Arduino And The Other Kind Of Homebrew

Usually, when we are talking about homebrew around here, we mean building your own equipment. However, most other people probably mean brewing beer, something that’s become increasingly popular as one goes from microbreweries to home kitchen breweries. People have been making beer for centuries so you can imagine it doesn’t take sophisticated equipment, but a little automation can go a long way to making it easier. When [LeapingLamb] made a batch using only a cooler, a stock pot, and a propane burner, he knew he had to do something better. That’s how Brew|LOGIC was born.

There are many ways to make beer, but Brew|LOGIC focuses on a single vessel process and [LeapingLamb] mentions that the system is akin to a sous vide cooker, keeping the contents of the pot at a specific temperature.

Honestly, though, we think he’s selling himself a bit short. The system has a remote application for control and is well-constructed. This isn’t just a temperature controller thrown into a pot. There’s also a pump for recirculation.

The common stock pot gets some serious modifications to hold the heating element and temperature probe. It also gets some spring-loaded clamps to hold the lid down. Expect to do a lot of drilling.

The electronics uses an Arduino, a Bluetooth board, and some relays (including a solid state relay). The finished system can brew between 5 and 15 gallons of beer at a time. While the system seems pretty good to us, he did list some ideas he has for future expansion, including valves, sensors for water level and specific gravity, and some software changes.

After reading that the system was similar to a sous vide cooker, we wondered if you could use a standard one. Turns out, you can. If you want to make better beer without electronic hacking, there’s always the genetic kind.

17 thoughts on “Arduino And The Other Kind Of Homebrew

  1. Belgian beer has been famous worldwide for its taste and variety, but in the last 20 years or so they have almost all been bought by a few big breweries. Recipies have been tweaked for lower price and mass production and the taste is suffering from it. Beweries know that of course, so they change the recipies in small steps and take a few years to increase their profits.

    On the other hand, here in the Netherlands small breweries have been sprouting like coal. Hundreds of folks have started small breweries that fit in a garage, and some grow out of it and get larger. Most of them probably started with a few small flasks for their own consumption, but have scaled up from there to breweing a cubic meter or more at a time.

      1. The actual coal that’s referred to is the same “cole” in coleslaw, that is, cabbage, the Dutch word for which is “kool”. “Growing like cabbage” (groeien als kool) is indeed the go-to Dutch idiom for things that grow rapidly!

  2. > People have been making beer for centuries

    cough. That may be true for the Americas, but in the rest of the world, make that “thousands of years”, please. Obviously, you would need to define what you mean by “beer”, but it’s been brewed a long time before “English” was a thing :-P

    The bit about yeast is quite “young”, I give you that. But “beer” … that’s been around for a LONG TIME ™.

    1. Adding hops is a rather recent development as well.

      So if you take away yeast and hops, you’re left with naturally fermenting grains, which is “beer” by definition, but nothing like the beer we know and love.

    2. More precisely, the biggest difference is between modern beer and historical ale, which was/is fermented in warm vats and drunk “live” while it was still fermenting. It was made at the point of consumption, because the casks and bottles would simply explode if you tried to store (lager) it. Ale yeasts are fast and furious, they grow rapidly and ferment the batch in just a few days, which suited the continuous production of fresh beer. It’s also why almost all homebrew kits are supplied with ale yeast, even if it says “lager” on the tin. Instead of making actual lager, you have flocculants that drop the yeast out of suspension once the fermentation is done to result in clear beer, and certain sugars that don’t ferment to improve the taste profile.

      If you leave the historical ale to ferment for a long time, it becomes “dry” so it was drunk while still at relatively low ABV (2-4%) to retain the sweetness. If you let it ferment completely dry and add no hops, it will taste like a very thin soup of dissolved cardboard with alcohol – especially with people trying to stretch a penny and use as little grains as possible to make it.

      1. They recently tested the old Mesopotamian beer receipe found in an old stone tablet (“A hymn to Ninkasi”) – it’s a beer that’s made out of spiced bread, malts, honey and dates. Brewed by the original methods, it was said to taste like dry hard cider.

      2. Not sure where you’re looking but there are lots of lager kits with lager yeast & most brewing stores carry lager yeast both freeze dried and liquid cultures. Even if you use some cold tolerant ale, or regular ale yeast there’s very rarely an actual need for clarifying agents. Historical beer most certainly was lagered and cask aged. Most of the major styles we enjoy today are the way they are based on storage or transportation needs. Lagering has been around for centuries if not longer. You keep casks from exploding the same way you keep bottles from exploding. Pay attention to yeast activity, specific gravity ,or prior experience in historical times.

    3. 1,000 years = 10 centuries = centuries. I know it has been around a long time and didn’t feel like looking up exactly how long because it didn’t matter. I figured centuries was true and easy. Ancient Egypt wrote about beer, I think, and I don’t think they were even the first. I still say “centuries” fits the bill.

  3. Most homebrew in my area [Australia] ferments at 25 to 30C. Liqueur kits prefer an anbient temperature around 18C.
    My home town of Adelaide broke over 47C record last week…

    Constant temperature makes a better brew, but heating elements are only half of the equation.

    1. Brewing above 25 C makes for fruity beer (steam beer). It’s not really optimal unless that’s the style you’re going for, because you can easily turn it into “grain cider”.

  4. I’ve been brewing ales and ciders since around 2003 and I’ve found most of the automation stuff is fluff and doesn’t really add to the quality or streamline the process. Automation should make stuff better, faster, cheaper and none of the brew automation does that. At least for single batch home brews. I’m waiting on the Grandma-o-matic that will bake apple pies just like grandma…

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