The Ultimate All-in-One Beer Brewing Machine

Behold PopSci staff photographer/mad scientist John Carnett's homemade microbrewery: an elaborate device that boils, ferments, chills, and pours home-crafted ale

Launch the slideshow to see the step-by-step guide to how the Device works

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 PopSci staff photographer John Carnett to spend weeks building what he simply refers to as 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 you to lift stuff. Carnett's machine keeps everything in the carts' closed system and requires only that he swap a few CO2-pressurized hoses to move the liquid along. It also employs a complex temperature-control system to regulate the fermentation (often done in a corner of a basement) to within a degree or two. A couple weeks later, the same system chills the beer on its way from keg to tap, so the Device is always ready with a cold pour and consumes no power when it's not serving or fermenting.

The next step: adding a third cart to make wort from raw grain instead of extract. But, says Carnett, there's a lot of "testing" of this design to be done first.

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by John B. Carnett

Finally, the beer moves into one of two serving kegs. Pull the tap, and the beer travels through the cold plate, so it's chilled on the way to your glass, eliminating the need for constant cooling and ensuring a frosty brew anytime.John B. Carnett

by John B. Carnett

After 10 to 15 days, depending on the brew, the wort becomes beer. Carnett swaps hoses and turns a valve to move the beer to one of two settling kegs, where the CO2 tank adds carbonation and debris falls to the bottom.John B. Carnett

by John B. Carnett

After the boil, the wort moves through a heat exchanger, cooling it to between 53F and 63F before it reaches the fermenting tank.John B. Carnett

by John B. Carnett

An electronic controller monitors the temperature inside the fermenting keg; When it needs cooling, a pump circulates water through a nest of copper tubing sitting on a cold plate--chilled by Freon in its interior--and wrapped around the keg.John B. Carnett

by John B. Carnett

Over several weeks, beer takes the journey from wort concentrate to tasty beverage. A cooling system regulates temperature and ensures that the final product is a frosty brew.John B. Carnett

by John B. Carnett

Concentrated wort extract goes into the boil keg along with water and hops. A propane burner heats the mix for about 90 minutes.John B. Carnett