What if there were a machine—a beautiful, shiny machine—and all it did, with almost no work from you, was make you beer? Such was the dream that drove former PopSci photographer John Carnett to build what he calls “the Device”: a stainless-steel, two-cart brewing system that starts by boiling extract (concentrated wort, or pre-fermented beer) and ends with a chilled pint.
In most home-brewing setups, each step in the process requires moving the beer to a new container by hand, which increases the chance of contamination and requires lifting. Carnett’s machine keeps everything in the carts’ closed system—he only has to swap a few CO2-pressurized hoses to move the liquid along.
The delicious brew’s journey begins in the boil keg, where concentrated wort extract is heated by a propane burner for 90 minutes. The beer then travels through a heat exchanger—which cools the mix to about 55˚F (13˚C)—on its way to the fermenting keg. Here, a network of Freon-chilled copper tubes pumps cool water around the keg when the temperature gets too high. After two weeks, the Device pumps the beer into a settling keg, where a CO2 tank adds carbonation. When you pull the tap, the beer travels through the cold plate, so it’s chilled on the way to your glass. That’s right: The Device is always ready with a cold pour and consumes no power when it’s not actively serving or fermenting.
This project was excerpted from The Big Book Of Hacks: 264 Amazing DIY Tech Projects, a compendium of ingenious and hilarious projects for aspiring makers. Buy it here. And for more amazing hacks, go here.
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.