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Brewbot lets you control home brewing with your smartphone

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September 30, 2013

To use Brewbot, you put in ingredients from the local brew shop, and then input the desire...

To use Brewbot, you put in ingredients from the local brew shop, and then input the desired recipe and settings using an iPhone app

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Brewing beer in small batches can be difficult, time consuming, and very daunting for the neophyte. To make things a bit easier, and let homebrewers have a life away from watching the temperature of the malt tun, the Brewbot system aims to automate much of the brewing process. The result is a smartphone-controllable machine that brews 20 l (5.2 gal) of beer in each batch.

Brewing beer isn’t easy. It’s a complicated process of malts and hops and worts that require all sorts of mixing, heating, cooling, timing, and other steps that can make it seem more like alchemy than science. Small wonder that one batch of homebrew can taste like an import from heaven and the next like it passed through the urinary tract of a gnat. So can the burden of the brewing hobbyist be eased by automation? The developers of Brewbot think so.

Brewbot is aimed at amateurs, pubs that want to break into craft beers, and breweries that want to run pilot brews of new beers. It’s a self-contained, self-monitoring beer-brewing machine that fits in a home environment and is monitored by a smartphone.

Brewbot is designed to ensure that each batch is consistent with the one before, so you can concentrate on recipes rather than processes. Simplifying the process also makes brewing more accessible to the complete neophyte by providing a digital step-by-step guide.

Brewbot uses wood facades to blend into the buyer's decor

The design of Brewbot puts a heavy emphasis on compact size and aesthetics. Measuring 121 cm x 40 cm x 119 cm (47.6 in x 15.7 in x 46.8 in) and weighing about 100 kg (220 lb), it’s available in a choice of wood facades and is designed to be easy to tuck into a corner. The latter is appreciable to anyone who’s had his home brewing rig banished to the garage on pain of divorce.

According to the developers, Brewbot uses off-the-shelf catering parts and stainless steel wherever possible to keep down costs without affecting flavor. The prototype currently uses copper pipes, but the company wants to replace these with stainless steel. Inside is an Arduino-based processor, for rapid prototyping and open sourcing, which controls the brewing processes.

To use Brewbot, you put in ingredients from the local brew shop, and then input the desired recipe and settings using the accompanying iPhone app. Brewbot takes it from there, adding the right amount of water, heating it to the right temperature for the right time, and telling you via Bluetooth to your iPhone when to add additional ingredients. When finished, the beer is poured into the stainless steel fermentation tank, which is sealed against light to prevent “skunking.”

Exploded view of Brewbot

Monitoring all of this are flow, load, and temperature sensors. The developers claim that it’s capable of brewing beer at a cost of 26p US$0.42 per 330 ml (12 oz) bottle.

To create Brewbot, Cargo, a multidisciplinary team of designers and developers based in Belfast, partnered with Nelson and Caroline Santos, the founders of Mette, which is a creative consultancy specializing in products and environments for cooking and living, the Brewbot project is moving from Northern Ireland to Portland, Oregon in order to be in the middle of the US microbrew market.

Brewbot is currently in the prototype phase and Cargo is raising money through Kickstarter to complete development of both hardware and software in the hope of bringing the machine to production, first in the US, then Britain, then globally. An earlybird pledge for the Brewbot is listed at £1,500 (US$2400).

The video below introduces Brewbot.

Source: Kickstarter via designboom

About the Author
David Szondy David Szondy is a freelance writer based in Monroe, Washington. An award-winning playwright, he has contributed to Charged and iQ magazine and is the author of the website Tales of Future Past.   All articles by David Szondy
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6 Comments

so most of the reason why a batch can go from tasting heavenly to tasting like the intestinal tract of a gnat is sanitization which this does not look like it even touches. Honestly, cleaning up is the hardest, most laborious part of the deal.

The brewing process, itself, is NOT as difficult as a lot of people make it out to be. You do NOT have to be spot on. Within a degree or so, you're good and even great.

Personally, I LIKE keeping my hands in my system. For those who don't, I don't really see this as being the solution - mostly because it's CHEAP. Too cheap. A decent brew rig, with pots and such, is going to cost you that much or more. Add in automation, heating, etc. and it's going to cost you more, unless you use cheap equipment. This seems to use cheap stuff - just looking at it. Granted, it should make some good beer, even great beer, but it is not going to last long. They're using chafing dishes/pots which aren't really intended for boiling like we do.

We've seen many of these types of systems come and go. I think this one is going to go . . . but if you want to build an automated system, there are many many ways to do so. If you just want to jump in to brewing, there are better ways than to buy something like this. Ways that give you a good understanding of the brewing process and what we actually do and why . . .

socalboomer
30th September, 2013 @ 11:00 am PDT

"Brewing beer isn’t easy."

What? No, it really is. If you can follow a simple recipe, you can brew beer. Really. My first kit came with half a page of instructions, no more complicated a recipe than making a stew.

Speaking of which, that first brewing equipment came in a kit, costing me around €150 for a boiler (a big, plastic kettle), fermenting buckets (big, 5 gallon plastic drums), chiller (20ft of copper tubing), bottles and capper, etc., and a Pale Ale kit (grain, yeast, dry malt extract, hops). It worked out at €4 per pint bottle of beer. My _second_ and subsequent brews cost me around 40 cent per pint.

So investing US$2400 in equipment that does exactly the same job as my original kit seems... kinda self-defeating.

Anton13
30th September, 2013 @ 02:20 pm PDT

I think people brewing their own beer in this fashion are missing the point.

asdf
30th September, 2013 @ 03:55 pm PDT

I always brew with a friend. I enjoy the company and teaching someone how easy it is to brew your own specialty brew. Poor sanitation is the only thing that will make a bad beer.

Rich Trkut
30th September, 2013 @ 07:27 pm PDT

buying a system so you dont have to be involved with a hobby. wow. amateur painter..get a paintbot. musicians...get a instrument playerbot. readers...get a scanner with built in page turner. yes. .no longer be tied to the drudgery of filling your spare time with hands on slavery.

Walt Stawicki
1st October, 2013 @ 01:05 am PDT

And a much better craft brewer than I am has just pointed out that this device only controls the brewing temperature when you're making the wort - which is relatively easy, anyway.

It then allows the wort to ferment at whatever temperature the ambient room temp plus yeast action drives it to...

Anton13
2nd October, 2013 @ 03:06 pm PDT
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