Goldilocks Climate Box Keeps Lager Fermentation Environment Just Right

Climate box for lager brewingSeptember was warmish in many places around the world including [Ole]‘s native Denmark. But that did not stop him from brewing lager flavored with plums from his own garden, and neither did his indifference to lagers in general.

Lager fermentation requires a consistent, low temperature. While many homebrewers might modify an electric refrigerator, [Ole] wasn’t interested in the cost of running a second one just for brewing beer. Instead, he built a climate box to work with the cool temperature in his garage. Starting with scrap wood from other projects, he lined the walls with polystyrene and put a layer of wood on the floor to help support the fermentation bucket.

Maintaining a consistent temperature in the box called for both heating and cooling. He pulled the Peltier from a 12V cooler meant to run off a car’s cigarette lighter, and used a spare ceramic heater that was lying around in case his primary reptile warmer went on the fritz.

An Arduino and a custom shield drive separate PID controllers for the Peltier and the heater. The shield has a temperature probe, and he extended the USB outside the climate box so the PIDs can be adjusted without disturbing the inside temperature. The schematic, board file, and code are all available in a zip you can get from his post.

The Peltier couldn’t quite compensate for the overly warm weather and the heat caused by the fermentation, but it was stable enough to produce a nice, plum-flavored lager he has dubbed Lektor Blom­mes malt­bol­che, which is a triple Danish pun he explains in the write-up.

Keep an Eye on Your Fermenting Beer with BrewMonitor

Breadboard Circuit of a Funduino, a DS18B20 Temperature Sensor, and an ESP8266 module.

The art of brewing beer is as old as civilization itself. Many people enjoy brewing their own beer at home. Numerous steps must be taken before you can take a swig, but fermentation is one of the most critical. [Martin Kennedy] took up the hobby with his friends, and wanted a convenient way to monitor the fermentation temperature remotely. He started working on the BrewMonitor, a cloud-based homebrewing controller powered by an Arduino clone.

His goal was to create something cheap, convenient, and easy to set up. Traditional fermentation monitoring equipment is very expensive. The typical open-source alternative will set you back 80 euros (roughly $101), using the Arduino-sensor with a Raspberry Pi gateway via the BrewPi webserver. [Martin] did not want to go through the hassle of viewing BrewPi remotely, since it requires a home network and all of the configuration that would entail. Instead, he coupled an Arduino clone with a DS18B20 temperature sensor while using an ESP8266 module for wireless communication, all for less than 18 euros ($23). This connects to a simple webpage based on with a PHP backend (Laravel with RESTful API), a MySQL database, and an AngularJS frontend to display the graph. Once the sensor is placed into the fermenter bucket’s thermowell, the temperature is transmitted once a minute to the REST API. You can see the temperature over time (in Celsius). The design files are available on GitHub.

[Martin] would like to expand the functionality of BrewMonitor, such as adding the ability to adjust the temperature remotely by controlling a heater or fridge, and lowering its cost by single boarding it. Since the information is stored on the cloud, upgrading the system is much easier than using a separate gateway device. He doesn’t rule out crowdfunding campaigns for the future. We would like to see this developed further, since different yeast species and beer styles require very stringent conditions, especially during the weeks-long fermentation process; a 5-degree Celsius difference can ruin an entire brew! Cloud-based temperature adjustment seems like the next big goal for BrewMonitor. DIY brewers salute you, [Martin]!

[via Dangerous Prototypes]


BrewPi is a Raspberry Pi in charge of beer fermentation

Take a look at BrewPi, a fermentation controller made with a Raspberry Pi. The project hacks control of a refrigerator and a light bulb into the pervue of a Raspberry Pi board. The RPi itself brings network connectivity to the mix. What you end up with is an already highly configurable fermentation system which is perched to receive even more features moving forward.

The man behind the system is [Elco Jacobs]. You may remember his name from the UberFridge project. That was a router-based fermentation controller. This keeps the same great hardware as well as online graphing and control features such as setting plot points for ramping temperature up and down. For now there’s also an Arduino being used which takes care of the hardware switching via json packets received from the RPi. But now that he’s worked out most of the bugs it should be fairly painless to dump the Arduino and build a proper RPi shield for this purpose.

Brewing beer with LEGO

[Matt] sent in a set of YouTube videos walking us through his LEGO Mindstorms controlled brewery.

[Matt] is using a RIMS brewing setup that recirculates and heats the mash to extract more starch from the grain. This results in a Maillard reaction in the mash and creates a richer, maltier flavor.

To control his RIMS setup, [Matt] is using a LEGO Mindstorms brick with a few LEGO temperature sensors attached to his plumbing. The LEGO provides all the temperature and pump control for a proper RIMS setup, perfect for the homebrewer who doesn’t want to bother with an Arduino or other microcontroller board.

As a small aside, the astute Hackaday reader will note our beer hacks category is woefully underpopulated. It’s nearly summer now and the perfect time to start brewing. If you’ve got a beer hack, be sure to send it in.

After the break you can see all of [Matt]‘s RIMS/LEGO brewery videos, or you can check out his YouTube channel.

[Read more...]

UberFridge helps keep beer production going through the dog days of summer


[Elco Jacobs] used to let his beer ferment in the kitchen, but 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.

An Arduino serves as the PID controller, talking to a wireless router via a serial connection. The Arduino logs and relays data to the router where it can be viewed via a web browser. Not only can he keep tabs on what’s going on inside the fridge, he can reprogram the Arduino via the web interface as well.

Keep reading to see [Elco] explain the ins and outs of his UberFridge – we’re pretty sure you’ll want to build your own after you do.

[via BuildLounge]

[Read more...]

Fermentation temperature control

[Eric Friedrich] needed to keep the wort warm enough for yeast to ferment it into beer. To solve the problem he built his own fermentation temperature controler using a microprocessor to turn some heating tape on and off. You can see the heating element embracing that diminutive fermentation bucket in the picture above. This was originally meant for keeping reptile cages warm. It costs less than similar products meant just for brewing and works well for [Eric]. A DS1820 temperature sensor gives feedback to an ATmega168 which then uses a relay to switch the heat on and off. The target temperature can be changed using a potentiometer on the board, with the setting displayed on a character LCD screen on the project enclosure.


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