[the_meatloaf] just put the final touches on his fully automated beer brewing machine using an Arduino.
The project was part of his computer engineering degree, and it took [the_meatloaf] and two mechanical engineer friends a year to design and build the entire system from scratch. An Arduino Mega with a 4-button interface allows you to program, save, load, rename, and run up to 26 different recipes saved to the EEPROM.
An automated system like this removes most of the guesswork from an otherwise complex brewing process. The machine starts by heating the water in the first keg using a 2000W heating element, after which the water transfers into the mash vessel via servo valves, where it’s stirred by a mixing motor. The machine then drains the wort (the resulting liquid after mashing) and sparges (adds more water to the mash tun) the grains as programmed: thanks, [Chris,] for clarification! The wort is brought to a boil for the programmed amount of time, while a servo-controlled “hopper” automatically adds the hops. Finally, a counter-flow heat exchanger rapidly cools the solution to room temperature using ice water, then dispenses the solution for fermentation.
Though [the_meatloaf's] biggest project to date was quite the accomplishment, he unfortunately won’t get to enjoy it. The sponsors who covered the $1000 budget reclaimed the machine. Drat.