“Lagers have always been the most challenging beer style for home brewers to create since it requires either a dedicated beer refrigerator or a climate cold and stable enough to maintain lagering temperatures. Many brewers convert old refrigerators to lagering chambers, but for many of us space-constrained brewers, that’s simply not possible.” Immersion is comprised of a cooling engine attached to a microcontroller that maintains a specific temperature set by the user..."
The BrewJacket Kickstarter campaign raised nearly $100,000, more than twice its funding goal. Almost makes a brewmeister want to come up with another niche homebrewing device that uses an Arduino just to be able to launch a Kickstarter campaign.

When I unleashed Google on the scent of microcontroller-brewed beer (the only true 'micro' brew?), there were, as expected, quite a few search results for the topic. A Make magazine article titled "Homebrewing and Arduino: the perfect recipe" made it clear that MCU-beer is a global craft. The article author lives in Italy, so naturally his system uses an Italian product -- the Arduino. His article also mentions an Australian who has a similar Arduino-based brewing system.

Another non-USA Arduino-brew system was the BrewBot on Kickstarter, a project based in Belfast, UK. The BrewBot team was able to generate £114,368 and are merrily continuing working on their product. According to this project update, they're having a great time and enjoying the limelight. This Gizmag article gives a pretty good overview of the BrewBot project. On the BrewBot website, they describe the product as "the world's smartest personal brewery." Their system looks quite well designed.

I'll close today's post with two Hackaday links about MCU-beer. The first one is "UberFridge helps keep beer production going through the dog days of summer," and this Arduino-brew project kept the brewing equipment cool, as described below:
"...when things got too hot over the summer, he had to suspend his ale making for a few months. Not wanting to have to put production on hiatus again, he modified an old refrigerator into an awesome fermentation unit he calls the UberFridge. The refrigerator features two temperature sensors, one that sits in the fermenting beer, and one that measures the temperature of the fridge. This dual probe setup offers him the ability to closely monitor the fermentation process, which he does via a sharp-looking web interface..."
The second Hackaday link is to "Arduino Controlled Beer Brewing Machine!" A couple college students built the probably-popular-on-campus system as a project to help get their degrees. Their set-up, shown at the right, doesn't look nearly as polished as the BrewBot, but as long as it made great-tasting beer and they got a good grade on the project, the students probably weren't concerned about whether it looked like a store-bought system.

Maybe over the next year I'll have the opportunity to work on a beer-brewing system with a microcontroller or two. If Josiah doesn't already have Arduinos assisting in his beer production, we'll have to see what reasonable cost upgrades we can design. And if he already has microcontrollers at work on his fine microbrewery, we'll have to figure out whether another one would make the beer taste better or the brewing more fun.


No comments:

Post a Comment