The last time I tried making beer, we were up until 3AM standing in a kitchen that looked like tornado had struck. My last wine-making attempts ended in grape-flavored vinegar. Even PopSci staff photographer John Carnett (or rather, his wife) endured a wort explosion the first time he tested his prototype DIY all-in-one brewing machine. Clearly, adult-beverage-making benefits from precise control and automation. Check out a few of my favorite electronic brewing projects after the jump.
Nobody has put as many sensors and data logging into their beer drinking as Sparkfun Electronics. Their kegerator alone features:
Not to leave the winos out of it, Sparkfun even has a wine tutorial. It features a bubble counter made with an $2 IR photointerrupter that saves the bubble data to a serial data logger so you can graph the fermentation process later. Once the bubble formation slows down enough, the wine can be "racked," or poured into another container and sealed to age.
Halfluck has mastered the unattended brewing process. Heating, pumping, stirring, cleaning, monitoring and data-logging are all built around a freeduino. His thorough documentation is inspiring for those that want to make all-grain beer while at work!
My favorite features of the Halfluck design are:
I suppose everyone brings their own background to the world of fermentation. I was experimenting electronics long before trying to make alcohol, so it only took me a few hours to whip together the basic components. Temperature control (hot/cold), lcd, and wireless data-logging is easy enough. Taking this pile of wires to the next step of actually producing gallons of brew will be a lot more work and makes me appreciate these projects all the more.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.