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Brewing automaton

with Arduino

Posted by Jeena

I was on vacation in poland the last two weeks and there I met my uncle who needed help with some programming. He was programming a thermostat which he build himself with help of some electronics and a ATMega8 microcontroller:


That got me thinking if I couldn't build something like that for a different purpose. As you all know I am frequently brewing beer. And even if it is really fun, I see much room for improvement, especially in two areas: cleaning the bottles and the steeping. Both take a huge amount of time and can be automated. I will be blogging about my ideas how to make cleaning the bottles easier but here I will first talk about my idea on how to automate the steeping step of the brewing process.

So basicly what we do nowadays is to put water and grains into a big pot and heat it on the electric stove, we do everything manually:

  1. heat the water up to ca. 65°C (148°F), the target mash temperature
  2. mash for 30-60 minutes at that steady temperature while the complex sugars in he grain are converted to simple ones
  3. after the mash heat it up to 75°C (168°F) for some time
  4. (remove the grains if you want)
  5. cook the wort at 100°C (212°F)
  6. add bitter hops
  7. cook for 30 minutes
  8. add other hops
  9. cook for another 15 minutes
  10. stop cooking
  11. remove hops (and grain if you didn't do it yet)
  12. cool down the wort to about 35°C (95°F)
  13. fill the wort into the fermenter
  14. add yeast

I would like to automate the time and temperature stuff with some electronics so I don't have to wait for 5 hours and monitor the temperature while putting the heat on and of to get it consistent, it is really boring.

So I had a look at the internet and there is a cool open source project which is called HABS - Halfluck Automated Brewing System, here is a YouTube clip I found:

Take also a look at the pictures he posted at the Arduino forum.

My own design

The thing I want to build is not that complicated, I just want to get the temperature thing automated. So I bought a Arduino kit, a LCD display, some buttons and a "electric canner", but a german one which you can buy on amazon.de but not on amazon.com

adruino electric canner

I have already written some code which will maintain the temperature:

but I want it to be programmable without a computer too, and obviously I need to comple the canner to the microprocessor and stuff, so there is still much work to do.

[edit 2012-09-05:]

Today I got my electric waterbath canner:


The first thing I did was opening the lid where the electronics will be and it looks really promising, there is enough room for my Arduino plus the LCD and some buttons:

electronics lid

The sad thing is that the thermometer is a capillary thermometer instead of a electric temperature sensor I could use as a input device for my arduino. So I will need to think of something how to use the one I have which looks like this:

Electronic temperature sensor

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Next step on my way to build the brewing automaton I started a couple of years ago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJwskOizOOk

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